Undergraduate Research

General Psychology Research Participation Requirement

One hallmark of science is collecting data in order to test hypotheses. General Psychology students are required to experience research either as a participant or as a reviewer of research articles. This experience is intended to provide a deeper understanding of psychology as an empirical science.


Research Courses 

Student research is integral to the Psychology major program. Students are introduced to psychological research in General Psychology and follow a course of study whichintegrates research methods in a series of graduated steps including:

Research Design


Research Design is an introductory research course, including a laboratory experience, which introduces students to the major techniques and issues involved in behavioral research. The course integrates and applies knowledge from General Psychology (PSYC101), Psychological Statistics (PSYC 260), and Writing in Psychology (RHET 301), which are all prerequisites. In the course, students learn how to prepare the various sections of a research paper. 

Advanced Research Methods


Advanced Research Methods is a series of course offerings, which apply students’ foundational knowledge of Research Design in a topical area of inquiry of interest to a particular faculty member. Students take one course in this series, which serves in part as a capstone experience, integrating the knowledge and skills a Psychology student acquires during undergraduate study. Most of these courses incorporate a literature review and data collection as part of the process for preparing a research paper.

Topics around which this course has been designed in the past include: Sibling Relations, Neuropsychology, Sensation & Perception, Measuring Racism, Social Psychology of Aging, Addictions, Foster Children, Dreams and Meditation, Community Health, Applied Social Psychology, Acculturation, Changing Misconceptions, and Measuring Career Preparedness.


Faculty Research Labs

Students who show a special aptitude and are sufficiently motivated often apply for and are selected to participate in faculty research as student research assistants. Currently there are many different kinds of research programs being conducted in the department. Research labs in the department and the interests of faculty members managing those labs are listed below: 

Spirituality and Health Lab 
John Pérez’s primary research interest is exploring how spirituality and religiosity influence mental and physical health across the lifespan.

Cognition and Emotion Lab
Marisa Knight specializes in cognitive neuroscience. Her research focuses on the interplay between emotion and cognitive functioning across the lifespan.

Family Research Lab
Shirley McGuire's research examines children's social and personality development and adjustment during middle childhood and adolescence.

Social Cognition and Judgment Lab

Saera Khan's current research explores how individuals’ motivation and their processing of social information act to influence their use of stereotypes when judging others.

Foster Care Research Group (FCRG )
June Madsen Clausen's research team is currently running studies on the experiences of children who are removed from their homes for reasons of suspected abuse and neglect.

Mass Emotion and Intergroup Conflict Lab

Violet Cheung’s research focuses on emotion processes and self-regulation. These topics are approached from both a social and developmental perspective.

Acculturation and Immigrant Health Research Lab
Kevin Chun's research focuses on processes of adaptation and their relation to health and psychosocial adjustment for Asian American immigrants and refugees.

Psychophysics Lab
Susan Heidenreich's research uses psychophysical methods to investigate the degree to which eye movements are related to different aspects of visual perception.

Learning and Reasoning Lab

Ed Munnich’s research focuses on whether, and to what extent, statistics influence people’s beliefs and preferences about personal and public policy issues.

Aging and Diversity Research Lab

Lisa Wagner's research examines how stereotypes affect both the person holding the stereotype and the target of that stereotype. Her research has examined both ethnic/racial stereotypes and age-related stereotypes with her most recent research examining stereotype threat and older adults.


Annual Undergraduate Research Conference

Psi Chi, the Psychology student honorary at the University of San Francisco, organizes an annual undergraduate research conference. Students from various research labs on campus not only in Psychology but also in other departments present their research. Moreover, presentations from student researchers at the University of California at San Francisco often also participate, making the event both interdisciplinary and multi-institutional. Starting in April 2011, the University is initiating an Undergraduate Research day with speakers and posters in which Psychology undergraduate research will play a major role.


Computer Labs

To support the department’s academic program, the department of Psychology maintains two fully-equipped computer labs. One lab is utilized for the research courses, Research Design and the various sections of Advanced Research Design. The other lab is a student computer lab, available to support student academic and research activities.Computers in both labs have statistical software installed to support quantitative research in Psychology.