I am a social psychologist. I received a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2004), and a M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Kansas (2007; 2011). Before arriving at UW Tacoma I was an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska Southeast (2011-2018).
I am a social psychologist interested in stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. In my work I investigate how stereotypes guide judgments of, memory for, and behavior directed at individuals belonging to stereotyped groups. Much of my research focuses on intersections of social categories and underrepresented groups. For example, in my primary line of research I examine the processes and outcomes of invisibility; a unique form of discrimination that may be experienced by groups that do not fit race and gender prototypes – e.g., Black women (Biernat & Sesko, 2013; Sesko & Biernat, 2010; Sesko & Biernat, 2018). I conceptualize invisibility as a lack of individuation of or lack of differentiation among group members (Sesko & Biernat, 2010), such that non-prototypical statuses leads perceivers to commit memory errors for individual voices and faces that has compelling consequences (e.g., for workplace discrimination; Biernat & Sesko, 2013). In another line of research I am interested in relative invisibility which occurs when a group representation is outdated and/or erroneous. Importantly too, representations may be misperceived to be outdated, when instead they are current representations of self and group identities. In this work I examine how the relative invisibility of Native Americans affect behavioral attributes (what do they think Native Americans do?) and stereotypes. In a series of studies, viewing historical representations of Native Americans and merely thinking about the past lead to the downgrading of Native Americans’ engagement in intelligent and contemporary related behaviors, but paradoxically also to a reduction in use of negative contemporary stereotypes (Sesko & Welch, in prep).
Courses that I offer (*designates courses that I teach often):
Friends, enemies, and intimates*
Fundamentals of Psychological Research I*
Fundamentals of Psychological Research II*
Introduction to Psychology*
Psychology of Gender*
Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination*