Swift Thinking: Fall 2014

Winter Courses

A table showing our anticipated Winter 2015 course offerings is available online. Please check this table and the Registrar's website for updates. Descriptions of Psychology courses are available on the Registrar’s site.

The department plan for the 2014-2015 Academic Year with all our undergraduate offerings can be found online as well. This can assist you in planning for your Spring courses.

Preregistering for Winter Courses

The Psychology department will be offering preregistration through CAESAR for most of our courses the week prior to regular registration. To see which courses are available for preregistration, look at the “prereg” column in our Winter 2015 course offerings. All students listed as psychology or cognitive science majors or minors in the registrar's database should be able to preregister through CAESAR for these courses.

Preregistration times are announced by the Registrar's Office. You can preregister for at most two courses.

Wait Lists

Psychology courses are very popular, and they often close during registration. What should you do if a course you want to take has closed? You should add yourself to the wait list on CAESAR. If any students drop the course and spots become available, we check the wait list and send emails to students in the order in which they appear on the wait list.

To add courses during the first week of the Winter term, all Psychology courses will require a permission number. Those permission numbers are generated by Lorrie Hansen, the Undergraduate Program Assistant, with the approval of the professor. In many cases, available slots will be offered to interested students who come to the first class and are nearest the top of the CAESAR wait list.

Registering for PSYCH 205-Research Methods

Students listed in CAESAR as majoring or minoring in psychology, cognitive science, or music cognition may preregister for PSYCH 205 through CAESAR. Make sure you have the statistics prerequisite before you enroll. Once regular registration starts, any student with the prerequisite may enroll. When a section fills, a CAESAR wait list will be started. If students drop the course, we will check the wait list and give permission to students in the order in which they are on the wait list.

Research Courses Requiring Department or Instructor Permission:

397-1, 397-2, 398-2, and 399

One great way to learn more about psychological research is to become actively involved in research activities through PSYCH 399-Independent Study or the two-quarter PSYCH 397-Advanced Supervised Research. This is especially valuable for students considering graduate study in psychology, and it can be an educational and enjoyable experience for others as well. To enroll in PSYCH 397 or PSYCH 399, download the application, fill it out, and have it signed by the professor with whom you will be working. Then, take the signed application to the department office and a student-specific permission number will be generated. Please note that you must turn in your application and register for the course through CAESAR before the last day to add a class for Winter, which is Friday, January 9.


PSYCH 205-Research Methods in Psychology is a prerequisite for PSYCH 397. For more information on 397 and 399 -- including the differences between them, how they count towards requirements, and tips on finding a research adviser -- see our webpage on doing research for course credit. PSYCH 397-2 fulfills the upper-level research requirement for the psychology major.


Students who will be taking PSYCH 398 Senior Honors Seminar next quarter will also need permission to enroll. The course will be set up in CAESAR so that only those on the list provided by Dr. Waxman, the Honors Coordinator, will be able to register for the course.

Special Courses For Winter Quarter

In Winter 2015 the Psychology department will be offering six sections of PSYCH 314-Special Topics, one section of PSYCH 357-Advanced Seminar in Personality, Clinical, or Social, and one section of PSYCH 358-Advanced Seminar in Cognition or Neuroscience. The topics for these special courses, as well as their prerequisites, are listed below, along with course descriptions provided by the instructors.

PSYCH 314-20: Special Topics: Adult Development and Aging

Dan Mroczek

Scientists who study the development of people (e.g., developmental biologists, developmental psychologists, life-course sociologists) have only recently begun to understand the profound changes that occur in adulthood and in late life. While much is known about development and change that takes place from infancy through late childhood, we are only at the beginning of really understanding development in adulthood. This class will examine a number of key issues in this relatively young field of adult development and aging. While we will draw mainly on studies from the social and behavioral sciences, we will take an interdisciplinary approach and consider biological and biomedical studies as well.

