Ohio State offers a cross-area training program in Decision Psychology. In it, faculty members study the psychological underpinnings of judgments and decisions that people make. Area members stress the development of theories of evaluation and behavior that bridge multiple disciplines. The empirical testing of theory is key, leading to a common concern with methodology. Research in the area often has important implications in a variety of areas, including health and finances, business (e.g., consumer choice), and public policy.
The program focuses on research in basic cognitive, affective, and social processes in forming judgments and making decisions. Research areas of particular strength include behavioral decision research, attitudes, experimental economics, neuroeconomics, quantitative modeling approaches, and the application of theory to health and environmental concerns. The laboratories in the Decision Psychology program have computational resources and systems to conduct behavioral experiments (including eye-movement studies) and to perform computational modeling. The department also hosts centers for functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI) electroencephalography (EEG).
Graduate students in this program are exposed to a cross-disciplinary menu of courses and research methodologies designed to provide both the breadth and depth of training necessary to produce exciting new research on decision making. Students become involved in a research project conducted by a decision psychology faculty member from the moment they begin study. As he or she develops competence and experience, the student assumes a larger role in concept development and project implementation. Eventually, the student becomes a full collaborator. Advanced students are encouraged to conduct research that includes different faculty members. Collaborative research with the faculty usually results in co-authored articles in books and journals and in presentations at professional meetings.
Program of Study
In each semester of the first two years of the program, students are typically expected to enroll in three lecture or seminar courses and Current Research in Decision Psychology. A normal course schedule includes courses in decision making, social psychology, and cognitive psychology. Specialty seminars are offered on a variety of topics. Students are expected to complete coursework in a minor area by the end of their third year. These may be in other areas of psychology (e.g., social, cognitive, quantitative) or in another department of the University (e.g., Economics, Marketing, or Public Health).
After successfully completing the candidacy examination in the third or fourth year, students are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. The remainder of the year is spent in activities targeted toward individual career objectives. Graduate students are expected to spend an additional one to two years completing the Ph.D. dissertation.
Areas of Emphasis
In this program, graduate students receive training in theoretically oriented, programmatic research in decision psychology. They receive broad exposure to the theories and methods of decision making and acquire expertise in one or more specialty areas such as behavioral decision research, attitudes, neuroeconomics, and quantitative modeling approaches. Graduate students may also choose to specialize in the growing areas of applied decision making (e.g., medical decision making, environmental sustainability).
Graduate students are provided with an office near faculty offices and laboratories. Laboratories include cubicles for data collection from individual subjects, larger rooms for data collection from groups, eye-movement equipment, and an assortment of state-of-the-art computer and audio/video equipment for data collection and stimulus presentation. Students have access to computers for data analysis and word processing.
Nearly all students in the program receive complete financial support throughout their graduate study. Support typically covers tuition and fees and includes a monthly stipend. Various sources of support are available, from fellowships to research assistantships and teaching associateships.
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