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Experimental Psychology

Experimental Psychology

Why Do We Behave the Way We Do?
Experimental Psychology Students Seek Answers

When it comes to research, Brittney Tamayo believes enthusiasm is contagious.

“I’ve never been so excited to learn,” said Tamayo, a 2011 alumna of the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences who is enrolled in the college’s Master of Science in Experimental Psychology program.

“On the first day of orientation, all of the professors introduced themselves and described the type of research they were doing. They are so excited about what they are doing, and they make you feel excited, too. The foundation of a good graduate program is the connection with the faculty. We have such a diverse faculty, and they are willing to work with us. They tailor the program to your area of interest.”

With a strong emphasis on original research, the new master’s program began in fall 2011 with six students, including three college alumni and an international student from India. The goal of the two-year program is to add about 10 new students each year, said Thomas Fagan, Ph.D., professor and director of the college’s Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which houses the program.

Faculty members with advanced training, research experience, and versatile areas of expertise guide students in developing skills in research methodology. That, in turn, helps prepare students for careers or doctoral programs in psychology.

“Experimental psychology is really about research,” Fagan said. “Experimental psychology seeks to answer the question of why we behave the way we do—and how we operate on different levels. It looks at how the brain develops and how various brain activities can translate into behavior.”

“I feel that the experimental psychology program will serve as an exceptional preparatory course for my Ph.D. and a career in research,” said student Benita Benny, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and two master’s degrees from the University of Mumbai in India and whose interest lies in cognitive neuroscience.

“If research is your area of interest, this is the place for you,” Benny said. “The professors have great expertise in their areas of research, and they are always willing to advise and guide us in our research endeavors. They always support and encourage us to develop and work on new ideas.

“Even the coursework is designed around research, and the assessment pushes you to look beyond your textbooks. Small classes and individualized attention are a big plus.”

Outside of classes, students in this program spend several days a week in the lab.

“When we’re not in the lab, we’re collecting data, writing, or recruiting participants,” said Tamayo, who spent more than a year of her undergraduate psychology studies observing clinical research at an outpatient mental-health clinic. During her senior year, she presented her research and was awarded honorable mention at the 2011 Undergraduate Student Symposium.

Tamayo and Benny presented at the Psychology Graduate Research Series, co-hosted by the college and NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies (CPS). Their discussion and area of research focused on how working memory is affected by physical and psychological stress.

Both Tamayo and Benny plan to pursue doctoral degrees in the field of psychology. Career opportunities for graduates of this program include teaching, consulting, and conducting research for government or private industries such as insurance, pharmaceutical, or marketing companies.

“This program gives you a base and core knowledge of psychology and research methodology,” Fagan said. “We are training people to think in an experimental way. When you leave here, you can seek a career capitalizing on your research skills and your knowledge of human behavior.”

Visit Master of Science in Experimental Psychology Program to learn more about the program and faculty.

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