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Amanda K. Sesko, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology 
Arts and Sciences - Social Sciences


796-6406 (Fax) (Visit Website)

Whitehead Bldg Rm 208, Juneau Campus



Ph.D. Social Psychology (2011); Minor in Quantitative Psychology (2008), University of Kansas
M.A. Social Psychology, University of Kansas (2007)
B.A. Psychology; Minor in Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004


My research reflects an interest in understanding the processes by which stereotypes guide judgment and behavior toward individual members of stereotyped groups. In particular I focus on stereotyping, prejudice, and social judgment with an emphasis on intersections of social categories. In my primary line of research I investigate the effects of prototypical standards of race and gender on social perceptions and judgments of individuals. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the processes and outcomes of invisibility as 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, in press). I conceptualize invisibility as a lack of individuation of or lack of differentiation among group members (Sesko & Biernat, 2010). For example, I argue invisibility is evident in perceivers’ treatment of Black women as interchangeable and indistinguishable, such that their individual voices and faces go unnoticed and unheard compared to their more prototypical counterparts (Sesko & Biernat, 2010; Sesko & Biernat, in press).

In another line of work, I focus on the relative invisibility of American Indians and Alaska Natives that occurs when a group representation is outdated, erroneous, or importantly misperceived to be outdated. Specifically, I examine how “historical” representations within what I call cultural tourism (or “taking a tour” through another culture through selling, commodification, and/or observation) lead to the downgrading of American Indians and Alaska Natives’ engagement in intelligent and contemporary related behaviors, but paradoxically also to a reduction in use of negative “contemporary” stereotypes (alcoholism, high school dropout; vs. historically placed negative stereotypes—savage, animalistic). Thus I investigate how strategies to combat one stereotype, may have counter intended effects on another. Importantly, these historical representations may be truly historical such that they are practices or group artifacts that are no longer used by individuals in a group, are misconceptions in that they were never used, or they may be misperceived to be historical when instead they are important current representations of self and group identities and experiences (e.g., dance, art, language, clothing).  In particular I am interested in the latter case—how perceivers decode and translate these representations, and strategies to reduce this misperception.

Other lines of research include four main issues. First, I examine whether evidentiary standards of judgment vary based on group membership (workplace performance criteria for Black women, minorities and women within police departments, American Indian and Alaska Native women and men). Second, I explore the language people use to talk about members of stereotyped groups members and how words used affect the inference made by audiences (Biernat & Sesko, 2013b; Biernat, Villicana, Sesko, & Zhao, in press). Third, I study behavioral indicators of compensatory stereotyping, or tradeoffs between “warmth” and “competence” in evaluations of members of stereotyped groups (Biernat, Sesko, & Amo, 2009). And fourth, I explore how experiences of being powerful (or powerless) affect behavioral inclinations towards, and perceptions of, sexual harassment among police officers. Although my primary interests are in stereotyping and prejudice, I have additional interests in the study of close relationships, and have examined the role of attachment style on lying and authenticity in relationships (Gillath, Sesko, Shaver, & Chen, 2010) as well as relationship-related regrets (Schoemann, Gillath, & Sesko, 2012).


Biernat, M., Sesko, A. K., & Amo, R.B. (2009). Compensatory stereotyping in interracial encounters. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 12, 551-563.

Sesko, A. K., & Biernat, M. (2010). Prototypes of race and gender: Invisibility of Black women. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 356-360.

Gillath, O., Sesko, A. K., Shaver, P. R., & Chun, D. S. (2010). Attachment, authenticity, and honesty: Dispositional and experimentally induced security can reduce self- and other-deception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 841-855.

Schoemann, A. M., Gillath, O., & Sesko, A. K. (2012). Regrets, I’ve had a few: Effects of dispositional and manipulated attachment on regret. Journal of Social and Personal   Relationships, 29, 795-819.

Biernat, M. & Sesko, A. K. (2013). Communicating about others: Motivations and consequences of race-based impressions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 138-143.

Biernat, M. & Sesko, A. K. (2013). Evaluating the contributions of members of mixed-sex work teams: Race and gender matter. Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 49, 741-476. 10.1016/j.jesp.2013.01.008

Sesko, A. K. & Biernat, M. (in press, first published online Aug 2016). Invisibility of Black women: Drawing attention to  individuality. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

Biernat, M., Villicana, A. J., Sesko, A. K., & Zhao, X. (in press, first published online Aug 2016). Effects of dyadic communication on race-based impressions and memory. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

 Biernat, M. & Sesko, A. K. (in press). Cognitive process in gender and gender bias. In Dess, N., Marecek, J., Best, D., & Bell, L. (Eds), Psychology of Gender, Sex, and Sexualities. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Courses Taught:

Introduction to Psychology (PSY 101),  Human Sexuality across Cultures (PSY/SOC 333), Personality Theories (PSY 406), Psychology of Gender (PSY 313), Social Psychology (PSY/SOC 302), Methods in the Social Sciences (SSCI 300), Data Analysis in the Social Sciences (SSCI 373), and special topics courses (PSY 375) Stereotypes and Prejudice and Close Relationships.


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