Psychology Department

Speaker Series

The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium host a series of experts from different areas of psychology and neuroscience throughout the academic year.

Talks are held via zoom this year from 1:10 - 2:25 p.m. ~ details are listed below.

2020 - 2021 Speakers

  • September 24, 2020: Chadly Stern, Ph.D. ~ Is Conformity Stronger Among Conservatives, Liberals, or Neither?

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome

    Chadly Stern, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    for a public lecture entitled

    Is Conformity Stronger Among Conservatives, Liberals, or Neither?

    Thursday, September 24, 2020 1:10 - 2:25 via Zoom

    Effectively navigating daily life requires people to operate within a shared understanding of the world (e.g., calling an animal that barks a “dog”) and to follow collectively agreed upon norms (e.g., queueing in a store line). Throughout the course of history, conformity has also been used to enforce political agendas. As a result, social and behavioral scientists began to ask whether a desire for conformity varies across the political spectrum. This question has fostered generative debate for nearly a hundred years. Some perspectives have highlighted ideological asymmetries (i.e., differences) in a desire for conformity, whereas others have proposed that preferences for conformity are mostly symmetrical among liberals and conservatives. In this talk, I argue that political liberals and conservatives diverge in a basic psychological desire to affiliate and connect with like-minded others. As a result, conservatives place greater value on constructing shared attitudes and beliefs than do liberals. I outline findings supporting this perspective with regard to both perceived and actual attitude similarity in political groups. I then discuss a series of recent studies examining ideological differences in attitude conformity during real time interactions. I highlight implications of these findings for both political behavior and mundane social interaction.

2019 - 2020 Speakers

  • September 19, 2019: Sarah Gaither, Ph.D. ~ Multiple Identities: Multiple Sources of Threat & Belonging

    Sarah Gaither, Ph.D.

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome
    Sarah Gaither, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University


    for a public lecture entitled
    Multiple Identities: Multiple Sources of Threat & Belonging
    Thursday, September 19, 2019
    12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 005


    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


    We all have multiple identities—race, gender, age, sexual orientation, occupation, etc. However, psychology research has traditionally focused on the effects stemming from one identity (i.e., race OR gender), rather than trying to measure how belonging to multiple groups may actually shift our behavior or change how we react when under threat. With today’s society becoming increasingly diverse, it is important for research to examine how exposure to and interactions with diversity affects the various perspectives and experiences we have. In my talk, I will explore: 1) how belonging to multiple groups shapes how we respond to identity-relevant threats; 2) how a multifaceted sense of self may boost flexible thinking; and 3) how interactions with diverse others can shift our definitions of ingroup. In sum, this talk will push our existing notions of identity research to be more inclusive of multiple identification and the variation that exists across diverse settings.

    Union College Psychology's Facebook Page

  • October 3, 2019: John Edlund, Ph. D. ~ Being a Responsible Scientist: Study Design, Statistics, and Communication

    John Edlund, Ph. D.

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome
    John Edlund, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Psychology, Rochester Institute of Technology


    for a public lecture entitled
    Being a Responsible Scientist: Study Design, Statistics, and Communication
    Thursday, October 3, 2019
    12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 005


    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


    The recent crisis of confidence in psychology has caused the field to carefully evaluate our practices and encourage those that promote responsible science. Some considerations researchers should take include: anticipating how will participants experience the research (from consent to debriefing and beyond), engaging in responsible statistics (avoiding p-hacking, HARKing, and multiple waves of analysis), and embracing the importance of replication and general scientific transparency (such as open materials and data).

    Union College Psychology's Facebook Page

  • November 14, 2019: Max Krasnow, Ph. D. ~ Human Musical Origins in Parent- Offspring Conflict: Testing the Attentional Investment Theory of Musical Evolution

    Max Krasnow, Ph. D.

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome

    Max Krasnow, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor of Psychology, Rochester Institute of Technology

    for a public lecture entitled

    Human Musical Origins in Parent- Offspring Conflict: Testing the Attentional Investment Theory of Musical Evolution

    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 005

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

    Humans are not the only species to use music, but features of human music are unique among species in many ways. How did music evolve in our lineage? I will present a recent theory developed that accounts for the evolution of a particular form of music: infant directed song. On this theory, infant directed song evolved through arm- race coevolution between caregivers and infants over signals of attentional investment. This theory makes novel predictions about the features of infant directed song, the universality of those features across cultures, the effects of infant directed song, the universality of those effects, and about the fingerprints of intra-genomic conflict that should be found in the genetics underlying our musical psychology. I will present data testing these predictions, finding confirmatory evidence in each case.

    Union College Psychology's Facebook Page

  • January 16, 2020: Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D. ~ The Unparalleled Evils of Cannabis

    Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D.

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome

    Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D.

    Professor of Psychology, University at Albany

    for a public lecture entitled

    The Unparalleled Evils of Cannabis

    Thursday, January 16, 2020
    12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 105

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


    Confusion about cannabis abounds. Data from my lab and others suggest that the plant is neither the heinous generator of all ills nor the magical panacea that many assert. Purported links to troubles, including addiction, neuropsychological deficits, respiratory illness, and mental health problems are likely smaller than media would suggest or easily sidestepped with simple interventions. In contrast, medical effects of the plant or its derivatives, especially for cannabidiol, are comparably exaggerated or easily achieved with less expensive products. I will also report recent work suggesting that demands for abstinence might prove ill-advised and an alternative approach to safe use has considerable potential.

