Research Areas

Our award-winning faculty and graduate students focus their research on four major areas of psychology, including clinical, cognitive and systems neuroscience, developmental, and social-personality.

Clinical Psychology

The Clinical Psychology doctoral program has been continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1958 (Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, American Psychological Association, email and is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. In May of 2013, our clinical program also became accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System.

Student Admissions & Outcomes Data

Training Model

The program endorses a clinical scientist model for graduate training. This model emphasizes multi-level conceptualizations of psychopathology, comprising neurobiological, developmental, psychosocial, and multicultural perspectives. Doctoral students receive training in infant, child, and adult psychopathology, culture and diversity, infant, child, family and adult assessment, and neuropsychology. In all practica and clinical training experiences, there is a strong focus on evidence-based treatments. Students receive training in the clinical techniques and practices, as well as in the methodology for development, implementation, and evaluation of these interventions. Both psychotherapeutic interventions and prevention programs are included in the training. The major goal of doctoral training is to support promising doctoral students in developing careers as scientist/practitioners. Students interested primarily in clinical practice would most likely prefer a program less research-oriented than the Oregon Clinical Psychology Training Program.

Research Focus

Clinical faculty and other faculty with clinical interests have ongoing research in several areas, including: the neurobiology of early stress, brain development and neural plasticity, behavior and molecular genetics, infant mental health, emotion and attention, prevention science, school readiness, child welfare system research, pubertal development and the transition to adolescence, depression, anxiety, personality measurement and theory, cognitive therapy, child and family assessment, social and emotional adjustment of children and adolescents, drug and alcohol abuse, cross-cultural psychology, sexual aggression, interpersonal violence, child abuse, institutional betrayal, and traumatic stress.

The department places a particularly high priority on translational research, encouraging multidisciplinary collaborations with colleagues from other areas of psychology and other academic departments. Currently, faculty research is funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Institute on Child Health and Development, and the Institute of Education Sciences.

Graduate Research

The research and clinical opportunities available to doctoral students depend on current activities of the clinical and departmental faculty, and may also encompass ongoing projects in research hubs linked with the clinical program, notably the Center for Translational Science, Center for Digital Mental Health, and the Prevention Science Institute, as well as research institutes located in the Eugene community that are affiliated with the clinical program. These institutions include the Oregon Research Institute, Oregon Social Learning Center, Decision Research, and Electrical Geodesics.

Please note: All clinical students must submit an FBI criminal background check and, when participating in external practica, must carry their own liability insurance. Newly admitted students must complete a background check prior to enrolling in the program.

Licensing Disclosure Statement: As an APA and PCSAS Accredited Clinical Training Program, it is our intention to train students in all the particulars of health service psychology, such that they are equipped to be both excellent scientists and excellent clinicians. While licensure is available in this field of study, our program does not lead to such licensure upon graduation. The professional preparation you receive in our program will assist you in such pursuits, in that all states require completion of supervised predoctoral practicum hours and a predoctoral internship, which are requirements for the doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon. We are unable to confirm the specific licensure and certification requirements of each state, territory, or foreign entity in which professional credentialing may be possible as licensure is controlled by individual governmental bodies in all 50 US states. Further, many states require post-doctoral professional experience, which is beyond the curricular requirements of the University of Oregon program. You are welcome to contact Dr. Maureen Zalewski, Director of Clinical Training, with questions in this regard and we will do our best to assist you in your career planning. In addition, you may wish to consult the Association of State Boards of Professional Psychology (ASPPB) webpage for more information about licensing requirements.


Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience

The Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon has played an important role in the development of the field of Cognitive Neuroscience, and current researchers are continuing that tradition. Cognitive Neuroscience research areas include perception, visual cognition, selective attention, working memory, long-term memory, executive control, action, language processing, and brain plasticity. We also investigate how these processes are altered by development in impoverished environments, aging, traumatic brain injury, autism, and other conditions. 

Systems Neuroscience spans the Departments of Psychology, Biology, and Human Physiology and is strongly connected with the Institute of Neuroscience. Research areas range from genes to circuits to behavior, with a focus on understanding how neuronal computations underlie behavior. Current faculty study sensory systems — such as the olfactory, visual, and auditory systems — as well as motor control, memory, attention, and decision-making.

Research efforts in Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience labs benefit from the collaborative atmosphere at the University of Oregon, both within Psychology and across other departments, allowing for an exploration of cognitive and neural processes at many levels of analysis.

