Undergrad/Postbacc Module 1

Reasons you should care about/use these resources

If you want to really use these materials and challenge yourself to truly understand the material provided, you will have amassed quite advanced knowledge of a multitude of psychological topics far beyond the average undergraduate psychology major! Most importantly, this will allow you to begin to develop your own line of research and advance your career. Developing new research ideas and producing new directions to take this material in is the basis for doing poster presentations at conferences and authorship on published peer-reviewed articles. Exposure to this wide breadth of high-level research makes it more likely that you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the direction you want to focus your career on. Trust me; this will help immensely if/when you decide to apply to graduate school to narrow down which professors you would/would not want to work with.


This first ‘module’ will be lighter on peer-reviewed articles and heavier on a couple foundational things you will need for later. First, I start you off with a fun intro to the scientific process by having you watch a John Oliver video. In the video, he describes just how difficult scientific research really is. There are numerous problems with science, but it is nonetheless a noble pursuit of truth, and how we do science matters. For the typical undergrad/postbacc RA, this means that data collection protocols have to be pristine, and your lab has to have honest research assistants - if you mess up, it is OKAY! The people in charge just need to know about it so they can fix it. As you’re trained in collecting data, you’ll (hopefully) see use detailed data collection logs to record what happened during each participant session. Doing bad science has real ramifications for other scientists and the larger society, and we do not want to contribute to it!

Next, you will be reading many scientific articles during your tenure as an RA. Here is a guide to spotting bad science - I can’t list all the articles in the world to read to develop your expertise, but hopefully, you’ll be able to do this yourself. At some point the buck stops with you - you’re as well-informed as you want to be. If you want to know more about something, read more about it. But, hopefully this guide will help you to know which articles you shouldn’t be reading to try and learn more. Similarly, I have included resources to teach you how to find and access peer-reviewed scientific articles and how to read these articles to learn the most that you can from them. Make use of these now, so you can get more out of the rest of the papers in later modules!

Last, you have the Triarchic Model of Psychopathy paper to read. I might be (definitely am) biased because this is my advisor, but this one is really enjoyable to read; Chris Patrick is a very talented researcher and writer, and hopefully you will be able to see how revolutionary the Triarchic Model was to psychopathy research. For this and the work that led to the development of the triarchic model, Chris was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy for his contributions to psychopathy research. The Triarchic Model posits that psychopathy is not a unitary construct; rather, it is composed of 3 neurobehavioral traits (you’ll read more about the important of these in subsequent modules). These are termed Disinhibition, Boldness, and Meanness. When an individual is simultaneously high in disinhibition, high in boldness, and high in meanness, they will display what we recognize as psychopathic personality. However, as it turns out, these traits are not confined to the study of psychopathy. The most interesting things about these traits is the way they were constructed - directly informed by basic neurobiological research, but also closely tied to the expression of psychopathology. In my opinion, this makes them way more useful to the study of clinical psychology than other trait systems for reasons we’ll delve into in future modules. Enjoy!