Research & Experiments

The Department is organized into five different areas of study within the field of psychology. They are: Cognitive, Developmental, Neuroscience, Affective Science and Social Psychology (see area descriptions below). These areas consist of faculty members who manage labs and train graduate students, undergraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff. Some faculty have more than one area of focus, and students are encouraged to work across areas as well. To find out about the research interests of specific faculty members or students, please visit People directories. For information on faculty laboratories, visit our Labs page.


Currently there are many different kinds of research studies being conducted in our department, on such topics as aggression, social behavior, competitiveness, dreaming, color perception, spatial relations, learning and memory. Researchers rely on participants to keep this research going. To connect with participants researchers often use our participant pools. For more information, please go to our Participate page.


Descriptions of Areas of Study

Cognitive: Cognitive psychology focuses on how the mind processes information, and investigates topics such as perception,learning, attention, memory, language, categorization, spatial cognition, problem solving, and reasoning. It relies on experimental methods, but also mathematical modeling and computer simulations, and on the new imaging techniques used in neuroscience.


Developmental: Developmental psychology investigates how the human mind develops throughout the lifespan. Observations and experiments with infants, children, teenagers and adults enable us to identify meaningful changes and the origins of mental processes, providing us with insight into the experience of various age groups as well as into the differences between individuals.


Neuroscience: Neuroscience investigates the human brain, from the functional organization of large scale cerebral systems to microscopic neurochemical processes. Topics include the neural substrates of perception, attention, memory, language, learning, neurological disorders, affect, stress and motivation. A variety of experimental techniques are used, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electro/magneto-encephalogry (EEG/MEG), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).


Affective Science: Affective science at Stanford emphasizes basic research on emotion, culture, and psychopathology using a broad range of experimental, psychophysiological, neural, and genetic methods to test theory about psychological mechanisms underlying human behavior. Topics include longevity, culture and emotion, reward processing, depression, social anxiety, risk for psychopathology, and emotion expression, suppression, and (dys)regulation. 


Social: Social psychology explores the interplay between individual minds and the social world, and use experimental methods to study many aspects of the human experience, such as prejudice and stereotyping, person perception, social norms, conflict resolution, biases in judgment, affective processes, cultural diversity in thinking, morality, helping and aggression, identity and the self, attitudes and persuasion, and motivation.