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Swift Thinking: Spring 2012

Registration Information

Fall Courses   

Tables showing our anticipated undergraduate course offerings for Fall 2012 and a still-tentative Academic Year 2012-2013 course plan can be found online. Please check the registrar's website for updates to these schedules and descriptions of psychology courses.

Preregistering for Fall 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 Fall 2012 course schedule. All students listed as psychology or cognitive science majors or minors in the registrar's computerized system 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.

Note that PSYCH 205-Research Methods is available for preregistration; no permission numbers will be required. PSYCH 201-Statistical Methods in Psychology or an approved substitute is a prerequisite for 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 Spring, you may sign up for PSYCH 205 for Fall because you will complete PSYCH 201 before Fall quarter starts. However, you may not take both PSYCH 205 and the prerequisite during the same quarter. 

Most courses not available for preregistration are those for which students need department consent in order to enroll. Psych 397, 398, and 399 require department permission throughout the registration period. See the section below on Courses Requiring Department Permission for additional information on these 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 be using the "electronic wait list" function on CAESAR. If you try to add a course that is full, CAESAR will tell you that 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 with an active wait list will require department permission during the add period (the first week of fall classes). Course professors will prepare lists of students whom they have agreed to add to their courses, and these students will then receive permission numbers. 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.

Courses Requiring Department Permission

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, you should 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 a permission number for the course. The forms should be submitted by Wednesday October, 3. Remember that 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.

Students who will be taking PSYCH 398-Senior Thesis Seminar next year will also need permission numbers. These will be available in the department office beginning Monday, May 10, for everyone on the list of students selected to participate in our honors program next year.

Special Courses for Fall Quarter

PSYCH 314 - Special Topics: Behavior Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology (Dr. Michael Bailey)  
This class is an overview of two related disciplines: behavior genetics and evolutionary psychology. The first weeks of the class will address methods and findings in behavior genetics, focusing primarily on twin, family, and adoption designs, but also addressing contemporary molecular methods. The second half of the class will focus on topics in evolutionary psychology including the evolution of mate preferences, violence, morality, and their application to life.

PSYCH 314 – Special Topics: Philosophy and Psychology (Dr. Lance Rips)
This course explores connections between theories in current philosophy and research in cognitive and developmental psychology. Possible topics include personal identity, the nature of objects and substance, causality, and ideas of abstract entities, such as numbers. Readings will include articles and chapters from both fields. Assignments engage students in research in this area.

PSYCH 357-Advanced Seminar: Neurobiology of Mood Disorders (Dr. Robin Nusslock)
This course will be a survey of research on the neurobiology of mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. The course is introductory in nature and it is not expected that students have had previous courses on either neurobiology or mood disorders. The course will focus on the biological mechanisms underlying mood disorders and their treatments.

PSYCH 358-Advanced Seminar: Theory of Mind (Dr. Sid Horton)
The concept of "Theory of Mind" refers to the capacity to reason about others' mental states and to understand that other individuals can have beliefs and knowledge that are different from one's own. Having access to a theory of mind influences not only how we interpret the actions of others but also how we communicate our own desires and thoughts. In this research seminar, we will read a selection of the growing theoretical and empirical literature on theory of mind. Through these readings, we will consider a number of issues, such as when and how children acquire a theory of mind, whether one can attribute a theory of mind to non-human primates and other animals, whether human adults necessarily reason about the minds of others during communication and social interaction, and the nature of the evidence for a (possibly innate) theory of mind "module" in the human brain. Students will be expected to complete the readings for each week's class and to prepare brief responses to each set of readings and to participate in class discussions. The bulk of the course grade will be based on a final research paper.

All 357, 358, and 359 Advanced Seminars count toward the upper-level research requirement for psychology majors. All have PSYCH 205 as a prerequisite, and other prerequisites may apply as well (see the course information on CAESAR for details). In addition, PSYCH 357 counts toward the Column A (personality/clinical/social) requirement and PSYCH 358 counts toward the Column B (cognitive and neuroscience) requirement for psychology majors and minors.

