Gaining research experience is crucial to furthering your carrer and preparing yourself for both Masters and Ph.D programs. At Seattle University, we offer students the opportunity to learn and conduct research with our professors to gain hands-on experience in a professinal research environment.

Below are research labs available for application:

Overview: I am engaged in both basic (theoretical research that adds to our understanding of human behavior) and applied (practical research intended to address a problem) research.

My basic research is in the area of social cognition. In general, my research concerns people’s perceptions and how those perceptions affect their views of themselves and their experiences. Frequently my questions concern social justice issues. For example, I've studied the roles of gender and power in person perception and jurors’ use of their nullification power.

My applied research is in the areas of health and education. In the area of health, I study our perceptions of the risks involved with drug use and with unprotected sexual contact and attitudes toward care of the dying. For example, do people perceive tobacco to be riskier than marijuana? In education, I study methods for effective teaching and learning. For example, do skills learned in one class transfer to another? Does inverting the classroom improve education?

There are two current applied projects with opportunities for student involvement.

  • Attitudes toward Care of the Dying: With our aging population comes an increased need for clinicians who can capably and comfortably provide care for those at the end of life (EOL). In fact, both the AACN and APA expect would-be practitioners to be competent with EOL issues. Given that our curriculums don’t have space for Death and Dying courses, might we be able to affect attitudes with a single class session? A pre-/post-test with Nursing students showed improved attitudes. Do these attitudes hold through to their graduation? Does offering a class session on EOL improve Growth and Development students’ attitudes?
  • Identity Change in Engineering Students: Identity is an important determinant of students' persistence in and commitment to their fields. Seattle University's Mechanical Engineering Department is changing its program and curriculum to better connect students to industry. Do these changes lead to stronger engineering identities?

Duties: Tasks include literature gathering and review, data collection and data analysis, problem development and pilot testing.

Requirements: Ideally students should have completed the Statistics and Research Methods sequence; however, students in process will be considered.
The commitment is 3-6 hours per week for two (or more) quarters. Students may participate via the Psychology Practicum Program (1-2 credits) or may volunteer.

Benefits: Students will be guided through the tasks and mentored by me. Students who perform well can expect an endorsement/recommendation from me. There may be opportunities for presentation and/or publication.

The Outsider Lab

In this lab we explore topics relevant to the histories of psychology and psychiatry. A generally underappreciated specialty, historians of psychology serve important intellectual and even ethical functions for the discipline as a whole (Richards, 2010). In endorsing both, I believe it is particularly important to focus on topics and questions either underrepresented in the literature, or involving participants and/or perspectives falling outside the dominant historical canon. Hence, the laboratory title speaks to both the status and focus of our work!

Currently, we are exploring the historical and contemporary relevance of phrenology. As a late 18th century pseudoscience, the theories of mind (e.g., materiality, localization of mental functions and corresponding brain anatomy) consolidated and advocated by Franz Josef Gall represent an important, if also highly problematic, step in the emergence of neuroscience and scientific psychology. Many of these contributions have been adequately explored in the literature, and are currently enjoying some degree of “rediscovery” by historians of neuroscience. As a 19th century pseudo-professional practice, however, phrenology’s role in American society has yet to be fully appreciated. Occupying a position not dissimilar to psychoanalysis in the first two-thirds of the 20th century, practical phrenology played an important and almost ubiquitous role in shaping concepts of identity and action for 19th century Americans. Particularly noteworthy is how its ideas and practices so effectively crossed gender, socioeconomic, geographic, and racial boundaries.  

We are exploring the impact of practical phrenology in two ongoing projects:

  • Practical phrenology as a pathway to professional identities for women and people of color (with special interest in Pacific Northwest).
  • Practical phrenology’s role in the emergence of 20th century psychotherapy.  

Project Duties: Conducting literature searches and reviews; archival research (electronic and physical archives); presentation development.

Participation Requirements: Open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. For undergraduate participants: completion of PSYC 3700 (students in process will be considered) and HIST 1200, 1210, or 2310. For graduate participants: demonstrated equivalent background.

Participation Commitment: Three to six hours per week for two (or more) quarters. Undergraduate students may participate through the Psychology Practicum Program (PSYC 4950; 1-2 credits) or may volunteer. Graduate students may volunteer.

Participation Process: Interested students (UG & Grad) should email Dr. Lilleleht to schedule an information interview. In advance of our meeting, students are requested to provide two faculty references (contact information; please inform your references about the project). Undergraduate students interested in participating through the Practicum Program will also need to schedule a meeting with the Psychology Practicum Director.