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 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 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; declared psychology majors only. 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 learn about historical and modern approaches to the study of personality with an emphasis on empirical research. The course consists of lectures, in-class activities and class discussions. Students 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.

Psychological research about women and gender is examined critically in this course. We examine research on gender stereotypes, on gender differences and similarities in behaviors, and on how gender relates to sexualities, power in society and experiences in the workplace. We examine the variety of theoretical perspectives that are used to try to explain gender-related behaviors. We use a variety of learning tools such as projects, papers, quizzes and discussion to learn the material. This counts toward the person and society requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Typically offered every year.

In this course, students learn the basics of research in psychology. Students 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 learn about issues of reliability and validity in psychological research, as well as ethical issues associated with psychological research. Students further develop techniques for descriptive statistical analysis of their data, and they 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.

This is the first semester of the two-part sequence required for senior psychology majors. Each section has a different topic, but in every seminar, students read and discuss psychological literature, write and discuss critiques of research articles, review the literature and develop a research proposal on a topic related to the seminar's topic, and make a formal oral presentation to the class. This theoretical framework lays 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. 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 investigate the procedure of generating research from start to finish through the lens of theory learned in the first semester. This course strongly and equally emphasizes strengthening scientific writing skills, generating research designs and quantitative reasoning and application. Along the way we practice evaluating research designs and perfecting APA style. This course is designed to prepare students for a career in research in psychology. This counts toward the Senior Capstone requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 475. Senior standing, psychology major. 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, 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 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 likely a paper written in the style of the American Psychological Association. Additional assignments may be required, including a public presentation. The amount of work required for the individual study should approximate that required of other 400-level psychology courses. It is possible for students to pursue a group project, but more work is expected for the completed project and each student writes 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 by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval.

This course examines feminist critiques of dominant methodologies and theories of knowledge creation in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. It focuses 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 explores 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 learn a variety of methods and use these methods in a community-based research project. This project involves working with community partners in Knox County and may require student participation outside of the scheduled class time. In addition, we 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 toward the mid-level requirement for the major. This course paired with any other 0.5 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.