Skip over navigation

Department of Psychology


Deborah A. Prentice

Associate Chair

Kenneth A. Norman

J. Nicole Shelton

Departmental Representative

Michael S. Graziano

Director of Graduate Studies

Asif A. Ghazanfar


Jonathan D. Cohen, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Joel Cooper

Susan T. Fiske, also Woodrow Wilson School

Joan S. Girgus

Elizabeth Gould, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Charles G. Gross, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Barry L. Jacobs, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Sabine Kastner, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Daniel N. Osherson

Deborah A. Prentice, also Woodrow Wilson School

Eldar B. Shafir, also Woodrow Wilson School

J. Nicole Shelton

Susan L. Sugarman

Alexander T. Todorov

Associate Professor

Matthew M. Botvinick, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Asif A. Ghazanfar, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Michael S. Graziano, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Kenneth A. Norman, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Emily Pronin, also Woodrow Wilson School

Stacey Sinclair, also African American Studies

Assistant Professor

Alin I. Coman, also Woodrow Wilson School

Uri Hasson, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Yael Niv, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Elizabeth Levy Paluck, also Woodrow Wilson School

Jordan A. Taylor

Nicholas B. Turk-Browne

Ilana B. Witten, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Senior Lecturer

Andrew R. Conway

Lecturer with Continuing Appointment

Ronald J. Comer

Associated Faculty

Adele Goldberg, Council of the Humanities, Linguistics

Sarah-Jane Leslie, Philosophy

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

The Department of Psychology recognizes that students may wish to concentrate in psychology for many reasons. Individual plans of study can be tailored to each student's preparation and interests. Students are urged to develop these plans as early in their careers as possible, even in the freshman year, in consultation with the departmental representative and departmental faculty.


The prerequisites for entering the Department of Psychology are successful, graded completion of Introduction to Psychology (101) and Quantitative Methods (251). Students may fulfill the quantitative methods prerequisite by taking and passing (with a grade) a preapproved course in another department (for example, ORF 245, ECO 202, or EEB/MOL 355) or at another college or university, or by passing an equivalence examination that is administered by the department.

Early Concentration

Sophomores who have fulfilled the prerequisites may apply for early concentration. If accepted, they may engage in independent reading with a faculty adviser and submit a paper at the end of the spring semester. This preparation may qualify them for more advanced independent work in the junior year.

Program of Study

Psychology concentrators must pass at least nine graded departmental courses in addition to the prerequisites. Three of these courses must be at the 200 level. Each student must meet the following distribution requirements:

Foundation Courses. Concentrators must take at least one course from each of the following three groupings:

1. Personality, social, and clinical psychology: 207, 212, 252, 257
2. Developmental and cognitive psychology: 254, 255, 259a, 259b
3. Cognitive and behavioral neuroscience: 208, 256, 258, 259a, 259b

Advanced Courses. Concentrators must take at least three of the following courses, sampled from at least two of the three groupings:

1. Social psychology courses: 312, 313, 314, 326, 327, 329, 384, 400
2. Cognitive psychology courses: 306, 309, 310, 311, 321, 330
3. Neuroscience courses: 306, 330, 336, 404, 407, 410, 437

In addition to the permanent courses listed above, the department often offers additional, one-time-only courses that may fulfill certain departmental requirements. Each semester the department notifies students of such courses.

Electives. Concentrators may count up to three of the following courses toward their departmental nine: 307, 319, 320, 322, 323, 365. Alternatively, they may count up to two preapproved cognate courses (that is, related courses in other departments) toward their departmental nine.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. To satisfy the junior independent work requirement, students must: (1) write three brief analytic reports for separate advisers during the fall semester, and (2) write a longer paper during the spring semester in consultation with an adviser.

1. Fall Semester Papers. In the fall semester, juniors typically work with three successive tutorial advisers, each one for four weeks. At the beginning of each four-week period, the student is required to meet with the adviser to select a small number of readings pertaining to a particular psychological problem or question. The student then prepares a five- to eight-page report, describing the background and significance of the problem under consideration and the way research has contributed to its solution. The three advisers are selected to acquaint the student with different faculty members and different approaches to his or her areas of interest. The grades on the three junior reports are averaged to yield the fall junior independent work grade.

Some number of students who have definite ideas about a research project and a particular adviser may begin to work with that faculty member in the fall of the junior year (or even during the preceding summer). This single-paper option is especially useful for those students wishing to do laboratory research, because it gives them the time to acquire the requisite technical skills. Students wishing to explore this possibility should discuss it with the potential adviser at the end of their sophomore year. Note: Students pursuing the neuroscience certificate are strongly encouraged to choose this single-paper option, though they are equally permitted to opt for the department's other fall-semester-paper options.

