“An overarching goal of my teaching is to make evident the connection between psychology and students’ personal experiences as well as the connection between psychology and other disciplines.”
When talking about the study of the mind, you’re really talking about what makes us human and where our thoughts and decisions come from. That’s not an easy concept to grasp, but Nesa Wasarhaley’s goal is to help her students make the connection between psychology and the rest of the world.
“At the start of a General Psychology class, many students expect psychology to be completely intuitive,” she explains. “One of my goals is to get students to question their assumptions by understanding the science of psychology and how we use the scientific method to learn about human nature. I also enjoy when students come up with insightful questions and creative examples or make connections to things they have learned in other disciplines.”
Her own research connects psychology and law, particularly in the area of social cognition. She seeks to understand how stereotypes and prejudicial views influence juror decision-making in court, especially as it relates to marginalized groups such as homosexual, elderly, or overweight individuals.
“As a researcher, I focus on understanding how biases influence jurors’ ability to make legal judgment, and as a teacher, psychologist, and proponent of social justice, I feel it is important to understand how all thinking is subject to bias. Our biases influence the types of questions we ask and how we evaluate answers.”
Wasarhaley is a firm believer in students conducting research in order to promote scientific thinking and broaden their ability to analyze and communicate evidence. Then students can find those connections she wants them to make.
“Psychologists seek answers to our questions by gathering empirical evidence, but our interpretations of that evidence can be influenced by our perspectives or biases. I think a liberal arts education helps broaden students’ perspectives.”
Wasarhaley knows something about broad perspectives. Outside of her research, she’s an active athlete—runner, biker, and soccer player. She’s also a music lover. You could find her singing with a choir or at concerts around the area.
- American Psychology-Law Society
- Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Areas of specialization
- M.S., Experimental Psychology, University of Kentucky, 2010
- M.A., Cognitive Studies in Education, Teachers College Columbia University, 2008
- B.A., Psychology, Hamilton College, 2004
Areas of specialization
- Social cognition and law
- Jury decision-making
- Stereotypes and prejudice
- General Psychology
- Human Development
- Childhood to Adolescence
- Social Psychology
- Psychology and Law
- Wasarhaley, N. E., & Golding, J. M. (in press). "Perceptions of institutional elder neglect in
civil court." Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect.
- Wasarhaley, N. E., Golding, J. M., Lynch, K. R., & Keller, P. S. (2012). "The impact of abuse allegations in perceiving patricide in the courtroom." Psychology, Crime and Law.
- Wasarhaley, N. E., Simcic, T. A., & Golding, J. M. (2012). "Mock juror perception of sexual assault nurse examiner testimony." Violence and Victims, 27(4), 500-511.
- Golding, J. M., Wasarhaley, N. E., & Fletcher, B. (2012). "The use of flashcards in an introduction to psychology class." Teaching of Psychology, 39(3), 199-202.
- Hodell, E. C., Dunlap, E. E., Wasarhaley, N. E., & Golding, J. M. (2012). "Factors impacting
juror perceptions of battered women who kill their abusers: Delay and sleeping status." Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 18(2), 338-359.
- Diversity Research Award, American Psychology-Law Society, 2012–13
- Provosts Award for Outstanding Teaching for Teaching Assistants, University of Kentucky, 2012
- Samuel J. Gunto Award for Graduate Student Research in Social Psychology, University of Kentucky, 2011