Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, and as such, we investigate the minds of humans and other species. Through gaining a fundamental understanding of the human mind, other goals will also be achieved: the skill to critically assess quantitative evidence from experimental and correlational data, to learn to take difficult and previously unstudied problems of mind and society and bring them under experimental scrutiny, to learn to speak and write about questions of theoretical and social importance that involve the mind.
The Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree is designed for industry professionals with years of work experience who wish to complete their degrees part time, both on campus and online, without disruption to their employment. Our typical student is over 30, has previously completed one or two years of college, and works full time.
Graduate study in the Department of Psychology is organized into four areas: clinical science, developmental, social psychology, and cognition, brain, and behavior. These areas consist of faculty members whose combined interests span a coherent program of advanced study and research in some subfield of psychology. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program may follow one of two tracks. The first is the Common Curriculum, which embraces social psychology, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, and perception. The second track is Clinical Science. Students may only be considered for Clinical Science during the graduate school application process.
Students enrolled in the Master of Liberal Arts program in Psychology will examine the science of psychology and gain an understanding of human behavior. Students explore core theories and the latest research, gaining insights into how human beings think, feel, behave, and navigate their social world.
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Psychology Graduate Program
- Psychology Department
Harvard Griffin GSAS typically offers the following financial support to PhD students in the Social Sciences:
- Tuition and health fee grants for Years 1 through 5
- Summer research awards in Years 1 through 4
- Financial support via guaranteed teaching in Year 3 and Year 4
- Dissertation completion fellowships
Students confirm their funding in the Student Aid Portal each year during the annual financial aid acceptance process.
All PhD students in our PhD training program receive a stipend for living expenses provided by Harvard/GSAS in the first, second, and final year of PhD training. This stipend is intended to support students so that they can focus on their studies without the requirement to engage in employment. Students are not required to perform any work for Harvard in exchange for this stipend.
- Financial Aid
- Departmental Research Support
- Harvard Griffin GSAS Fellowships
- Karen Stone Fellowship
January and Spring Term 2024 course registration is now open!
Psychology Master’s Degree Program
11 out of 12 total courses
2 weekends or a 3-week summer course
$3,220 per course
Deepen your understanding of human behavior. Advance your career.
From emotions and thoughts to motivations and social behaviors, explore the field of psychology by investigating the latest research and acquiring hands-on experience. In online courses and a brief on-campus experience at Harvard, you’ll enhance your knowledge of mental processes and human behavior.
Psychology is an in-demand field, and a master’s degree in psychology provides a solid foundation for a variety of different career paths. Job opportunities for psychologists are expected to grow, but those in certain specialties — such as substance abuse and family therapy — are even more sought after. And with many companies putting a greater emphasis on their employees mental wellbeing, professionals who have advanced psychology degrees are in greater demand.
Our well-rounded curriculum exposes you to a range of topics in psychology, cognitive science, and human development. Under the guidance of renowned faculty from Harvard and peer institutions, you’ll develop a greater understanding of how environmental and biological factors interact to determine cognitive, emotional, and psychological functioning.
Customizable path, stackable certificates, & experiential learning
Instructors who are academics and professionals at the top of their fields
Personalized academic advising
Faculty research and internship opportunities
A faculty-supported thesis or applied research project
Harvard Alumni Association membership upon graduation
Customizable Course Curriculum
Our curriculum is flexible in pace and customizable by design. You can study part time, choosing courses that fit your schedule and align with your career goals. In the program, you’ll experience the convenience of online learning and the immersive benefits of learning in person.
As you work through the program’s core courses, you’ll deepen your knowledge of essential psychology concepts, tools, and strategies. You’ll then build on that foundation by selecting elective courses that enable you to focus on the areas that are most important to you — for example, neurobiology, racial equity, or mindfulness. And you’ll culminate the experience with either a capstone or thesis.
Along the way, you can choose to earn a graduate certificate in Topics in Human Behavior by selecting courses that stack toward both credentials.
11 Online Courses
- Synchronous and asynchronous formats
- Fall, spring, January, and summer options
You’ll complete 1 on-campus course, choosing between an accelerated or standard pace:
- 2 weekends (1 in fall and 1 in spring)
- A 3-week summer session
Capstone or Thesis Track
- Thesis: features a 9-month independent research project with a faculty advisor
- Capstone: includes exploring a topic and completing a project in a classroom community
The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program.
First, you’ll register for and complete 3 required courses, earning at least a B in each. These foundational courses are investments in your studies and count toward your degree, helping ensure success in the program.
We invite you to explore degree requirements, confirm your initial eligibility, and learn more about our unique “earn your way in” admissions process.
A Faculty of Psychology Experts
You’ll learn from Harvard faculty and industry leaders who will help you gain real-world perspectives. Our instructors are renowned experts in clinical psychology, neurobiology, psychopathology, and more. They bring a genuine passion for teaching, with students giving our faculty an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.
Associate of the Psychology Department, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Research Advisor, Psychology Master’s Program, Harvard Extension School
Our Community at a Glance
Many of our students in the Psychology Master’s Degree Program are established professionals looking to make a career change (33%). Others are earning the degree for career advancement (23%) or as preparation for further advanced study (25%).
Course Taken Each Semester
Work Full Time
Would Recommend the Program
Professional Experience in the Field
Pursued for Career Change
Career Opportunities & Alumni Outcomes
Graduates of our Psychology Master’s Program work in the fields of mental health, research, healthcare, human resources, and education. Some alumni continue their educational journeys and work toward a PhD, including at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, or Harvard School of Public Health. They have also pursued further studies in other nationally ranked degree programs, including those at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Brown University.
Our alumni have gone on to work in a variety of roles, including:
- Postdoctoral Fellow
- Guidance Counselor
- Clinical Psychologist
- Academic Coordinator
- Research Program Manager
- Clinical Supervisor
- HR Consultant
Career Advising and Mentorship
Whatever your career goals, we’re here to support you. Harvard’s Mignone Center for Career Success offers career advising, online tools, employment opportunities, career fairs — including the Ivy+ Just in Time Virtual Career Fair — and connections to Harvard alumni mentors.
Your Harvard University Degree
Upon successful completion of the required curriculum, you will earn your Harvard University degree — the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Psychology.
Expand Your Connections: the Harvard Alumni Network
As a graduate of the master’s degree program in the psychology field, you’ll become a member of the worldwide Harvard Alumni Association (400,000+ members) and Harvard Extension Alumni Association (29,000+ members).
As an international student, I could not have imagined that it’s possible that there would be this kind of community.
Mariam in an entrepreneur who launched her startup through the Harvard Innovation Labs.
Tuition & Financial Aid
Affordability is core to our mission. When compared to our continuing education peers, it’s a fraction of the cost.
After admission, you may qualify for financial aid . Typically, eligible students receive grant funds to cover a portion of tuition costs each term, in addition to federal financial aid options.
How long does it take to complete the psychology graduate program?
Program length is ordinarily anywhere between 2 and 5 years. It depends on your preferred pace and the number of courses you want to take each semester.
For an accelerated journey, we offer year round study, where you can take courses in fall, January, spring, and summer.
While we don’t require you to register for a certain number of courses each semester, you cannot take longer than 5 years to complete the degree.
What can you do with a master’s degree in psychology?
A master’s degree in psychology can open doors to a range of psychology-related careers, such as a behavioral counselor, career advisor, or drug and alcohol specialist.
This type of degree can also enhance non-psychology careers, like those in the fields of advertising, human resources, and retail sales.
Understanding human behavior is an invaluable skill that spans industries and careers.
What is the difference between a master’s degree in psychology and clinical psychology?
Both types of master’s degrees provide a detailed look into human behavior.
However, a psychology master’s degree can be broader in scope and more widely applicable to a variety of careers, while a clinical psychology masters is more specialized for analyzing and treating a range of mental health disorders.
What skills do you need prior to applying for the psychology master’s degree program?
Harvard Extension School does not require any specific skills prior to applying, but in general, it’s helpful to have solid communication, critical thinking, and active listening skills if you are considering a psychology master’s degree.
Initial eligibility requirements can be found on our psychology degree requirements page .
Harvard Division of Continuing Education
The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) at Harvard University is dedicated to bringing rigorous academics and innovative teaching capabilities to those seeking to improve their lives through education. We make Harvard education accessible to lifelong learners from high school to retirement.
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- Program Requirements
Scholars in the doctoral program in Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School are prepared to pursue an interdisciplinary inquiry into issues that are broadly related to the functioning of individuals within groups, at either the micro or macro level. Graduates of our program go on to become the leading researchers and thinkers in organizational behavior, shaping the field and advancing theoretical understanding in posts at schools of management or in disciplinary departments.
The Organizational Behavior program is jointly administered by the faculty of Harvard Business School and the Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and students have the opportunity to work with faculty from both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School.
Curriculum & Coursework
Our program offers two distinct tracks, with research focused either on the micro or macro level. Students who choose to focus on micro organizational behavior take a psychological approach to the study of interpersonal relationships within organizations and groups, and the effects that groups have on individuals. In macro organizational behavior, scholars use sociological methods to examine the organizations, groups, and markets themselves, including topics such as the influence of individuals on organizational change, or the relationship between social missions and financial objectives.
Your core disciplinary training will take place in either the psychology or sociology departments, depending on the track that you choose. You will also conduct advanced coursework in organizational behavior at HBS, and complete two MBA elective curriculum courses. Students are required to teach for one full academic term in order to gain valuable teaching experience, and to work as an apprentice to a faculty member to develop research skills. Upon completion of coursework, students prepare and present a dossier that includes a qualifying paper, at least two other research papers, and a statement outlining a plan for their dissertation. Before beginning work on the dissertation, students must pass the Organizational Behavior Exam, which presents an opportunity to synthesize academic coursework and prepare for an in-depth research project.
Research & Dissertation
Examples of doctoral thesis research.
- Cross-group relations, stress, and the subsequent effect on performance
- Internal group dynamics of corporate boards of directors
- Organizational mission and its effect on commitment and effort
- Psychological tendencies and collaboration with dissimilar others
“ In HBS’s Organizational Behavior program I receive outstanding, rigorous training in disciplinary methods and also benefit from the myriad resources that HBS has to offer. HBS scholars are looking to apply their research to real-world problems, come up with interventions, and make a real difference. ”
Current Harvard Sociology & Psychology Faculty
- George A. Alvarez
- Mahzarin R. Banaji
- Jason Beckfield
- Lawrence D. Bobo
- Mary C. Brinton
- Joshua W. Buckholtz
- Randy L. Buckner
- Alfonso Caramazza
- Susan E. Carey
- Paul Y. Chang
- Mina Cikara
- Christina Ciocca Eller
- Christina Cross
- Fiery Cushman
- Frank Dobbin
- Samuel J. Gershman
- Daniel Gilbert
- Joshua D. Greene
- Jill M. Hooley
- Rakesh Khurana
- Alexandra Killewald
- Talia Konkle
- Max Krasnow
- Michèle Lamont
- Ellen Langer
- Joscha Legewie
- Ya-Wen Lei
- Patrick Mair
- Peter V. Marsden
- Katie A. McLaughlin
- Richard J. McNally
- Jason P. Mitchell
- Ellis Monk
- Matthew K. Nock
- Orlando Patterson
- Elizabeth A. Phelps
- Steven Pinker
- Robert J. Sampson
- Daniel L. Schacter
- Theda Skocpol
- Mario L. Small
- Jesse Snedeker
- Leah H. Somerville
- Elizabeth S. Spelke
- Tomer D. Ullman
- Adaner Usmani
- Jocelyn Viterna
- Mary C. Waters
- John R. Weisz
- Christopher Winship
- Xiang Zhou
Current HBS Faculty
- Teresa M. Amabile
- Julie Battilana
- Max H. Bazerman
- David E. Bell
- Ethan S. Bernstein
- Alison Wood Brooks
- Edward H. Chang
- Julian De Freitas
- Amy C. Edmondson
- Robin J. Ely
- Alexandra C. Feldberg
- Amit Goldenberg
- Boris Groysberg
- Ranjay Gulati
- Linda A. Hill
- Nien-he Hsieh
- Jon M. Jachimowicz
- Summer R. Jackson
- Leslie K. John
- Jillian J. Jordan
- Rakesh Khurana
- Joshua D. Margolis
- Edward McFowland III
- Kathleen L. McGinn
- Tsedal Neeley
- Michael I. Norton
- Joseph Pacelli
- Leslie A. Perlow
- Jeffrey T. Polzer
- Ryan L. Raffaelli
- Lakshmi Ramarajan
- James W. Riley
- Clayton S. Rose
- Arthur I Segel
- Emily Truelove
- Michael L. Tushman
- Ashley V. Whillans
- Letian Zhang
- Julian J. Zlatev
Current Organizational Behavior Students
- Jennifer Abel
- Yajun Cao
- Hanne Collins
- Grace Cormier
- Megan Gorges
- Bushra Guenoun
- Elizabeth Johnson
- Caleb Kealoha
- Kai Krautter
- Justine Murray
- C. Ryann Noe
- Dominika Randle
- Elizabeth Sheprow
- Jaylon Sherrell
- Yoon Jae Shin
- Erin Shirtz
- Samantha N. Smith
- Tiffany Smith
- Channing Spencer
- Yuval Spiegler
- Emily Tedards
- Aurora Turek
- Julie Yen
Current HBS Faculty & Students by Interest
Recent placement, nicole abi-esber, 2023, elliot stoller, 2023, ariella kristal, 2022, leroy gonsalves, 2020, alicia desantola, 2019, catarina fernandes, 2019, rachel arnett, 2018, evan defilippis, 2023, hayley blunden, 2022, lumumba seegars, 2021, karen huang, 2020, stefan dimitriadis, 2019, elizabeth hansen, 2019, erin frey, 2018, jeff steiner, 2023, ahmmad brown, 2022, yanhua bird, 2020, jeffrey lees, 2020, alexandra feldberg, 2019, martha jeong, 2019.
