Experimental Psychology

Experimental Psychology encompasses a variety of experimental research areas within psychology. Our faculty have background and current research interests in:

  • Human Sexuality
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Social psychology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Political psychology
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Perception and action
  • Child and adolescent development

Graduate students are prepared for doctoral-level programs in various areas of psychology, as well as careers in research and academic instruction.

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Mentored Research Project

Experimental Psychology students receive one-on-one mentorship from their faculty advisor to help them design and conduct an independent research project (6-credits; PSY 8099 Research Project in Psychology Plan B). The project may be empirical research or a meta-analysis aligned with the faculty advisor's area of expertise. A committee of the student's choosing will provide feedback on the oral and written project proposal and final completed project. The caliber of these projects is such that graduates who go on to doctoral programs have had their final papers accepted in fulfillment of master's thesis requirements, and some graduates have published their research findings in peer-reviewed journals. 

Additional Research Opportunities

Most students are involved in multiple research projects with faculty. These opportunities might involve the acquisition of new technical skills relevant to the student's career goals (e.g., EEG), experience applying statistical methods, and leadership skill development through the management of labs or coordination of studies. Motivated students often contribute to projects resulting in co-authorship on conference presentations, publications, and other scholarly works.

Julia Record Conference

Resources for Research Success

  • State-of-the-art shared psychophysiology laboratory
  • Each research lab has a dedicated space for research
  • Funding opportunities for research expenses and travel to present findings at conferences
  • Professional writing consultation services
  • Regular (typically weekly) meetings with a faculty advisor
Three students standing around a seated student who is wearing an electrode cap


Experimental Faculty Profiles

John Blanchar             Rebecca Gilbertson
Madeline Harms        Eric Hessler
Bob Lloyd                     Ashley Thompson

Full listing of Experimental research labs.


Course Descriptions

PSY 5021 Advanced Developmental Psychology (3.0 cr) Course format involved reading and discussion of reviews and journal articles about theories, research methodology, and topics central to the scientific study of human development from conception through adulthood. The role of theory as a guide for research and practice, and classical as well as contemporary theories will be examined. Normative changes and individual differences will be examined. Theoretical frameworks in the domains of social, cognitive, language, and temperament/personality development will be examined.

PSY 5052 - Advanced Statistics I (3.0 cr) Advanced statistics used for experimental and correlational research in psychology; analyze data from simple and complex research designs analysis of variance and linear regression techniques; hypothesis testing; nonparametric statistics; assumptions of tests and diagnosis of assumption violations; interpretations of results; use of common statistical software (e.g., SPSS or R).

PSY 5121 - Psychopathology Over the Lifespan (3.0 cr) Psychopathology from integrative biopsychosocial and developmental psychopathology perspectives; adult and child psychopathologies including symptomatology, prevalence, etiological evidence, typical course and prognosis, associated features, cultural and social considerations, comorbidity and differential diagnosis.

PSY 5130 Evolutionary Psychology (3.0 cr) Evolution and the theory of natural selection as it applies to behavioral processes, e.g., survival, mating strategies, parenting and family, cooperation and conflict.

PSY 5131 Mind-Body (3.0 cr) Examination of interface between biological and psychological development associated with risks for substance abuse, depression, and conduct disorders; potential commonality of mechanisms. Topics may include communication between brain and endocrine systems, evolution of the brain, homosexuality, psychoneuroimmunology, and psychopharmacology.

PSY 5401 Advanced Social Psychology (3.0 cr) Examination of core content areas and topics within experimental social psychology with a focus on application within both clinical and industrial/organizational psychology. Topics include attitude formation and attitude change, attribution theory, the self, conformity, prejudice, aggression, and prosocial behavior.

PSY 5621 Cognition & Emotion (3.0 cr) Students in this course will read and discuss scholarly reviews and journal articles on theories, research methodology, and topics central to the scientific study of human cognition, emotion, and their applications. There will be discussions on the models of cognitive (perception, memory, language, thinking, and reasoning) and emotional processes and their interrelatedness. Consideration will be given to how these contemporary models are developed and evaluated through empirical studies. Finally, how these theoretical models can be applied to educational, clinical, legal, and workplace settings will be examined.

PSY 5631 Biological Bases of Behavior (3.0 cr) Understanding how communication within the body (neuronal, endocrinological, immunological) affects behavior and psychological processes and how these systems interact to influence these processes. Examining how perturbations within these systems lead to mental illness and/or problematic behaviors. How psychoactive drugs affect these systems, with respect to clinical treatment and abuse. The neurological mechanisms of reward and drug dependence (withdrawal, cravings) will be investigated.

PSY 5821 Cognitive Neuroscience (3.0 cr) Overview of cognitive neuroscience including neuroanatomy, the neural basis of mental functions, cognitive neuroscience methods, application to psychopathology, development, social cognition, and addiction.

PSY 8021 - Research Methods and Evaluation (3.0 cr) Examination of quasi-experimental and experimental designs within psychological science. The course will provide comprehensive coverage of the assessment of reliability and validity of measures, methods, and research designs to facilitate the development of a research proposal. A wide variety of quantitative and qualitative research designs, measurement techniques, and methods will be described and evaluated in terms of internal, external, construct, and statistical conclusion validity.

PSY 8052 Advanced Statistics II (3.0 cr) Advanced statistics used for experimental and correlational research in psychology; analyze data using advanced univariate, basic multivariate, and meta-analytic techniques; assumptions of test; diagnosis of assumption violations; interpretation of results; use of common statistical software (e.g., SPSS or R).

PSY 8099 Research Project in Psychology (6.0 cr) This course provides a capstone experience for students to integrate all they have learned in order to produce scholarly work. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students will plan, design, conduct, and present an original project.

PSY 8103 - Introduction to Graduate Studies (0.0 cr) This course will orient new students to key facets of graduate studies in the Master's in Psychological Science Program. Program expectations, requirements, and timelines will be clarified to enable students to make progress in formulating goals in their chosen tracks. This course will provide students with a basis for academic collaboration and professional development by facilitating student interactions with peers and the faculty in psychology.

Example Electives: 
  • PSY 5121: Psychopathology
  • PSY 5130: Mind-Body
  • PSY 5131: Evolutionary Psychology
  • PSY 5821: Cognitive Neuroscience

Example Schedule

Fall, First Year

5052 Advanced Statistics 1 (3)
5631 Biological Bases of Behavior (3)
8103 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Psychology (0)
Elective (3) 

Spring, First Year

5401 Advanced Social Psychology (3)
8021 Research Methods and Evaluation (3)
8052 Advanced Statistics II (3)

Fall, Second Year

5621 Cognition & Emotion (3)
8099 Research Project in Psychology (Plan B) (3)
Elective (3)

Spring, Second Year

5021 Advanced Developmental Psychology (3)
8099 Research Project in Psychology (Plan B) (3)
Elective (3)

Psychophysiology Labs

Students interested in psychophysiology have the opportunity to conduct research with State-of-the-Art Psychophysiology Lab equipment.

A faculty member points out something on a computer monitor to a student.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Event-related potential (ERP)
  • Integrated 32-channel active electrode EEG & Electrocardiogram (ECG) for simultaneous brain, heart, respiration, finger pulse, galvanic skin response, and startle-blink EMG
  • Eye tracking equipment both desktop and ambulatory (Tobii Pro and ASL EYE-TRAC 7)
  • Biopac Lab hardware & software for biological data
A girl wears a cap with electrodes while two people place syringes with fluid into the sensors.