Mark Your Calendar - Upcoming Event!!!

The UN Advising Office is offering Walk-ins in the afternoon: Monday - Friday from 1 PM - 3 PM, in room 100 PSY Building.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Psychology Staff

Starting a new job can be incredibly difficult and challenging. It also can be rewarding and fulfilling. How well you cope depends on the attitude you bring on your very first day. I should know as I am the newest staff member in the Psychology Undergraduate office here at Michigan State University.

My background is in customer service, specifically receptionist type work. I enjoy being around people and helping out to the best of my ability. I look very forward to working with all of the students, staff and faculty here at MSU.

On my first day in the undergraduate office, I was nervous but everyone was very welcoming. I knew it would be difficult learning about the different components of work that they do in the advising office, but I came in ready to learn and excited to be able to converse with students.

My dream has always been to work for MSU as a life – long fan of the University both on and off the field. Three generations of my family have graduated from MSU and my Mom is a 32 year employee currently working in the College of Veterinary Medicine. I am proud to say that MSU is a family tradition that I am now lucky enough to be a part of.

I have been happily married for five years with two adorable children who are the light of my life. I hope my children will have the desire to further their education and they would attend Michigan State University as other members of my family had. As a family we love to go camping and canoeing.

I am overjoyed to be joining an already successful team and look forward to working and getting to know everyone here in the Department of Psychology. Please feel free to stop by and introduce yourself any time.

Jenny Babbitt

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fear of the Unknown

This summer we had new phones installed in our office.  One would think, "it is just a phone! Pick up when it rings, and dial when you need to call".  Although it sounds so very simple, there was this great fear of this new device.  My thought process was, I am familiar with the "old phone".   I know how it works, I know why it does not work, and I can trouble shoot without a problem.  This new instrument was a different beast.  It was sleek and grey.  Had more buttons than to just answer or dial.  Had flashing lights, redial and hold buttons, voice mail and so much more....  Hold on, this is not what I signed up for.

We can all relate to a new experience that takes us out of our comfort zone.  A new venture that stretches how we have done things and require us to adapt and learn new ways.  This small instrument that seems so familiar and benign was escalating my stress level.

Did I survive? Yes, I am writing about it.  The lesson is not to let fear of the unknown (big or small) make us retreat and not try.  Our fears can be conquered, even though not sometimes overcome (that's another story).  They also prepare us for future challenges that will surely come.  So, what am I saying? If and when you call and you get disconnected, try again.  I'm still learning.

As you prepare for midterm exams and feel the strains of a new academic subject, think about all of the previous challenges that you have overcome: attending an institution of 45,000 students; taking the campus CATA and not get lost, making and keeping new friends, and so on…  Those may seem like small victories, but all are important in making you who you are and where you are now.  So, don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from moving forward and meeting all new challenges with a smile and a new determination to overcome it.  Good luck on your upcoming midterms!! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Three Tips for Success by Dr. Donnellan

Welcome to the Fall Semester of 2014!  Unfortunately, I will not be on campus to enjoy the familiar traditions of the season – the excitement of the first days of classes, the spectacular colors of fall, and the new season of Spartan football. My family and I decided to move to a new university to be closer to family, so I will be learning new traditions this fall. I will definitely miss MSU.
I spent over 10 years in this department and I taught PSY 395 with some frequency. I also helped conduct research on the factors that are associated with success in college. Given this background, I was asked to share some tips for success that might help you this semester. Here are three:
1.  Go to class. Attendance is positively correlated with course performance in college according to a review of 69 studies (Credé et al., 2010).  This is probably unsurprising, right?  What was surprising was the conclusion that course attendance was a stronger correlate of performance than any other variable considered by the researchers including standardized test scores and high school GPA.  Showing up is a big deal!
2. Develop an Organized Plan for Studying at the Start of the Term. I did research with a former graduate student (and now professor at Kenyon College) on factors that predicted success in PSY 395.  Students who had a clear and organized plan for studying and those who expressed a willingness to work hard at the beginning of the semester did better at the end of the term than students who were less committed and had disorganized study strategies.  Figure out your plan for success early and stick with it!
I am convinced that last minute cramming for exams is a bad study strategy.  Instead, I think it is better to keep pace with the readings throughout the semester and to invest a consistent amount of time studying the material each week. There is large body of research suggesting that frequent testing promotes performance so an additional tactic might be to use self-testing strategies regularly to help boost your scores (see Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). Make sure that you consistently monitor your own learning and understanding.  A recent popular press book has a number of other useful tips (Brown et al., 2014).
3. Adopt a Growth Mindset.  There is increasing scientific interest in understanding how the ideas people have about their own abilities or their mindsets influences motivation, performance, and emotional health (Dweck, 2012). In fact, this is the subject of ongoing research by faculty and graduate students here at MSU. One approach that seems to work well is to adopt a mindset that emphasizes the importance of learning and potential growth. This “growth” mindset views abilities as inherently malleable and this belief has been associated with bouncing back from setbacks. This is in contrast to the “fixed” mindset that emphasizes the idea that one either has an attribute or not. Students with this fixed mindset tend to react to set-backs like a poor midterm grade in ways that often undermine their long-term success. They might conclude that a bad grade means they simply don’t have the ability to master their courses and start to withdraw effort because they are worried about looking stupid.
Here’s the deal - there are difficult courses and not everyone immediately “gets” the material.  Everybody struggles to varying degrees when working to learn new things and enhance their skills.  Mistakes are inevitable. Learning how to react constructively to setbacks is a critical part of success.  Mindsets are important for this process. 
Issues with mindsets would often come up in courses that featured statistics like PSY 295 and 395. I would see some students setting themselves up for problems almost from the first day of the course when they would say “I am not a math person”.  A better approach would be to commit to developing and enhancing statistical skills at the start of the class rather than to assume that some people are just math whizzes whereas others are not. After all, it is unlikely you have heard many students say, “I am not a reading person” on the first day of PSY 101. When you face a challenging course, I suggest you to adopt a growth mindset response rather than concluding you don’t have the ability to succeed.  You can improve with hard work. You might even try going to office hours to get course specific advice from your professors. 
That’s it!  I hope these tips are helpful and I wish you a great semester.   
-Brent Donnellan
Further Readings
Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Credé, M., Roch, S. G., & Kieszczynka, U. M. (2010). Class attendance in college: A meta-analytic review of the relationship of class attendance with grades and student characteristics. Review of Educational Research, 80, 272-295.
Dweck, C.S. (2012). Mindsets and human nature: Promoting change in the Middle East, the schoolyard, the racial divide, and willpower. American Psychologist, 67, 614-622.
Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 181-210.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Clinical Psychophysiology