Harvard Extension Courses in Psychology
Return to Department List
PSYC E-15 Section 1 (23862)
Introduction to Psychology
Todd Farchione PhD, Research Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University
This course is a broad introduction to the field of psychology. Students explore the key figures, diverse theoretical perspectives, and research findings that have shaped some of the major areas of contemporary psychology. This course also examines the research methods used by psychologists across these areas to study the origins and variations in human behavior.
PSYC E-15 Section 1 (10232)
Psyc e-597c section 1 (16604).
Measuring the Mind: Precapstone in Psychometrics
Max Krasnow PhD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University
Psychometrics is just a fancy word for the assessment and measurement of psychological characteristics (skills, abilities, personality traits, knowledge, opinions, preferences, and attitudes). Political pollsters, survey writers, market researchers, teachers and trainers, and many others do this all the time without knowing they are doing psychometrics or that there is a whole field of theory and evidence-based insights into ways of doing it better. In this course, we survey the wide field of psychometrics, including principles of measurement, scale development, reliability and validity, and item response theory. Prerequisites: Registration is limited to officially admitted candidates in Master of Liberal Arts, psychology who are in their penultimate semester. Prospective candidates and students with pending admission applications are not eligible. Candidates must be in good academic standing and in the process of successfully completing all degree requirements except the capstone, PSYC E-599c, which they must enroll in the upcoming spring term as their final course. Candidates who do not meet these degree requirements are dropped from the course.
PSYC E-597d Section 1 (16605)
Precapstone: Applied Educational Psychology
Educational psychology is the study of how students learn, what challenges interfere with their learning, and how to address these challenges. In this course, we develop a firm foundation in the application of psychological insights to all things education, including teaching methods, learning formats, assessment, discipline, and socioemotional growth. Prerequisites: Registration is limited to officially admitted candidates in Master of Liberal Arts, psychology who are in their penultimate semester. Prospective candidates and students with pending admission applications are not eligible. Candidates must be in good academic standing and in the process of successfully completing all degree requirements except the capstone, PSYC E-599d, which they must enroll in the upcoming spring term as their final course. Candidates who do not meet these degree requirements are dropped from the course.
PSYC E-597 Section 2 (16885)
Theory and Research in Human Development Precapstone
Karyn Gunnet-Shoval PhD, Lecturer in Extension and Associate of the Department of Psychology, Harvard University and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College
The study of human development is interested in questions about how people learn, grow, and change. This course focuses on using human development research to improve or support human growth, development, and learning. The final paper of the semester is a written proposal for the capstone project (which includes a literature review, rationale, and stakes). Example capstone projects might include helping a public audience understand scientific findings, creating a professional development workshop on empathy for physicians, writing a curriculum to promote prosocial behavior in preschoolers, or designing a multimedia website to help workers transition into retirement. A successful proposal (which is the final product of the fall semester) is an evidence-based academic paper that convinces an audience not only that a strong need for your project exists, but that your project's theory of change (that is, how you plan to take your learners from point A to point B) is rooted in the literature on human development and psychology. As students work on their capstone proposal, they are exposed to a broad range of literature on various topics in human development. Students learn to become rigorous consumers of the scholarship on human development. Each week, we examine a different topic, drawing on conceptual frameworks and review articles as well as empirical research. Prerequisites: Registration is limited to officially admitted candidates in Master of Liberal Arts, psychology who are in their penultimate semester. Prospective candidates and students with pending admission applications are not eligible. Candidates must be in good academic standing and in the process of successfully completing all degree requirements except the capstone, PSYC E-599, which they must enroll in the upcoming spring term as their final course. Candidates who do not meet these degree requirements are dropped from the course.
PSYC E-597 Section 1 (16185)
Katie Marie Heikkinen EdD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University
PSYC E-599 Section 2 (26505)
Bridging Science and Practice in Human Development Capstone
This course builds upon the foundation in human development established in PSYC E-597 by creating a capstone project that bridges research and practice. The project includes two components: the project prototype and the report. The prototype is the specific product designed according to developmental and learning principles and the report presents the scientific justification of the prototype by explaining the design choices according to the relevant literature. Prototypes can take two different forms. First, they can apply research to practices in order to facilitate learning or behavioral change (for example, curricular materials for an educational program for adolescents to stop smoking, materials for professional development workshops on teamwork). Second, they may communicate scholarship to specific audiences who would benefit from knowing the information (for example, a publishable article or a website explaining current research on emotion function or reasoning about risk for parents and teachers). Projects build on specific interests of each student and are developed in consultation with the instructor. These specialized projects allow the students to seek a practical application in a narrow sub-field of human development, while simultaneously becoming acquainted with new research presented in PSYC E-599 and deepening their understanding of the topics covered in PSYC E-597. The capstone project culminates with a formal presentation of the students' projects. Prerequisites: Registration is limited to officially admitted capstone track candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, psychology. Candidates must be in good academic standing, ready to graduate in May with only the capstone left to complete (no other course registration is allowed simultaneously with the capstone), and have successfully completed the precapstone course, PSYC E-597, in the previous fall term. Candidates who do not meet these degree requirements are dropped from the course.
PSYC E-599 Section 1 (25763)
Psyc e-599d section 1 (26193).
Capstone: Applied Educational Psychology
This course builds upon the foundation established in PSYC E-597d by creating a capstone project that bridges research and practice. The project includes two components: the project prototype and the academic report. The prototype is the specific product designed to address the real-world problem identified in the fall term proposal. Prototypes can take one of several forms. First, they can apply research to design a project to solve or address a real-world problem in the education field. Second, they may communicate scholarship to specific audiences who would benefit from knowing the information (for example, an online training, publishable article, informational website, or printable materials). Capstone projects build on specific interests of each student and are developed in consultation with the instructor. These specialized projects allow students to seek a practical application of existing research on educational psychology, while developing their skills designing research-based practice and engaging stakeholders, whether in the role of researcher, designer, consultant, or advocate. The capstone semester culminates with a formal oral presentation. Prerequisites: Registration is limited to officially admitted capstone track candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, psychology. Candidates must be in good academic standing, ready to graduate in May with only the capstone left to complete (no other course registration is allowed simultaneously with the capstone), and have successfully completed the precapstone course, PSYC E-597d, in the previous fall term. Candidates who do not meet these degree requirements are dropped from the course.
PSYC E-599c Section 1 (26192)
Measuring the Mind: Capstone in Psychometrics
This course builds upon the foundation established in PSYC E-597c by creating a capstone project that bridges research and practice. The project includes two components: the project prototype and the academic report. The prototype is the specific product designed to address the real-world problem identified in the fall term proposal. Prototypes can take one of several forms. First, they can apply research to design a project to solve or address a real-world problem. Second, they may communicate scholarship to specific audiences who would benefit from knowing the information (for example, an online training, publishable article, informational website, or printable materials). Capstone projects build on specific interests of each student and are developed in consultation with the instructor. These specialized projects allow students to seek a practical application of existing research on psychometrics, while developing their skills designing research-based practice and engaging stakeholders, whether in the role of researcher, designer, consultant, or advocate. The capstone semester culminates with a formal oral presentation. Prerequisites: Registration is limited to officially admitted capstone track candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, psychology. Candidates must be in good academic standing, ready to graduate in May with only the capstone left to complete (no other course registration is allowed simultaneously with the capstone), and have successfully completed the precapstone course, PSYC E-597c, in the previous fall term. Candidates who do not meet these degree requirements are dropped from the course.
PSYC E-1007 Section 1 (16805)
Wellbeing from the Inside Out: Working toward a Healthy Body, Peaceful Mind, and Joyful Heart
Elizabeth Frates MD, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School
This course explores how to enhance our state of wellbeing. We look at what it means to be in a state of health and what it takes to move beyond that into wellbeing and thriving. The course focuses on the research that helps us understand how to keep our bodies healthy, our minds peaceful, and our hearts joyful. We examine both the science and the art of wellbeing. Our own experiences help to formulate our own inner wisdom, and we work to draw that out in this course as we search for the meaning of wellbeing.
PSYC E-1017 Section 1 (16781)
Cynthia A. Meyersburg PhD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University
Grief is ubiquitous. At some point in our lives, each of us will grieve, yet it can be a taboo topic. This course provides an overview of the major theories, modern research, and current issues for understanding the phenomenon of grief. We examine psychological as well as anthropological and sociological research articles so we can better address questions such as, what is grief? Why do we grieve? Did Neanderthals grieve? Is grieving over the death of pets a new phenomenon? Is there more than one normal pattern of recovery? Are there effective treatments for people with complicated grief? What are some of the grieving practices of people in different cultures? At different times in history? Is it possible to have a meaningful and worthwhile life, despite grief? What does it mean to be resilient? We read and discuss a fascinating set of materials, enriching our knowledge and understanding of this important, universal topic. This course has an optional, concurrent on-campus active learning weekend, PSYC E-1017w. In a noncredit format, you can extend your learning on the topic while engaging with peers and faculty on the Harvard University campus. If you successfully participate in the weekend, PSYC E-1017 and PSYC E-1017w fulfill four credits of on-campus course work for the Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) degree or the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM), psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, or other liberal arts programs.
PSYC E-1017w Section 1 (16861)
Grief: Active Learning Weekend
Grief is ubiquitous. Yet, in many cultures, this aspect of human experience is taboo to discuss and scientific research into understanding grief is a relatively recent endeavor. This course provides a rich, meaningful, on-campus supplement to the semester-long course PSYC E-1017. We also focus on meaning-making creative activities and on addressing collective grief. Weather permitting, we take a guided tour and explore an historic and innovative cemetery. Students learn about ethical wills and begin creating their own legacy writing. Prerequisites: Students must be concurrently enrolled in PSYC E-1017. Students should bring laptops to class.
PSYC E-1018 Section 1 (25649)
Shelley H. Carson PhD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University
This intensive January session course covers the field of resilience research, including an examination of evidence-based cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, and self-care skills that have been demonstrated to reduce risk of major psychological disorders, such as major depression and anxiety disorders, in the face of adversity.
PSYC E-1019 Section 1 (25196)
Stress, Coping, and Resilience
Evan Kleiman PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University
Everyone experiences stress, but stress does not affect everyone the same way. This course explores how stress affects individuals and the process by which individuals cope with stress. The goal of this course is to give an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and empirical work on stress (negative life events, psychological and physiological stress), coping, and resilience. The course is taught from the perspective of clinical psychology and positive psychology and covers factors like social support, self-efficacy, optimism, and gratitude. Major focus is given to the study of resilience to stress and related topics (depression, anxiety, self-injury) through the lens of positive psychology. The course includes assignments that allow students to experience first-hand how positive psychological interventions work.
PSYC E-1022 Section 1 (16774)
Happiness and Affective Forecasting
Marcia Steinbrook PhD, Professor of Psychology, Emerita, Salem State University
This course provides students with depth in a focused topic in psychology, while taking a developmental perspective. To arrive at a working definition of happiness, we review classic philosophical theories that underlie the psychology of happiness. After a brief overview of the history of happiness, we explore developmental foundations for it, and factors that contribute to or detract from it over a lifetime. We review affective forecasting skills that are essential for making better choices, in order to enhance marriage, parenting, and career satisfaction. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15 or equivalent. At least one other course in social, clinical, or developmental psychology is recommended. A basic grasp of applied statistics would be helpful.
