By their junior year, students are generally prepared to undertake an independent research project of original design under the supervision of a professor. This may take the form of preparation for a senior Honors thesis, which should begin in the fall of the junior year if at all possible. Before reaching that point, however, many students prefer to have experience working on a research project designed by either a faculty member or a graduate student working in a particular faculty lab. Information on departmental research opportunities will be posted on the bulletin board outside the Psychology Student Services Office and distributed via email to the Psychology listserv at the beginning of the semester. Generally, Psychology 199 course credit is available for research assistant positions. Over 200 students per semester are enrolled through the Department in research for credit.


The Department of Psychology includes a number of organized research areas: 


Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

The Behavioral & Systems Neuroscience area encompasses faculty and students united by a common interest in the neurobiological/physiological bases of behavior, including but not limited to circadian and seasonal rhythms, decision making, sex differentiation and behavior, energy balance, bird song and animal communication, animal spatial orientation and navigation, gene-environment interactions, selective attention and visual perception, social behavior, attachment, developmental processes, physiological substrates of emotion and stress, and motivation,. The methodologies currently employed by faculty and students cover the entire spectrum from behavioral study of animals and humans to computational, cellular, molecular and neuroimaging analyses.


Clinical Science

The Clinical Science Faculty at UC Berkeley conduct translational research in which we study foundational mechanistic processes (e.g., emotion, sleep, intimate relationships, social competence, temperament, reward systems, family dynamics, and culture) with the goal of better understanding and ameliorating human problems. Our faculty study these processes in at-risk or in patient populations (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar and other mood disorders, sleep disorders, dementia and other neurological diseases, ADHD and comorbid conditions) and/or in treatments. The treatment research we conduct is used to develop hypotheses about and/or confirm contributions of the foundational mechanistic processes, and it also contributes to improving treatments for important human problems and in diverse populations.  



Research in the Cognition Program focuses on behavioral and computational analyses of cognitive processes. Cognitive models and empirical methods are used to address the components of the mind.
Our methods are inherently interdisciplinary, with faculty and students often working across areas of the department and sometimes across departments.  

Cognitive Neuroscience

Programs in Cognitive Neuroscience focus on neuroimaging and neuropsychological approaches to human behavior. Functional neuroimaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), are used to study the neural bases of human behavior. Neuropsychological methods assess varieties of psychological dysfunction associated with brain damage or disease.



Our research goal is to understand how the organism and its capabilities develop throughout the lifespan. Our interdisciplinary approach is multi-species, multi-system, and multidisciplinary in nature. We study change over time in cognitive, social, emotional, and physiological processes.



Social psychology concerns itself with the effects of other people on the individual as well as with interaction between persons. Personality psychology is concerned with the ways individuals perceive, act upon, and understand their respective worlds as they seek to establish adaptive life modes. The joint, integrated program provides training in six core areas: (1) self, identity, and culture; (2) social cognition; (3) emotion, motivation, and health; (4) personality processes and adult development; (5) interpersonal and intergroup relations; and (6) groups and organizations.