Summer research experience – Andy Walsh ’14

This summer, Dr. Olofson and I worked diligently on a new project. We collaborated with his graduate advisor, Dr. Dare Baldwin, from the University of Oregon on studying children’s dwell time during theory of mind tasks. We are attempting to measure changes in children’s understanding of others’ mental states by observing how long they dwell on a certain stimulus. This project is very interesting to us because we may be able to pinpoint the exact time in which a child begins to develop his or her theory of mind.

This internship benefited me far beyond what I expected. I attended the Association for Psychological Science conference in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Olofson in May and was able to take a lot away from it. I attended different symposia and poster sessions that allowed me to better understand how to structure methodologies in experiments and broaden my understanding of other fields of psychology, such as cognitive and clinical. In my time on campus, I researched many empirical articles and had many intellectual conversations with Dr. Olofson regarding our topic. Dr. Olofson was also involved with another project, so he trusted me to continue working on our project on my own. Therefore, I worked alone in finding relevant research backing up our questions and hypotheses, as well as critically thinking about our methodologies and stimuli.

About halfway through the internship I was already far more advanced in my psychology career than I ever was before. I was able to work on my own and think about effective manipulations and how different theories correlated. I could effectively research articles and pull out specific details relevant to our topic. These characteristics that I developed this summer are none that I could have gained if it were not for this internship and that I know will prepare me tremendously well for graduate school. Many of the tasks in which I completed are those equivalent to a graduate student experience. Due to this internship, I believe I will be ahead of the game when it comes to graduate school and other students who may have taken broader classes but did not receive similar research experience.