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Swift Thinking: Fall 2015


A table of our anticipated Winter 2016 course offerings along with the department plan for the 2015-2016 Academic Year is available online at Schedule and Resources. Descriptions of Psychology courses are also available on the Registrar’s website. This can assist you in planning for your Spring courses as well.

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 2016 course offerings” 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.

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. We may prioritize Seniors for upper-level courses.

To add courses during the first week of the Winter term, all Psychology courses will require a permission number. Permission numbers are generated by 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. Make sure you have the statistics prerequisite before you enroll. Your records will be evaluated for this requirement and you will be asked to drop the course if you do not have it. Once regular registration starts, any student with the prerequisite may enroll.

Research Courses Requiring Department or Instructor Permission: PSYCH 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 series. This is especially valuable for students considering graduate study in psychology, and it can be an educational and enjoyable experience for others as well.

PSYCH 397 and 399 These independent study courses fulfill the upper-level research requirement for the psychology major. You can count at most 1 quarter of 397-1 or 399 toward the major. You cannot count both courses. 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 “Research for Course Credit.”

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 Quarter, which is Friday, January 8, 2016. **Any application turned in on the last day is not guaranteed a permission number by the registration deadline and will then need approval from the Dean’s Office.**

PSYCH 398 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. David Uttal, the Honors Coordinator, will be able to register for the course.


In Winter 2016, the Psychology department will be offering four sections of PSYCH 314-Special Topics, two sections of PSYCH 357-Advanced Seminar in Personality, Clinical, or Social psychology, and two sections 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: Psych of Beauty

Renee Engeln

The purpose of this course is to thoughtfully consider psychological theory, methodology, and empirical data relating to questions such as the following: What is it that makes us find beautiful people beautiful? How can evolutionary psychology explain why we find certain features beautiful? Where does this theory fail in terms of predicting perceptions of beauty? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? How have beauty ideals shifted over history? How are gender roles and sexual orientation related to beauty and its pursuit? Why is beauty associated with femininity? What cultural biases help those perceived as beautiful and hurt those perceived as lacking in beauty? Are beautiful people happier or more successful? In what ways are beauty standards sometimes destructive? How do cultural standards of beauty affect disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder?

Prerequisite: Psychology 110

PSYCH 314-21: Special Topics: Buddhist Psychology

Marcia Grabowecky

In this seminar we will examine the nature of the mind from both Buddhist and traditional Western psychological perspectives. We will employ a Buddhist technique for investigating mental activity by incorporating a brief meditation period into class and homework activities. We will also examine written materials from both traditions, and these will form the primary basis for class discussion and examinations.

Prerequisite: Psychology 110

PSYCH 314-22: Special Topics: Presenting Data and Ideas

Steven 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.

Prerequisites: Undergraduates only

PSYCH 314-23: 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 and Psych 303 - recommended. This class is for Seniors only. Non-Seniors require instructor permission to register.

PSYCH 357-0-21: Advanced Seminar-Personality/Clinical/Social: Identity and 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.

Prerequisites: Psych 205

PSYCH 357-0-22: 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.

Prerequisites: Psych 205

PSYCH 358-0-20: Advanced Seminar in Cognition or Neuroscience: Reasoning

Lance Rips

This course examines how people reason about everyday objects and categories. Readings include theory and experimental research on this topic in cognitive psychology, philosophy, and linguistics. Assignments engage students in research in this area.

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

PSYCH 358-0-21: Advanced Seminar in Cognition or Neuroscience: Conceptual Change and Learning in School Gardens

Sue Hespos

In this course we will review two fields of research and try to build a bridge between them. Many education articles and popular press writings describe school gardens as a panacea to the nature-deficit disorder (Louv, 2005; 2011), an outdoor science lab (Bouillion & Gomez, 2001; Williams & Dixon, 2013), a source of nutrition, and a catalyst to better food choices (McAleese & Rankin, 2007). In cognitive science there are studies on children's concepts of biology (Ware & Gelman, 2014) and living things (Unsworth et al. 2012). There is potential for a fruitful (pun intended!) connection between these two literatures and discovering how to bridge this gap in the literature will be the point of this course.

Prerequisites: Psychology 205 and 218


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 needs to be filed at the Registrar's Office one year before your expected graduation date (typically in Spring Quarter of your junior year).

The current department advisers for Psychology students are:

Sara Broaders (Substitutions, Study Abroad, Transfer credits, Non-standard ways of completing requirements)

Ben Gorvine (Substitutions, Study Abroad, Transfer credits, Non-standard ways of completing requirements, Clinical Psychology)

Ginger Pennington (Careers in Business)

David Smith (First-year students)

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

To make an appointment with any of these department advisers, call 847-491-5190, stop by the department office at Swift Hall- Room 102, or send an email to


The Undergraduate Psychology Association Exec Board is excited to welcome all new and old Psychology majors and minors! We would also like to introduce and welcome Di Xiao, our new Vice President. The exec board had an awesome time starting off the quarter by meeting prospective Psychology majors and minors at both the Fall Activities Fair and the Majors Fair. We hope to see many new faces at our upcoming events!

Earlier this month, UPA hosted a graduate school panel with representatives from Boston University and Northwestern University. The event provided a great chance for students to learn more about the different psychology graduate and medical programs that are available, while enjoying delicious deep-dish pizza.

On October 29th, we had our first “Lunch with a Professor” event of the quarter with Professor Renee Engeln. Lunch with a Professor is an opportunity to discuss topics like research and interests more in-depth with a faculty member in a very casual setting. Professor Engeln teaches many popular classes at Northwestern, including Introduction to Psychology, Psychopathology, Social Psychology, and Psychology of Beauty. She is also the Director of Northwestern’s Body and Media Lab, which studies the relationship between cultural practices and women’s body image.

We will have coffee chats later in the quarter, allowing members to have one-on-one meetings with current exec members. The exec members are excited to get to know you more personally over a cup of coffee while answering any questions you might have about being a psychology major. In addition, we are planning a movie night during reading week, so stay tuned for more details!

To be included on our listserv, please email us at Also, be sure to like our Facebook page “UPA Undergraduate Psychology Association” for current updates on events. If you have any suggestions, comments, and/or questions, feel free to contact us. We look forward to a great year with you!

 –Minjoo Son, UPA President


The Northwestern University library has created a website providing links to useful resources for Psychology students and faculty. The place to start is 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!


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 Volunteering for more information and ideas.

The Psychology Department Undergraduate Travel Award


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 students who are majoring in psychology to support them in 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 Put "Undergraduate Travel Award" in the subject line of the email. In the email, please include the following information:

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:


All declared psychology major and minor students are added to our new Canvas course site. Here, you can find jobs, research opportunities and graduate school information. Announcements for on-campus or department-hosted events will be posted here as well. Please check back frequently to stay up to date on NU Psychology news.

To be added to our Canvas site please contact

You can find a .PDF version of Swift Thinking here.

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