About the Department

Psychology is the study of human and non-human animal thought and behavior. A current assessment of the field of psychology recognizes its application within a wide variety of professions including business, education, law, physical and occupational therapy, medicine, and clinical practice. While acknowledging this breadth of application, the academic discipline of psychology remains strongly wedded to scientific investigation as the fundamental underpinning of psychology and its effective application. Thus, a solid foundation in psychology hinges on an empirically-based understanding of human and non-human animal thought, experience, and behavior. Psychology also has roots in the rational self-reflective capacities of the human mind, in the search for meaning within experience, and in a humanistic concern for others. A comprehensive understanding of the field requires research training, critical analysis of psychological theories and research, and the ethical application of scientific knowledge.

The psychology faculty and curriculum represent many of the major subdisciplines in psychology (e.g., development, clinical, cognition, learning, sensation, perception, biopsychology, personality, social, and industrial-organizational). Lower division courses geared toward majors and non-majors introduce students to psychological theories and ways of knowing within broad content areas. Within the major, students progress through a series of methods, statistics, and laboratory courses and take upper division elective courses to explore selected topics in greater depth. Seminars and independent study courses provide opportunities for students to approach contemporary issues in psychology and to develop the skills of scholarship at a more sophisticated level. Cocurricular opportunities including colloquia, internships, psychology club activities, and faculty-supervised research enhance the major for interested students.

The curriculum in the Department of Psychology meets many of the broad educational goals of the university. It provides opportunities for students to strengthen both the quantitative and verbal aspects of logical thinking and critical analysis. Students develop their written and oral communication skills, consider connections between psychology and other disciplines, and apply psychological concepts to practical problems. Topics within psychology frequently reach students at a personal level, providing the motivation for both intellectual and personal development. Thus, education in psychology helps students appreciate their role within the broader contexts of community, culture, and the world.

Students with a major in Psychology develop

  1. both a breadth and depth in their understanding of the content of psychology, including familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends within the academic field;
  2. an ability to think scientifically, including the capacity to construct arguments, analyze and interpret data, reading and critique different forms of scientific writing, and evaluate ethical issues and scientific standards;
  3. an ability to express ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, within the discourse of the discipline;
  4. an appreciation for and understanding of multiple perspectives, including socio-cultural and individual differences, as well as interdisciplinary and sub-disciplinary connections among different ways of knowing and across basic and applied approaches to the social and natural sciences; and
  5. characteristics valuable for personal development and effective civic engagement, including the abilities to think critically, to work independently as well as collaboratively, to solve problems effectively, to act ethically, and to apply academic knowledge to real-world problems.

2020 Learning and Behavior Rat Training Champions!

For their extraordinary ability to adapt in the face of uncertainty, the 2020 Learning and Behavior Animal Training Champions trophy went to the entire PSYC311 class! Excellent work, everyone!

2019 Phi Beta Kappa Inductees from Psychology Department

Congratulations to Psychology majors Melanie Bussan, Mckenna Johnson, Julia Krantz, Marley Michals Levy, Ali O'Daffer, Crystal Poole, and Heather Rose Stegman for being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa! Pictured above are Ali O'Daffer, Marley Michals Levy, Crystal Poole, Melanie Bussan, Mckenna Johnson and Julia Krantz.

2018 Abigail I. Mattson '14 Award Winners

This award commemorates the extraordinary and inspiring achievements of Abigail I. Mattson '14, whose excellence in academic coursework, research, and applied service embodied the ideals of our field. This award is given to the top 1 or 2 graduating psychology students who exemplify her passionate interest in psychology, commitment to serving others, and overall excellence as a student. Lilly Bengtson '18 & Claire Canfield '18 were the 2018 recipients of this award.

Best Poster Award at the 2017 Murdock College Science Research Conference

Andre Zamani '19, Psychology, Neuroscience, attended the 2017 Murdock College Science Research Conference and was awarded Best Poster in the Neuroscience-Psychology-Exercise Science division. His project, "Oxytocin Affects Reaction Time But Not Appraisal of Uncanny Valley Stimuli" was selected from among more than 30 others, representing universities across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana.