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            Psychology includes the study of human growth and development, of the neural organization of the brain and learning, of cognition (thought) and affect (emotion), of social-cultural influences on thought, behavior, and identity, and of abnormal syndromes, drug treatments, and psychotherapy.  The psychology major at Kalamazoo College covers all of these core areas, as well as a range of special topics, including psychology of music, language, dreams & consciousness, organizational behavior, psychopharmacology, feminist psychology of women, and the cultural psychology of Arab-Muslim societies.

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            Classes are small and many include hands-on research projects and oral presentations.  Courses also emphasize critical examination of case studies -- of both individuals (such as the brain injuries suffered by Phineas Gage and “H.M.”) and of experiments (such as Milgram’s “obedience” experiment and its recent replication).  Students get additional research experience as assistants on faculty projects and in labs at universities and research institutes, and all majors carry out a one- or two-quarter Senior thesis/research project.  These Senior Individualized Projects (SIPs) are designed and completed by each student on a topic of their choosing, and are presented at the department’s annual Van Liere Symposium.  SIPs may involve laboratory or field experiments, surveys or interviews, computer simulations, or evaluations of treatment or educational programs.

            Psychology majors also can get applied experience working in community settings near campus, including at a crisis “hot line,” the county juvenile home, a school for autism-spectrum children, a domestic abuse shelter, and public elementary, middle, and high schools.

            The psychology major prepares students for careers in social services, counseling, health, education, business, and public administration.  Many students combine a psychology major or minor with courses in other departments and with study abroad to pursue international careers in public health, diplomacy, human rights activism, etc.

            With its strong research emphasis, the K College psychology major provides excellent preparation for graduate study.  On a recent Educational Testing Service psychology exam, our majors scored better than 95% of students from other institutions across the nation. Over two-thirds of psychology graduates go on to graduate from professional schools within five years of graduating from K, and the department ranks among the top 20 in the country for the percentage of majors who subsequently receive Ph.D.s in psychology.

            Recent graduates have been accepted to doctoral programs at New York University, Cambridge (England), Yale, University of Chicago, U.C. San Diego, U.C. Santa Cruz, University of Michigan, Indiana University, Northwestern University, and Johns Hopkins.


Department News

03/26/2014 - What better way to celebrate Spring and the joy of life than to stomp in puddles? Take a look at Dr. Siu-Lan Tan’s top 8 picks for best YouTube videos of children's first encounters with puddles and what we learn from them.


01/14/2014 - With the start of a new term; we have news to share about the Psychology Department!!

Please join us in welcoming two new assistant professors to our psychology department.  Both are accomplished teachers and published researchers, and in tenure-track positions they significantly strengthen our department.

                Dr. Brittany Liu is a social psychologist who completed her Ph.D. last year at U. C. Irvine.  She is teaching Social Psychology this quarter, and will be teaching General Psychology and (in rotating years) team-teaching the Experimental Methods course with Drs. Batsell or Hostetter.  She also will be developing courses on moral psychology and psychology and law.  Her research focuses on how individuals’ values alter their perceptions of facts and evidence, and how knowledge or expertise can exacerbate biases.  She and her husband Noah and seven month old daughter Greta arrived in Kalamazoo in December, just in time to get settled into their house on Bulkley for the blizzard.

                Dr. Kyla Day Fletcher is a developmental psychologist who completed her Ph.D. in 2010 at the University of Michigan.  She did research on adolescent substance abuse as an N.I.D.A. Post-Doctoral Fellow for two years, and then taught here last year as a visiting professor.  Next year she will join our department as an assistant professor, teaching General Psychology, Adolescent Development, the Psychology of Sexuality, and other courses.  Her research focuses on the determinants of adolescents’ sexual health and substance abuse, especially the roles of race, gender, media, and romantic relationships in the development of healthy sexual self-concepts.  She employs surveys, dairies, focus groups, and interviews, and is always seeking enthusiastic and dedicated students to work with her.  She commutes from Grand Rapids, where her husband Nicolas is in medical school.  She is on maternity leave this Winter quarter, returning in the Spring.

                In addition, we are pleased that Dr. Jennifer Perry has returned from her Fall maternity leave (welcome to her daughter Eleanor) to teach Physiological Psychology this quarter while Dr. Batsell is on sabbatical.  Also Dr. Jennifer Langeland is with us teaching Health Psychology again this quarter, and Joanna Schnelker-Merill (a K psychology grad, currently a Ph.D. student at Wayne State) is here again this quarter teaching Gen. Psych.

                If you haven’t met any of these faculty, please find an opportunity to introduce yourself, welcome them, and find out more about their teaching and research.

01/13/2014 - Dr. Tan's newest blog; Why do Polar Bears (and Human Babies) Crawl Backwards?

Dr. Siu-Lan Tan was invited to be a blogger on Psychology Today.  Dr. Tan's new blog was launched in October 2013 and is entitled "What Shapes Film?".  She explores film - with cool connections to her classes: Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Music, and Creativity. 

The blog can be found here:

 Dr. Tan Blog Image

Audrey Tautou in 'Amélie' (c. Fox 2001)

Return to the Department News list

Congratulations to Dr. Siu-Lan Tan!

Dr. Siu-Lan Tan's research was outlined by neuroscientist Dr. Aniruddh Patel on Sept 23 2013, at a panel with Academy Award-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen and Emmy Award-winning actor Alec Baldwin, co-presented by the New York Philharmonic and World Science Festival.  A webcast of the program can be found here - Dr Tan and her study (using the film "Minority Report") are mentioned at 40:27:

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Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton in 'Minority Report' (c) DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox 2002


Senior Bobby Hilliard presented a poster entitled, "The Big-Five Personality Traits and Adherence to a Clinic-Based Regimen Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Surgery" at the Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium at Hope College on February 16, 2013. Hilliard2013

Dr. Autumn Hostetter was invited to present a talk entitled, "Observing the Body to Understand the Mind: Gestures as Evidence for Embodied Thought” at the Nonverbal Behavior Preconference in New Orleans, January 17, 2013.


Dr. Karyn Boatwright and students Katherine Curley, Dana Allswede, and Claire Diekman presented a poster entitled, "College Women's Conceptualizations of Effective Leadership & Acquired Leadership Skills: Changes over a 4-year Liberal Arts Education" at the Association of Women in Psychology meeting, March 9, 2012.


Dr. Peter Erdi was a keynote speaker and round participant at the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research at the University of Vienna, April 2012.

Dr. Siu-Lan Tan earned the 2012 Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Excellence in Teaching, Kalamazoo College's highest honor for classroom teaching.

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