Swift Thinking: Fall 2012

Registration Information

Winter Courses

A table showing our anticipated Winter 2013 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 2012-2013 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 2013 course table .  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. The last day for students to declare a major in order to pre-register for Spring quarter is Friday, Feb. 8th.

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? That depends on which course it is.

For most of our courses, we will use the "electronic wait list" function on CAESAR. If you try to add a course that is full, CAESAR will tell you there are no openings and will ask if you would like to be on the wait list. As students drop the course, we will check the electronic wait list and send permission numbers to students who can enroll.

All Psychology courses will require department permission during the add period (the first week of winter classes). Course professors will submit lists of students whom they have agreed to add to their courses, and these students will then receive permission from the department office. 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 (see below) 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 who can now enroll.

Special Psych 205 Section. We will be offering a special section of Research Methods that includes discussion sections.  This section will be taught by David Smith and meets Monday and Wednesday from 9:00 to 9:50.  Students will break up into smaller discussion sections once a week.  The discussion sections meet on Friday from 9:00 – 9:50 and 10:00 – 10:50. Students in these classes must sign up for both the lecture and a discussion section.

Statistics prerequisite.  PSYCH 201-Statistical Methods in Psychology or an approved substitute is a prerequisite for all sections of PSYCH 205. We will regularly check class rosters for PSYCH 205 during the registration process. Those who lack the prerequisite will be required to drop the course. You must complete the prerequisite before taking PSYCH 205.  For example, if you are in PSYCH 201 this Fall, you may sign up for Psych 205 for Winter because you will complete PSYCH 201 before Winter quarter starts. However, you may not take both PSYCH 205 and the prerequisite during the same quarter.

Other Courses Requiring Department or Instructor Permission: 397-1, 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, get an application in the department office, 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 to get permission to register for the course.

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 2013 the Psychology department will be offering two sections of PSYCH 314-Special Topics, two sections of PSYCH 357-Advanced Seminar in Personality, Clinical, or Social, and two sections of PSYCH 358-Advanced Seminar in Cognition or Neuroscience. The topics for these special courses, as well as their prerequisites (when available), are listed below, along with course descriptions provided by the instructors.

PSYCH 314: Special Topics: Non-laboratory Research Methods
Doug Medin

As you know by now, psychological research is overwhelmingly based on laboratory studies conducted with undergraduates as major research universities. This strategy is useful if the results from lab studies generalize to the world at large (and to other peoples). There are reasons to be worried about this single-minded focus on lab studies and this course will consider a number of strategies that have potential for diversifying psychological research.  As its title suggests, this course will focus on research conducted outside psychology labs. We will read and discuss a variety of examples of non-laboratory research, but the main focus will be for students to actually conduct some research outside the laboratory. Over the term students will be involved in three non-laboratory research projects. Grades will be based on class participation, responses to the readings, and their project reports. There will be no final, large project so students will need to be engaged throughout the term.

PSYCH 314: Special Topics: Social Stigma
Jennifer Richeson

In this upper-level undergraduate seminar, students will be introduced to classic and Contemporary theory and research on the social psychology of stigma, the systematic labeling then devaluing of a person or group on the grounds of a characteristic that makes him/her culturally different.  We will examine this phenomenon through the lens of several different types of stigmatizing characteristics (e.g., medical status, race, social-class, employment, sexual orientation, etc.), and primarily from the perspective of stigmatized individuals themselves.  The goal of the course is to provide an overview of this area of psychology, as well as to stimulate creative thinking and research in the area. Topics covered include, functions and nature of stigma, stigma and the self-concept, and the consequences of stigma for self-esteem, health, academics, and interpersonal interactions.

