Skip over navigation

Department of Psychology


Elizabeth Gould

Associate Chair

Nicholas B. Turk-Browne

Departmental Representative

Michael S. Graziano

Director of Graduate Studies

Stacey Sinclair


Matthew M. Botvinick, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Jonathan D. Cohen, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Joel Cooper

Nathaniel D. Daw, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Susan T. Fiske, also Woodrow Wilson School

Asif A. Ghazanfar, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Adele Goldberg

Joan S. Girgus

Elizabeth Gould, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Barry L. Jacobs, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Sabine Kastner, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Kenneth A. Norman, 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

Michael S. Graziano, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Uri Hasson, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Elizabeth Levy Paluck, also Woodrow Wilson School

Yael Niv, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Emily Pronin, also Woodrow Wilson School

Stacey Sinclair, also African American Studies

Nicholas B. Turk-Browne

Assistant Professor

Timothy J. Buschman, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Alin I. Coman, also Woodrow Wilson School

Lauren L. Emberson

Johannes A. Haushofer, also Woodrow Wilson School

Casey Lew-Williams

Jonathan W. Pillow, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Diana I. Tamir

Jordan A. Taylor

Ilana B. Witten, also Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Senior Lecturer

Justin A. Jungé

Lecturer with Continuing Appointment

Ronald J. Comer

Associated Faculty

Sarah-Jane Leslie, Philosophy

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

The Department of Psychology offers the psychology concentration for students with a strong interest in understanding the mechanisms that underlie mental processes and human behavior. The psychology concentration reflects the department's placement within the Division of Natural Sciences by providing rigorous foundational and advanced undergraduate courses in the empirical findings, research methods, quantitative analyses, and formal theories central to modern psychological science. Concentrators will gain mastery of the principles that govern psychological function, from basic processes such as sensation, perception, and movement, to more complex ones such as language, reasoning, decision making, and social interaction. Because psychological science involves working with large and often complex datasets, mastery of statistics is required. Moreover, since mental processes and behavior arise from the brain, the psychology concentration requires a strong grounding in neuroscience. The concentration also offers extensive opportunities for research in areas at the cutting-edge of psychological science, such as the development of perception and language in infants and children, the use of neural measures for understanding and training memory and attention, the impact of implicit biases and stereotypes in social cognition, and the combined use of behavioral, neuroscientific, and comparative approaches for studying social communication and influence. Such research experiences, combined with the course offerings, prepare concentrators for graduate studies in psychological science and related disciplines, such as cognitive science and neuroscience, as well as for numerous careers, such as data science, policymaking, and teaching. The psychology concentration is also compatible with fulfilling requirements for medical school and law school.

For the Classes of 2018 and earlier: Students may fulfill either the former requirements in place at the time of matriculation or the current requirements. Please consult the 2014-2015 Undergraduate Announcement regarding the former requirements.


The prerequisites for entering the Department of Psychology are successful graded completion of PSY 255 (Cognitive Psychology), PSY 252 (Social Psychology), and PSY 251 (Quantitative Methods). Students may fulfill the quantitative methods prerequisite by taking and passing (with a grade) a pre-approved course in another department (for example, ORF 245 or ECO 202).

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 successfully pass at least eight courses within the department and one course in a related field, in addition to the prerequisites. Two of the eight departmental courses must be: PSY 300 (Research Methods in Psychology) and PSY 258 (Fundamentals of Neuroscience). PSY 300 must be completed by the end of the junior year. It is recommended that PSY 258 be completed before the end of the junior year. For the remaining six PSY courses, the following requirements must be met: two 200-level courses or higher; three 300-level courses or higher; and one additional 400-level course. In addition, students must take one pre-approved course in another department related to psychology, such as ANT 206 (Human Evolution), CHV 333 (Bioethics), COS 126 (General Computer Science), ECO 100 or 101 (Introduction to Microeconomics or Macroeconomics), MAT 103 (Calculus), MOL 214 (Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology), or SOC 204 (Social Networks).

