Cognitive and Behavioral Science (formerly Psychology)

Our field lies at an intersection of sciences.  It is informed by, and informs, the natural and behavioral sciences in equal measure. It is a broad field that investigates mechanisms that underlie a wide range of mental processes and behaviors. Researchers are interested in all of the interacting psychological functions - cognitive, affective, behavioral, physiological, social, developmental - that drive and define the human experience.

In recent years, the general structure of science has been mapped through analysis of citation data from natural and social sciences journals. The purpose of this work is to illuminate patterns of scientific influence within and among the sciences.

Cognitive and Behavioral Science, along with mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth sciences, medicine and the social sciences, has been identified as one of seven major hub sciences. The hub sciences generate research with high rates of citation by scientists across many other fields.

It can be helpful to conceptualize the field of Cognitive and Behavioral Science in these ways. Its dendrites and axons reach across disciplinary boundaries. It is an integrative scientific field with multidisciplinary foundations, rich linkages to other sciences, and applications within diverse career paths. If it is appealing to position your academic life in such intersections, Cognitive and Behavioral Science may be the major for you.

The W&L Cognitive and Behavioral Science curriculum encourages individualization of the major in several ways:

  1. First, students may choose to earn a B.A. or a B.S. degree. The B.A. tends to be a good fit for students who are interested in the breadth that our major has to offer, including the applications of this science to multiple disciplines and career paths. The B.S. works well for students who are particularly interested in studying Cognitive and Behavioral Science in the context of, or in interaction with, other STEM fields. Both the B.A. and B.S. paths provide excellent preparation for students who may pursue graduate school in psychology or other research disciplines.
  2. Second, a majority of our students choose to join a faculty member's research team. This team experience provides majors with a close-knit academic home on campus and allows them to spread their wings in a professional research context. Some lab members, especially those who are selected as W&L Summer Research Scholars, have the opportunity to become credentialed in research by presenting the lab's findings at a professional conference and/or earning authorship on a published article.
  3. Finally, majors choose an advanced methods course that fits your interest. Design a study or intervention, test participants, analyze data, and create work that could be presented at a conference or submitted for publication.

All W&L Cognitive and Behavioral Science majors graduate with considerable research experience and a strong foundation in research design, data analysis, technological skills and professionalism. This is because we know that in the process of conducting research, our majors develop a skill set that is essential to any future professional path they will choose. Research requires skill in organization, problem-solving, collaboration and data analysis. Faculty members in the W&L Cognitive and Behavioral Science Department invest in helping each major to develop these durable skills in our classrooms and labs.

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