PSYCH 357: Advanced Seminar-Personality/Clinical/Social:  Identity & Motivation
Mesmin Destin

This discussion-based course focuses on the connection between conceptions of the self and goal-oriented motivation, with particular attention devoted to the influence of social, structural, and cultural forces. The first segment of the term will cover classic theoretical work concerning the self and identity. Next, we will consider the relevance of a variety of social influences on identity and motivation. Finally, the course will close with a survey of contemporary identity-based intervention research and practical applications relating to trends in social inequalities, including education and health. PSYCH 205 is a prerequisite for this course. The course counts toward the Column A (personality/clinical/social) and upper-level research requirements for the major.

PSYCH 357: Advanced Seminar-Personality/Clinical/SocialCooperation, Helping and Prosocial Behavior
Dan Molden

If people did not possess some basic concern for the welfare of others, it would not be possible to develop or sustain the complex societies in which we currently live. However, within these societies, individuals, groups, and corporations often encounter a wide variety of opportunities and temptations to pursue their own personal goals, aspirations and achievements at the expense of the larger social good. What then determines when people will resist versus give into these temptations? Where do people's concerns for others come from in the first place, and what types of experiences nurture versus suppress these concerns? In this course we will explore these questions by reviewing the decades of research on prosocial behavior performed by economists, evolutionary biologists, and social psychologists. Through the reading of primary-source articles, class discussions, and hands-on class exercises and demonstrations we will uncover the fundamental psychological mechanisms responsible for behaviors such as fairness, trust, reciprocity, cooperation, helping, and altruism. Evaluations will be based on preparation of discussion questions, class participation and several written assignments. PSYCH 205 is a prerequisite for this course. The course counts toward the Column A (personality/clinical/social) and upper-level research requirements for the major.

PSYCH 358: Advanced Seminar-Cognition/Neuroscience: Language and Cognition
Daniel Slaten

Language-use represents one of the most advanced and difficult to explain phenomenon in cognitive science. After decades of intensive research we can only bitterly claim an incomplete picture of how we are able to effortlessly use language. And yet our hard toil has revealed a number of intriguing possibilities regarding how the mind and brain give rise to language. This course will examine the scope of language use from a number of perspectives, including cognitive, cognitive-neuroscientific and linguistic approaches. A mix of lectures and class discussion will be used to examine a range of topics on language and cognition. Importantly, this class will attempt to ground language and the way we discuss it in the manner in which it is used, in conversation, in literature and daily life. This class is designed for people who love language, who love a good turn of phrase or a clever play on words. PSYCH 205 is a prerequisite for this course. The course counts toward the Column B (cognitive/neuroscience) and upper-level research requirements for the major. 

PSYCH 358: Advanced Seminar-Cognition/Neuroscience: Gender, Perception, Cognition and the Brain
Julia Mossbridge

What's the evidence for and against gender differences in perception and cognition? What could explain any differences? These are the broad questions on which we will drill down in order to ask more specific questions. For instance, does the well-known gender difference in visual-spatial working memory exist? How might gender differences such as this one serve cultural and biological evolution?  In my opinion, seminar courses should be student-directed and teacher facilitated. For example, during the first class, we'll figure out the content of the syllabus together, based on a brief overview of topics related to gender differences in perception and cognition, followed by a class vote re: which topics are most interesting to the students in the class. I think it makes sense to assign weekly readings, have a brief weekly quiz on the readings, and ask each student to present at least one paper on a topic of interest that student and the rest of the class. Also, I think it's important for students to hone their writing skills, so I will ask students to write only one paper...but to write it multiple times, each time responding to feedback from myself and fellow students. By the end of the quarter, the paper will really say something worthwhile in a clear and succinct way.  You will enjoy this class if you like to read, write, and think deeply. PSYCH 205 is a prerequisite for this course. The course counts toward the Column B (cognitive/neuroscience) and upper-level research requirements for the major.

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:

  • Karl Rosengren
  • Joan Linsenmeier 
  • Sara Broaders
  • Ben Gorvine
  • David Smith

News from the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)

By: Sree Kathiravan, UPA President

Welcome to Fall Quarter 2012 from UPA! It was so great getting to know new and prospective majors and minors at the Weinberg College Majors Fair and the Norris Activities Fair in September. We had a great response with many additions to our listserv and Facebook page (NU Undergraduate Psychology Association) and are excited for this year!

