Department of Psychology
Kenneth A. Norman
- Associate Chair
Alexander T. Todorov
- Departmental Representative
Michael S. Graziano
- Director of Graduate Studies
Jonathan D. Cohen, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Nathaniel D. Daw, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Susan T. Fiske, also Woodrow Wilson School
Asif A. Ghazanfar, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Elizabeth Gould, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Michael S. Graziano, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Thomas L. Griffiths, also Computer Science
Uri Hasson, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Sabine Kastner, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Yael Niv, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Kenneth A. Norman, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Elizabeth Levy Paluck, also Woodrow Wilson School
Deborah A. Prentice, also Woodrow Wilson School
Eldar B. Shafir, also Woodrow Wilson School
J. Nicole Shelton
Stacey Sinclair, also Woodrow Wilson School
Susan L. Sugarman
Alexander T. Todorov
Elke U. Weber, also Woodrow Wilson School and Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
- Associate Professor
Jonathan W. Pillow, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Emily Pronin, also Woodrow Wilson School
Jordan A. Taylor
Ilana B. Witten, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
- Assistant Professor
Timothy J. Buschman, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Alin I. Coman, also Woodrow Wilson School
Lauren L. Emberson
Johannes A. Haushofer, also Woodrow Wilson School
Diana I. Tamir
- Senior Lecturer
Justin A. Jungé
- Visiting Lecturer
- Associated Faculty
Sarah-Jane Leslie, Philosophy
Information and Departmental Plan of Study
The Department of Psychology welcomes students interested in all aspects of life and society. A rigorous understanding of human behavior and mental processes can be useful for almost any vocation. Students with a psychology degree have successfully pursued careers in science, clinical psychology, computer technology, teaching, public policy, medicine, business, law, economics and sometimes even the performing arts. The psychology concentration, within the Division of Natural Sciences, provides foundational and advanced undergraduate courses on sensation, perception, movement, language, reasoning, decision making, social interaction, and computational models of the brain. Because psychological science involves working with large and complex datasets, students learn basic statistical methods. The psychology concentration also provides a grounding in neuroscience, since mental processes and behavior arise from the brain.
Psychology majors have an opportunity to be involved in cutting-edge research for their independent work. Our faculty members represent a diversity of research topics including the development of perception and language in infants and children, the use of neural measures for understanding memory and attention, the impact of implicit biases and stereotypes on social cognition, the neural basis of social communication, and many other topics. These research experiences, combined with the course offerings, prepare concentrators for a range of possible careers. Some students pursue graduate studies in psychological science, cognitive science, or neuroscience. Some pursue careers in data science, policymaking, or teaching. The psychology concentration is compatible with fulfilling requirements for medical school and law school.
The prerequisites for entering the Department of Psychology are successful graded completion of PSY 251 (Quantitative Methods) or a pre-approved statistics course in another department (for example, ORF 245 or ECO 202), along with two other courses from the following list: PSY 101 (Introduction to Psychology), PSY 252 (Social Psychology), PSY 254 (Developmental Psychology), PSY 255 (Cognitive Psychology), or either PSY 258 (Fundamentals of Neuroscience) or NEU 200 (Functional Neuroanatomy). All requests for an alternative set of prerequisites must be approved by the Departmental Representative.
Sophomores who have fulfilled the prerequisites may apply for early concentration. If accepted, they may engage in independent reading with a faculty adviser and submit a paper at the end of the spring semester. This preparation may qualify them for more advanced independent work in the junior year.
Program of Study
Psychology concentrators must successfully pass at least eight courses within the department in addition to the three prerequisite courses. If they were not already taken as prerequisites, PSY 252, PSY 255, and either PSY 258 or NEU 200 must be included in the eight courses. It is recommended that students finish these three courses by the end of junior year. One of the eight departmental courses must be PSY 300 (Research Methods in Psychology), which must be completed by the end of junior year. Of the remaining departmental courses, all must be 200-level or higher and at least four must be at the 300- or 400-level. Students can take up to two, pre-approved cognate courses from other departments, which count as 300-level-and-above departmental courses.
