Gann Psychology Students Do Original Research

If you’re told a certain snack food is a name brand, does that make you judge it tastier? If a maze is described as “really challenging,” will you struggle with it more than if you were told it was “super easy?”

Students in Rachel Arcus-Goldberg’s psychology class recently sought to answer these and similar questions by creating their own research studies. Then they performed the experiments on classmates and analyzed the results.

“The research studies helped students understand the interplay between sensation and perception— how the information taken in by our bodies is interpreted through our perception, which is influenced by many things, including our past experiences,” explains Arcus Goldberg. “As often as possible, I try to give students the opportunity to create hands-on applications of the theories we talk about in class.” 

“It was so interesting to see that the way something is presented has such a huge impact on how you perceive it,” says junior Josh Litwin, who would like to major in psychology in college. The experiment Litwin and a couple of classmates devised tested whether blindfolded classmates could tell the difference between three CVS snacks and their brand name equivalents. Some could, some couldn’t.

Arcus-Goldberg’s course gives students a fascinating introduction to many of psychology’s most important branches, including developmental psychology; thinking, language and intelligence; personality theory; and abnormal psychology.“ My hope is that if students do pursue psychology in college, they’ll have a solid basis on which to build,” she says. “And for those who don’t pursue psychology, the concepts they’re learning will give them more insight into many other worlds, including advertising and marketing.”
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