Psychological Sciences

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The ability to block out the noise and focus on a specific task is a crucial skill in daily life. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that early childhood, before the age of 10, represents a critical time when children with autism have particular difficulty with this ability and would benefit from intervention addressing this weakness.

Each year, the University of Missouri System President’s Awards are presented on behalf of President Mun Choi to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System. These highly competitive awards recognize faculty who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university.

The College of Arts and Science is proud to be home to some of the world’s best historians, scientists, artists, authors, performers, innovators, and scholars. The A&S Faculty Fellowship program allows the college to recognize outstanding faculty members by providing a one-time award of $5,000. The fellowship may be renewed if the faculty member is selected again.

The College of Arts and Science Student Council has presented its 2018 Chalk Awards to two professors and a graduate teaching assistant in recognition of their excellence as instructors and advisers. The student council solicits nominations from students for their favorite instructors and advisers, and the council’s executive committee makes the final selections.

Purple Chalk Award

The Distinguished Lecture Series on Psychology presents Paul Bloom, Against empathy: Rethinking our common-sense beliefs about morality.

Paul Bloom

  • Promoting Girls' and Women's Success in the Workplace

2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Arts and Science Distinguished Alumni Awards, established in 1984, allow the college to recognize some of its many outstanding alumni whose professional contributions have enhanced their respective disciplines and the quality of life for humankind, and in doing so have reflected well on the College of Arts and Science.


Major Garrett
BA ’84 political science, BJ ’84

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Professional athletes in the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball can reap very large financial rewards, especially if their performance peaks during their “contract year,” or the last season before an athlete signs a new contract or becomes a free agent. Often, when these athletes perform well during the contract year, they receive huge raises and added benefits.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – In the social world, people constantly gather information through visual cues that are used to evaluate others and interact. A new study from researchers at the University of Missouri determined that babies can make sense of complex social situations, and that they expect people to behave appropriately.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – When a person loses a hand, nerves that control sensation and movement are severed. This trauma deprives sensory and movement areas of the brain of stimulation, causing them to reorganize their functions. Whether these reorganizational changes can be reversed in the adult brain is of broad relevance to neurorehabilitation.

Marketers and advertisers routinely try to affiliate their products with U.S. colleges and universities. For instance, cellular network providers strike deals that allow them to become the “official wireless carrier” of some university or other.

The Department of Women's & Gender Studies is sponsoring a roundtable conversation with special guest Jonathan Metzl, the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, Oct. 29 in the Leadership Auditorium in the MU Student Center. The topic is "assessing firearms through the intersections of race, gender, and mental health."

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Research has shown the significance of social relationships in influencing adult human behavior and health; however, little is known about how children’s perception of their social networks correlates with stress and how it may influence development. Now, a University of Missouri research team has determined that children and adolescents physically react to their social networks and the stress those networks may cause.

Events on campus this semester have led to a rise in race-related discussions. This weekly workshop allows for a safe space to discuss experiences and learn skills for coping with race-related stress.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The underrepresentation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields occurs globally. Although women currently are well represented in life sciences, they continue to be underrepresented in inorganic sciences, such as computer science and physics.

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the fourth of five invited talks in our 2017-18 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Kaveri Subrahmanyam

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the third of five invited talks in our 2017-18 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Scott Frey

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the second of five invited talks in our 2017-18 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Jack Gallant

Sam Gosling, Professor of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the fifth of five invited talks in our 2017-18 Distinguished Lecture Series.

The Department of Psychological Sciences, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Science, is pleased to announce the second of five invited talks in our 2016–17 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Ara Norenzayan, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture at University of British Columbia, will present "Why So Devout? Faith, Inequality, and the Future of Religious Fervor in America."

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the fourth of five invited talks in our 2016-17 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Prof. John Jost

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the third of five invited talks in our 2016-17 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Prof. Vickie Mays

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science is pleased to announce the fifth of five invited talks in our 2016-17 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Prof. Jack Glaser

Yehuda flyer
The Department of Psychological Sciences, in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science and the Department of Educational, School & Counseling Psychology is pleased to announce the sixth of six invited talks in our

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science and the Department of Educational, School & Counseling Psychology is pleased to announce the first of five invited talks in our 2018-19 Distinguished Lecture Series. James Pennebaker, Regents Centennial Professor of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, will present "Tracking people's lives through their words and stories" on Thursday, September 20, 2018, at 3:30 p.m.

The Department of Psychological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Arts & Science and the Department of Educational, School & Counseling Psychology is pleased to announce the second of five invited talks in our 2018-19 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Joseph L. White, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, will present “The Browning of America: Implications for Diversity in Higher Education” at the University of Missouri.

 We are accustomed to seeing a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal—a dog—that helps that person navigate daily life. Service animals are recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as animals trained to serve a specific disability-related function, such as a seeing-eye dog for someone with vision problems.