A third independent work option available to fall semester juniors is the department's Junior Paper (JP) Lab option. Participation in JP Lab is by application only, and it is intended to prepare motivated students to develop research questions and conduct psychological studies. Each student will take on a research question related to the topic of the lab (and approved by the faculty adviser). Students will then spend the fall semester developing a study or series of studies on their question, and discuss their progress and challenges with the other students during a weekly lab meeting (with the faculty adviser facilitating the discussion). Students will help each other develop their projects, but each student will turn in a solo paper at the end of the fall semester. Please note that JP Lab is not an actual course.

2. Spring Semester Paper. Each junior is assigned a spring semester adviser at the end of the fall semester. In consultation with this adviser, the student conducts independent library or empirical research and describes the results of this research in a typically 5,000- to 10,000-word paper. In most cases, the spring semester independent work lays the groundwork for the senior thesis.

Senior Independent Work. In the senior year, each concentrator must prepare a senior thesis, based either on an empirical investigation conducted by the student in a laboratory or field setting, or on a library or theoretical inquiry. In close consultation with a faculty adviser, each student develops, carries out, and writes up his or her own research project. The resulting thesis serves as the basis for the first part of the senior comprehensive exam (see below).

Senior Departmental Examination

The senior thesis serves as the basis for the first part of the senior comprehensive exam, a 60-minute oral examination conducted by two members of the faculty. The exam consists of two parts: (1) a defense of the thesis and a discussion of its implications, and (2) some more general questions on the broader field of psychology.

Study Abroad

The department encourages students to consider studying abroad for one semester, or even for a full year, in conjunction with departmental concentration in psychology. Concentrators may receive credit for up to two courses per semester spent studying abroad, to count toward their departmental course requirements. Courses taken while studying abroad require the prior approval of the departmental representative. To secure approval, students must document the work load and material covered by proposed courses.

Program in Neuroscience. The department offers the opportunity for concentrators to participate in the Program in Neuroscience. Interested students should discuss the program with the directors and their departmental representative. Some advanced courses taken in the program count as cognates in the Department of Psychology. Junior concentrators participating in the Program in Neuroscience are strongly encouraged to choose the single-paper option for fall junior independent work.

Facilities. The laboratories of individual faculty members are open to undergraduates for their independent work. Information about the Department of Psychology can be found online, including a current description of the research being conducted in the laboratories. In addition, the Psychology Collection houses both current and back issues of all major psychology journals, many excellent reference books, and facilities for conducting computerized literature searches.


PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology   Fall, Spring STL

The scientific study of human thought and behavior with an emphasis on experimental methods. Two lectures, three hours of laboratory assignments. Y. Dunham

PSY 207 Abnormal Psychology   Fall SA

An examination of the different patterns of abnormal behavior. Each will be examined from the perspective of such models of explanation as the psychoanalytic, behavioristic, humanistic, physiological, and cognitive models. Two lectures, one preceptorial. R. Comer

PSY 208 The Brain: A User's Guide   Spring EC

A survey of brain and mind, emphasizing issues related to human behavior. Topics include: psychoactive drugs, aging and Alzheimer's disease, reengineering the brain, learning and memory, sleep-waking and biological rhythms, and major mental diseases. Two lectures, one preceptorial. B. Jacobs

PSY 212 The Psychology of Moral Behavior (also CHV 212)   Not offered this year EM

A survey of the psychological, situational, and cultural determinants of moral thought and action. Topics will include the development of moral reasoning abilities, moral education, the relation between morality and rationality, altruism, and moral transgressions. Precepts will examine methods used in the psychological study of moral behavior. Two lectures, one preceptorial. D. Prentice

PSY 214 Human Identity in the Age of Neuroscience and Information Technology   Not offered this year EC

A central challenge for modern society is to construct individual and group identity in the face of technologies that come ever closer to understanding the mechanisms of thought and feeling. We live in a time when cognitive neuroscience is poised to trace the executive functions of the mind to the workings of the brain, and computer science is coming closer to replicating those functions. This course offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the scientific and social issues that underlie the potential cultural impact of advances in self-understanding. Faculty from a wide range of departments provide lectures. Two lectures, one preceptorial. D. Osherson

PSY 216 Language, Mind, and Brain (see LIN 216)

PSY 218 Language and the Brain (see LIN 218)

PSY 237 The Psychology and Philosophy of Rationality (also PHI 237)   Not offered this year EC

