My Story

Don’t forget to smile…” were the words I heard as I left the house each day growing up. Maybe that’s why I’m a perennial optimist — or maybe it stems from how my frontal cortex works. Maybe optimism is a strength — maybe it’s a weakness. It’s one of many subjective lenses through which people view the world. These lenses have always fascinated me in literature, in life, and in psychological research. I explore these along with the lenses of stereotypes, prejudices, and self-concept. I’ve explored how these lenses develop and change, how they differ among people, how they underlie cooperation and conflict. They impact whether and how we care for each other and the rest of nature. They impact our own and others’ present and future well-being. They affect how we choose presidents and partners, how we are influenced by media, how we communicate… and whether we smile.

Martha Knight-Oakley


  • B.A. Psychology, Trinity University
  • M.S. Psychology (Social/Personality), Purdue University
  • Ph.D. Psychology (Social/Personality), Purdue University

Research Interests

  • Self-concept and perception of others
  • Causes and consequences of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination
  • Conservation psychology: environmental attitudes, experience, and behavior

Courses Taught

  • Psy 3180: Social Psychology
  • Psy 4160: Ecopsychology
  • Psy 4250: Social Neuroscience

Crews and Other Activities

  • Member, Association of Psychological Science
  • Member, American Psychological Association
  • Member, Society for the Teaching of Psychology
  • Member, Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  • Member, Society for Environmental, Population, and Conservation Psychology
  • Chair, Warren Wilson College Institutional Review Board
  • Community Engagement and Service
    • Asheville City Schools
    • Franklin School of Innovation
    • Verner Center for Early Learning - Founding Board Member

Contact Dr. Knight-Oakley

(828) 771-3705
Boon 222
WWC CPO 6224

PO Box 9000

Asheville, NC 28815-9000
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