Spring 2018
12:00-1:30 pm
S110 Memorial Union
(unless otherwise noted)

Spring 2018
12:00-1:30 pm
S110 Memorial Union
(unless otherwise noted)

Spring 2018
12:00-1:30 pm
S110 Memorial Union

Spring 2018
12:00-1:30 pm
S110 Memorial Union

Spring 2018
12:00-1:30 pm
S110 Memorial Union

Robert Richards

March 19: Robert Richards, the Morris Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, the University of Chicago, presents, "Darwin's Moral Theory."

Virpi Lummaa

Virpi Lummaa, University of Turku, Finland, presents, "Why and how we grow old: cooperation and conflict in human families," Monday, Oct. 15, S110 memorial Union.

H. Clark Barrett

The Evolution and Social Sciences Seminar presents, Prof. H. Clark Barrett,Department of Anthropology, UCLA, "What’s universal about human morality?" Monday, March 18, 572 Life Science Center.

Paul Smaldino

“The Natural Selection of Bad Science,” by assistant professor Paul E. Smaldino, University of California, Merced, Sept. 17, 12 p.m., S110 Memorial Union.

Awarded at the close of the junior year to the psychology major(s) with the highest cumulative GPA who are in need of financial assistance and are of good moral character.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Considerable attention has been paid to how boys’ educational achievements in science and math compare to girls’ accomplishments in those areas, often leading to the assumption that boys outperform girls in these areas.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Global studies have shown that women are underrepresented in some science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and fields. Even in countries with higher gender equality, sex differences in math and technical scores persist.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may affect as many as 5.5 million Americans. Scientists currently are seeking treatments and therapies found in common foods that will help stave off the disease or prevent it completely.

People who strongly trust their gut instincts tend to make snap judgments about whether something is morally wrong or not, and they do not change their point of view even after thinking about the issue. That’s the conclusion of a series of studies conducted by Sarah Ward, a doctoral candidate in social/ personality psychology.

To promote professional growth among department faculty, staff, and students by stimulating opportunities for teaching, research, and service that will elevate individual units and people to higher levels of achievement.

One or more annual awards to graduate students with consideration of need.

Ken Sheldon likes to put a positive spin on things.  As a professor of psychological sciences, Sheldon is active in the positive psychology movement and spends part of his research focusing on whether it is possible for people to become happier. He says being named a Curators’ Professor—one of the university’s highest honors—means the university recognizes the international reputation he has built as a researcher in motivation, positive, and personality psychology.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – While many studies have been conducted on infants’ and preschoolers’ math competencies, few have evaluated how toddlers’ basic mathematics knowledge relates to early elementary school success.

  • Psychology of Happiness
  • Journaling for Health

Thirty-six seniors majoring in psychological sciences recently returned from a field trip to Chicago, where they each presented the results of a year-long research project. The students developed research posters based on their honors theses and presented them at the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) Conference in Chicago the weekend of April 14.

To provide financial assistance for graduate student development with preference to students of child, clinical, or pediatric psychology. The uses from the fund may include, but not be limited to, support of research activities, specialty training at other institutions, travel to professional conferences, or other activities directly related to the recipient's studies.

Awarded to a clinical graduate student with exceptional accomplishments during graduate school whose achievements exemplify the goals of psychological clinical science.

Awarded to Psych Day poster presentation of merit.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Few things are more stressful than dealing with a sick child. From discussing treatment with a pediatrician to complying with day care policies, a parent must consider many factors when making a decision about their child’s health.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Psychotic disorders often are severe and involve extreme symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations in which people lose their sense of reality. Researchers at the University of Missouri recently found evidence that boosting how well people at risk for psychosis learn from positive and negative feedback could potentially keep psychosis at bay.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – When use of a dominant hand is lost by amputation or stroke, a patient is forced to compensate by using the nondominant hand exclusively for precision tasks like writing or drawing. Presently, the behavioral and neurological effects of chronic, forced use of the nondominant hand are largely understudied and unknown.

Anyone who has seen an episode of Law & Order knows that if the defense attorney can successfully portray his client as a victim, jurors may be less inclined to assign blame to the defendant or may reduce the severity of the defendant’s punishment. Research confirms this is more than just a television trope—casting the perpetrator of a transgression as a victim tends to make them seem less blameworthy.

Researchers from the University of Missouri and University of Essex in the United Kingdom say a new way of measuring gender inequality is fairer to both men and women, and presents a simplified but more accurate picture of peoples’ well-being than previous calculations. The new Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI) focuses on three factors – educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Historically, males have been considered the vulnerable sex, sometimes called “male vulnerability.” Charles Darwin noted that boys are more likely to die in infancy than girls and have a higher risk of premature death throughout their lifetimes.

The first Columbia native to win an Olympic medal has returned to class at MU and is getting back into the routine of day-to-day college life. J’Den Cox, a senior majoring in psychology, won the bronze medal in the 86-kilogram freestyle wrestling competition at the recently concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With his win, Cox becomes just the eighth Tiger to medal at the Olympics.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A large proportion of the American public opts to receive cancer screenings with the hope that testing will reduce their chance of cancer death. Now, a team led by University of Missouri psychological science researchers has determined that patients may want cancer screenings even if the potential harms outweigh the benefits.