Provided by Dr. Jason Moser, Department of Psychology - Michigan State University

Research in the Clinical Psychophysiology Lab aims to uncover fundamental differences in the ways that anxious vs. non-anxious people process and think about their world.  

For instance, anxious individuals tend to pay special attention to negative and threatening things, presumably because they are on the look-out for and want to avoid things that might cause them social (angry face for a socially anxious person) or personal (spider for an arachnophobic) harm.  But, anxiety seems to be more generally related to attention to things that stand out in the environment.  Research in my lab shows that anxious people might be distracted by even simple things that pop out such as the eye-grabbing color red.  This finding is important because it indicates that anxiety interferes with attentional focus at a very basic level and suggests that anxious individuals pay special attention to a variety of things that are easily noticed and distracting.  This may be one of the reasons why anxiety makes it hard for students and employees to complete their work in a timely fashion.  Recently, we have shown that a computer training program that helps anxious people stay focused on very specific features of stimuli (e.g., shape) helps them overcome their distractibility and even become less anxious.       

In another line of work, we are interested in how anxious individuals think about their own anxiety.  Research in social psychology has shown that there are two ways of thinking about one’s own abilities or characteristics:  a fixed-mindset that construes abilities and characteristics as genetic and unchangeable and a growth-mindset that construes abilities and characteristics as a product of experience and malleable.  Our recent research has demonstrated that the more anxious someone is, the more likely he/she is to hold a fixed-mindset about his/her own anxiety, intelligence, emotions, and personality.  That is, more anxious people tend to think about their characteristics as genetic and unchangeable.  Interestingly, we also found that people who hold this fixed-mindset about their anxiety — and who also tend to be pretty anxious — are more likely to choose medication over therapy to deal with their problems.  So, it seems like because anxious people think they have a more unchangeable problem, they need to fix it using a biological treatment that involves little effort on their part — i.e., a quick fix.  One problem with that idea is that therapy tends to outperform medication long-term for problems like anxiety.  Our ongoing studies are continuing to better understand anxious people’s mindset so that we can develop new interventions focused on teaching them that anxiety and other characteristics are a product of both genes and experience and that with effort they can learn to make lasting changes in their anxiety.   

Together, these lines of research demonstrate how clinical psychologists can use research findings to inform how we make sense of and alleviate mental health problems.

Jason S. Moser, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Michigan State University
Office: 110B Psychology Building
Phone: 517-355-2159

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Clinical Seminar!!

Psychology Master's in Program Evaluation

This information was contributed by Dr. Adrienne Adams and Ms. Liz Tillander.

Master’s in Program Evaluation Puts Graduate Students on Career Track
The Department of Psychology’s new Master of Arts in Program Evaluation offers students an accelerated path to a fulfilling career. But what is Program Evaluation? And why should you consider this program now?

What is Program Evaluation?
The American Evaluation Association, the international professional association for evaluators, describes evaluation as “assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness” (American Evaluation Association, 2013). Though unfamiliar to most PSY majors, program evaluation is actually very well-suited to those drawn to “helping” professions – like psychology, social work, and education. Evaluators are critical to the development and improvement of programs used to address societal and individual problems that those seeking human service careers are most passionate about: teen pregnancy, unemployment, trauma, illiteracy, and much more. Evaluators work collaboratively with program staff in non-profit organizations, schools, health care organizations, government agencies, or corporations (Donaldson & Christie, 2006) critically assessing and implementing evaluation designs to improve outcomes for these important programs.

