Dr. Coats is a developmental psychologist; she studies how individuals change and stay the same from childhood through late adulthood. Dr. Coats teaches Psychology as a Social Science and Psychology as a Natural Science (the two introductory courses offered by the psychology department), Westminster Seminar, Educational Psychology, Developmental Psychology (and lab), Adult Development and Aging, Psychology Seminar, and Research Tools. She also helps supervise senior theses.
Dr. Coats investigates emotion regulation strategies that young and older adults use to make themselves feel better when they are upset. In particular, she studies how positive reappraisal of negative situations affects memory and mood over time. She is also interested in friendship formation and the discrete emotions of anger and sadness. Dr. Coats enjoys collaborating with students on research.
Dr. Coats has published her research in journals such as Developmental Psychology; Psychology and Aging; International Journal of Ageing and Later Life; and Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. She has presented at conferences focusing on the teaching of psychology and on the interdisciplinary study of aging. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi, Gerontological Society of America, Association for Psychological Science, and American Psychological Association (Division 2: Society for the Teaching of Psychology and Division 20: Adult Development and Aging).
Dr. Coats earned a B.S. in psychology (minor in biology) from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where she graduated as valedictorian. She received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology – Cognitive Aging (minor in statistics) from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Coats has been employed at Westminster College since August 2008. Before coming to Westminster, she was a lecturer and visiting assistant professor at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. She also taught classes at Georgia Tech while in graduate school. She grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri and graduated from Helias High School.
Dr. Coats enjoys spending time with her husband, Walter, and young daughters Eleanor (Norah) and Alexandra (Alex). She lives in Jefferson City and enjoys walking, movies, and chasing toddlers around.