    Union College Psychology's Facebook Page

  • February 6, 2020: Darlingtina Esiaka, Ph.D. ~ The Dark Side of Modernity: Felt Obligation in the Context of Eurocentric Global Modernity

    Darlingtina Esiaka, Ph.D.

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome

    Darlingtina Esiaka, Ph.D.
    Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology, Union College
    for a public lecture entitled
    The Dark Side of Modernity: Felt Obligation in the Context of Eurocentric Global Modernity

    Thursday, February 6, 2020
    12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 105

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

    Life in Eurocentric global modernity emphasizes neoliberal individualist understandings of relationality associated with a sense of voluntary connection and freedom from obligation. Although people in their (re)productive prime may find these constructions of relationality to be liberating, their negative consequences are more evident for people—like elders—whose well-being depends on care from others. My work draws upon understandings of everyday life in Ghanaian, Nigerian, Chinese, and U.S. settings (both European American and African American), characterized by relatively less and more engagement with Eurocentric global modernity, as a foundation for examining patterns of felt obligation to parents. Using empirical research conducted across these settings, I illuminate the (typically) obscured cost of modern individualistic ways of being on human relatedness and discuss its implications for eldercare within close interpersonal networks.

  • March 5, 2020: Julia Strand, Ph.D. ~ The Many Faces of Listening Effort

    Julia Strand, Ph.D.

    The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome

    Julia Strand, Ph.D.
    Professor of Psychology, Carleton College

    for a public lecture entitled
    The Many Faces of Listening Effort

    Thursday, March 5, 2020
    12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 105

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

    When listening to speech in noise, listeners face a tremendous perceptual challenge. They must distinguish the voice of the speaker from background noise, rapidly map the sounds they hear onto lexical representations in memory, and parse the accent and speaking style of the talker. Although listening to speech in quiet settings may feel like it occurs instantly and effortlessly, listening to speech in noise typically requires deliberate allocation of cognitive resources, referred to as "listening effort." In this talk, Dr. Strand will describe her research on listening effort, with a focus on two questions: 1) What exactly are measures of listening effort measuring? and 2) How does seeing the face of the talker affect listening effort?

  • April 9, 2020: Charles Hillman, Ph.D.
  • April 23, 2020: Rachel Magin ('14), Psy.D.

    Rachel Magin ('14), Psy.D.

2018 - 2019 Speakers

  • Thursday, January 17, 2019: The Musical Brain

    Dominique Vuvan, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Psychology, Skidmore College

    Music is an incredible tool for the study of human cognition. This lecture will review work from the Skidmore Music and Cognition Lab guided by three lines of inquiry. First, how does the cognitive system make predictions, and how might different musical contexts shape predictions during listening? Second, how might music serve as a model to investigate the neural substrates of consciousness? Third, how do people differ in their musical processing, and how might the study of these individual differences help us understand neurocognitive function more generally? I will discuss research that employs multiple methods including behavioral measurement, event-related potentials, and brain imaging, in order to make direct connections between the study of musical processing to more abstract questions about human nature.

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

  • Thursday, January 31, 2019: Does Age Affect Speech Perception from the Top-Down? Evidence from Brain and Behavior

    Chad Rogers, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Union College

    Classical studies in perception have often emphasized the hierarchical flow of information from the “bottom-up” or from the “top-down,” where “bottom” refers to basic sensory contributions to perception and “top” refers to complex perceptual inference. In speech perception, the role of non-sensory based inference in perception in part explains how the brain so often decodes speech quickly, effortlessly, and with tremendous variation in sensory input. Older adults in particular, may be the most likely major population demographic to benefit from non-sensory based inference in their daily perception of speech. The current talk presents several behavioral and neuroimaging experiments that examine the role and caveats of non-sensory based inference in young and older adults.

    Chad Rogers recently joined Union College as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2018, and is primarily interested how humans are able to understand and decode spoken language. In particular, his work focuses on how we listen to speech changes as we grow older. His work has led to the discovery of the False Hearing effect in older adults, where older adults are more likely than the young to mistakenly report hearing words that are consistent with their prior expectations. Before coming to Union, Chad worked as a Staff Scientist in the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he examined how functional and structural changes in the brain predict language abilities in young and older adults. His work represents an intersection of cognitive psychology, gerontology, cognitive neuroscience, linguistics, and communication sciences. Chad is also an avid basketball player and musician, although his proficiency in both is dwarfed by his enthusiasm.

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

  • Thursday, February 28: Does Brain Training Work?

    Walter Boot, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Florida State University

    Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

  • Thursday, April 11: Lisa Anderson, Ph.D. Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota

    Lisa Anderson, Ph.D.
    Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota

  • Thursday, April 25: David Pizarro, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychology, Cornell University

    David Pizarro, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Psychology, Cornell University