PSYC E-1023 Section 1 (26286)
Habits and Habit Change
This course examines habits and habit change at several levels of analysis, including the biological (neurobiological), psychological (emotional, cognitive, and behavioral), and socio-cultural levels. Some of the topics we cover include the definition and measurement of habits, individual differences in our propensity to form habits and make changes to them (in other words how our personality affects our habits), the role of IQ, gender, age, and cultural differences in habits, and the relationship of habits to various forms of psychopathology. We also apply what we learn by forming a new habit of our own during the course. Prerequisites: An introductory psychology course.
PSYC E-1027 Section 1 (26450)
Psychophysiology of Stress and Resilience
Vladimir Ivkovic PhD, Instructor in Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
This course explores the concepts of stress and resilience in relation to the underlying psychophysiologic mechanisms that regulate them. Shaped by evolutionary forces, human psychophysiologic, emotional, behavioral, and social performance continuously adapts to intrinsic and extrinsic stressors with the aim of improving fitness. The traditional topics are supplemented with current stress-related research in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These core topics and processes are discussed in the broader context of (mental) health and understanding of the etiology of stress-related psychopathologies, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Contemporary findings from research studies conducted in laboratory (for example, neuroimaging), occupational and extreme (for example, spaceflight), and clinical (for example, mental health clinic) environments are discussed in the context of history, systems, and research paradigms used to study psychophysiology of stress. Theoretical concepts and research findings are evaluated relative to their utility in developing prevention and mitigation strategies for stress-related psychopathologies, and translational implementation in clinical treatments. This course may feature expert guest lecturers (occupational health experts, and NASA and Antarctic researchers) and demonstrations of state-of-the-art experimental methodologies used in psychophysiologic research on stress and resilience. Prerequisites: An introductory-level courses in psychology and human physiology is recommended prior to taking this course.
PSYC E-1037 Section 1 (26035)
Introduction to Lifestyle Medicine
This intensive January session course focuses on lifestyle medicine, which is the science and application of healthy lifestyles as interventions for the prevention and treatment of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, some neurological conditions, and some cancers. It is the evidence-based specialty bridging the science of physical activity, nutrition, stress management and resilience, sleep hygiene, and other healthy habits to individuals through clinical practice in healthcare. Lifestyle interventions include exercise prescriptions, nutrition prescriptions, stress management and resilience, smoking cessation programs, sleep evaluations, identifying and encouraging social connections, harnessing individuals' strengths, and using positive emotions such as gratitude and laughter as medicine to empower individuals to reach their optimal state of health and wellbeing. Starting with Hippocrates and ending with modern medicine, we explore how trends and guidelines in lifestyle choices by individuals and clinicians have shaped and altered the health of the population. This course brings evidence-based knowledge and practical strategies to those professionals aspiring to instill healthful lifestyle behaviors in themselves as well as in their patients, clients, family, and friends.
PSYC E-1038 Section 1 (26459)
Health: A Positive Psychology Perspective
Ellen Langer PhD, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
Why does it seem that some people are so resilient and content? This course looks at psychological and physical health from the perspective of positive psychology. The major focus is on mindfulness theory and its relationship to stress and coping, illness and wellness, decision making, and placebos. The medical model, the biosocial model, and a unified mind-body model are compared to examine their role in becoming mindful and thus healthier, happier, and less stressed.
PSYC E-1038 Section 1 (16826)
Psyc e-1050 section 1 (13822).
Introduction to Social Psychology
Holly Parker PhD, Lecturer on Psychology, Harvard University
This course provides an overview of the major concepts and questions in the field of social psychology. Students have the opportunity to discuss and think critically about a variety of exciting issues, such as the impact of social perceptions on individual behavior, factors that influence how people see themselves, romantic relationships, aggression, and the act of helping others.
PSYC E-1240 Section 1 (10236)
We examine a variety of mental disorders from several different theoretical perspectives. We focus on diagnostic issues, epidemiology, causes, gender differences, and treatments of each disorder. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15, or the equivalent.
PSYC E-1320 Section 1 (26308)
Brain Mechanisms of Psychiatric Disorders and Drug Actions
Simon Barak Caine PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Though psychopharmacology is typically restricted to training in psychiatry, it is a fascinating and rigorous science with far reaching applications for many aspects of our everyday lives. Have you wondered whether depression is caused by too little serotonin, schizophrenia by too much dopamine, or anxiety by too much cortisol? Is all that true? What does the science tell us? This course challenges the assumption that this material is of use only to health professionals and basic research scientists through an examination of specific examples of patient populations, many of which may remind you of someone you know or have known. Finally, what about recreational drugs and commonly used drugs? Is nicotine a carcinogen? Is too much caffeine bad for your health? Are cannabinoids addictive? What is the difference between cannabinoids and cannabidiols? The course covers these questions and more. Prerequisites: Background in neurobiology and/or neuroscience is extremely relevant.
PSYC E-1356 Section 1 (26283)
Evolutionary psychology is the application of principles from evolutionary biology to the study of human behavior. In this course, we explore the underlying theories in evolutionary psychology and how they have been applied to topics covering the range of human experience, including cooperation, mating, friendship, aggression, warfare, collective action, kinship, parenting, social learning, dietary choice, spatial cognition, reasoning, emotions, morality, personality and individual differences, predator avoidance, hazard management, culture, and more. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15, or the equivalent; PSYC E-1050 or PSYC E-1240 recommended.
PSYC E-1415 Section 1 (16732)
A Parkinson's victim regains control of her body with l-dopa. A schizophrenic man paralyzed by fear and hallucinations is freed from a mental institution by clozapine. A meth addict lies, cheats, and steals, ending up emaciated and dead. Miracles and monstrosities, all related to a single molecule dopamine. The overall goal of this seminar is to focus on a single subject, a single chemical neurotransmitter, and remain on that topic to proceed through three phases of study, as follows. First, to orient students to tools from multiple traditional disciplines: synaptic mechanisms of neurotransmission, neuropharmacology, behavioral pharmacology, neuroanatomy, and psychiatry. Second, to elicit interest and curiosity through examples of specific and important disease states: Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Third, to gain a historical perspective by reviewing articles of recent years. The main discipline presented in this course is pharmacology, specifically, in vivo pharmacology and more specifically, behavioral pharmacology in humans. Pharmacology has played and continues to play a key role in the history of neuroscience, in many applications of clinical medicine, and in the relationships among mind, brain, and behavior. Prerequisites: No science background is necessary, however an inclination for scientific material, and prior introductory coursework in neurobiology, neurosciences, physiological psychology, medical sciences, systems physiology, or biology is helpful.
PSYC E-1437 Section 1 (16731)
Memory Systems of the Brain
This course is a neuroscience-based survey of memory systems including the disciplines of traditional psychology (for example, behaviorism versus cognitivism), behavioral neuroscience (in animals and human patient case studies), neuroanatomy (both extrinsic and intrinsic circuitries), cognitive neuroscience (executive functions, including semantic and episodic memory, and language) and contemporary topics in learning and memory research (including epigenetics, optogenetics, and chemogenetics). Students learn how to approach original scientific articles, including citation, hypothesis, methods (key dependent and independent variables), results (including graphs, statistical analyses, and interpretation), and conclusions, and importantly, learn to determine in their professional scientific opinion if the conclusions are sufficiently justified by the results, or not. Prerequisites: Background in neurobiology and/or neuroscience is highly relevant, and in the absence of the latter, an inclination to science-based coursework and neurobiology/neuroscience especially is an advantage.
PSYC E-1440 Section 1 (16052)
Sleep and Mental Health
Edward Franz Pace-Schott PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
The scientific study of sleep is an area of research that is both highly diverse and among the most interdisciplinary and unifying of topics in psychology and neuroscience. In the past several decades, exciting new discoveries on the neurobiology of sleep have been facilitated by technologies such as functional neuroimaging and molecular genetics. Nonetheless, sleep remains mysterious and controversial and, remarkably, there still is no generally agreed upon function for this behavioral state that occupies one third of our lives. Importantly, sleep science exemplifies the translational approach in biomedical science whereby human and animal research together continually advance the field of sleep medicine. Following an overview on the physiology and behavioral neuroscience of sleep, students choose a topic related to the effects of sleep on mental health to research in depth, to present to the class, and to discuss in a term paper. Topics might include the characteristic abnormalities in sleep occurring in mood, anxiety, psychotic, addictive, autism spectrum, or neurodegenerative disorders. Such changes are increasingly seen as bidirectional, with sleep disturbances contributing to the waking symptoms of these mental disorders. Other topics might focus on the contribution of primary sleep disorders to psychiatric and neurological illness such as the linkage between sleep apnea and depression, circadian rhythm disorders in bipolar illness, insomnia as a risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders, or contribution of nocturnal seizures to neurodevelopmental disorders. Still other topics may focus on the contribution of normal sleep to emotional regulation, memory consolidation, and human performance factors. For those with more neuroscientific interests, topics might include neuroimaging of cognitive functioning following sleep deprivation or the growing interest in trafficking and disposal of abnormal proteins during sleep having a potential role in neurodegenerative illness. Prerequisites: An introductory psychology course (such as PSYC E-15).
PSYC E-1440 Section 1 (26426)
Psyc e-1475 section 1 (26058).
Culinary Psychology: How the Mind and Body Work Together to Maximize the Enjoyment of Healthy Eating
Elizabeth Frates MD, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School - Stelios Kiosses MS, Clinical Lead, Edison Education, and Research Collaborator, Computational Psychopathology Research Group, University of Oxford - Neil Rippington MA, Consultant and Author
This course teaches the basics of the psychology of eating and cooking, with an emphasis on how our minds have an impact on our taste and appetite for food. Healthy thinking and lifestyle patterns are an integral part of nutrition. Exercise, sleep, friendships, attitude, and alcohol have a significant impact on what food we consume and when we consume it. We explore the importance of our senses for the perception and enjoyment of food. We review cultural and historical aspects of food such as aphrodisiacs, processed foods, and the use of cutlery.
PSYC E-1503 Section 1 (14319)
The Psychology of Close Relationships
This course is an exploration of the psychology of close human relationships. We learn about intimate (romantic) relationships and friendships, and the ways in which these two kinds of relationships interact. Other kinds of close relationships (family and work relationships, for example) are integrated into the course, and although they are extremely valuable relationships in their own right, they are addressed secondarily to romantic relationships and friendships for the purposes of this course. Examples of topics include attraction and love, relationship formation and dissolution, relational interaction patterns, relationship satisfaction, and the social context of relationships (the influence of others). Students have an opportunity to explore relationships through readings in the popular press, but ultimately a scholarly, critical examination of the scientific literature serves as the foundation of our learning throughout the course. Students find that the literature contains unexpected findings that can change the way they look at relationships, both from academic and applied, real-life perspectives. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15, or the equivalent.
PSYC E-1506 Section 1 (26528)
Groups and Culture
Roberta Wegner PsyD, Adjunct Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the concept of groups and culture. It is designed to help students understand key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and demonstrate how individuals can come together as a group and function across scale. Drawing on examples of successful organizations and small group experiences, students learn the recipe to positive group functioning and how to create a culture that promotes learning, growth, collaboration, trust, and positive change. Students also learn how to lead a successful small group and translate these skills to larger systems. Students learn about what not to do as well; past flops from groups and organizations are shared, and how to reform a toxic culture is addressed. The course is viewed through the lens of practical application. Students walk away understanding the basic principles of group dynamics, group facilitation, and culture. There are guest speakers from both business and psychology.
PSYC E-1507 Section 1 (15447)
Psychology of Diversity
Mona S. Weissmark PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
The United States is becoming increasingly diverse and the world increasingly globalized. The central focus of the course is on the links between diversity and psychological processes at individual, interpersonal, and international levels. We consider several basic questions, including: What is diversity? How do race, nationality, and religion influence individuals? What impact does diversity have on cross-group relationships? How is diversity related to people's perceptions of fairness and justice? What is the relevance of people's perceptions of fairness and justice to social problems and social change? Does respect for diversity promote peace and positive change? Much research has addressed these questions, and we closely examine the evidence that has emerged so far. Prerequisites: Previous coursework in psychology is helpful but not required.