Prerequisite: Must be at least a junior

PSYCH 314-21: Special Topics: Concepts & Categories

Lance Rips

The course examines cognitive theories of concepts (mental representations) of individuals and categories. Possible topics include concepts of singular objects and substances, concepts of natural and artifact categories, concept combination, and concepts of actions and events.

Prerequisites: One course in cognitive science, analytic philosophy, linguistics, or computer science

PSYCH 314-0-22: Special Topics: Schools of Psychotherapy

Carol Donnelly

Clinical psychology is the application of theoretical perspectives to an individual, couple or group for the purpose of psychological healing. This course will investigate, within a biological-psychological-social framework, the major theoretical perspectives and their views on normal, abnormal development and their therapeutic interventions. Special focus will be given to competing and controversial perspectives both between and within paradigms. The emphasis will be on Psychodynamic, Cognitive-Behavioral, Dialectical (DBT), Humanistic, and Psychopharmacological approaches with some background discussion on recent developments in Neuroscience.

Prerequisites: PSYCH 110 required and PSYCH 303 is recommended

PSYCH 314-23: Special Topics: Sins of Memory: From Freudian slips to Alzheimer Disease

Aryeh Routtenberg

We will consider how well known "errors" of memory (transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence) can be understood in terms of underlying neural mechanisms.

Suggested prerequisite: PSYCH 212 or PSYCH 312-1, the Biological Sciences 210 sequence is recommended

PSYCH 314-24: Special Topics: Show & Tell: The Psychology of Visual Communication

Steve Franconeri

The human brain is severely limited in how much it can process and remember. How many times have you watched presenters ignore these limits, producing an information 'fire hose' effect where their audience understands and retains far too little? This class will survey techniques for avoiding this problem in your presentations, by understanding why and where our cognitive and perceptual limitations arise. We will focus on harnessing the power of a processing system that occupies over 40% of your viewer's brain - their visual system. We will explore visual presentation strategies that keep an audience's attention engaged, and a speaker's message understood and remembered. Course grading will be based on discussion board postings, occasional quizzes on readings, a class presentation and other projects, and your critiques of other student work.

PSYCH 314-25: Special Topics: Social Psychology & Health

Mary Gerend

This course will examine how classic topics in social psychology (e.g., interpersonal relationships, persuasion and attitude change, social influence, prejudice and discrimination, self-regulation) have been applied to scientific research on health and health behavior. We will review psychological theory and research to provide insight into questions such as: Why do some people go to great lengths to protect their health, whereas others engage in risky behaviors seemingly without care? How do people's attitudes, beliefs, and personality influence their health decision-making and overall health? What are the most effective ways to motivate people to change their health behavior?

Prerequisite: PSYCH 110

PSYCH 357-0-21: Advanced Seminar-Personality/Clinical/Social: The Emotional Brain

Robin Nusslock

This course will provide an overview of the neurobiology of emotion and emotional disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. The course will include discussion of contemporary theories of emotion, 21st century methods for examining the emotional brain (e.g., MRI, EEG), the circuits in the brain underlying our experience of emotion, the biological mechanisms underlying emotional disorders, the mechanisms underlying the treatment of emotional disorders, and future directions in the study of the emotional brain. The course is introductory in nature and it is not expected that students have previous courses in either neurobiology or mood disorders.

Prerequisite: PSYCH 205

PSYCH 358-0: Advanced Seminar in Cognition or Neuroscience: Psychology and Weird Beliefs

Sara Broaders

Lots of people have beliefs that other people think are just plain weird. Why do people have these beliefs? We'll look at "weird" beliefs within our culture as well as some cross-cultural examples, and try to understand what leads people to develop and maintain these beliefs. Another issue is that one person's "weird" belief may be another person's firmly held conviction. From this perspective, we'll also try to understand which beliefs are rational. Among the topics we may cover are: superstition, parapsychology, ghosts, witchcraft, alien abduction, evolution vs. creationism, repressed memories of abuse, and dissociative identity disorder. Students will use a wide variety of academic and popular media resources (including empirical research articles, ethnographic descriptions, philosophical arguments, popular press books, and documentary films) to explore the bases for these beliefs and practices. Since this is an upper-level research course, we will focus on psychological theories, methodological issues, and empirical research in this area. Students will also engage in designing, conducting, analyzing, and writing up an empirical research project during the quarter.