News from the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)

by Sree Kathiravan, UPA President

Welcome to Spring Quarter 2012 from the UPA! We hope you enjoyed the Dan Gilbert talk on happiness as much as we did!
We have recently transitioned to the new executive board for the 2012-2013 school year. Officers are as follows:

As you can see we have added a new officer position, “Mentoring Chair,” in order to create the first Northwestern Psychology Mentoring Program on campus. We will be working closely with Professor Rosengren, the Psychology Department, and graduate students to plan out the logistics and hire mentors.  Keep an eye out for mentor and mentee applications on the listserv! This will be a great opportunity for underclassmen to get an idea about areas of psychology in which they might focus. Jin will be conducting surveys so we can tailor the program to the expectations and needs of mentees. We plan to get this program up and running Fall Quarter 2012!

In order to be more accessible and keep in touch with students, we are currently giving all social media sites, such as the UPA Facebook and twitter group, a face-lift! This way, students can keep in touch with the psychology events on campus. Additionally, we are in the process of making UPA swag/apparel.

We have a lot of great events this quarter. The quarterly “Lunch with a Professor” this quarter will feature Professor Engeln-Maddox. More details will come on this awesome opportunity to talk to Professor Engeln-Maddox, which includes a free lunch (compliments of UPA!), at Norris in May. Next, we will be hosting our annual Graduate Student Panel with graduate students from Social Psychology and Brain, Behavior, and Cognition. Additionally, this quarter we have the pleasure of having a guest professor from the School and Educational Psychology Department at National Louis University talk about their program and the different degrees and certification they offer. This will be an excellent opportunity for juniors and seniors to engage in conversations to learn about School Psychology, which has undergone a lot of changes in the past 10 years. Students can also talk to students currently in the program to get a sense for their perspectives as well. More details will come out on the listserv soon! We’re also teaming up with the CogSci Club to plan a Lab Night event where different labs send representatives to give some information about work going on in the different labs and to answer questions about how to get involved.

To join the listserv and receive our most up-to-date news, contact Mike Sladek at And as always, if you have any suggestions, comments, or questions about UPA, don’t hesitate to contact any one of our Executive Board members listed above. We’re looking forward to a great quarter with you!

Psychology Honors Students and the Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition

The psychology department has a stellar group of honors students this year!  Please consider attending the 2012 Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition to see many of these students present the results of their senior thesis research. The symposium will be held in Norris University Center on Monday, May 21. In addition to learning more about the impressive research efforts of these students, attendees can vote on their favorite posters.  Those students receiving the most votes will receive “People’s Choice” awards!

Seniors Pursing Honors in Psychology

Summer Study in Psychology

Several psychology courses will be offered at Northwestern during the summer session. These include some courses taught during the regular academic year and some summer-only sections of Psych 314-Special Topics in Psychology. To learn more about NU Summer Session courses, see the summer session website.  

Taking Summer Courses at Another School

If you plan to take psychology courses at another school this summer and want to count them toward your Northwestern degree, then you must have prior permission from the Weinberg Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising (OUSA) and from our department. Take your course descriptions to the OUSA at 1922 Sheridan Road, pick up the relevant forms, and then see either Dr. Linsenmeier or Dr. Broaders to talk about getting psychology department approval. You can schedule an appointment to see either of them by contacting Maria Candelario in the department office (Swift 102, phone 847-491-5190). Weinberg College guidelines and the petition form for courses taken away from Northwestern are also available online.

Graduate School Information

If you're thinking of doing graduate work in psychology, the department has several resources you may find helpful. One resource is the department webpage on graduate study in psychology. In addition, our faculty members and graduate students can provide you with useful information about choosing a field of specialization, applying to graduate school, and what life as a graduate student is like.

If you're interested in clinical psychology, be sure to take a look at Considering Graduate Study in Clinical Psychology.

Juniors: Time To Do Your Graduation Petition

Spring of the junior year is the usual time to file a Graduation Petition. You need to have the petition reviewed and signed by an adviser in each major and each minor you plan to complete. This is important for making sure that you haven't overlooked or misunderstood any graduation requirements--and that you and the degree auditors in the Registrar's Office agree on how your courses fit department, college, and university rules. It's also a good opportunity to think about how you'd like to spend your final year as an undergraduate student.

