Ending at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab
It’s hard to believe that my summer internship at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab is over. I learned so much and really enjoyed working at the lab, so time seemed to fly! I feel as though nearly all of the tasks that I completed were relevant to my learning goals, because they gave me the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of psychology research. I wanted to see the daily tasks associated with running and publishing a study, and the variety of things I did offered that to me. I found this most basic chart of the tasks of research:
Even though some tasks were not the most exhilarating, they reflect the reality of the field. Spending hours entering and coding data is simply par for the course. However, if I had to pick a few tasks that taught me the most, I would choose that of running participants through the entire study protocol, and attending weekly lab meetings. I ran approximately 15-20 participants through our study, and I feel that this is where I really came to understand why the study was designed as it was. Rather than simply coding the participants’ answers to our various questionnaires, I understood what their different answers and scores meant. This was especially helpful when working with our eye-tracking data, which could have been hard to understand if I had not worked to calibrate participants and run them through the various video-watching tasks of the study.
The summer 2012 LedLab team!
The weekly lab meetings were an important learning opportunity for me, because they gave me the chance to talk to people working on other studies, and learn about their protocol and findings. It is easy to get “tunnel vision” when you are working on the same study day in and day out, and speaking with others working on different but related research helped to bring my understanding back to the “big picture.” Please check out this link to the most recent lab meeting article: http://spl.stanford.edu/pdfs/2001%20Current%20Directions%20in%20Psychological%20Science%20-%20Emo.%20Reg.%20in%20Adulthood%20Timing%20.pdf.
To build off of what I learned this summer, I plan to explore my own research interests more. Now that I have some background and understanding in the way that research in the field works, it is time to figure out the particular questions that I want to explore through research. I think that Dr. Isaacowitz’s work on emotional development throughout the lifespan is incredibly interesting and important, but I also hope to take on opportunities in other arenas of research. Dr. Isaacowitz also let me know how important independent research experience is for graduate school applications, so now is the time to start thinking about these big questions.
For other students interested in an internship in the field of psychology research, I would advise them to try working in different labs. If you have never worked in a lab before, how can you really know what your research interests are? What you learn in class is really different than what you do in the lab. Just check out this webpage from the American Psychological Association to get sense of how varied the field is! (http://www.apa.org/topics/) Also, even if you find that your personal research questions are different than those of the lab you’re working in, you will gain valuable knowledge and skills that are universal in psychology research! – Leah Igdalsky, ’13