James Wages, Ph.D.

Psychological Scientist

About Me

My name is James Wages, and welcome to my academic website! I am a social psychological scientist 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 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I also completed a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in psychology at Northwestern. 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. My early experiences of seeing prejudice shaped my interests in social psychology. I later relocated to northwest Arkansas where I graduated from Gravette High School. As the first person in my family to attend and complete college, I went to the University of Arkansas on scholarship by playing the tuba in the Razorback Marching Band and by working as a resident assistant in Yocum Hall. I discovered my passion for research while serving as a research assistant for excellent investigators, Drs. Scott Eidelman and Bill Levine. I was later inspired to teach college students when working with and learning from remarkable instructors, Drs. Dave Schroeder, Brenda Zies, and Renee Engeln. After finishing college, I briefly attended graduate school at the University of Vermont before transferring to Northwestern to pursue my graduate degrees. During my graduate training, I studied social cognition, intergroup processes, and decision-making under the outstanding tutelage of Drs. Sylvia Perry and Galen Bodenhausen.

Town Square of Fayetteville, Arkansas

In my free time, I enjoy exploring nature, traveling, discovering new foods, and listening to music. I also like sci-fi and fantasy films, documentaries, musicals, playing games, spending time 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.
Torreyson Library at the University of Central Arkansas


As a first-generation college student from a working poor family, I am passionate about the promise of higher education to promote upward mobility, equality, 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. 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
Valor the Bear at the University of Central Arkansas

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