Junior Independent Work: To satisfy the junior independent work requirement, each student, in consultation with a faculty adviser, must write a fall semester report and a spring semester report.
1. Fall Semester Paper: Each student is assigned to work with one faculty member from the Department of Psychology for the entire fall semester. The format of the fall report is flexible and depends on discussion between student and advisor. In one common format, the student finds a topic of personal interest that overlaps the advisor’s expertise. The student then researches the topic, finds relevant scientific papers, and writes a review of those papers, including the student’s own critical analysis and interpretation. In another common format, the student joins a research group, working with the advisor and graduate students on experiments. In this case, the fall paper contains an introduction that reviews the literature, a methods section describing the experimental procedures, a results section describing any results obtained by the end of the semester, and a discussion describing possible outcomes and interpretations. The fall paper is typically 15 to 20 pages.
2. Spring Semester Paper: With help from the department, and by talking to faculty and researching faculty web pages, students find a faculty advisor whose interests overlap their own. Students are then required to write a 20-30 page paper. The format is flexible and depends on discussions between student and advisor. In one common format, students write a research proposal. The proposal can in some cases lay the groundwork for the senior thesis, but this is not required. The paper typically includes a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, a statement of a specific scientific question, a description of the proposed methods, and a discussion of the possible outcomes and interpretations. In another common format, students perform the proposed experiments and include data in the spring paper. A second adviser, serving as a reader, will be assigned for the spring semester. Second advisers are usually from the Department of Psychology. Advisers from other departments will be considered only after the student has obtained permission from the primary adviser, the departmental representative in psychology, and the potential second adviser. Then the student must submit written notification to the Undergraduate Administrator indicating the name and department of the second adviser.
Senior Independent Work: Each concentrator must prepare a senior thesis, based either on an experimental investigation conducted by the student in a laboratory or field setting or on a theoretical inquiry or computational modeling endeavor. In close consultation with a faculty adviser, each student develops, carries out, and writes up his or her own research project. The resulting thesis serves as the basis for the first part of the senior comprehensive exam (see below). Length varies depending on type of thesis (experimental write-ups are often shorter) but is typically between 40 and 80 pages. Students are required to select a primary adviser from within the Department of Psychology. They will not be assigned a faculty member. A second adviser, serving as a reader, will be assigned. Advisers from other departments will be considered only after the student has obtained permission from the primary adviser, the departmental representative in psychology, and the potential second adviser. Then the student must submit written notification to the Undergraduate Administrator indicating the name and department of the second adviser.
Senior Departmental Examination
The senior comprehensive exam is a 60-minute oral examination conducted by two members of the faculty. The exam consists of two parts: (1) a defense of the senior thesis and a discussion of its implications, and (2) more general questions on the student's coursework and the broader field of psychology.
The department allows psychology concentrators to study abroad for one semester or a full year. Concentrators may receive credit for up to two courses per semester spent studying abroad, to count toward their departmental course requirements. Courses taken while studying abroad require the prior approval of the departmental representative. To secure approval, students must document the work load and material covered by proposed courses.
Program in Neuroscience. The department offers the opportunity for concentrators to earn a certificate through the Program in Neuroscience. Interested students should discuss the program with the certificate directors and the departmental representative. Certain advanced courses taken in the program can count as cognates in the Department of Psychology.
Facilities. The laboratories of individual faculty members are open to undergraduates for their independent work. Information about the Department of Psychology can be found online, including a current description of the research being conducted in the laboratories. Broader resources available include: the Lewis Library's collection of psychology books and journals, computer labs and high-performance computing clusters, Princeton Neuroscience Institute shared equipment such as fMRI, EEG, TMS, eye-trackers, and microscopes, and the Princeton Survey Research Center.