Research Methodology

Cognitive Neuroscience studies employ a wide range of methods, including behavioral experiments, analyses of individual differences, computational modeling, functional neuroimaging, electrophysiology, eye tracking, and transcranial magnetic and direct current stimulation. Labs are located within the state-of-the-art facilities of the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building, in close proximity to the many other labs of the Institute of Neuroscience. The building also houses the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging, a research-dedicated facility with two 3T MRI scanners that supports ongoing research and training with functional and structural MRI.

Systems Neuroscience labs span synaptic, cellular, and molecular neuroscience and use a range of innovative approaches, including optogenetics, electrophysiology, imaging, natural behavior, machine learning, and theory, placing Systems Neuroscience at the heart of a highly cooperative and collaborative intellectual community.

Training Model

One of the most important aspects of the Cognitive Neuroscience graduate program is its informal, cooperative atmosphere; people are eager to collaborate in research and to share ideas. At the same time, there is an emphasis on the development of intellectual independence. Students are encouraged to explore their research ideas from many different perspectives with guidance from faculty across the Department of Psychology, the Institute of Neuroscience, and our other affiliated institutes.

Graduate students studying Systems Neuroscience join the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Graduate Program, which provides an interdisciplinary training program that includes cross-rotations in different laboratories, multi-lab group meetings, research seminars, journal clubs, and retreats. Students combine a core neuroscience curriculum with a customized course of study designed to fit their interests.


Developmental Psychology

Our department as a whole offers extensive coverage of development during infancy, childhood, and adolescence, with some additional interest in aging. Several areas of research are strongly represented including cognitive development, socioemotional development, developmental psychopathology, and developmental social and affective neuroscience. There are several exciting clusters of expertise within these broad areas. Research on theory of mind and perspective-taking, as well as learning and knowledge acquisitions, connects with research on the development of executive functioning and self-regulation. This cluster also connects with research on self-evaluation, affective and appetitive motivations, and decision-making. Another vibrant area of work looks at infant processing of action, language, and the statistical properties of everyday visual, linguistic, and musical environments. Finally, many of us share a strong interest in social contextual effects on infant, child, and adolescent well-being, ranging from the “micro” (familial and peer influences, early adversity) to the “macro” (cultural and global contexts of development).

Research Methods

Our studies employ a wide range of methods, including behavioral experiments, neuroimaging, everyday experience sampling, and more. Labs are located within the state-of-the-art facilities at Straub Hall and the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building. Please see faculty research lab websites for additional information.

Training Model

We collaborate across labs in all areas of the Psychology department. We also have strong links with the Center for Translational Science, Institute of Neuroscience, Prevention Science Institute, Oregon Social Learning Center, and Oregon Research Institute. Students are encouraged to explore their research ideas from many different perspectives.


Social and Personality

Research in social and personality psychology at the University of Oregon reflects an intellectually diverse approach to understanding intrapersonal and interpersonal processes and individual differences. Our areas of focus include:

  • Motivation and emotion: self-regulation, goal pursuit, self-control, emotion regulation, social functions of emotions
  • Self, identity, and social cognition: self-perception and interpersonal perception, brain mechanisms of social perception, perspective-taking, self-other comparisons
  • Groups and intra-/inter-group dynamics: perceptions of groups, intra-group cognition, inter-group relations, group norms, experiences of racial and underrepresented groups
  • Personality structure and development: structure of personality attributes, culture and personality description, personality and health outcomes 
  • Culture, values, and worldviews: moral psychology, culture and belief systems
  • Decision making and risk perception: decision making in applied contexts (e.g., legal, aviation, health), communication, and assessment

Research Methodology

Research in these areas draws upon a wide range of methods, including individual, dyadic, and group methods, neuroimaging, eye-tracking, implicit measures, experience sampling, longitudinal studies, surveys, computational methods, interviews, and field studies. Students have the opportunity to develop their skills through coursework and through collaboration with faculty mentors.

Training Model

The primary goal of our program is to train outstanding researchers, and our program stands apart for its high quality of research and training combined with substantive and methodological breadth. Our program encourages an interdisciplinary approach, and training exposes students to a wide range of topics through small seminars, a brownbag series, lab meetings, and a variety of other opportunities. Students often work with multiple faculty, including faculty from other areas of psychology, from other departments and units on campus, and from other institutions. Each student can flexibly tailor their own graduate program under the guidance of faculty advisors, making the social and personality psychology program a distinctive training experience for each graduate student.