Students studying psychological science investigate how people think, behave, and interact with others. They examine how social situations, cognitive factors, education systems, ideas about health, biology, culture, and myriad other factors influence human thoughts and behavior.
Research interests in the program are wide-ranging, but tend to focus around topics in social psychology, cognitive psychology, health psychology, and learning science (or educational/school psychology). Faculty and student researchers use various methods to answer their research questions including surveys, experiments, psychophysiological measures, and eye tracking.
Faculty and students collaborate to research questions like these:
- How does our social environment influence our health?
- How can we encourage environmental awareness and sustainability?
- Why is understanding how people think and behave important when designing technological devices, robots, or computer games?
- What factors increase or decrease stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination?
- How can technology increase a student's ability to learn subjects like math or physics?
- How do our social and cultural environments influence how we think about others?
WPI's Psychological & Cognitive Sciences Research Laboratories
The Psychological Science program's labs consistently attract a wide pool of student volunteers for research studies.
Social Psychology Inquiry (SPI) Lab (Skorinko)
The Social Psychology Inquiry (SPI) Lab supports a variety of methodologies for conducting human participant research—particularly social psychological experiments. The emphasis is on research that examines how environmental factors influence attitudes, decisions, interactions, and cultural understanding. We also collaborate with colleagues in computer science and robotics to investigate assistive technologies.
The SEED Lab studies health and health behaviors from a biopsychosocial perspective. Our work explores the intersection of psychological factors (like stress and health behaviors), biological factors (like cortisol and inflammation), and social factors (like weight stigma), and the bidirectional – and even cyclical – relationships among these factors. wp.wpi.edu/SEEDLab
The Math, Abstraction, Play, Learning, and Embodiment (MAPLE) Lab (Ottmar)
Teaching and learning mathematics is a highly complex social, exploratory, and creative process. In the MAPLE Lab, we design novel dynamic technologies that make “math come alive” (Graspable Math, From Here to There!) and use log files from these technologies to explore the coordination of attention, cognition, gestures, and strategies when solving mathematical equations. We also use a variety of applied multilevel quantitative methods, observational measures, and assessments to examine the efficacy of instructional, social, and emotional classroom interventions that can improve K-12 math teaching, learning, and engagement.
Creativity, Education, Affect, and Reasoning (CEDAR) Lab (Shaw)
The CEDAR Lab conducts research on creative and flexible thinking in mathematics, reasoning of complex concepts, “aha” moments, and how student experiences shape thinking and learning in mathematics and statistics education. Our lab uses experimental methods, observational data, learning analytics, and qualitative methodologies in an effort to better understand teaching and learning in STEM subjects. www.cedarlab.org
The SNAP Lab utilizes psychological theories, brain imaging techniques (e.g., fMRI), and longitudinal modeling of behavior to better understand how human beings align their thoughts and emotions with goals they are pursuing—with the broader aim of enhancing health and wellbeing.