Forms should be submitted to the Registrar's Office a full year before you plan to graduate. If you expect to graduate next June with a major or minor in psychology, then this quarter is the time to do your petition. Students in each of Northwestern’s undergraduate schools can find the appropriate form through the “Graduation” section of the Registrar's website. You should fill the form out and then discuss it with a psychology department adviser. To schedule an appointment, contact Maria Candelario in Swift 102 (phone 847-491-5190). Our tentative 2012-2013  course schedule may be helpful to you as you complete the form. 

After your form is signed, turn it in to the Registrar's Office. Be sure to look carefully at the feedback you get from the Registrar's office after you submit this form.

Seniors: Graduation Reception

The psychology department will honor all students graduating with a major in psychology at a reception on June 15, 2012. The reception will he held from 2:00 – 3:30 on the first floor of Swift Hall. All of our graduating seniors and their families are invited to attend and to celebrate with us!

Lab Notes

From the McAdams Lab:
At the Foley Center for the Study of Lives—a research lab directed by Professor Dan McAdams—we investigate a range of ways in which individuals use life narratives and autobiographical memories to make sense of their lives. Much of our research focuses on how these stories may be related to personality and psychological health across development. One current study examines how temperament and depression may impact the treatment of emotions in shared memories by parents and their five-year-old children. If you’re interested in becoming involved in this or other Foley Center projects, please e-mail Professor McAdams at

From the Bodenhausen Lab:

For those who are interested in learning more about the research currently being conducted in Galen Bodenhausen’s Lab,  check out this video. It contains a short, fun description of one of our current projects.  It is the second thing discussed, after a study of homophobia.

Awards and Accolades

Congratulations to the many psychology majors and minors who have won awards, presented papers at conferences, or been involved in other special activities this year. Listed below are some of the students in our department who have received recognition for their achievements this year.

Three psychology majors have received special “URG-Underwood” awards.  All emerged as top applicants for both the department’s Underwood Fellowship and the university’s summer Undergraduate Research Grants offered through the Provost’s Office:

Mesum Mathison - working with Sandy Waxman
Francis Park – working with Bill Revelle
Mike Sladek - working with Renee Engeln-Maddox
In addition, three psychology undergraduates received funding for their summer research from the University's Undergraduate Research Grants committee:

Marissa Gillis - working with Robin Nusslock
Stephanie Schuette - working with Dedre Gentner
Dani Alcorn - working with Renee Engeln-Maddox

Congratulations to the co-winners of the Win Hill Award, Jason He and Matthew Kingery, for the best papers in Research Methods.  Jason’s paper was entitled “The Allure of Americanization: Sociolinguistic Effects on Perceptions of Asian College Students in the United States” and Matthew’s was entitled “The Effects of Environmentalism Schema Priming and Distance between Recyclable Item and Bin on Recycling Behavior”.

All of the students listed below won Lois Elizabeth Henrikson Undergraduate Travel Awards to support their travel to conferences for the presentation of their research.

Nicole Hendrix to present at International Conference of Infant Studies in Minneapolis
Kevin Hsu to present at Society for Sex Therapy and Research in Chicago
Clair Waluck to present at the Association for Psychological Sciences in Chicago
Michael Sladek to present at the Association for Psychological Sciences in Chicago
Anna Rhoad to present at the Association for Psychological Sciences in Chicago
Jennifer Piemonte to present at the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, the Association of Psychological Sciences in Chicago, and the International Conference of Infant Studies in Minneapolis

Congratulations to all our award-winning undergraduate students!

Conference Presentations

The following undergraduates are presenting papers or posters at the Midwestern Psychological Association or the Association for Psychological Science meetings in Chicago, this May: 

Ryan Jenkins
Kaitlin Meyer 
Jennifer Piemonte 
Mike Sladek 
Eric Yarnik

Rachel Cackler 
Craig M. Kopulsky
Kaitlin Meyer 
Arundati Nagendra
Jennifer Piemonte 
Kathryn Rulon 
Mike Sladek
Max Sutton-Smolin
Claire Waluch
Lisa Wang
Sara Weston