PSYC E-1508 Section 1 (16739)
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the concept of motivation. It is designed to help students understand what motivation is, how it relates to needs, cognitions, emotions, and behaviors. It also covers how to assess and intervene to help people achieve goals effectively. Students learn the different types of motivation, what shapes it, how to assess and measure it, how to make a theoretical formulation on where people are in their readiness for change, how to foster motivation through intervention such as motivational interviewing, and how to promote motivation on an individual and systems level. This course is led by a practicing clinical psychologist and the semester is viewed through the lens of application. Students walk away understanding what to look for, how to ask questions and assess, how to formulate an understanding of an individual's motivation to change, what tools to use, and how to think about motivation on an individual and systems level. Theory of change is touched upon as well.
PSYC E-1508 Section 1 (25117)
Motivation is an internal process that drives behavior. Understanding motivation is essential for effecting change in ourselves and in others. In this course students learn the theories and empirical research regarding motivation, as well as consider how to apply what they learn to a variety of contexts ranging from improving workplace productivity, enhancing learning in school, changing personal habits, and understanding the behaviors of others.
PSYC E-1511 Section 1 (26446)
Is Persistence a Panacea? Contextualizing Human Motivation
Timothy Valshtein PhD, College Fellow in the Department of Psychology, Harvard University
From self-help books to the latest task-tracking application, it can seem as though ample motivation is all that stands in the way of life's successes. But is it really that simple? In this course, we explore this dilemma and more by diving into the major theories of motivation and self-regulation. Taking an empirical approach, we explore how we set goals, effortfully pursue them, resist temptations, break bad habits, and develop new ones. However, this is not the whole story. In the second half of the course, we examine key drawbacks and limitations of human motivation, such as whether it is possible to have too much motivation, what happens when we give up on our goals, and the role of self-regulation in psychopathology. This course outlines the development, interrelations, and contradictions of the different approaches to understanding motivation and self-regulation, ultimately challenging and refining our understandings of human agency, self-directed behavior, and beyond.
PSYC E-1515 Section 1 (26318)
The Psychology of Competition and Peak Performance
Emily Hangen PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor, Fairfield University
Competition is ubiquitous: athletes compete on the sport field, dancers and actors audition for coveted roles, candidates vie for employment or political positions, businesses compete for profit, and students compete for scholarships and program admission. Why do some individuals choke under the pressure of competition, while others thrive? How does having a competitor or audience watching you affect how well you perform? In this course we elucidate the relation between competition and performance in discussions of social comparison theory, social facilitation, goal adoption, the opposing process model of competition, performance under stress, and deliberate practice. Students develop a scientifically-grounded understanding of how competition affects motivation and performance and learn practical, evidence-based tips for how to reach their own peak performance. Prerequisites: Familiarity with general psychology is helpful.
PSYC E-1520 Section 1 (16417)
Psychology of Willpower
Rebecca Fortgang PhD, Instructor in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
It's two in the morning. Will you finally write that paper, or will you give up and go to sleep? You are not the only person who faces dilemmas like these. Self-control is challenging, and everyone struggles with it. How do we find the willpower to do the things we will be happy about tomorrow, and stay away from things we regret? This course brings together insights from psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, and behavioral economics to identify how we can break old habits and forge new ones, resist temptation, and pursue goals. Students learn about the science of self-control and put empirically-supported strategies to the test in their own lives. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15 or the equivalent.
PSYC E-1550 Section 1 (16789)
Psychology and Religion in Historical Context
Nadine Weidman PhD, Lecturer on the History of Science, Harvard University
From Sigmund Freud's denunciation of the Judeo-Christian god as an infantile delusion to Dr. Herbert Benson's discovery that meditation can make us healthier, psychology and religion have had a long and complicated relationship. This course examines how psychologists and psychiatrists from the mid-nineteenth century to the present have tried to explain and sometimes explain away religious and spiritual experiences, practices, and phenomena. Is faith in the supernatural an essential human trait a channel to the "superconscious," as William James argued? Or is it a form of madness? Is religion responsible for humans' longevity as a species, as evolutionary psychologists claim? Or are religious differences now tearing us apart? If religious phenomena become increasingly subject to to psychological explanation, is there still a place for god in a secular world? We ponder our own answers to these questions as we read those offered by such major scientific thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, William James, Gordon Allport, Aldous Huxley, Lois Murphy, and E.O. Wilson, and by religious, spiritual, and mystical thinkers from a range of traditions Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist.
PSYC E-1552 Section 1 (26322)
Music and the Mind
Mayron Pereira Piccolo Ribeiro PhD, College Fellow, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Music is an important ally when we feel like celebrating and when we are feeling down. It can distract us, or make us forget or remember things more easily. Why do songs like "The Scientist" give us a sad vibe while songs like "I Got a Feeling" set the stage for a fun night ahead? Is music training like crossfit for the brain? How can music engagement (that is, passive listening or active making of music) support wellbeing? In this intensive January session course, we explore how music modulates our emotions and behaviors through the lens of psychological science. We look at how the brain experiences music and the impact of music and musical training on brain plasticity throughout different stages of development. Finally, using empirical research and case studies, we discuss how music is applied to daily life and how it has benefited premature babies, individuals with mental disorders (such as depression), as well as conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
PSYC E-1552 Section 2 (26511)
John Patrick Whelan MD, PhD, Lecturer on Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Maestro Leonard Bernstein famously presented six Norton Lectures in the Harvard Square Theater entitled, "The Unanswered Question." What is music? Why do humans enjoy it? What are the evolutionary origins of our music sense and its relationship to speech? This course explores the neuroanatomy of hearing and music perception, its relationship to sound perception in other species, the extraordinary capacity for musical memory, the relationship between music and emotion, and alterations in music perception seen in patients with autism, Williams syndrome, stroke, and dementia. No previous musical training is necessary, but students can anticipate gaining an improved appreciation of musical form and variety across cultures, and a sense of the tremendous experimental progress the past twenty years have brought to the neuroscience of music perception.
PSYC E-1557 Section 1 (25118)
Self and Identity
Alexandra Sedlovskaya PhD, Associate Director, C. Roland Christensen Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard Business School
Our sense of who we are permeates every aspect of our life. This course explores how we develop a sense of self; how we navigate multiple identities, some of which may be conflicting or socially devalued; and how these identities affect both consciously and unconsciously our thoughts, motives, feelings, and behavior. Students engage with classical theories and contemporary research to gain insight into psychological perspectives on self and identity.
PSYC E-1586 Section 1 (25675)
Confronting Bias in the Self and Others
Joseph Vitriol PhD, Senior Researcher and Lecturer in Political Science, Stony Brook University
Most people reject hostile expressions of prejudice and are motivated to reduce bias in their judgment and behavior, but many groups continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in modern society. Targets of prejudice often experience interpersonal and institutional discrimination that undermines their psychological well-being and economic mobility. In this intensive January session course, we critically examine the psychological processes that underpin conscious and unconscious forms of prejudice and stereotyping. We examine the effectiveness of various interventions for reducing bias, considering how and why many people fight back rather than self-improve when confronted with evidence of their own bias or that of others in society. Together we work to develop a scientific understanding of how modern forms of prejudice and discrimination operate in human relations and how to confront biases in the self and others.
PSYC E-1587 Section 1 (26383)
Fake News and Political Misperceptions
At its core, politics is about the psychology of persuasion. Through rhetorical machination, argumentation, and debate, communicators try to influence how citizens think about an issue, candidate, or event. In the age of fake news and alternative facts, where misleading, sensationalized, or disproven information abounds, how individuals arrive at their political beliefs and acquire political knowledge is of central importance. In this course, we step inside the mind of citizens and political elites to explore the psychological processes underlying the persistence and consequences of misinformation for political psychology. We examine interdisciplinary perspectives on mass communication, the structure and function of belief systems and political identity, and strategies for correcting political misperception (which often fail). A major goal of this course is to consider how psychological science contributes to our understanding of politics, and how the study of politics advances our understanding of human nature. Prerequisites: A background in social sciences, especially psychology and political science, is encouraged but not required.
PSYC E-1590 Section 1 (16830)
Psychology of Terrorism and Intergroup Conflict
Miriam Lindner PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology, Harvard University
In recent years, the specter of terrorism has returned to Western democracies, where violent attacks have shaken the United States, Canada, Norway, France, and Germany. While leaders and civilians are usually quick to respond with an outpouring of grief and solidarity, critics point to the selective outrage that citizens of industrialized nations often display. When terrorist attacks occur in non-Western countries, such as Lebanon or Nigeria, news coverage is staggeringly scarce. Similarly, we witness differential standards in other domains of political violence: outside attackers like the 9/11 hijackers or the shooters in the streets of Paris are treated in terms of the impact and consequences of their actions, whereas those who come from within as Norwegians see Anders Breivik or Americans see mass shooters are examined for their intentions and what made them act the way they did. These examples highlight only some of the key questions that arise in the wake of terrorism: why are so many people quick to refer to some events as terrorist attacks, yet debate whether the label applies to other cases in other words: when is a terrorist not a terrorist? Why are some attacks met by calls for stricter security policies, even if they curtail civil liberties? Why are we so outraged when violence hits us at home, while at the same time we turn an eye to similar atrocities occurring on foreign soil? These questions, and many others, are the province of political psychology, a field that uses experimental methods and theoretical ideas from psychology as tools to help understand political processes. After completing this course, students are able to tackle the puzzles above by referring to relevant psychological frameworks and concepts and apply them to the study of terrorism and current events. Topics covered include: in-groups and out-groups; the role of gender, ethnicity, perceived threat, political ideology, religiosity, and emotions in shaping responses to terrorism and conflict; media portrayal and elite rhetoric in the wake of terrorist violence; and interventions to curb intergroup hostility.
PSYC E-1605 Section 1 (14011)
The Brain in Psychology I: The Neuroanatomical Basis of Psychological Function
William Milberg PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
This course reviews contemporary neuroscience and neuroanatomy relevant to understanding higher psychological functions. It combines lectures and laboratory methods to help students gain understanding of the topology and connectivity of cortical structures. Students learn how anatomy as viewed through neuroimaging techniques is related to actual brain tissue and the methods through which inferences about the relationship between neural structure and function are made.
PSYC E-1609 Section 1 (25122)
Neuroscience of Learning: An Introduction to Mind, Brain, Health, and Education
Tracey Noel Tokuhama-Espinosa PhD, Educational Researcher
This course provides an overview of the neuroscience of learning through mind, brain, health, and education science (MBHE), or the intersection of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, health, and education. Fundamental biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors are introduced with an emphasis on critical functions related to learning and achievement across settings, age groups, and concepts, such as epigenetics, sensitive periods, and neuroplasticity. In addition, factors that facilitate and roadblocks that inhibit optimization of learning are explored as we discuss key cognitive constructs (language, attention, memory, executive functions, and affect/emotions) with special attention to comparative cultural influences on neurocognitive processes. These studies are directly applied by students who complete the semester research project, which is conducted in an area of personal interest.
PSYC E-1610 Section 1 (23820)
The Brain in Psychology II
This seminar is an introduction to the neuropsychological aspects of cognition, personality, and social behavior. Students are introduced to the intellectual underpinnings, assumptions, and methods used in contemporary neuropsychological research and learn how these apply to the classical problems of psychology. As part of the course, students present and analyze recent literature in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience and neuropsychology. Prerequisites: PSYC E-1605, or the equivalent recommended.
PSYC E-1612 Section 1 (26503)
Lifestyle Medicine for Brain Health and Performance
Stephanie Peabody PsyD, Founding Director, Brain Health Initiative - Shelley H. Carson PhD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University
The brain plays a critical role in every area of an individual's life, from learning, working, and playing, to personality, aptitude, and memory. The profound implications of lifelong neurogenesis (creation of new neurons), lifelong neuroplasticity (rewiring the brain through experience), and cognitive reserve (delaying the onset of degenerative symptoms via a brain health lifestyle) are too often taken for granted in our culture. It is not just about eating blueberries, taking a walk, or doing a daily puzzle. What we do at every stage of life has an impact on our brain performance. This course offers core information on the brain, brain health, performance, and optimal functioning, as well as practical ways to promote brain-healthy living to prevent injury, diseases, and other brain health problems for individuals and communities. Topics include brain anatomy and function (including plasticity and neurogenesis); common myths about the brain and brain health; the brain and brain body connection; and how to protect and promote the developing, maturing, and aging brain (for example, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, social engagement, how positive and negative thoughts affect brain functioning, stress resilience, and cognitive stimulation). Throughout the semester, students are introduced to and have the opportunity to experience evidence-based brain health and performance assessments, protocols, and tools to optimize brain health and enhance brain performance.
