Social Psychology is the study of how people: (a) are influenced by, (b) think about, and (c) respond in the social world. That definition obviously leaves a lot of room for the study of a lot of different things. Such diversity is reflected in the scholarly interests of the current faculty members. They are interested in questions as diverse as the mental processes and structures that people use to think about other people; the mental processes and structures that people use to think about themselves; the emotional responses that people have to their memories and the social and mental processes that are linked to those emotions; the possible evolutionary bases for human social thought, emotion, and behavior (including such things as jealousy and sexual behavior); attitudes, persuasion, and social influence; how goals can influence task selection and task achievement; and the development of and nature of task interest.
Social-Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Social-I/O)
There is considerable synergy between Social and I/O. Thus, though this combination is unusual, the program makes conceptual sense, and our experience is that this combination works.
Importantly, having expertise in both areas (as well as in Quantitative Methods/Tools) makes our students unique. Colleges and universities who want solid scholars that also provide teaching flexibility find our graduates to be especially desirable. Businesses that want researchers who are fluent in research design and analysis and who also see things from both a theoretical view and from a practical view also find our graduates to be desirable.
- You'll essentially earn a major and two minors.
- The major will be either Social or I/O, as you choose
- One minor will always be Quantitative Methods.
- The other minor will be the area focus that is not the major (I/O if Social major; Social if I/O major).
The extra coursework needed to meet the needs of these three sub-areas means that students will require three years of coursework before taking the required comprehensive exam needed for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. program.
In addition to the coursework that is required, our program is also intensively research-focused. One major goal of our area is the discovery of new psychological knowledge. Accordingly, each student admitted to the program is expected to contribute to the area’s research mission from the moment they set foot on campus.
These contributions are made via:
- Your first year-project
- Both ongoing independent research and collaborative research with faculty and other students. Some of this work may count for course credit in PSYC 690 (Psychological Research) or PSYC 685 (Independent Study)
- M.A. project
- Ph.D. project
The program’s model for research is a flexible one. You are encouraged to pursue multiple research interests and to become exposed to different styles of research by collaborating with different faculty members and with other students.
In addition to the goal of discovering new knowledge, another goal of the program is the dissemination of that discovered knowledge. To accomplish this goal, students are encouraged to both present their work at scientific conferences and, when the work is ready, to publish the results of their research in the scientific psychology journals.
Gain Teaching Experience
In the program you'll also gain teaching experience in several ways. You can be:
- Assigned to assist a faculty member in an advanced undergraduate course
- Asked to supervise the research efforts of advanced undergraduates
- Assigned to teach sections of our general psychology (PSYC 102) course, or
- Assigned to teach sections of upper-level undergraduate classes, such as social psychology
Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology is the application of psychology to corporate, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations. I/O psychologists develop and apply psychological principles in these settings to improve organizational functioning and individual performance. As with the area of social psychology, these definitions and goals obviously leave a lot of room for the study of a lot of different things. Such diversity is reflected in the scholarly interests of the current faculty members. Our faculty members are interested in issues related to employee selection, newcomer socialization and mentoring, performance appraisal, group processes, employee work attitudes, leadership, climate and culture, workforce diversity, stereotyping and discrimination, and occupational health.
Much of the research enterprise involves the collection and analysis of quantitative data. This is very hard work, and it can be quite technically sophisticated. There is considerable science and technique that is involved in something as simple as assembling a useful survey. More generally, it is important to know how to best collect such data – what to do and what pitfalls to avoid. After that is the problem of what to do with the data once it has been obtained. Here again, there are a lot of things to consider. What kinds of things can you look for when scanning your data prior to analysis? What kind of analysis do you want to run? Might one technique be more appropriate for your data than another technique? Where can things go wrong? How do you best (and carefully) interpret your results? Not only are our Social and Industrial/Organizational Psychology faculty members skilled in such areas, they often teach these quantitative courses for the department.