The human capacity for rationality is fundamental; however there is ample evidence for irrationality in human affairs--including notions such as hysteria, addiction, lack of self-control, wishful thinking, and self-deception. This course considers both errors and achievements, providing an introduction to a wide array of topics, such as logic, probability, decision theory, relativism, and psychopathology. It provides a background for further study of subjects such as logic, philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, cognitive science, the psychology of judgment and choice, and the psychology of thinking. One two-hour lecture, one preceptorial. E. Shafir, P. Johnson-Laird, G. Harman

PSY 251 Quantitative Methods   Fall, Spring QR

A general introduction to statistical techniques, both descriptive and inferential, employed by psychologists. Required for concentrators. Two lectures, one laboratory. A. Conway

PSY 252 Social Psychology   Fall SA

The scientific study of social behavior, with an emphasis on social interaction and group influence. Topics covered will include social perception, the formation of attitudes and prejudice, attraction, conformity and obedience, altruism and aggression, and group dynamics. Two lectures, one preceptorial. J. Cooper

PSY 254 Developmental Psychology   Spring EC

A survey of human development emphasizing the nature of children's minds and experience and the relation of childhood to adulthood. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Y. Dunham

PSY 255 Cognitive Psychology   Spring EC

The course will survey the major themes and experimental findings of cognitive psychology and consider their relevance to the cognitive sciences in general. Topics covered will include attention, perception, imagery, memory, language, and reasoning. Two lectures, one preceptorial. D. Osherson

PSY 257 Personality   Not offered this year SA

A survey of major approaches to the study of personality, including psychodynamic, social learning, and trait-theory approaches. The focus will be on the assumptions made by each approach, relevant techniques for collecting and analyzing data, and theoretical and practical implications. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

PSY 258 Fundamentals of Neuroscience (see NEU 258)

PSY 259A Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (see NEU 259A)

PSY 259B Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (see NEU 259B)

PSY 302 Linguistics and Language Acquisition (see LIN 314)

PSY 306 Memory and Cognition (also NEU 306)   Not offered this year EC

Empirical facts, theoretical issues, and scientific techniques in the area of human memory. Potential topics include models of memory, eyewitness testimony, comprehension, representation of knowledge, autobiographical memory, reality monitoring, amnesia, and other disorders of memory and cognition. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisite: 255 or 259, or instructor's permission. K. Norman

PSY 307 Educational Psychology   Fall, Spring EC

Principles of psychology relevant to the theory and practice of education. Through selected readings, discussion, and classroom observations, students study theories of development, learning, cognition (including literacy), and motivation, as well as individual and group differences in these areas; assessment; and the social psychology of the classroom. The course focuses on how learning by children and adolescents at the elementary, middle, and secondary school levels is influenced by their own characteristics and experiences and the various contexts in which they learn: family, school, community, and culture. One three-hour seminar. G. Wilder

PSY 309 Psychology of Language (also LIN 309)   Not offered this year EC

The cognitive and interpersonal processes involved in language use. Topics include speech production and perception, the nature of grammatical and lexical knowledge, semantics and pragmatics, computer systems for natural language understanding, language acquisition, and the social bases of human communication. Two lectures, one preceptorial-laboratory. Prerequisite: 255 or instructor's permission. A. Goldberg

PSY 310 Psychology of Thinking   Not offered this year EC

The study of human problem solving, reasoning, and decision making. Phenomena of interest include thinking in everyday situations and contexts as well as in more specialized areas, such as logic, mathematics, and the sciences. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisite: 255 or instructor's permission. Staff

PSY 311 Rationality and Human Reasoning   Fall EC

An examination of the fundamental theories of belief and decision, from both the normative and descriptive perspectives. Utility, logic, probability, and abduction will be considered, with additional topics drawn from computability theory and from collective choice. Two lectures, one preceptorial. D. Osherson

PSY 312 Social Interaction and Influence   Not offered this year SA

Analysis of interpretation processes used to understand complex actions of self and others. Examination of principles governing such interpretations and their use in the analysis of conformity and deviation, self-fulfilling prophecies, the inaction of bystanders in emergencies, and the startling willingness of subjects to harm others. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisite: 252 or instructor's permission. D. Prentice

PSY 313 Interpersonal Perception   Not offered this year EC

Considers how one infers the motives, dispositions, and abilities of other persons. Next examines how these inferential processes are used to draw inferences about oneself. Students will design an original experiment (with consultation). Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisite: 252 or instructor's permission. E. Pronin

PSY 314 Research Methods in Social Psychology   Not offered this year SA

An examination of the various methods by which social psychologists conduct research, including laboratory and field experiments, quasi-experiments, survey research, and naturalistic observation. Over the course of the semester, students will design and conduct social psychological research using these methods. Although valuable for all psychology majors, this course will be particularly useful for those who anticipate completing a senior thesis based on empirical research. Prerequisites: 251 or permission of instructor. One three-hour seminar. J. Shelton

