Sarah Murnen is the Samuel B. Cummings II Professor of Psychology at Kenyon College where she studies gender-related issues using a feminist, sociocultural framework. She has recently published work on popular culture representations of gender and how they can influence body image and sexual health in both females and males. She is an associate editor of the journal Body Image, and a consulting editor for The Psychology of Men and Masculinity. She was previously an associate editor of Sex Roles. At Kenyon she enjoys teaching in both psychology and women and gender studies, offering gender-related courses as well as courses on research methods and statistical analysis.

Areas of Expertise

Gender roles, body image, sexuality


1988 — Doctor of Philosophy from SUNY Center Albany

1984 — Bachelor of Science from Bowling Green St Univ Bwlng Gr, Phi Beta Kappa

Courses Recently Taught

This course is for psychology majors (or intended majors). Students will learn to conduct a variety of statistical tests that are commonly used in psychological research. The course also builds the skills of choosing the appropriate statistical tests for particular research designs and writing and interpreting the results of statistical analyses. Students will will also learn to use the statistical software package SPSS. This counts toward the foundations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Permission of instructor by application. Offered every semester.

This course introduces students to major approaches to understanding both consistencies in individual behavior and differences among individuals. Students will learn about historical and modern approaches to the study of personality with an emphasis on empirical research. The course will consist of lectures, in-class activities and class discussions. Students will hone their skills in the areas of critical evaluation of research, written and oral communication, visual literacy and quantitative reasoning. This counts toward the clinical issues and health requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Generally offered every other year.

This course examines the biological, psychological and social bases of human sexuality. Topics include the physiology of sex functions, variations of sexual behavior, nature and treatment of sexual malfunctions, sexual identity and attitudes, differences in sexual behavior and the social dynamics of sexual interaction. This counts toward the person and society requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Generally offered every year.

In this course students will learn the basics of research in psychology. Students will participate in research projects conducted across different areas of psychology, which might involve observation and interviewing, psychological tests and measures, physiological measures and computerized tasks. Students will learn about issues of reliability and validity in psychological research, as well as ethical issues associated with psychological research. Students will further develop techniques for descriptive statistical analysis of their data, and they will communicate their research findings both orally and in writing, using the writing style of the American Psychological Association. This course is designed for sophomore and junior students planning to major in psychology. This counts toward the foundations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5 and PSYC 200. Generally offered every semester.

Science is a valuable tool for understanding the world, but when dealing with the issue of gender, it has often been applied in flawed ways. A feminist critique of science has helped us understand both the limits and the possibilities of examining issues related to gender from a scientific perspective. In this course we will consider the application of feminist theories and methods to understanding psychological issues related to gender. Students will critically analyze various research articles, conduct two class research projects and prepare written reports of the results, and develop their own proposal for a piece of independent psychological research related to gender. This counts toward the advanced research requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 250 and one of the following: PSYC 323, 325, 326, 346 and WGS 111. Offered occasionally.

This is the first semester of the two part sequence required for senior psychology majors. Each section will have a different topic, but in every seminar students will read and discuss psychological literature, write and discuss critiques of research articles, review the literature and develop a research proposal on a topic in psychology and make a formal oral presentation to the class. This theoretical framework will lay the groundwork for the execution of a project in the second half of the practicum. This counts toward the senior capstone requirement for the major. Prerequisite: senior standing and psychology major. Offered every fall.

This is the second semester of the two part sequence required for senior psychology majors. This class features hands on experience in creating and conducting research to allow students to learn by doing. We will investigate the procedure of generating research from start to finish through the lens of theory learned in the first semester Senior Seminar. This course will strongly and equally emphasize strengthening scientific writing skills, generating research designs and quantitative reasoning and application. Along the way we will practice evaluating research designs and perfecting APA style. This course is designed to prepare you for a career in research in psychology. This counts toward the senior capstone requirement for the major. Prerequisite: senior standing, psychology major and PSYC 475. Offered every spring

Individual study in psychology allows students the opportunity to pursue research on a topic of special interest. The course is designed in consultation with a faculty mentor. The level of credit can range from 0.25 to 0.5 unit of credit and students may take more than one semester of individual study. Typically, only juniors or seniors may pursue this option. To enroll, a student must first identify a member of the psychology department who is willing to mentor the project. The student must give the department chair a written description of the project, including the nature of the proposed work and a list of references. The project should include reading and reviewing scientific literature and will likely entail a research project in which original data are collected. The student and faculty member are expected to meet, on average, once a week. The final project will likely be a paper written in the style of the American Psychological Association. Additional assignments may be required as well, including a public presentation. The amount of work required for the individual study should approximate that required of other 300-level psychology courses. It is possible for students to pursue a group project but more work will be expected for the completed project and each student will write her or his own individual paper. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline.

This course will examine how popular culture (e.g., media) represents gender through making observations, reading background theory, examining content analysis research and conducting our own research. We will examine the extent to which popular culture depicts gender-stereotyped behavior, the content of the gender stereotypes, the possible reasons why stereotypes are portrayed and the likely effects of these stereotypes on the behavior of individuals and the structure of society. To the extent that it is possible, we will examine the intersection of stereotypes about gender with those associated with race/ethnicity, social class, age and sexuality. This course satisfies the quantitative reasoning requirement because students will learn about descriptive statistics and put them to use by conducting their own content analysis (in a small group) and presenting and writing about the results of their research. In a service-learning component to the course students will develop a media literacy lesson for high school students based on what they learn about their topic. This course is designed for first-year students. This counts toward the introductory requirement for the major. This course paired with any other .50 unit WGS course counts toward the social science diversification requirement. No prerequisite. Offered occasionally.

This course will examine feminist critiques of dominant methodologies and theories of knowledge creation in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. It will focus on the following questions: How do we know something? Who gets to decide what counts as knowledge? Who is the knower? In answering these questions this class will explore how power is exercised in the production of knowledge, how the norms of objectivity and universalism perpetuate dominance and exclusion, why women and other minority groups are often seen as lacking epistemic authority and what it means to have knowledge produced from a feminist standpoint. Students will learn a variety of methods and use these methods in a community-based research project. This project will involve working with community partners in Knox County and may require student participation outside of the scheduled class time. In addition, we will discuss various ethical issues that feminist researchers often encounter and what responsibilities feminist researchers have to the broader political community. This course has a community-engaged learning (CEL) component. Students may be required to travel off-campus for site visits. This counts towards the mid-level requirement for the major. This course paired with any other .50 unit WGS course counts toward the social science diversification requirement. Prerequisite: any WGS course, approved departmental course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.