No straight line exists between Move-In Day and commencement. This December, 2,243 students will earn degrees from the University of Missouri. Their journeys are as unique as the students themselves.

Student Affairs caught up with four soon-to-be-alumni, who agreed to share a little of their path to graduation and where the road leads next.

Current research shows most young people tend to “mature out” of risky behaviors like drinking heavily as they transition into young adulthood. However, there is evidence that reductions in drinking in those with severe drinking problems may be especially pronounced when they get married.

New research into a relatively rare genetic brain disorder finds the effects appear to be more extensive than previously thought and that current treatment regimens are insufficient. Shawn Christ, an associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and director of the University of Missouri Brain Imaging Center, has been studying phenylketonuria (PKU) and its effects on neural and cognitive abilities for 12 years.

Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences Nelson Cowan has been studying different kinds of childhood language problems with colleagues from Arizona State University. Their grant focuses on the use of working memory as an important part of language use and may provide insights into differences in intelligence. Cowan is a co-author of the research that will be published by Professor Shelley Gray et al.

A few years ago a major brewery started selling cans of beer in the colors of various universities across the country. The so-called “fan can” was a hit with students but not with university administrators. More than two dozen university presidents sent a letter to the brewery asking it to stop promoting its product by using school colors, and the company agreed to cease the marketing campaign.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety reporting system that collects information about possible side effects that may occur after inoculation. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and available online, anyone can report possible adverse reactions to vaccines for any reason, making it a rich source of information about possible vaccine harms.

Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences David Geary’s research focuses on sex differences and sex-specific vulnerabilities. For example, prenatal exposure to toxins and other stressors can affect girls differently than boys, or vice versa.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Grasping an object involves a complex network of brain functions. First, visual cues are processed in specialized areas of the brain. Then, other areas of the brain use these signals to control the hands to reach for and manipulate the desired object.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A relationship between epilepsy and heightened religious experiences has been recognized since at least the 19th century. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Missouri found a neurological relationship exists between religiosity— a disposition for spiritual experience and religious activity—and epilepsy. This finding sheds light on the connection between religion and neuropsychological processes within the human brain.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Researchers investigating eating disorders often study chemical and neurological functions in the brain to discover clues to overeating. Understanding non-homeostatic eating — or eating that is driven more by palatability, habit and food cues — and how it works in the brain may help neuroscientists determine how to control cravings, maintain healthier weights and promote healthier lifestyles.

Supports one or more annual awards to supplement a departmental teaching fellowship.

Awarded to the Psychology Day poster presentation of merit.

  • Neuroscience Research and Rehabilitation of the Brain and Body

If a person drinks five or more alcoholic beverages every day, is that person an alcoholic? The answer, according to Curators Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences Kenneth J. Sher, is maybe, maybe not.  Sher was curious about the association between daily drinking and various outcomes but discovered there was very little data available about daily drinking that was distinct from other drinking patterns.

New research from the Department of Psychological Sciences suggests physical activity can change diet preferences in males, but not females. Jenna Lee, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the lab of associate professor of psychological sciences Matt Will, says she was curious why we eat for pleasurable purposes instead of nutritional need.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Service animals help owners navigate daily tasks and often have years of training to help them serve disability-related functions. However, little consensus exists when it comes to the certification of “emotional support animals” (ESAs). These animals usually have little or no specific training, which poses a challenge for mental health professionals who are asked to certify them.

The Association for Psychological Science’s main general publication, the APS Observer, has written a nice article about an internship program in the Department of Psychological Sciences–the MU Alcohol Research Training Summer School. Check it out:

The University of Missouri will host The Science of Addiction Symposium Dec. 6 at the Bond Life Sciences Center to launch a broader collaboration among researchers and professionals focusing on addiction. A primary goal is to chart a path forward for addiction-related work at the university. Professor Jamie Arndt, chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences at MU, emailed Professor Denis McCarthy and Curators’ Professor of Psychological Sciences Kenneth J.

Provides support for honors capstone experiences for students to present their research at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Empathy, or the ability to identify with others’ feelings, often is considered an important relational skill. Previously, researchers had hypothesized that in order for individuals to be empathetic, they needed to be selfless. However, University of Missouri researchers found just the opposite: individuals who were more self-aware had higher levels of empathy.

People who trust their intuition, or gut instincts, may at times be less likely to commit immoral acts compared to those who tend to discount their gut feelings. That’s one of the conclusions of a study conducted by fourth-year social personality psychology doctoral candidate Sarah Ward.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Vestigial organs, such as the wisdom teeth in humans, are those that have become functionless through the course of evolution. Now, a psychologist at the University of Missouri studying vestigial muscles behind the ears in humans has determined that ancient neural circuits responsible for moving the ears, still may be responsive to sounds that attract our attention.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Following the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, some in the media and the public speculated a link existed between autism spectrum disorder and violence and, in particular, that violent video games may cause gamers with autism to act violently. Now, a study from the University of Missourihas found evidence to contradict this speculation.

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