The goal of the Psychology Department is to provide students with the tools to pursue novel questions about behavior and the mind using the scientific method. Strong emphasis is placed on helping students learn to communicate their ideas clearly and concisely.
About the Major
At Hamilton, psychology students are introduced to a breadth of topics (e.g., clinical, cognitive, developmental, evolutionary, neuroscience, and social) while also gaining a strong foundation in research methodology and statistics. Students have opportunities to apply their knowledge, such as through research with a professor or at the New England Center for Children, a treatment facility for individuals with autism. From introductory courses through the Senior Project, students learn to use the scientific method to pursue questions about human nature.
Students Will Learn To:
Explain how behavior and the mind are shaped by a variety of factors (e.g., biological, sociocultural)
Evaluate sources, evidence, and psychological theories critically
Employ appropriate research methods and statistics to address novel psychological questions ethically
Communicate ideas clearly and concisely, demonstrating awareness of both disciplinary conventions and the target audience
A Sampling of Courses
An introduction to the science of lifespan development, from conception and prenatal development to older age and death. Focuses on multiple domains of development, including cognitive, social, physical, and emotional, with emphasis on how development in all domains is shaped by both biological and social/cultural influences (e.g., gender norms, social class, stereotyping and prejudice). This course provides the opportunity for experiential learning through work with individuals in applied settings such as child care centers.
Explore these select courses:
An exploration of theoretical and methodological questions involved in the study of learning and neural plasticity. Questions covered will include: What is learning? What are the mechanisms that support neural plasticity, and how do they contribute to learning-induced changes in behavior? How does learning change across the lifespan? Laboratory exercises will include the development of original experiments to elicit and measure learning at the behavioral and neural levels, as well as the analysis of neural data. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory.
A theoretical and methodological exploration of the psychological and physiological mechanisms of stress. Questions will include: How does psychological stress impact health and well-being? What neurobiological mechanisms are involved? What is the role of environmental context? Laboratory exercises will include designing original experiments to examine the role of stress on behavior and physiological activity, as well as analyzing data, writing papers based on findings, and oral and poster presentations. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory.
This course will explore the interactive relationships among evolved adaptations, development, learning, and culture, emphasizing ways in which these work together to shape individuals’ behavior. Questions covered will include: What does it mean to take an evolutionary approach to psychology? What are the major evolutionary theories, and how have they been used to explain human behavior? What are the methods and assumptions of evolutionary approaches?
In this course we will take a social psychological approach to understanding stereotypes, prejudice(s), and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other group memberships. We will examine classic and contemporary theories and research on topics such as cognitive, motivational, evolutionary, and sociocultural explanations of prejudice; modern forms of prejudice/implicit bias; the impact of prejudice and discrimination on targets of prejudice; and prejudice reduction.
Seminar in psychological services combined with eight to 10 hours per week of field study in one of several cooperating local agencies and schools. Extensive written project addressing theoretical issues relevant to field work. Topics include methods in provision of psychological, educational and applied services, and methodological and ethical issues in psychotherapy, counseling and educational psychology.
Five Hamilton College faculty members were approved for tenure by the College’s Board of Trustees at its March meeting. They include Vikranth Bejjanki (psychology, neuroscience) and Rachel White (psychology).
Amy Zhai ’22 is among six seniors recently awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships. We're featuring all of them on the news page in coming weeks. Here, Zhai tells why she applied for this opportunity in Cambodia, and how Hamilton has prepared her.
“Through Hamilton’s open curriculum I was able to strike a balance for myself,” Gioia said. “Physical therapy requires high levels of empathy and strong communication skills, so a combination of psychology and literature classes was fitting to learn from an array of viewpoints.”
Careers After Hamilton
Hamilton graduates who concentrated in psychology are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:
Senior Financial Analyst, IBM
Clinical Social Worker, Washington, D.C. Department of Mental Health
Product Quality Analyst, Google
School Psychologist, Dundee Central School
Neuroscientist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Chief Architect, Port Authority of NY & NJ
Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook
Professor, Georgetown University Law Center
Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service
Program Director, National Science Foundation
Senior Deputy General Counsel, San Francisco Unified School District