Department of Psychology
University of Missouri-St. Louis
216 Stadler Hall
One University Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63121-4499
I earned a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies from the University of Kansas in 2005 with a clinical internship at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. I then spent two years as a Clinical Research Postdoctoral Fellow at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, where I conducted sexuality-related research and provided sex therapy to individuals and couples. I joined the Clinical Psychology faculty at UMSL in 2007.
Broadly, my teaching and research interests are in the areas of gender and human sexuality. More specifically, I have three primary and interrelated research interests-(1) understanding experiences of unwanted, coerced, and nonconsensual sex from the perspectives of both victims and perpetrators (Peterson, Janssen, & Heiman, 2010; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2004; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007a); (2) investigating the role of cognitive and emotional ambivalence in individuals' sexual experiences (Peterson & Janssen, 2007; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007a); and (3) exploring the socially constructed labels that individuals apply to their consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences and to their sexual identities (e.g., What counts as "sex"? What counts as "rape"? What is a "lesbian"? What is a "heterosexual"? Peterson, Janssen, & Laan, 2010; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2004; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007a; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007b). My research also considers the potentially important influence of gender (or our cultural expectations about gender) within each of these topic areas.
Doctoral students in my laboratory are currently conducting research related to men's and women's perpetration of sexual coercion, men's experiences as victims of child sexual abuse, and men's and women's sexual risk-taking behaviors.
Doctoral clinical psychology students who are active in my lab are eligible to complete an emphasis in Women & Gender Studies or Trauma Studies, depending on the focus of their research.
I am a member of the UM-St. Louis Safe Zone community, and I welcome and value diversity of all kinds in my lab and in the classroom.
My research lab is accepting undergraduate students (for PSYCH 3390 credit) for the Fall 2010 and Winter 2011 semesters.
My lab is accepting doctoral students in Clinical Psychology for Fall 2011.