PSY 319 Childhood Psychopathology   Spring SA

An examination of the major forms of childhood psychopathology. Causal roles played by individual factors, traumatic events, the family, school, and community as well as the prevention and treatment of childhood disorders will also be examined. One three-hour seminar. Prerequisites: 207 and 254. Offered in alternate years. Staff

PSY 320 Theories of Psychotherapy   Spring SA

An examination of the various forms of psychotherapy, including the psychoanalytic, behavioristic, humanistic, and cognitive approaches. The focus will be upon the theoretical base, format, and empirical support for each approach. The impact of different treatment settings will also be considered. One three-hour seminar, including field-setting preceptorials. Prerequisite: 207 or permission of instructor. R. Comer

PSY 321 The Psychology of Decision Making and Judgment (see WWS 340)

PSY 322 Human-Machine Interaction (also ORF 322)   Not offered this year EC

A multidisciplinary study of the fundamentals of human-machine interactions from both the human psychology/philosophy side and the machine engineering and design side. Philosophical, psychological, and engineering models of the human processor. Functional differences between people and machines, the nature of consciousness and intelligence, massively parallel computing and neural networks, and the concept of resonant synergism in human-machine interactions. Two 90-minute lectures; three laboratories during semester. A. Kornhauser, P. Johnson-Laird, J. Cooper

PSY 323 Experimental Psychopathology   Not offered this year SA

An examination of the relationship between important topics in abnormal psychology and laboratory research conducted in other areas of psychology. Topics will include the ties between laboratory-learned helplessness and mood disorders, human memory research and dissociative disorders, and coping strategies and anxiety disorders. Two 90-minute classes. Prerequisite: 101 and 207, or instructor's permission. R. Comer

PSY 326 Social and Personality Development   Spring SA

Major issues in social and personality psychology examined from a developmental perspective with emphasis on developmental processes and change. Data on children, adolescents, and adults will be considered. Topics will include: social attachment, stranger and separation anxiety, self-concept, self-esteem, achievement, sex roles, and antisocial, prosocial, and moral behavior. Prerequisite: 252 or 254 or 257 or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute seminars. S. Lutz

PSY 327 Close Relationships   Not offered this year SA

This course introduces the scientific perspective on close relationships. Students will learn how research psychologists apply the scientific method of data collection and analysis to investigate how people experience and think about relationships in general, and romantic relationships in particular. Two lectures, one preceptorial. J. Shelton

PSY 329 Psychology of Gender (also GSS 329)   Fall EC

Gender is a topic with which everybody feels intimately familiar. This course holds up to scientific scrutiny the strong beliefs people have about how women and men are similar to and different from each other, examining major theories and empirical findings in psychological research on gender. Topics include the development of gender identity, empirical comparisons of men and women, gender stereotypes and their perpetuation, and the role of gender and gendered beliefs in achievement, interpersonal relationships, and physical and psychological well-being. Prerequisite: any course in psychology. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. K. Brynildsen

PSY 330 Introduction to Connectionist Models: Bridging between Brain and Mind (see NEU 330)

PSY 336 The Diversity of Brains (also EEB 336/NEU 336)   Fall EC

A survey of the unique behaviors of different animal species and how they are mediated by specialized brain circuits. Topics include, for example, monogamy in voles, face recognition in primates, sex- and role-change in fish, and predation by bats. The role of evolutionary and developmental constraints on neural circuit construction will be a key underlying theme. Prerequisites: 258 or 259. One three-hour seminar. A. Ghazanfar

PSY 365 Freud on the Psychological Foundations of the Mind (see HUM 365)

PSY 370 Brainwaves in Language Research (see LIN 370)

PSY 375 Social Stigma: On Being a Target of Prejudice (see AAS 375)

PSY 384 Prejudice: Its Causes, Consequences, and Cures (see AAS 384)

PSY 400 Topics in Social and Personality Psychology   Fall SA

An examination of various topics in social and personality psychology not emphasized in other courses. The topic and prerequisites will vary from year to year. A. Coman

PSY 404 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (see NEU 408)

PSY 410 Depression: From Neuron to Clinic (also NEU 410)   Not offered this year EC

This course focuses on clinical depression as a model topic for scientific discourse. Depression is a subject of growing individual and societal importance, and it is an ideal topic because it intersects such a broad range of issues. Our work will emphasize a neurobiological approach, with topics ranging from the molecular to the clinical. Prerequisites: 208 or 258, or EEB 211, or MOL 214, and instructor's permission. One three-hour seminar. B. Jacobs

PSY 437 Computational Neuroscience (see NEU 437)