Prerequisite: PSYCH 205

Undergraduate Advising in Psychology

Psychology department advisers are available to talk with undergraduates about major and minor requirements, course selections, career choices, and how to plan an undergraduate program that will best prepare you for whatever you might do next. They are also good resources for learning about research opportunities in our department. You should see an adviser to complete your official Graduation Petition, which you should file at the registrar's office one year before your expected graduation date (typically in spring of your junior year).

The current department advisers for Psychology students are:

  • Sara Broaders
  • Ben Gorvine
  • David Smith
  • Ginger Pennington

To make an appointment with any of these department advisers, call 847-491-5190, stop by the department office, Swift 102, or send an email to Lorrie Hansen, the Undergraduate Program Assistant at lorrie.hansen@northwestern.edu.
While all advisers can help you with major and minor requirements, some advisers have a special focus.

Advising for first-years. David Smith is a good resource for first-year students considering majoring or minoring in psychology.

Study abroad applications. If you plan to study abroad and need a department signature on your Study Abroad application, you should set up a meeting with Ben Gorvine or Sara Broaders.

Requirement substitutions. Sara Broaders and Ben Gorvine are the only advisers who can:

  • approve the counting of courses taken abroad toward department requirements
  • approve the counting of credits from other US and Canadian schools
  • approve other non-standard ways of completing our requirements

Clinical psychology and related careers. Ben Gorvine is a good resource for students with an interest in clinical psychology.

Business careers: Ginger Pennington is a resource for students with an interest in careers in business.

Graduate study in Psychology. Students considering graduate study in non-clinical areas of psychology should meet with faculty members whose areas of interest are similar to their own.

News from the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)

A new school year brings new faces, and the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA) Exec Board is excited to welcome all new and old Psychology majors to a year sure to be filled with a variety of programming and great opportunities.

For those who aren’t aware, UPA is an organization dedicated to providing unique academic opportunities to students interested in Psychology. We aid the Psychology department in creating an identity for Psychology majors and minors and foster relationships between students and faculty members. We also look to put students into contact with experts in the field and are currently working on improving our alumni relations and network!

This quarter we had a lot of fun kicking off the year by meeting students considering majors and minors at both the WCAS Majors Fair and the Student Activities Fair.

To start off programming, UPA held our first Lunch with a Professor of the year! Students joined Professor Bodenhausen and UPA Exec members for lunch in Norris where they learned about Professor Bodenhausen’s research interests, teaching experiences, and much more. Lunch with a Professor is usually held once a quarter, but in the coming quarter, we are actually planning on having two, so keep an eye out for those amazing opportunities!

UPA is proud to announce that we will be holding our first ever Psychology Talk with one of our very own faculty members. On Tuesday, November 11th from 7:00-8:00 PM, join us in Annenberg G21 for a talk by Professor Gorvine on the challenge of choice overload. Admission is free, but we would appreciate it if you could RSVP to the email address below. We are very excited for this amazing opportunity and hope to see you all there!

To join the listserv and receive updates about events and opportunities, e-mail upa.northwestern@gmail.com. Also be sure to check out and like our Facebook page, “Northwestern Undergraduate Psychology Association” for up-to-date news. And as always, if you have any suggestions, comments, or questions about UPA, don’t hesitate to contact us. We love hearing from you!

Sincerely,
Linzy Wagner
President of the Undergraduate Psychology Association

NU Library Portal for Psychology Students and Faculty

The Northwestern University library has created a website providing links to useful resources for Psychology students and faculty. The place to start is http://libguides.northwestern.edu/Psychology.

