The Department of Psychology
EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: The Terra Incognito
Jose A. Gallegos
Like many other freshmen before me, I thought that psychology was a method by which one could save the world. By becoming a clinical psychologist I thought I could cure everyone's ills. Little did I know that psychology included many other fields of study, such as: Psychoacoustics, Media Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Physiological Psychology, etc.
In what most students would consider a rare opportunity, I enrolled (as a sophomore) in my first Experimental Psychology course. There I met an unwonted man, one that made the study of "probability" a learning experience, and to a lesser extent, fun. He made the students work hard. It went to the wire in that class; many of the students worked 'till the last day of school.
Before the quarter was over, he invited us to visit his research lab. The next quarter I walked into the world of research for the first time. I met the researchers (a couple of undergraduate students), and fortunately, I was given a warm welcome. I have virtually lived at the "King Hall Hilton" for over two months. I tell you, research is a world of its own. The best thing about it, I must say, is its social aspect. You meet people, you interact with them, and you become a sort of external family -- "a home away from home."
I never thought that research could be so much work. It is time consuming, and at times you may feel like breaking your head as you attempt to figure out what is going on within a given study. But that is the fun in research, that you observe some phenomena and then try to understand it. When you have the kind of people as I do, almost anything is possible in the lab. from begging for subjects to participate in your study to spending an evening at the ballpark.
Anyone destined for a doctoral program should consider doing research with a professor. You will acquire hands on experience and become better prepared for such a program, not to mention the friends that you'll make.
Currently we are preparing to submit our most resent findings to the Journal of Acoustical Society of America, and we hope to be making a presentation this December in San Diego. It is an adrenaline rush of sorts that we are undergraduates doing what a Ph.D. and graduate students do. It is a whole new world out here. Take it from me, Experimental Psychology is alive and well at King Hall. It is my new field of study. I truly recommend that other people try it. That is it for now, but in our next issue I will tell you about our research in more detail.
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