Dr. Willard earned her PhD in Psychology from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She joined the KSU Department of Psychology in 2008. She primarily teaches Introduction to General Psychology, Research Methods and Statistics, Social Psychology, and Psychology of Gender. She regularly offers students directed study experiences as teaching and research assistants. Trained as a social psychologist, Dr. Willard examines human behavior from a situational perspective. Broadly, Dr. Willard’s research in social cognition examines how people’s beliefs and expectations shape social reality. Along these lines, she studies the circumstances under which self-fulfilling prophecies and perceptual confirmation exert their greatest influence. She has studied these effects using a diverse set of expectations, including parents’ beliefs about their child’s alcohol use, people’s stereotypes about overweight individuals, and participants’ expectations about other’s hostility. Dr. Willard also has interests in intersections between social psychology and the legal system. She has investigated factors that lead innocent people to take the blame for another person’s offending behavior. She has worked with undergraduate students to investigate the impact of closeness in the offender-confessor relationship, differential consequences, gender roles, and passive versus active processes on people’s blame-taking behavior. She has published her research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Science, European Journal of Social Psychology, and Behavioral Sciences and the Law. As an instructor who seeks to integrate best practices into her curriculum, she also engages in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Dr. Willard has been actively involved in coordinating the Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology conference, which serves as an outlet for newly engaged social scientists in the southeastern United States to present their research in a professional setting. She is a member of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology and the Southeastern Psychological Association.