About the Department

For over a century, the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago has been a leading center of scholarship, research and teaching in psychology and related fields. Its faculty and students range from John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism, to Roger Sperry, who won a Nobel Prize in 1981 for his research on the differences between the left and right brains. Today, faculty like Susan Levine pioneer research in the science of children’s learning. True to the Division’s interdisciplinary nature, its faculty members reflect the contemporary state of the field by serving on more than one of the department’s programs in cognition, developmental psychology, integrative neuroscience, and social psychology. Additionally, the department maintains close connections with other areas of the university: faculty and students participate in courses, colloquia, workshops and joint research ventures with scholars in related departments including anthropology, biology, computer science, education, linguistics, and philosophy, and in the University’s professional schools of business, public policy, law, medicine, and social service administration.

MAPSS Support for Psychology

Approximately 20 MAPSS students concentrate in Psychology each year. MAPSS works closely with those students to help them secure lab placements in the Psychology department, Comparative Human Development, the Booth School of Business, the School of Social Service Administration, and the UChicago Hospitals. Many begin that lab work the summer before they matriculate into MAPSS.

Dr. Samantha Peishan Fan, Assistant Director of MAPSS and Lecturer in Psychology, advises MAPSS students on lab placements, course selections, faculty advisors, and MA thesis projects. She is an expert in social and developmental psychology and teaches courses on data analysis and experimental research design. Recent MAPSS graduates who have gone on for the Psychology PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UChicago, and Minnesota, to name a few.

Sample Courses

PSYC 40300. Advanced Topics in Biological Psychology. What are the relations between mind and brain? How do brains regulate mental, behavioral, and hormonal processes; and how do these influence brain organization and activity? This course provides an introduction to the anatomy, physiology, and chemistry of the brain; their changes in response to the experiential and sociocultural environment; and their relation to perception, attention, behavior, action, motivation, and emotion.

PSYC 40450. Topics in Cognition Seminar-1. Broadly speaking, this workshop will address fundamental topics in cognitive psychology such as attention, memory, learning, problem-solving, and language. One unique aspect of this workshop is that we will not only explore topics central to the study of cognition, but we will also explore how the study of cognitive psychology can be used to enhance human potential and performance in a variety of contexts. These contexts range from an exploration of optimal teaching practices to enhance the acquisition of mathematical knowledge in the classroom, to issues regarding how individuals communicate best to foster the optimal exchange of information in, for instance, medical settings, to the optimal strategies older adults can use to help stave off the deleterious effects of aging on cognitive functioning and the performance of everyday activities.

PSYC 40500. Advanced Seminar in Developmental Psychology. This is an introductory course for graduate students in developmental psychology. Topics in biological, perceptual, cognitive, social, and
language development will be covered.

PSYC 40600. Advanced Seminar in Social Psychology. This seminar course examines social psychological theory and research based on both classic and contemporary contributions. Among the major topics examined are conformity and deviance, the attitude-change process, social role and personality, social cognition, and political psychology.

PSYC 37400. Human Memory. This course surveys the scientific study of human memory, emphasizing both theory and applications. Lectures will cover current research and methods in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, as well as historical precursors and classic studies. Topics include consciousness and nonconscious processes, corresponding neural systems, and various phenomena such as amnesia, memory distortion, mnemonics, and metacognition.

PSYC 43600. Processes of Judgment and Decision Making. This course offers a survey of research on judgment and decision making, with emphasis placed on uncertainty and (intrapersonal) conflict. A historical
approach is taken in which the roots of current research issues and practices are traced. Topics are drawn from the following areas: evaluation and choice when goals are in conflict and must be traded off, decision making when consequences of the decision are uncertain, predictive and evaluative judgments under conditions of uncertain, incomplete, conflicting, or otherwise fallible information.


Language, Cognition, and Computation Workshop
The Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation is an interdisciplinary forum for students and faculty at the University of Chicago whose work concerns the intersection of these areas. Topics of discussion span across the computational, mathematical, and theoretical modeling of various aspects of language (learning, representation, distribution, typology, variation, change, etc). We also bring in invited speakers from around the world.

Brain Mapping Workshop
This workshop addresses a number of issues related to human brain mapping for people interested in combining in vivo brain measures with questions from neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry and social sciences. These issues include: brain mapping methods (e.g., fMRI, ERPs, EEG); functional neuroanatomy; paradigm design for functional MRI experiments; imaging pulse sequences; imaging data and statistical analysis; specialized lectures.

Comparative Behavioral Biology Workshop
This seminar series at the University of Chicago invites speakers to share their research with an interdisciplinary community of faculty and graduate students from the Institute of Mind & Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Animal Sciences, Comparative Human Development, Psychology, Anthropology and more.

Centers and Institutes

Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience

Center for Early Childhood Research

Institute for Mind and Biology

Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center

Language Development Project

The Arete Initiative

Center for Decision Research

Chapin Hall

Animal Behavior Research Group

Related Departments of Interest to MAPSS Students

Booth School of Business, Committee on Computational Neuroscience,  Comparative Human DevelopmentHarris School of Public Policy,  LinguisticsPolitical ScienceSchool of Social Service AdministrationSociology