Kara L. Winkler


M.A. in Communication Studies, California State University, Sacramento, 2011
B.A. in Communication Studies, California State University, Sacramento, 2009


Kara is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Connecticut. Kara’s research interests focus on sexual communication, specifically the cognitive, emotional, and communicative processes and outcomes of sharing sexual health-related information in close relationships. Kara is currently working on several projects related to communication and sexuality, including an investigation of testosterone’s role in benevolent sexism and rape myth acceptance, and a meta-analysis of sexual self-disclosures and sexual satisfaction. In earlier projects, Kara has examined the effects of a new positive-sex metaphor on sexual health behaviors and the effects of pillow talk on physiological stress responses to couples’ difficult conversations.

Courses Taught

University of Connecticut

  • COMM 1100: Principles of Public Speaking
  • COMM 3200: Interpersonal Communication
  • COMM/WGSS 3450: Gender and Communication
  • COMM 4220W: Small Group Communication

Sierra College

  • Public Speaking
  • Communication Basics

California State University, Sacramento

  • Senior Seminar in Intercultural Communication
  • Presentational Speaking in the Organization (discussion instructor)

Research Interests

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Sexual Health
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Uncertainty and Disclosure
  • Emotions

Research Affiliations

Interpersonal Interaction Lab

Select Publications

Denes, A., Bennett, M., & Winkler, K. L. (2017). Exploring the benefits of affectionate communication: Implications for interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory. In Rohner, R.P. & Buehler, C. (Eds.). Interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory. [Special Collection]. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 9, 491-506. doi: 10.1111/jftr.12218

Denes, A., Speer, A. C., Dhillon, A., & Winkler, K. L. (2016). Future directions in post sex communication research: Exploring long-term relationships, aging, and physiology. In J. F. Nussbaum (Ed.), Communication across the lifespan: ICA theme book (pp. 63-78). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Denes, A., Ponivas, A., Winkler, K. L., & Dhillon, A. (in press). Hormonal underpinnings of sexual communication. In A. Denes (Ed.) The Physiology of Interpersonal Communication. Oxford University Press.

Select Conference Presentations

Denes, A., Crowley, J. P., Winkler, K. L., Ponivas, A., Dhillon, A., & Bennett, M. (2018, May). Exploring the effect of pillow talk on physiological stress responses to couples’ difficult conversations. International Communication Association 68th Annual Conference. Prague, Czech Republic.

Denes, A., Crowley, J.P., Winkler, K.L., Bennett, M., Dhillon, A., & Ponivas, A. (2017, November). Exploring links between conflict, cortisol, and salivary alpha amylase: A pillow talk experiment. National Communication Association 103rd Annual Convention 2017. Dallas, TX.

Winkler, K. L., & Dhillon, A. (2017, May). Toward an understanding of victim blaming: The role of need for cognition and ambivalent sexism in predicting attitudes towards sexuality and rape myth acceptance. International Communication Association 104th Annual Convention 2017. San Diego, CA.

Winkler, K. (2016, November). Parent-adolescent communication about sexual topics. National Communication Association 102nd Annual Convention 2016. Philadelphia, PA.

Kehoe, K. (2015, May). Effects of a positive sex metaphor on protective sexual behavior. International Communication Association 65th Annual Conference 2015. San Juan, Puerto Rico.