James Wages, Ph.D.

Social Psychologist

About Me

My name is Dr. James E. Wages III, and welcome to my academic website! I am an experimental social psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas. I started my current faculty position shortly after I completed a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in psychology proudly at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I also earned a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in psychology at Northwestern. During my graduate training, I studied social cognition, intergroup processes, and decision-making under the outstanding tutelage of Drs. Sylvia Perry and Galen Bodenhausen. As the first person in my family to attend and complete college, I earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in psychology at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Building Facade at Northwestern University

Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, I grew-up as a gay kid from a working poor family. Early experiences of receiving or witnessing prejudice on the basis of class, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexuality shaped my interests in social psychology. My family and I later relocated to Northwest Arkansas where I graduated from Gravette High School with high honors. I then attended the University of Arkansas on a music scholarship by playing the tuba in the Razorback Marching Band, and I worked as a resident assistant in Yocum Hall. I discovered my passion for research while serving as a research assistant in three labs of psychology faculty: Drs. Scott Eidelman, Bill Levine, and Lindsay Ham. I was inspired to teach college students when apprenticing as a teaching assistant for and taking courses by professors Drs. Dave Schroeder and Brenda Zies, respectively. After finishing college, I briefly attended graduate school at the University of Vermont before transferring to Northwestern to pursue my graduate degrees.

Town Square of Fayetteville, Arkansas

In my free time, I enjoy exploring nature, traveling domestically and abroad, discovering cultural cuisines, and listening to music. I also like sci-fi and fantasy films, documentaries, musicals, playing games with my family, and cheering on the Arkansas Razorbacks (Woo Pig Sooie!). My partner and I are very excited to join and support the UCA and Conway communities!


Broadly, I study what people think about other people. This includes the beliefs we hold about social groups and how we make sense of decisions made by ourselves and others. Social psychologists could characterize my research as being at the intersection of social cognition, stereotyping, and decision-making. My primary work investigates how people make meaning of risk-taking and whether such meanings are imbued with social connotations. My work in this area was recently published in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, finding that people's conceptions of risk-taking are imbedded with racial stereotype content. I also study the nature of social bias (such as racial and gender biases), including how people think about social bias in others and how to reduce social bias.


As a first-generation college student from a working poor family, I am passionate about the promise of higher education to promote upward social mobility, equity, and enlightenment. I seek to inspire students to flourish through engaging, supportive, and inclusive college teaching. I take an active and collaborative approach to learning that centers the students rather than myself. I foster classroom environments that shape growth-mindsets, wherein students are encouraged to take intellectual risks and prioritize curiosity. I intentionally work to ensure course curriculum, activities, and assignments are culturally inclusive to students from marginalized backgrounds. My courses include Social Psychology, History and Systems of Psychology, and Research Methods Laboratory. I also co-advise the UCA Psychological Society with Dr. Price-Blackshear.


Dr. James Wages

Pronouns: he/him/his

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Department of Psychology and Counseling
University of Central Arkansas
201 Donaghey Avenue
Mashburn Hall, Office 211
Conway, Arkansas 72035