From there, you can quickly get to PsycInfo and other tools for searching Psychology journals, online versions of useful books, guides on writing in APA style, Psychology articles in the general media, and more. This can be a great asset if you’re preparing an assignment for one of your courses, or if you just want to explore topics that intrigue you. Take a look!

Psychology Students and Chicago Field Studies

Are you thinking about doing an internship in some area that interests you? Many psychology students do internships for academic credit through Northwestern’s Chicago Field Studies program. Internships are available with a wide range of Chicago-area businesses and organizations—organizations focused on mental health, education, and other social services, legal and environmental organizations, financial services, health clinics, start-ups, and market research groups, among others. For more on options for psychology students, including a list of sites where psychology students have interned, see our webpage on Psychology and Chicago Field Studies.


Getting practical, hands-on experience in fields you find intriguing can help you see links between your academic studies and real-world issues. It is a good way to learn more about which career paths might be best for you. In addition, it can become a valuable credential when you apply for a job or for graduate study. Keep in mind that many work experiences not labeled as “internships” provide similar opportunities and benefits. See our webpage on Internships and Field Studies for more information and ideas.

Awards for Undergraduates

The Psychology Department Undergraduate Travel Award


The Psychology Department is happy to announce an award to fund student travel to professional conferences. The Undergraduate Travel Award provides funds to support students presenting their work at conferences. The money can be used to pay for conference fees and travel expenses.


Preference will go to students who are first author on the presentation. Applications will be considered on a “rolling” basis. Please submit your applications via e-mail to Sara Broaders at s-broaders@northwestern.edu. Put "Undergraduate Travel Award" in the subject line of the email. In the email, please include the following information:

  • Name
  • Class (e.g., sophomore, junior, senior)
  • Name of conference
  • Conference location
  • Dates of conference
  • Title of presentation
  • Author/s on presentation (in order)
  • Abstract of conference presentation (250 words or less)

In addition to providing this information, please ask your faculty sponsor to write a brief letter of recommendation describing your role in the research. This letter can be emailed to Professor Broaders as well. Please ask your faculty sponsor to put “Undergraduate Travel Award” in the subject line.

Funds for Summer Research

It's not winter yet, but it's also not too soon to start thinking about summer – and about the possibility of spending your summer doing research in our department. Each summer the Psychology Department offers two or more undergraduates a Benton J. Underwood Summer Research Fellowship. Professor Underwood was chair of the Psychology department and a distinguished researcher in the field of memory. He worked to establish the fund that makes these fellowships possible.

Acceptance of an Underwood Fellowship implies a commitment to spend most of your summer working on research here at Northwestern with a Psychology professor. Your exact schedule will be worked out with the professor who supervises your research. Both current juniors and current sophomores can apply for this award. However, priority will be given to current juniors. Work on an Underwood project often serves as the foundation for a senior honors project. (Receipt of an Underwood fellowship does not guarantee acceptance to our honors program).

If you are interested in doing research this coming summer, you should look into other funding sources too. All Underwood applicants should also apply for a Northwestern University Summer Research Grant from the Provost’s Office. Weinberg College also offers funds for summer research by students. Different funding sources have different selection criteria, and applying to more than one will enhance your chances of receiving an award.

To apply for an Underwood Fellowship, follow these steps:

  • Choose a faculty member to supervise your research and talk with him or her about what you will be doing and what your time commitment will be. You should also talk with the faculty member about the need for Institutional Review Board approval for your planned project.
  • Prepare an application in which you include (a) a statement describing your plans for this research; this can be the same proposal you submit to the university's grants committee; (b) a copy of your transcript (an unofficial transcript is fine); and (c) information about your general interests in psychology, your relevant course work, your previous research experience, and anything else that you think is relevant.
  • Have the faculty member who will supervise your research write a confidential letter of support for your application.
  • Get your application and letter of support to Sara Broaders at s-broaders@northwestern.edu by Friday March 13, 2015. This is also the deadline for submitting summer grant applications to the University's Undergraduate Research Grants Committee.