James Wages, Ph.D.

Social Psychologist

About Me

Welcome! My name is Dr. James E. Wages III, and I am an experimental social psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) located in Conway, Arkansas. I began my tenure-track faculty position shortly after completing my Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in psychology proudly at Northwestern University (NU) located in Evanston, Illinois. I also earned my Master of Science (M.S.) degree in psychology while attending Northwestern. During my graduate training, I studied social cognition, intergoup 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 my Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in psychology at the University of Arkansas (UofA) located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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 strongly 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 stellar 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 marvelous professors Drs. Dave Schroeder and Brenda Zies, respectively. After finishing college, I briefly attended graduate school at the University of Vermont before transferring with Dr. Sylvia Perry to Northwestern to complete my graduate degrees. 

In my free time, I enjoy exploring nature, traveling domestically and abroad, discovering cultural cuisines, and listening to instrumental 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. I am eager to continue these lines of research and beyond with students interested in gaining research experience in social psychology. I warmly welcome students to reach out to me for research opportunities.


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. I am currently teaching Research Methods Laboratory and History and Systems of Psychology. I have also taught or interest in teaching Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology.


Dr. James Wages

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Feel free to refer to me using "he/him/his."

Department of Psychology and Counseling

University of Central Arkansas

201 Donaghey Avenue
Mashburn Hall, Office 211
Conway, Arkansas 72035