PSYC E-1620 Section 1 (16124)
Brain and Behavior in the Extremes
What happens to the human brain and behavior when we are exposed to isolated, confined, and extreme environments? Examples include spaceflight; high altitude flights or mountaineering; submersed or underwater activities; and polar, desert, or jungle exploration. In addition to these classical extreme environments, the COVID-19 pandemic placed a large portion of the world's population in an extreme environment defined by social and physical isolation/confinement, movement and travel restrictions, disruption of personal and professional activities, and novel health risks and behavioral adjustments. This course covers the effects of extreme environmental exposures on major physiologic systems and the resulting neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral performance and (re)adaptation. These topics are augmented by contemporary findings from research studies conducted in operational environments and discussed in the context of history, experimental methods, and research paradigms used in extreme environmental physiology and translational neuroscience. We also review current studies emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss them in the context of transition from every day to a new normal extreme environment, including physiologic, behavioral, and social adaptations. Theoretical concepts and research findings are evaluated relative to their utility in developing functional countermeasures for extreme human habitation as well as methods for clinical treatment of related medical conditions in the general population. As such, this course may be particularly interesting to students pursuing careers in translational neuroscience, psychology, extreme physiology/medicine, and human performance in extreme environments. This course features expert guest lecturers (for example, NASA astronauts and researchers, Antarctic expeditionary physicians, and underwater explorers) and demonstrations of unique experimental methodologies and equipment used in isolated, confined, and extreme environments. Prerequisites: Prospective students would benefit from completing introductory-level courses in psychology and human physiology prior to taking this course.
PSYC E-1704 Section 1 (15403)
Creativity Research: Eccentrics, Geniuses, and Harvard Students
Human creativity is essential to our ability to survive and thrive as a species. In addition, creativity in the arts enriches and adds breadth to our everyday experiences. Creativity in the sciences has extended our lifespan, made living conditions more comfortable, and opened the worlds of outer space and inner space to our scrutiny and amazement. This course provides an overview of the major theories, modern research, and current issues in the field of creativity. We examine creativity from different levels of analysis, including biological, psychological, and social levels. We use three different approaches in our examinations: first, we examine empirical research; second, we employ the case-study approach to learn from the lives of history's most eminent creative achievers; and finally, we use ourselves as subjects to arrive at valuable insights about the creative process. Some of the topics we cover include the definition and measurement of creativity, the nature of the creative process, the creative personality, the role of family life and culture in creativity, the relationship of creativity to IQ, and the relationship of creativity to psychopathology.
PSYC E-1853 Section 1 (26393)
Psychosis: Development, Symptoms, and Treatment
Psychosis is among the most mysterious states of the human mind. It is a symptom of several psychiatric disorders, most notably schizophrenia. It can also be experienced temporarily under the influence of psychoactive drugs, sleep loss, or extreme stress. In this course, we discuss the symptoms and phenomenology of psychosis and how it manifests in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Students also learn about the various pathways of its development, with a focus on genetic and environmental influences, as well as possible treatment interventions. Students are challenged to confront their preexisting notions about psychosis and to develop understanding and empathy for those experiencing it. Prerequisites: An introductory psychology course recommended.
PSYC E-1860 Section 1 (26507)
Pseudoscience and Mental Health
In clinical psychology, it is essential to distinguish valid scientific claims from pseudoscientific ones so that we conduct research that is elucidating and provide treatments that work. This course teaches students the critical thinking skills necessary to identify the characteristics of pseudoscience, applying what they learn to evaluate popular, and often controversial, methods, assessments, and treatments within the field of clinical science. Controversies to be examined include the following: is the Rorschach inkblot test a valid measure of psychopathology? Is there such a thing as multiple personality disorder? Is it possible to remember events that did not actually occur? The critical thinking skills learned in this course can help students recognize bias and errors in their own research and that of others. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15 or permission of the instructor.
PSYC E-1865 Section 1 (25735)
Psychopaths and Psychopathy
Ellsworth Lapham Fersch PhD, JD, Lecturer on Psychology, Harvard Medical School
This course focuses on criminal as well as successful white-collar and street psychopaths. Topics include definitions of psychopathy and its relation to sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder; neuroscientific and psychological research into causation and treatment; similarities and differences among male and female psychopaths; social and media reaction; and legal responses. The course examines psychological and neuroscience research as well as case studies. Prerequisites: Introductory psychology or abnormal psychology, or introductory neuroscience.
PSYC E-1871 Section 1 (16661)
Power and Privilege in Systems
Lindsey Davis PhD, Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology, William James College
This course looks at a variety of intersections between human psychology and the functioning of organizations and systems, with a focus on issues related to power and privilege. Students examine the role of psychological research in understanding and resolving systemic inequities. The differential treatment of individuals in a variety of systems (for example, criminal justice, health care, and education) are examined using social science research and case studies. These ideas are applied to analyze aspects of workplace culture and dynamics, including recruitment, retention, and conflict resolution. Students are encouraged to explore their own roles in these dynamics through self-reflection assignments and small and large group discussions. The final project requires students to work remotely in small groups to consult with an organization of their choosing regarding an identified issue related to equity and/or inclusion, using culturally competent and trauma-informed approaches.
PSYC E-1874 Section 1 (26480)
Does the Clinician-Scientist Have a Social Justice Mandate?
Kelsey Quigley PhD, Preceptor in Expository Writing, Harvard University
Central to the work of clinicians and scientists alike is a neutral stance. Mental health clinicians must act as neutral containers for their patients' experiences and emotions. Clinical scientists should, in theory, be agnostic when encountering political and cultural influences, remaining open to the full range of possible results that may be generated by their investigations. In reality, however, psychological practitioners and scientists operate within and may need to address real environmental conditions affecting the lives of their patients and participants. In this course we take up the question of what role does social justice play in the work of the clinician-scientist? In our first unit, we ask what role, if any, social justice should play in mental health assessment and treatment, drawing on literature from developmental psychopathology (where does disorder come from?) and evidence-based assessment and treatment (how do we understand it and what do we do about it?). In the second unit, we turn to the role of the scholar, asking what responsibilities the clinical scientist has as a citizen-expert. We look to historical examples in which clinical science has (or hasn't) informed public policy and consider the extent to which policymakers listen to or rely on scientific expertise. In the final part of the course, students select an aspect of clinical practice or science to examine further in a final paper or project. Example topics include: an investigation of how Henry Kempe's discovery of battered child syndrome informed child welfare law, or composition of a set of policy recommendations in partnership with a child welfare organization; an analysis of social justice components of trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a clinical case presentation and treatment plan for a hypothetical patient; or an examination of policymakers' key considerations in addressing child homelessness in Massachusetts, or consultation with a local shelter to assess their needs and draft an action plan (for example, for funding, policy change, or staff trainings). Throughout, we make use of audio (podcast) and video recordings of assessment and therapy sessions to see how clinicians gather evidence, formulate arguments, and incorporate social justice into their work or not. Likewise, we watch congressional briefings and hear from experts who have collaborated with policymakers to understand how they balance scientific neutrality with duty to share knowledge that could improve the lives of real people.
PSYC E-1877 Section 1 (26044)
The Psychology of Cults
Bethany Burum PhD, Lecturer on Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
In November of 1978, 909 members of the People's Temple perished in Jonestown, Guyana. In March of 1997, 39 followers of the Heaven's Gate cult died in a mass suicide, believing that their souls would join a spacecraft following the comet Hale-Bopp. In the 1960s and 70s, David Berg of the Children of God convinced his followers to abandon their monogamous marriages, encourage pedophilia, and allow their children to be sex trafficked. How do these things happen? This course explores the psychological mechanisms that enable cults to form and to take things to such extremes. What do cults share with other groups (mainstream religions, nations, and everyday social interactions), and what makes them stand apart? In what ways are cults an environment in which many of our psychological tendencies (toward ingroup conformity, heuristic decision making, and rationalization) are magnified? And what do cults reveal about the profound power of our social environment?
PSYC E-1880 Section 1 (14782)
Nancy Hebben PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Clinical psychology is a diverse and compelling field that combines science and practice. Clinical psychologists research, assess, and treat mental illness. They work with people to help them adjust to challenges and deal with problems of everyday life. They can develop and use empirically validated treatments to alleviate suffering and to improve functioning. They also can assess human abilities and personality traits. This course provides a broad overview of the field and introduces students to topics such as the history of clinical psychology, professional activities of clinical psychologists, diagnosis and treatment, the role of science in clinical psychology, and current issues and ethics. The course also explores some of the most common mental illnesses. In addition, students learn about preparing and applying for graduate school in clinical psychology or related fields. Prerequisites: Coursework in psychology, preferably abnormal psychology.
PSYC E-1881 Section 1 (26509)
Applied Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology is a diverse and compelling field. Clinical psychologists research, assess, and treat mental illness. They work with people to help them adjust to challenges and heal after losses. They can develop and use empirically validated treatments to alleviate suffering and to improve functioning. They also can assess human abilities and personality traits. This course introduces students to clinical psychology, including topics such as the history of treatment and the role of science in clinical psychology. The course also explores some of the most common mental illnesses. We consider challenges and controversies in the field. In addition, we learn about preparing for graduate school in clinical psychology or related fields.
PSYC E-1900 Section 1 (25981)
Statistical Modeling for Social and Behavioral Sciences
Adam Smith PhD, Senior Associate Consultant, Kincentric
Understanding and performing statistical analyses is a vital ability for those working in the psychological and behavioral sciences. Regardless of a person's specialty, the concepts of variability, probability, and predictive modeling are fundamental for answering questions involving data. This intermediate level statistics course is designed to help students understand how to manage data, formulate strong questions/hypotheses, perform analyses, and accurately evaluate statistical results and output. We use the free and open-source program R/RStudio to run statistical analyses. Because we use this tool, both academic and industry-oriented students leave the course with the capability to run complex analyses without the need for expensive software. We cover topics related to the general linear model, including regression, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Students may not take both PSYC E-1900 and STAT E-150 for degree or certificate credit. Prerequisites: High school algebra.
PSYC E-1900 Section 1 (16704)
Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
Statistics are the tools we use to summarize and describe the world around us and to explore the causal processes at work. Understanding statistics and how they are used and misused is vital to assimilating information as an informed citizen, as well as pursuing a career in the behavioral sciences and other fields. This course covers introductory and intermediate level statistics, and covers topics including principles of measurement, central tendency and variability, probability and distributions, correlation, hypothesis testing, t-tests, analysis of variance and covariance, linear and logistic regression, and chi-square tests. Students learn to use statistical software of their choice (for example, SPSS, Excel, R, or Jamovi) to help them understand how to manage data, formulate strong questions and hypotheses, and perform and interpret these statistical analyses. Students may not take both PSYC E-1900 and STAT E-150 for degree or certificate credit. Prerequisites: High school algebra.
PSYC E-2000 Section 1 (25693)
Case Studies in the Lives of Persons
Wynn Schwartz PhD, Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
How do we go about understanding and describing the lives of persons? How can we empathetically depict a life that respects how people actually behave, how people come to be the way they are, and how people change? While acting more or less cognizant and intentionally, engaged in varied roles in multiple and complex communities, people encounter and construct their worlds. Working from a theory-neutral descriptive perspective designed for comparative theoretical approaches, we employ conceptual tools that facilitate an examination of the nuanced commonalities, differences, and significant through-lines in selected adults and then apply these concepts in constructing a psychological biography or autobiography. Prerequisites: PSYC E-15 or equivalent.
PhD in Psychology at Harvard University
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Harvard University, nestled in the vibrant academic hub of Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers an outstanding fully funded PhD program in Psychology. As a pioneer in the field of psychology, Harvard has consistently upheld its commitment to academic excellence and research innovation.
Harvard’s Psychology Department is organized into four dynamic research areas:
Clinical Science/Experimental Psychopathology: Explore the complexities of clinical psychology and psychopathology through cutting-edge research.
Developmental Psychology: Investigate the fascinating world of human development, from infancy to adulthood, and contribute to our understanding of growth and change.
Social Psychology: Dive into the intricacies of social behavior, cognition, and interaction, contributing to our knowledge of human social dynamics.
Cognition, Brain, and Behavior (CBB): Delve into the interdisciplinary field of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and behavior, exploring the workings of the human mind and brain.
PhD Program Requirements
Prospective applicants must meet rigorous criteria to be considered for admission to Harvard’s PhD program in Psychology.
Admissions are highly competitive, and successful candidates often possess a diverse range of academic achievements and experiences.
PhD Funding Coverage
Harvard University is committed to supporting its PhD students in Psychology throughout their academic journey. Admitted students can benefit from generous fellowship packages that provide financial security and enable them to focus on their research and studies. The financial support typically includes:
Tuition Coverage: Harvard’s fellowship packages often cover up to six years of tuition costs, relieving students of this financial burden.
Stipend: Students receive stipends to cover living expenses during their academic year, ensuring they have the financial resources to concentrate on their studies.
Summer Research Fellowships: In addition to the academic year support, students are granted funding for summer research fellowships, allowing them to pursue their research interests year-round.
Teaching Fellowship: During the third and fourth years of the program, students are guaranteed a Teaching Fellowship, providing valuable teaching experience and additional financial support.
To initiate your journey towards a PhD in Psychology at Harvard, you will need to prepare a comprehensive application package. The package typically includes the following components:
Transcripts: Submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions to demonstrate your academic prowess.
Letters of Recommendation: Secure strong letters of recommendation from professors, mentors, or professionals who can vouch for your research potential and academic abilities.
Statement of Purpose: Craft a thoughtful and well-articulated statement of purpose that outlines your research interests, career goals, and why Harvard’s program aligns with your aspirations.
Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV): Highlight your research experiences, academic achievements, and relevant extracurricular activities.
Writing Sample: Submit a writing sample that demonstrates your analytical and research skills. This could be a research paper, thesis, or any relevant document.
Interview: Be prepared for an interview, as Harvard may invite promising candidates for further discussion about their application.
December 15, 2023
The application fee is $105.
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World University Rankings 2024 by subject: psychology
The psychology subject table uses the same trusted and rigorous performance indicators as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024, but the methodology has been recalibrated to suit the discipline.
It highlights the universities that are leading across several areas of psychology, including educational, sport, business, animal and clinical psychology.
This year’s table includes 621 universities, up from 600 last year.
View the World University Rankings 2024 by subject: psychology methodology
Stanford University in the US continues to lead this subject ranking. Princeton University switches places with the University of Cambridge to take second place this year. The US’ University of Chicago and Canada’s University of Toronto rise up to join the top 10 this year.
Of the top 50 institutions, 29 are in the US. The UK is the next best-represented, with five universities in this group, followed by the Netherlands with four. The UK has the highest number of new entrants (five).
Australia’s University of Technology Sydney is the highest-ranking new institution; it features in the 201-250 band.
Read our analysis of the subject rankings 2024 results
View the full results of the overall World University Rankings 2024
To raise your university’s global profile with Times Higher Education, contact [email protected]
To unlock the data behind THE’s rankings and access a range of analytical and benchmarking tools, click here
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Read more about the World University Rankings 2024 by subject: psychology
- Best universities for psychology degrees
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Monterrey Institute of Technology
Justin bourgeois, phd.
Assistant Professor of Medical Education
Victor fenik, phd, associate professor, paul j. feustel, m eng, phd, professor and director of research affairs, patricia grasso, phd.
Professor of Medicine
Elinor grinde, msc, yunfei huang, md, phd.
Tara A. Lindsley, PhD
Professor, Associate Dean for Curriculum, Thelma P. Lally Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Education
Sarah e. mccallum, phd.
Alexander A. Mongin, PhD
Julia W. Nalwalk, MSc
Yannick poitelon, msc, phd.
Irma Rukhadze, PhD
Matthew L. Shapiro, PhD
Damian shin, msc, phd.
Shannon Stephens, PhD
Norman L. Strominger, PhD
Kristen Zuloaga, PhD
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Alumni & emeritus faculty, lindsay b. hough, md, phd, professor emeritus, lauren jacobson, phd, rick w. keller jr., phd, isabelle m. maisonneuve, phd, joseph e. mazurkiewicz, phd, stanley d. glick, md, phd, katharine herrick-davis, phd, graduate students.
Not a student? Find information for:
Talking to Kids When the World Feels Scary
- Posted November 16, 2023
- By Jill Anderson
- Disruption and Crises
- Families and Community
- Human Development
The rise in mass shootings in the United States and growing tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas War are just two of the things happening in the world that children are likely hearing about — regardless how parents may try to shield them. Compounded with other factors like existential uncertainty, the pervasive influence of social media, and a breakdown of civility in society, children today are facing increased anxiety, says Abigail Gerwirtz , a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. Many of today’s challenges are unfamiliar with parents who are left trying to figure out the best way to respond.
“Parents are dealing with things in this generation that parents didn't have to deal with, at least in the last couple of generations. And that's a tricky thing to do, to know what to say, how to say, when to say it, what to listen for,” she says.
Although it may seem like there is nothing they can do, Gewirtz believes parents can take on these difficult conversations. In this episode of the Harvard EdCast, she shares effective communication strategies, including regulating parents' emotions and engaging in problem-solving conversations with children, and strking the balance between shielding children and providing age-appropriate information.
“I just want to acknowledge there's no resolution to these terrible events. But when I talk about resolution I'm thinking about how we can empower our children to feel better,” Gewirtz says. “These things worry us and upset us. And often we can be left feeling like, ‘There's nothing I can do,’ and we can be left feeling hopeless. But I think one of the most important messages that parents can convey to children is there is always something you can do.”
JILL ANDERSON: I am Jill Anderson. This is the Harvard EdCast.
Abigail Gewirtz knows parents are key to helping children cope when something scary happens in the world. It isn't always easy for parents to do though. She has spent decades as a child psychologist, and believes how you talk to your kids about what is going on in the world can build confidence and resilience. Many parents struggle to find that balance between protecting their child from harsh realities and making sense of them. She knows with the incessant flow of information and the impact of social media, there's a good chance that your child will see shocking and scary things happening in the world.
I spoke to Abigail soon after another mass shooting in America, and also as tensions continue to grow regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Knowing children's rates of anxiety, depression and suicide are up, I asked Abigail why children are more anxious today, and whether it's a reflection of the uncertain times we live in.
ABIGAIL GERWITZ: I think so. One of the things about increasing rates of whatever it is, is that it is very hard to attribute cause to them. But I would say that my hypothesis is that it is a number of things. Number one, we are living in a more uncertain world where, for example, there are huge and fundamental questions about climate change, for example, where we know that there are young people who are choosing not to have children because of the state of our climate and the world.
And so I think on the one hand there is existential uncertainty in a way that maybe we haven't seen since potentially the Cold War. The second issue, I think is the incessant or the universal availability of news, and worse, social media. Already back in 2020 the average age at which a young American child received his or her first cell phone was 10. And my guess would be that is even younger now. And once a child has a cell phone, the world is open to them. And I would say the unfiltered world. All the mess, the ocean of social media, is available to our children, to the extent that we have no idea what they see unless we are extremely careful and extremely diligent. Certainly with older children, teens, teens are way more tech-savvy than their parents.
And so I think the combination of this sort of existential uncertainty and the relentless news cycle and social media, some people talk about the breakdown of civility and civil society and the polarization, we live in an extremely polarized world, those things are very anxiety-provoking. We have some very emerging research on social media that suggests that the more kids are on social media, the less they're out in the world. Surprise, surprise. Not very comforting. Kids find friends on social media maybe to compensate for not having friends in the world, but of course then you avoid real life and you spend more and more time in the rabbit hole of social media.
And of course, as a friend of mine would say, the old times, when people would throw a brick through a window, we see that on social media magnified. It doesn't cause the physical damage, but it causes extensive psychic damage. And we've seen horrifying examples of bullying on social media driving children to not just feel suicidal, but to hurt themselves. It's horrifying.
JILL ANDERSON: Yeah. You talk a little bit about the world is safer in some ways than it was decades ago, and you are not the only person who has said that. I've had other people on the EdCast who have said that, but yet we have all these new stressors of worry affecting our kids, some of them that you've just mentioned. How are these different from some of the more traditional stressors in a kid's life?
ABIGAIL GERWITZ: Well, I think they're more existential, I really do. And I think in terms of civil society, the polarization of our lives, it used to be that we would bring up our children and we would trust in our civil institutions and our leadership to show models of decency. And we can't rely on that anymore. And so I think for parents, that's a tricky thing.
In America, we face a crisis of gun violence as well. The idea that life is predictable and routine, which is what children really need in the absence of having agency over what they do in a day-to-day world, they need to feel like what people tell them to do is predictable and routine and safe and secure. I think parents in turn face this crisis of not feeling that they can keep their children safe, which is a really a very difficult thing.
I think there are multiple layers of these feelings of insecurity. And of course, children don't come with a manual. Parents are dealing with things in this generation that parents didn't have to deal with, at least in the last couple of generations. And that's a tricky thing to do, to know what to say, how to say, when to say it, what to listen for, and things like that.
JILL ANDERSON: Where do you think is a good place to begin as a parent to try to understand how to approach some of these scary things that are happening in the world?
ABIGAIL GERWITZ: I think the first thing to do is to watch and listen to your children. Rather than imposing your own worries and thoughts on your child, you want to really pay attention to them. That's easy to say and hard to do. What I say is, put your own mask on before assisting others. Think about your own sensitivities. If you are going to have a conversation with your child about something that really is upsetting to you, make sure that you have time to regulate your own emotions first. Don't have a conversation with your child when you are upset, because what's going to happen is you're going to end up with reactions rather than responses. You are likely to respond impulsively based on what you are feeling, because feelings are big. Rather than taking a moment to think about how you are feeling to respond to that by taking a walk, taking some deep breaths, having a bath, whatever it is you do to help yourself regulate. And then making a decision about how to address that issue with your child.
So the first step is for parents to be it, as it were, at peace with their own feelings, and then to pay attention and watch your child and listen to your child. Your child comes in, looking upset, for example, and you want to take a guess at what's upsetting them. But don't, instead ask them. Say, "I can see that your eyes are down turned and you've got tears in your eyes, and I'm just wondering what you're feeling?" And let your child talk. Now, some kids are better than others at being able to describe their feeling states, but ways to help them are things like, "How do you feel in your stomach? I can see that you look kind of hot. And I know that when I get upset, sometimes I have butterflies in my stomach or I feel kind of sick." Not telling them that that's what they're feeling, but just helping them to calibrate and describe and then let them say what happened, and then help them identify what they're feeling. "Oh," they might say, as young children often do, "so-and-so pushed me and did something." And you might then help that child to identify their tears and what happened as you're feeling sad or you're feeling really angry or embarrassed or whatever it is.
And then the important thing to do is to validate what they're feeling. We want to protect our children, especially young children. And so what we might typically say is, "Oh, don't worry. There, there. It's fine, we'll figure it out." That sort of papers it over, it's what we might call a somewhat dismissive response. Or sometimes worse, we have a very difficult time tolerating, say, anger, and we say, "Don't be angry." And that's what we would call like a punishing response. And what we know from research on what we call emotion socialization, because all this is about how children learn about the function of emotions and what to do with them, is that children who experience more dismissing and punitive and invalidating emotions are children who have greater risk for anxiety and depression later.
What we can do is take a step back and validate our children's emotions. And that could be something like, "Gosh, that kind of thing happens to me when I was young, and I just remember feeling so sad and also angry and also kind of ashamed because I should have been stronger," or whatever it is. Or if you didn't experience that, just to say, "No wonder you felt like that. I think a lot of kids would feel that way if this happened." You're not validating the event, you're validating the feelings. And you're saying that what you are feeling now is an important clue, because emotions are there for a reason. They teach us very important things and they help us survive. So that's what we're trying to teach our children, that emotions are powerful clues to behavior and to what goes on and to ultimately survival.
JILL ANDERSON: Right. When I think of the past just couple weeks, we've seen in America a mass shooting, we're seeing the rise of the Israel-Hamas war, and who knows what will happen between the time that this actually airs or publishes.
ABIGAIL GERWITZ: Right.
JILL ANDERSON: How do you know when to shield your child from something scary that's happening versus when to talk to them about it?
ABIGAIL GERWITZ: Yeah. I mean, in the last few weeks, as you said, a mass shooting, incessant coverage of both the Hamas atrocities and the war that followed that. And huge increases in hate crimes in America, particularly hate crimes against Jews. So how to know when to shield your child and when to respond to them, again, be a detective. Kids are fantastic detectives. They know what we are feeling. Take time to watch your child, listen to your child, even for casual comments, because that will help you know what they know. Older children assume they know everything, because they generally do, especially if they have phones. But eight year olds mostly don't have phones and are often, depending on who their friends are and how much their teachers tell them, may not have full awareness of what's going on in the world. Parents may be able to shield them.
I have a close friend in Israel who, together with her neighbors in a small village, has made the decision to shield their children from what is happening. And they have no news on. The children don't receive any outside information. And they are able, more or less, to have control over what is said there. All the men are away and so they have made executive decisions about what to share with their children. Often that's not possible. And so often it's more of a question of responding and making a decision about how much detail am I going to provide. I think often parents, they want to be real, and in wanting to be real, they share too much.
JILL ANDERSON: Exactly, I'm guilty of this.
ABIGAIL GERWITZ: Right. So that's where taking a moment to pause, breathe, notice how you're feeling, and make an intentional decision about what to share comes in. Because the challenge of sharing too much, particularly gory details, awful, terrible details, I don't think young children need to know about beheadings. Or terrible, awful, grizzly details, I don't think they need to know. But it's not my decision. Parents are their children's best teachers and parents need to decide. And what I would advise is that parents reflect on their values as they think about what it is they want to share and how they want to share it.
Now I just want to acknowledge there's no resolution to these terrible events. But when I talk about resolution I'm thinking about how we can empower our children to feel better. These things worry us and upset us. And often we can be left feeling like, "There's nothing I can do," and we can be left feeling hopeless. But I think one of the most important messages that parents can convey to children is there is always something you can do.
And the way we conduct that, what I call a problem-solving conversation, is by having a goal statement. Now, "I think that the goal of our discussion now is how you can feel better about X, Y, Z. And what we're going to do is we're going to brainstorm ways that you can feel better. I've got some ideas, but you are going to have some ideas too."
Now, typically as parents, we're used to telling our children things, "You'll feel better if A, B, C." But no, this is a collaborative conversation because we want to empower our children to learn that they can solve problems in their world.
So you'll say, "The rules of this conversation are that all ideas are good ideas. I'm going to write everything down." You might say, "I know that you feel better when you take your squishy to school, and I can see whether we can get special permission from your teacher," and you write it down. And your child might say, "Well, I'll feel better if I don't have to go to school tomorrow." And you won't say, "No, you'll write it down." Then you have a group of conversations and a group of ideas, and then you go through those ideas.
And of course you've got your own values, and one of those values is your child goes to school. So you might say, "Well, I know you don't want to go to school tomorrow, but what do you think mom's going to say about that?" That's not negotiable so that's out. But there are other things your child might say, "Can you bring me to school?" And you might say, "Well, not every day but on a Friday I could bring you to school." And so what you're doing is you are collaborating to create a solution. You then can write it up as an agreement even if you want, and put it into place and review it.
Now that I've modeled a problem-solving conversation around children feeling better, but also when children want to do things, that's a great way to help them think about what they can do. And if I've got one more minute, I can give you a beautiful example from the George Floyd murder. My neighbor, we lived in Minneapolis over the period of time in which George Floyd was killed, and it was an awful time. And we lived just about a mile or two from the spot. And we had helicopters hovering over. And we lived in a cul-de-sac with a lot of children. And my next door neighbor had a five-year-old then had fallen off her bicycle and broken her arm.
So there she was, sitting with her arm in the cast. It was a hot summer's day, and she's watching the kids biking up and down the streets, and she's watching the helicopters and she's asking her parents what happened. And they had a wonderful conversation with her, following which she decided she wanted to do something for the people who were unable to buy food because local supermarkets were shuttered in the area where there were protests, and a lot of the shops were shuttered.
So there's this little five-year-old with her arm in a cast. And the problem-solving conversation results in a plan, largely through her ideas, that involved her dad taking her, carrying her into the garden, cutting lots of flowers, taking bunches of flowers in a Radio Flyer cart down the street to sell to the neighbors. The money that she raised from selling her flowers was matched by her grandma, and her dad took her to Costco where she bought food with her mom and dad, that they then delivered to the food shelf.
And that is, to me, one of the most beautiful examples of the results of a conversation, helping children feel that they do have some agency in the world during these awful, awful events.
JILL ANDERSON: Abigail Gewirtz is a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. She's the author of When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids .
I'm Jill Anderson. This is the Harvard EdCast, produced by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Thanks for listening.
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Hope and Resilience in Childhood
The Critical Link Between Parent and Teen Mental Health
A new report shows a strong connection between parent and adolescent mental health, offers prevention strategies for teen anxiety and depression
Understanding the Relationship Between Parent and Teen Mental Health
Strategies to better support the mental well-being of parents and caregivers, with a view to preventing anxiety and depression in adolescents
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Harvard psychologist shares 5 toxic things 'highly narcissistic' people always do in relationships
Red flags for extreme narcissism are often easy to identity: behaviors like boasting, monologues and condescending remarks. Just turn on any reality show, and you could make a game out of spotting them.
To be fair, these dead giveaways don't tend to show up early on in a relationship. If they did, most people would run for the hills. Some troubling traits are more subtle.
As a psychologist with 25 years of experience, here's my best advice for recognizing the early warning of highly narcissistic people:
1. They engage in 'love bombing.'
Love bombing is the pouring of praise, attention and gifts.
When it's healthy, the behavior goes by another name: the "honeymoon phase." According to decades of research , such starry-eyed treatment of our partners isn't just fun — it can predict the longevity and happiness of romantic relationships .
Don't miss: Here's the No. 1 way to respond to passive aggressive behavior, says psychology expert
But don't be fooled: in the first stages of dating, the honeymoon phase devolves into love bombing when your date glues you to a pedestal, leaving little room for enjoyment.
2. They get irritated when confronted by vulnerable feelings.
If you say something like, "I love all the flirty texts, and I'm excited to see you Saturday. I'd also like time to reflect on how I'm feeling and get some sleep during the week. How about we wait to talk then?"
A narcissist's response might be a wounded: "I don't like games." They might react with withdrawn behavior, curt remarks and slow responses to messages — until they disappear altogether.
Narcissists are often uncomfortable with vulnerable feelings like sadness, loneliness, shame, fear or even disappointment because they don't trust that anyone will truly care about or be there for them.
3. They maintain a false image of security.
The most narcissistic people cope with their attachment insecurities by maintaining a sense of themselves as so special, exceptional or unique that they don't ever need to fear facing emotional risk.
This is called "self-enhancement."
People who aren't narcissists have the flexibility to enjoy just connecting, without all the intense texting and praise. Real relationships are based on a range of ways of expressing closeness and affection.
4. They only point out your similarities.
Another way narcissists practice self-enhancement is the "the twin fantasy," or creating a sense of specialness by insisting you're both alike in as many ways as possible: "We love the same music! And isn't it great we both enjoy hiking?"
When you point out differences in your culinary or musical tastes, or you reject the surprise night out in favor of a planned date a few days from now, you may be met with irritation or silence. Narcissists are rigidly invested in maintaining a sense of specialness.
But healthy relationships can handle a slower pace, some predictability, an appreciation of each person's uniqueness, and direct conversations about how you are feeling.
5. They're controlling with plans.
Narcissists often practice stealth control. They might show up last minute with concert tickets and flowers, or make all the dinner reservations, or insist on picking the romantic picnic spot in the park.
If this is the only way a person can enjoy connecting, they may be too rigid to be trusted.
Always organizing events is a tactic to get what they want without ever having to ask (again, no risk). It's a variation on a theme: "You're perfect, as long as you let me do what I want to make us feel special together."
But the most successful relationships are able to handle variety and an equal share in who initiates the excitement.
Dr. Craig Malkin , PhD, is a psychology lecturer at Harvard Medical School and licensed psychologist with over 20 years of experience helping couples, individuals and families. His relationship advice and insights have been featured in Time, The New York Times, Psychology Today, Women's Health and NPR. He received his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Missouri and completed his post-doctorate at Harvard University Mental Health Services . He is the author of "Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping with Narcissists."
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GSEP Associate Professor, Dr. Kfir Mordechay Co-Authors Gentrification and Schools: Challenges, Opportunities and Policy Options
GSEP's Associate Professor, Dr. Kfir Mordechay, recently co-authored new research on Gentrification and Schools: Challenges, Opportunities and Policy Options. The research was published by The Civil Rights Project/ Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA, and examines the growth of gentrification in California and its impact on schools and educational opportunities in the state.
The report finds gentrification widespread, with close to half of all low socioeconomic status neighborhoods becoming gentrified* since 2000 and one in five becoming intensely gentrified. Looking closely at three prominent and diverse cities with unique desegregation histories and school choice dynamics, the research finds that over 50% of all low socio-economic status neighborhoods in Oakland have gentrified, and in Los Angeles and San Diego well over half have gentrified.
"Gentrification is changing neighborhoods across California and the rest of the nation," says co-author Jennifer B. Ayscue, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University and research associate of The Civil Rights Project. "Given the relationship between neighborhoods and schools, we must consider the impact that gentrification has on the racial composition of schools and highlight the need for cross-sector collaboration and explicit policies that address gentrification and support school desegregation."
The study highlights the complex connections between gentrification, school choice, and school segregation patterns, finding the relationship between gentrification and local elementary schools largely depends on the specific city and community being gentrified. Statewide, gentrified neighborhoods have become more racially and economically diverse compared to those that did not gentrify, but the analysis finds only modest changes in local schools.
These trends have played out differently across California cities and schools. In Los Angeles, where 55% of all low SES neighborhoods have gentrified since 2000, exposure to low-income students in gentrified neighborhoods has declined for each racial group, with the steepest decline for Whites and Asians. In Oakland, one of the nation’s most rapidly gentrifying cities, racial isolation in schools has declined for each group in areas that gentrified, but with White and Asian student isolation declining the most. In San Diego, the research finds that racial contact in schools has remained relatively stable over time for most racial groups. There also continues to be a substantial number of majority-minority and intensely segregated schools in all three cities, with the most (by far) in Los Angeles, followed by Oakland, then San Diego.
Importantly, the analysis reveals that gentrifying neighborhoods have a larger share of charter schools than communities that do not gentrify. The research illustrates a highly bifurcated and racially imbalanced charter sector, with some charters serving high concentrations of minority students and others serving high concentrations of White students.
The report makes clear that gentrification is a growing social and economic force, yet California’s schools remain among the most segregated in the nation. The authors suggest that while gentrification may produce the conditions and opportunities for significantly lowering California’s extreme educational stratification, little change will occur under the existing policies and practices without serious new initiatives, different policy conditions, and support for successful and lasting socioeconomic and racial integration.
“Public schools in California's cities have extreme school segregation by race and poverty and a large decline in students,” states Civil Rights Project Co-director Gary Orfield. “Gentrification is a massive force that could bring enrollment and integration but leadership and imagination are needed to capture the potential benefits.”
The authors argue for widespread policies and tools to help communities manage gentrification and recommend that policy discussions include the education sector to truly harness the potential upside of gentrification while minimizing the hazards of displacement, increased housing cost, and the potential for long-term re-segregation.
"Gentrification is a mixed bag, especially when it comes to schools," says lead author Kfir Mordechay, an associate professor at Pepperdine University and research associate of The Civil Rights Project. “Neighborhoods get more diverse, but schools struggle to keep pace. Integrating schools is important, and gentrification could help if done right. It is possible with the right balance and policies to make sure everyone benefits."
“ Gentrification and Schools: Challenges, Opportunities and Policy Options ,” provides detailed analysis and data on the demographics of gentrification, school enrollment patterns, racial and economic demographics, and other information. It includes detailed information and data on Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego.
The report is co-authored by Kfir Mordechay , associate professor of education and policy studies at Pepperdine University; David Mickey-Pabello , post-doctoral fellow at The Civil Rights Project; and Jennifer B. Ayscue , assistant professor of educational evaluation, policy analysis and in educational leadership at North Carolina State University.
The report was published by the UCLA Civil Rights Project/ Proyecto Derechos Civiles as part of its research series , “A Civil Rights Agenda for California’s Next Quarter Century,” in commemoration of the Project’s 25th Anniversary. The full report is available online.
About the UCLA Civil Rights Project/ Proyecto Derechos Cilvies :
The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Cilvies is co-directed by UCLA Research Professors Gary Orfield and Patricia Gándara. Founded in 1996 at Harvard University, CRP's mission is to create a new generation of research in social sciences and law on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethic groups in the US. CRP is a trusted source of segregation statistics, has commissioned more than 400 studies , published more than 25 books and issued numerous reports monitoring the success of American schools in equalizing opportunity. The US Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding affirmative action, and in Justice Breyer's dissent (joined by three other Justices) to its 2007 Parent's Involved decision, cited the Civil Rights Project's research. In June 2023 Justice Sotomayor cited CPR's research in her dissent to the court's decision banning affirmative action in SFFA v. Harvard College .