We were also pleased to have a great turnout for the UPA Fall Info Session on October 10th in Swift. We had 30+ attendees who offered great ideas about UPA  for upcoming programming. A quick summary of our events: we host graduate student panels, sponsor the “Lunch With A Prof” program, hold social events, plan career panels, and more. Thanks to everyone that provided suggestions about what events you’d like to see UPA put on in the future. We will do our best to accommodate your requests, particularly advertising more about psychology career options and research involvement on campus.

This year was the first year we have brought back alumni who received their psychology degree from Northwestern. UPA was pleased to co-sponsor the Psychology Career Night with the Psychology Department and the Weinberg College Career Mentoring Program. The event was a great example of all of the career options available to students who study psychology at the undergraduate level, from graduate school to teaching to business.  In its first year, we are incredibly thankful to the returning alumni who made the event a success. Panelists included Austin Waldron, Senior Vice President for Corporate Subscriber Services (Health Care Service Corporation); Katherine Linsenmeier, Mathematics Teacher from New Trier High School; Mesmin Destin, Assistant Professor, Social Psychology at Northwestern; Aime Lynn Goudie, Youth Care Worker at Maryville Academy. In the future, we hope to reach out to a wider array of alumni and we hope you find these panels informative.

UPA is hosting a lot of events in the next few weeks. We did our best to accommodate your suggestions from the general information session. We also sent out a survey and analyzed the results. We have determined there is a lot of interest for younger psychology majors/minors to ask older students about their experience. In order to achieve this, members of the exec. board of UPA will be getting together with interested students for “Coffee Chats.” We would like to provide an informal environment to look at the role psychology can play in your Northwestern careers and after graduation. We hope this will help guide you among the numerous psychology options on campus. Other events include opening up UPA exec board meetings to anyone who would like to attend, social events with the executive board, “Lunch With A Prof,” and more. So stay tuned!

To join the listserv and receive our most up-to-date news, send us an e-mail at upa.northwestern@gmail.com. Also be sure to check out and like our Facebook page, “UPA Undergraduate Psychology Association.” And as always, if you have any suggestions, comments, or questions about UPA, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re looking forward to a great quarter with you!

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 to other tools for searching Psychology journals, to online versions of useful books, to guides on writing in APA style, to 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. 

Resources for Students Interested in Research

The Provost’s office has developed a searchable database to assist you in learning about new opportunities to get involved in research on campus.  The Undergrad ARCH (Accessing Research and Creative Help) currently has links to over 200 opportunities and is being updated regularly!  Just click on this link for more information.

Also, check out Northwestern’s undergraduate research website for all undergraduates interested in, or just thinking about, research. This site addresses such topics as how to get involved in research, how to find research opportunities throughout the university, outlets for presenting research findings, and more. It includes information on how to write a research proposal, as well as examples of successful student proposals from recent years.

Northwestern University Undergraduate Research Grants (URGs), coordinated by the Provost’s Office, fund independent academic and creative work in all fields of study. Under faculty supervision, URG winners immerse themselves in novel scholarly projects in the laboratory, the library, or the studio, on campus and around the world.  All undergraduate students are eligible for these grants. They can be used to support research during the academic year and summer, as well as travel to present your work at conferences. 

Awards for Undergraduates

The Lois Elizabeth Henrikson Undergraduate Travel Award   

The Psychology department is happy to announce an award to fund student travel to professional conferences. The Henrikson 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 to Karl Rosengren via email. 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 Dr. Rosengren 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. Last year, the amount of the fellowship was $3000.

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 has funds for summer research by students; see the webpage on Weinberg College undergraduate research funds. 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 Joan Linsenmeier (j-linsenmeier@northwestern.edu) by Friday March 8, 2013. This is also the deadline for submitting summer grant applications to the University's Undergraduate Research Grants Committee.