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. To satisfy the junior independent work requirement, each student, in consultation with a faculty adviser, must (i) write a report that includes a critical evaluation and a synthesis of compiled articles during the fall semester and (ii) write a research proposal during the spring semester.

1. Fall Semester Papers: Each student is assigned to work with one faculty member from the Department of Psychology for the entire fall semester. The faculty adviser will create a list of approximately three key readings on a specific topic (most likely related to the adviser's research) for all of that adviser's junior-paper students to read. Students are expected to discuss the key readings with their adviser, find at least three additional relevant articles on their own, and write a 15- to 20-page report that includes a critical evaluation of each article and a synthesis of all of the articles. To help students learn how to locate relevant primary sources, students will be required to attend one tutorial led by the psychology and neuroscience librarian.

2. Spring Semester Paper: Each student is assigned to work with one faculty member from the Department of Psychology for the entire spring semester. Students are required to write a 30-40 page research proposal. A research proposal consists of: (i) a comprehensive review and an exploration of the research literature on a psychology topic of importance; (ii) extensive evaluation of the quality, findings, and implications of that body of research, including an ongoing appreciation and assessment of the research designs used throughout the research literature; (iii) continuing display of both critical and original thought and analysis; and (iv) presentation of at least one detailed research study idea (proposed hypotheses, methods, and statistical analyses) that would further the knowledge of, and/or address key issues raised in, the relevant literature. The research proposal may help students devise their senior thesis if in an area of continued interest, and regardless will provide practice with developing a research question and designing a study to test it. If available, students can include pilot data in their spring junior paper.

A second adviser, serving as a reader, will also be assigned for the spring semester. Second advisers are usually from the Department of Psychology. Advisers from other departments will be considered only after the student has obtained permission from the primary adviser, the departmental representative in psychology, and the potential second adviser. Then the student must submit written notification to the Student Program Administration Office indicating the name and department of the second adviser.

Senior Independent Work. 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 theoretical inquiry or computational modeling endeavor. 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). Students are required to select a primary adviser from within the Department of Psychology. They will not be assigned a faculty member as was done for their junior independent work. A second adviser, serving as a reader, will be assigned. Advisers from other departments will be considered only after the student has obtained permission from the primary adviser, the departmental representative in psychology, and the potential second adviser. Then the student must submit written notification to the Student Program Administration Office indicating the name and department of the second adviser.

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) more general questions on the student's coursework and the broader field of psychology.

Study Abroad

The department allows psychology concentrators to study abroad for one semester or a full year. 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 earn a certificate through the Program in Neuroscience. Interested students should discuss the program with the certificate directors and the departmental representative. Certain advanced courses taken in the program can count as cognates in the Department of Psychology.

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. Broader resources available include: the Lewis Library's collection of psychology books and journals, computer labs and high-performance computing clusters, Princeton Neuroscience Institute shared equipment such as fMRI, EEG, TMS, eye-trackers, and microscopes, and the Princeton Survey Research Center.


PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology   Spring STL

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

PSY 207 Psychopathology   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. M. Spokas

PSY 208 The Brain: A User's Guide   Not offered this year 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 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   Spring QR

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

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. D. Tamir

PSY 254 Developmental Psychology (also CGS 254)   Fall 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. C. Lew-Williams

PSY 255 Cognitive Psychology (also CGS 255)   Fall STL

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. J. Taylor

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 201)

PSY 259A Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (see NEU 202A)

PSY 259B Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (see NEU 202B)

PSY 302 Linguistics and Language Acquisition (see LIN 314)

PSY 306 Memory and Cognition (also NEU 306)   Fall 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. M. Glat

PSY 309 Psychology of Language (also LIN 309)   Spring 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 313 Interpersonal Perception   Fall 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   Not offered this year 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   Not offered this year 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. Staff

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   Not offered this year 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. J. Girgus

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 400 Topics in Social and Personality Psychology   Spring 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. Staff

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 425 Neuroeconomics (see NEU 425)

PSY 437 Computational Neuroscience (see NEU 437)