*To measure neighborhood gentrification, the researchers use Freeman’s (2005) method. A census tract is defined as gentrifiable if at the beginning of a defined period (2000 for this study), it had a median income and a share of recently constructed housing, both of which were below the 40th percentile of its city. A neighborhood is considered gentrified if it met the previously described criteria in 2000, and also experienced an increase in inflation-adjusted house values and a percentage increase in college-educated households that exceeds the increase in college-educated households in the city from 2000 to 2019.
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A brief history of evolutionary psychology, from darwin to 2023..
Updated November 14, 2023 | Reviewed by Tyler Woods
- Evolutionary psychology, as a field, can be traced back to Darwin's own work.
- Several variants of evolutionary psychology have emerged on the scene over the decades.
- Here is a brief timeline of the field—with an eye toward the future.
Trying to understand human behavior (a basic feature of our species, shaped by natural selection) without understanding evolutionary principles would be like trying to understand the details of a car without realizing that its purpose is to locomote. As several scholars, including myself, have maintained over the years, understanding evolution is simply essential for a full take on the human behavioral experience (see Evolutionary Psychology 101 ).
In an effort to help document some critical junctures that have shaped this area of inquiry, here is a brief* chronology of the field.
1859: Charles Darwin publishes On the Origins of the Species —showing the process of natural selection, evolution's primary process when it comes to the nature of life, to the world.
1872: Darwin publishes The Expression of Emotion of Man and Animals . Without question, his ideas in this book fully represent an evolutionary approach to human psychology. With Darwin's publications on evolutionary processes applied to psychological states, the field of evolutionary psychology was born.
1953: Niko Tinbergen and other behavioral scientists advance the Ethology movement, applying evolutionary principles, in a broad manner, to issues of animal behavior .
1964: William Hamilton demarcates the ideas of "inclusive fitness" and "kin-selected altruism " to help explain how evolutionary principles can shed light on prosocial (other-oriented) behavior.
Early 1970s: Robert Trivers published several seminal theoretical articles on the importance of parental investment in mating systems, reciprocal altruism, and parent/offspring conflict. These articles set the stage for the large-scale application of evolutionary principles to various facets of the behavioral experience.
1975: E. O. Wilson, of Harvard, publishes the book Sociobiology , about how evolution has shaped social behaviors across various species—our own species included. Not everyone loved the idea. But wow, this book pushed the needle in a big way.
1976: Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins published the groundbreaking book The Selfish Gene , which essentially presents Darwin's ideas for a relatively modern audience. The book focuses on the evolution of behavior in particular.
1980s-1990s: The Harvard Connection
As a then-junior faculty member, evolutionary psychologist David Buss (now at the University of Texas) took a position at Harvard University, which, as history would come to tell us, served as a hotbed for the cultivation of evolutionary behavioral science.
While not there at exactly the same time, evolutionary pugilists Steve Pinker (who was still in the early stages of applying evolutionary concepts in his work at that point) and Robert Trivers held positions at Harvard at nearly the same time. And importantly, Martin Daly and Margo Wilson held one-year sabbatical positions at Harvard while Buss was there, partly shaping this burgeoning epicenter of evolutionary thinking.
Concurrently, two thinkers who would eventually become major scholars in the field, Leda Cosmides and the late-great John Tooby, called Harvard home at the time. They both obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees while there and they learned about this budding young evolutionary thinker, David Buss, along the way.
Cosmides and Tooby later went on to marry and to, collaboratively, launch the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at UC Santa Barbara, which still operates as an internationally renowned hub of evolutionary scholarship to this day. They also introduced Buss to legendary Harvard evolutionary anthropologist, Irv Devore, during this time period. The connections and ideas regarding evolution and the human experience were percolating at full-force.
As Buss (2023) stated, this work by Cosmides and Tooby set the stage for the "develop[ment of] the conceptual foundations of evolutionary psychology, merging cognitive (science)/information processing with evolutionary theory."
Buss remained close friends with both Cosmides and Tooby. The effects all these scholars had on the advancement of evolutionary psychology have been nothing short of huge over the years.
Several other major evolutionists, such as E. O. Wilson, Ernst Mayr, and Paul Bingham, also called Harvard home during this general era.
1987-1990: Building the Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology
Between 1987 and 1990, at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, David Buss led an intellectual initiative designed to really demarcate the foundational concepts of evolutionary psychology. As part of this process, he built an all-star team of scholars, including Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Martin Daly, and Margo Wilson. The group spent the better part of a year putting together a draft of a would-be textbook in the field of evolutionary psychology. At the end of the day, everyone went back to their full-time gigs at their respective universities, and the book never was completed. But the seeds of so many evolutionary projects that would become foundational in the field were sown.
1989: The Launching of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES)
Another landmark event for the field is found in the formation of the world's first (and currently largest) intellectual society dedicated to the study of human behavior and evolution (the Human Behavior and Evolution Society; HBES ).
With roots in the work of scholars who were stationed at Michigan at the time (including Bill Irons and Napoleon Chagnon at Northwestern and David Buss and Randy Nesse at the University of Michigan), the formal launching of HBES, with renowned evolutionary biologist, William Hamilton, as founding president and founder of the field of Darwinian Medicine, Randy Nesse playing a primary role in the formalization of the organization, was an instant hit. Among the invited speakers at this first meeting of the society were Richard Dawkins and William Hamilton. Highly revered evolutionary biologist George Williams was also a regular presence at the early meetings of HBES. To put things into perspective, in the field of evolutionary studies, these folks are nothing short of icons and the society was well on its way to making a splash right out of the gate.
1992: Jerome Barkow, Cosmides, and Tooby published The Adapted Mind , which would quickly become a classic in the field, paving the way for how the field of evolutionary psychology would proceed.
1992: Then-graduate-student Margie Profet publishes (partly in The Adapted Mind ) stunning work showing that pregnancy sickness, a basic feature of the broader human experience, can best be understood within an evolutionary framework. This piece paved the way for understanding all kinds of human phenomena from an evolutionary perspective.
1994: Buss publishes the first edition of The Evolution of Desire —an insightful treatise on how evolutionary principles shed light on all facets of the human mating experience. The influence of this book on thinking within the behavioral sciences has been profound and has proven as relevant to all kinds of human issues.
1994: Randy Nesse coins the term "Darwinian Psychiatry " and shows how powerfully evolutionary principles can be applied in the field of psychiatry specifically, as well as in medicine in general. He also coined the term "Darwinian Medicine" and has been a stalwart champion of integrating Darwinian ideas into all branches of medical science and practice.
1998: David Sloan Wilson, largely in an attempt to shed light on prosociality (the helping of others), posits the idea of multi-level selection , which underscores the fact that evolutionary forces are constantly working at multiple levels regarding the evolution of organisms—humans included.
1998: Buss publishes the first textbook titled Evolutionary Psychology . In a sense, the field (which had been brewing and steeping and churning for well over a century) was born.
2009 (or so): Scholars in all kinds of fields ( education , politics , mental health, nutrition , and more) start the large-scale application of evolution to address a number of human issues. This field sits under the umbrella of Applied Evolutionary Psychology, and it even has its own society (the Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society). Leaders of this initiative included the likes of Daniel Kruger, Nicholas Armenti, and Daniel Glass, along with several other key thinkers.
2009 (or so): A similar group of scholars works to integrate the often-disparate fields of evolutionary psychology and feminism, starting the Feminist Evolutionary Perspectives Society. Leaders of this initiative included Rosemarie Sokol, Maryanne Fisher, Justin Garcia, Rebecca Burch, Laura Johnsen, and others. Perhaps the most conspicuous product of this work is found in the book Evolution's Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women .
Importantly, both AEPS and FEPS were spinoffs of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society ( NEEPS ), which held its first conference on the campus at SUNY New Paltz in 2007 and featured David Sloan Wilson and Gordon Gallup as inaugural invited speakers.
2019 (or so): Multiple scholars (including myself and Nicole Wedberg— Positive Evolutionary Psychology: Darwin's Guide to Living a Richer Life ), Doug Kenrick and David Lundberg-Kenrick ( Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain ), and David Sloan Wilson ( This View of Life )—among several others—work to apply evolutionary principles to the bright side of the human experience. In other words, there is currently a large international effort to use information from evolutionary psychology to help improve the broader human condition.
Bottom Line and the Future of Evolutionary Psychology
Importantly, the chronology presented here is limited at best. It is also noteworthy (as partly described prior) that several major regional, national, and international intellectual societies have formed over the years to help advance work in the field of evolutionary psychology (e.g., the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, International Society for Human Ethology, and more). Further, several major scholars whose work has been dedicated to evolutionizing certain subfields within psychology also warrant significant recognition (e.g., Gordon Gallup in terms of evolution connecting with neuroscience , David Bjorklund in terms of how evolution connects with developmental psychology, Peter Gray in terms of how evolution pertains to education, and more).
The above chronology hopefully sheds light on some of the critical historical markers of evolutionary psychology. In 2011, along with several collaborators (Garcia et al., 2011), we discussed the future of the field of evolutionary psychology in detail. On one hand, we found reason for optimism —for instance, we found that work in the field of evolutionary psychology shows all kinds of academic markers of being a truly interdisciplinary academic field. That said, our work, along with that of several others, has shown significant resistance to this way of thinking about the human behavioral condition within higher education.
In short, this powerful field of inquiry, which has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to shed light on the human condition, has something of an uncertain future. Hopefully, articles like this one can help move the needle a bit and get people to think about how Darwin's big ideas might have the capacity to help make the world a better place. For all of us.
Note: This article was largely inspired by conversations with David Buss—and is dedicated to a pioneer in (and champion of) the field, the late Dr. John Tooby
*and hardly complete!
Barkow, J., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (Eds.; 1992), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation` of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.
Buss, D. M. (November 10, 2023). Personal communication.
Buss, David M. (1994). The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. New York: Basic Books.
Buss, D. M. (1998). Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind (1st Edition). New York: Allyn & Bacon.
Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selectionor the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life (1st ed.). London, UK: John Murray.
Darwin, C. (1872). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. London, UK: John Murray.
Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
JR Garcia, G Geher, B Crosier, G Saad, D Gambacorta, L Johnsen & E Pranckitas. (2011). The interdisciplinary context of evolutionary approaches to human behavior: a key to survival in the ivory archipelago. Futures , 43, 749-761.
Geher, G. (2014). Evolutionary Psychology 101. New York: Springer.
Geher, G. & Wedberg, N. (2022). Positive Evolutionary Psychology: Darwin’s Guide to Living a Richer Life. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hamilton W.D. (1964). "The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I" J. Theor. Biol. 7, 1–16.
Profet, M. (1992). Pregnancy Sickness as Adaptation: A Deterrent to Maternal Ingestion of Teratogens. The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Oxford University Press. pp. 327–365.
Tinbergen, N. 1953. The Herring Gull's World . London: Collins.
Trivers, R. L. 1971. The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology 46:35-57.
Trivers, R. L. 1972. Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell, ed. Sexual Selection and the Descent of
Man, 1871-1971, Aldine-Atherton, Chicago, pp. 136-179.
Trivers, R. L. 1974. Parent-offspring conflict. American Zoologist 14:247-262.
Wilson, D. S. (1998). Hunting, sharing and multilevel selection: The tolerated theft model revisited. Current Anthropology , 39 , 73–97.
Wilson, E. O., (1975). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis , Harvard University Press.
Glenn Geher, Ph.D. , is professor of psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He is founding director of the campus’ Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program.
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Unleash your potential with Radford University's Master of Arts and Master of Science degree programs in Psychology. Dive into transformative learning experiences, guided by expert faculty, and propel your career to new heights.
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As a student in this specialization, you will gain advanced training in research methodology and data analysis while learning the core principles of psychology like social, learning, cognitive, developmental, neuroscience, psychopharmacology. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the coordinator Jenessa Steele Ph.D. , 540-831-5176.
Students studying this specialization will get to examine what motivates people to work, what techniques are available for training skills and changing attitudes, and the reciprocal social influence between the individual and the organization. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jay Caughron, Ph.D. phone: 540-831-5361.
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Students in the school psychology program earn both an M.S. degree in Psychology and an Ed.S. degree in School Psychology. The M.S. degree is conferred following successful completion of year 1 in the program (34 credits) and the Ed.S. degree is earned following successful completion of all 3 years in the program (73 credits).
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