The Psychology Department’s strategic effort to support translational research involves shifting from the classic, individual scholar model of the past, to accommodate changes in the way psychological science is moving. This theme represents increasing emphasis on going “from bench to bedside” in NIH language, or integrating basic and applied to use older terms. This theme also acknowledges the increased importance of multi-investigator, collaborative research teams.
Translational research has a long history in our clinical and industrial-organizational psychology programs, which have a tradition of pursuing fundamental theoretical questions in the context of real-world applications such as personnel selection, teamwork, and effective approaches to treatment. Translational research is also an emphasis in our other program areas. For example, research in our cognitive program addresses real-world issues such as acquiring second languages and understanding healthy aging. Faculty in our developmental program, often in collaboration with faculty from other program areas and departments, pursue research concerned with risk factors for adjustment problems, the development of gender stereotypes, and other important aspects of development. Research in our social program addresses important practical issues such as influences of stereotyping and the impact of information and values on pro-environmental behavior.
The Child Study Center (CSC) illustrates convergence across the Department’s strategic research. CSC members engage in translational research, and the research style of the center is collaborative and interdisciplinary, involving faculty from our clinical, developmental, and social psychology programs, as well as faculty from Penn State’s Colleges of Health and Human Development and of Education. CSC recently established its Human Developmental Neuroscience Initiative (HDNI) to contribute to research and training involving neuroscience. Neuroscience promises to be a component of an increasing proportion of CSC projects. CSC also plays an integral part in the Harrisburg Infant and Child Development Lab, which provides a platform for studying contextual and cultural variation in developmental processes. As the CSC experience and other examples indicate, integration across our themes, and infusion of each themes within our traditional program areas, is central to our strategic approach to research.