Psychology is the study of how the mind – instantiated in the brain – enables organisms to act, think, and feel. In the case of humans, it examines the nature of the cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes that allow them to anticipate and react to the opportunities afforded by the world in which they live -- a highly complex world of social structures, other minds, cultural influences, and normative pressures. Major areas of psychology further investigate how these mental processes develop and change across the lifespan, as well as the physiology that give rise to them. In our department this manifests itself in the study of the nature of memory, consciousness, self regulation, prejudice, attitudes, conformity, morality, language, identity, reasoning, stress and coping, perspective taking, categorization, theory of mind, and emotional development.
To investigate these issues, the field of psychology ranges from the study of neuro-chemical activity in the brain, to the study of perceptual systems, attention, language, memory, learning, individual identity, goal pursuit, attitudes, and decision making, to cultural influences and group memberships that give rise to conformity with norms, prejudice, morality, relationships, shared meaning, and prosocial behavior.
Psychology is a scientific discipline that accumulates knowledge in these domains through controlled experimentation, field studies, and the study of patient populations. As such, it employs a complex set of methods and techniques including physiological recordings, neuroimaging, reaction time analyses, behavioral observation, surveys, narrative analysis, and computational modeling, to name a few.
Psychology is often described as a “hub” discipline because it stands at a crossroads of many disciplines and facilitates traffic between the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, education, and policy.
Lehigh psychology is positioned to serve as such a hub. For this reason our major has traditionally been among the most popular at Lehigh. It provides links to HMS, Global Studies, Biology, Cogntive Science, WGSS, Marketing, Management, Anthropology, Philosophy, Behavioral Neuroscience, Education, Sociology, and Economics. Our faculty examine issues including the role of narrative in development and education, prejudice, morality, identity, influences of peers, aging, prosocial acts, memory, stress, language, categorization, trust, decision making, motivated reasoning, persuasion, infant reasoning, parent-child attachment, goal pursuit, socio-emotional competence, the nature of the unconscious, dissent, and issues of executive control and free will. They do basic research in lab and field settings that apply to policy issues in health and health disparity, management, global relations, education, law (e.g., blame, intent, compassion, the bias-inequality link, etc.), criminal justice, and financial decision making.