Why Should You Consider It Now?
If you have a bachelor’s degree and wish to expand your career options by obtaining a master’s degree, there are many reasons to consider the Department of Psychology’s Master of Arts in Program Evaluation now.

Quick Admission Process
Applications for admission will be accepted beginning April 2014 for Fall 2014*. In most cases, applications are reviewed in just two weeks.

Accelerated Program
The full-time program is designed to be completed over four consecutive semesters in 16 months. A part-time program is anticipated to begin Fall 2015.

Flexibility and Convenience of Online Education
Courses are delivered online. Consult with faculty, exchange ideas with classmates, and complete knowledge- and skill-building activities at locations and hours that are most convenient for YOU.

Develop Skills with Real World Experience
The two-semester supervised practical application course will allow you to build skills alongside evaluation practitioners in a professional evaluation setting where you can gain first-hand experience.

Competitive Salaries
Evaluators are employed in a variety of settings and command competitive salaries. Master’s level evaluators earn an average of $59,279 annually (Greenlaw, Brown-Welty & Fetterman, 2006).

How Can You Learn More?

Plan to join faculty and alumni for the Master’s Degree Forum: Learn about Graduate Programs in Social Work, Human Development, and the new Psychology Master of Arts in Program Evaluation on Wednesday, March 26, 4:30 – 5:45 p.m., Psychology Auditorium (Rm 118).

*Pending Michigan State University Governance approval and Statewide Academic Program approval, MSU Department of Psychology will be offering the Master of Arts degree in Program Evaluation beginning Fall 2014.

American Evaluation Association (AEA). About Us. Retrieved from

Donaldson, S.I., & Christie, C.A. (2006). Emerging career opportunities in the transdiscipline of evaluation science. In S.I. Donaldson, D.E. Berger, & K. Pezdek (Eds.), Applied Psychology: New Frontiers and Rewarding Careers (pp.243-259). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Greenlaw, C., Brown-Welty, S., & Fetterman, D. AEA Employment Survey [PDF document]. Retrieved from American Evaluation Association Website:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fair Appearance and Attire

This information was retrieved from MSU Career Services Network Website 2/10/14
Dress Essentials for Everyone
  • Clothing should work for you, not against you. Fit and comfort are important considerations in projecting yourself at your best.
  • Trendy clothing—like short skirts, low necklines, extreme prints or colors—generally do not project an image appropriate for a professional meeting.
  • Crisp, clean, well-pressed clothing is a must.
  • Hair should be clean, well groomed, and away from the eyes.
  • Simple, classic styles are best.
  • Remove extraneous earrings. (Women: one pair. Men: none.)
  • Avoid strong mints, perfumes, or aftershaves.
  • No visible tattoos (cover) or body piercings (remove pins).
What to Wear for this fair
For these kinds of interactions, you always want to dress professionally—no ripped jeans, flip-flops, or T-shirts with obscenities on them.   Consider the items below when you’re picking out what to wear . . .
  • Khakis
  • Sweater
  • Dress pants
  • Dress shoes
  • Loafers
  • Button-down shirt
And remember, when in doubt, check with an insider (your employer contact or Career Advisor, for example) about what the appropriate dress in a particular situation might be!

What you will need for the Fair:
Introduction speech summarizing about yourself: (30-40 seconds)
                Who am I?
                What can I offer the company/organization? (skills)
                Why you are a good candidate for the position? (tailor to position desired)
Padfolio  - to help carry your resume and any additional paperwork
Resume (optional)
Business card (if you have it, for future contact)

Additional Information about Appearance and Attire can be found at:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Career Fair Preparation

How to Start your Internship Search:
(Tips from Kristi Coleman – Associate director for professional engagement at MSU’s Career Services & Network)
Identify career interests and skills
Target employers of interest
Review calendar and budget
Attend an upcoming fair
Meet with your academic advisor

What you will need for the Fair:
Elevator speech (Introduction speech about yourself)
Resume (optional)
Business card (if you have it)

How to Dress:
Business Casual – NO holey Jeans!!
Dress shirts, slacks,
Ties and business suit is not necessary

Friday, January 24, 2014

Semester's Activities

Make sure that you get involve and participate in as many activities as possible. Good Luck!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Beginnings

New Beginnings...
As I sang the Auld Lang Syne and welcomed a new year, I was saddened and happy.  For many 2013 had its highs and lows, the laughter and the tears, the unforgettable moments, the challenges but also some successes.  All are in the past, gone, never to be experienced in the same way again. 
I look forward to another year: 2014, where I get to do it all over again.  Consider it a new beginning.  A chance to try something new and different, create new friendships, start an adventure, etc...  Remember every day is different, therefore try something different.  Start fresh (at the beginning), welcome this brand new day and year, in a very short while - 365 days later, you will have to start all over again.  On your mark, get set, go....