Robert Arrowood


Assistant Professor of Psychology

Robert Arrowood received his B.A. in psychology at Tusculum College, M.S. in Research Psychology at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology, along with a graduate certification in quantitative psychology from Texas Christian University.

Most of my work uses Terror Management Theory as a vehicle for understanding broader existential and religious concerns. I have a special interest in understanding religious doubts and uncertainty, focusing on how they exacerbate or diminish larger death anxiety. My research has examined topics such as attachment to God, mental representations of divine agents, disgust and attitudes toward the body, health intentions and behavior, and existential isolation and aloneness.

My role as an educator carries important responsibilities within the classroom and the larger social world that students will eventually help shape. I believe that being a teacher goes far beyond one individual class and the specific subject matter housed within. College is a critical opportunity for students to learn a diverse array of skills needed to pursue their academic and career passions and develop the tools to work independently and confidently while having the support to explore novel interests. Since starting at UVA Wise I have taught undergraduate courses on:

  • Social Psychology (PSY 3310)
  • Psychology of Religion (PSY 3240)
  • Personality (PSY 4020)
  • Existential Psychology (PSY 4950)
  • Statistics and Data Analysis (PSY 3025)
  • Research Methods (PSY 3030)
  • Writing in Psychology (PSY 3975)
  • Introduction to Psychology (PSY 1100)
  • Psychology of Learning (PSY 3080)

Although these teaching courses is certainly an important part of being an academic, I firmly believe that education is a never-ending pursuit that persists far beyond the classroom. People are naturally curious and seek better to comprehend the world and their place in it. As a result, students often look to their teachers for mentorship and as an example of how to pursue knowledge. This can involve formal mentoring such as helping students determine what classes best fit their career goals or opportunities outside of the classroom in which they may explore their interests and practice their skills. This can also involve modelling my own lifelong pursuit of knowledge as I believe that students seeing my own desire to grow and learn is important for their motivation to grow and learn. If students actively see that their instructors are still learning new things and striving to acquire new knowledge, they will feel inspired to take on greater challenges as part of their growth.

As a student in my class, you will have the opportunity to do far more than simply discuss the material in a controlled, sterile classroom environment. You will also go beyond the class and use the knowledge to solve real world problems. For instance, my students are involved with:

  • Training shelter dogs using principles of conditioning and learning
  • Performing personality testing on shelter animals to develop “matchmaking” profiles for potential adopters
  • Participating in an overnight “ghost hunt” to examine how hyperactive agency detection influences our perception
  • Using social influence to reduce littering on campus and around the community
  • Participating in real and demonstrative psychology research conducted within a formal laboratory
  • Develop, present, and publish original research ideas
  • Presenting at local town and county council meetings about the psychological ramifications of policy decisions



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