According to the American Psychological Association, the careers in experimental psychology lead to different work environments, such as universities, research organizations and private businesses. Students who specialize in popular academic areas, such as human factors psychology and industrial and organizational (IO) psychology, will enjoy better job security.
Research Analyst – Psychology Department
Research analysts are institutional professionals who perform data collection, analysis and management duties. They are responsible for accurate data processing and report summations for internal and external customers. They collaborate with other departmental personnel on institutional data collection and analysis projects. Some act as personal assistants to research directors who design and execute initiatives that support operations, decision making and strategic planning. Research analysts are required to have a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree in experimental psychology is the usual preference. Research analysts must know how to use basic programs, such as Excel, and advanced programs, such as statistical computation software, to collect, analyze and interpret data.
Human Factors Engineer
Experimental psychology students who have a strong technical background will excel as human factors engineers. These professionals apply the concepts and principles of human performance and human factors engineering to various business or operational projects. They support their clients in identifying how human behavior and decision making impacts and limits the efficiency and effectiveness of various systems. For example, they may identify design features that adversely affect security equipment operation, or they may search for potential human-system performance solutions. They design and oversee human-based experiment that occur in field environments, so they write evaluation plans, direct test performances and adjust experimental designs. Afterwards, they perform detailed data analyses, prepare evaluation reports and brief staff on activities.
Product User Researcher
Product user researchers work as key members of cross-functional teams who organize and execute research programs from the early stages of strategic planning to the post-release validation and client presentation stages. They employ different research methods, such as face-to-face interviews, contextual inquiries, generative design research and participatory workshops. They conduct on-site and field research with external clients who use target products in order to understand customer dislikes, preferences and improvement suggestions. Based on the data they collect, they create summative studies and formative reports with quantitative analytics. Product user research team leaders oversee internal design and visioning workshops to translate customer insights into product directions. They track and communicate metrics and insights to senior leadership.
Neuroscience researchers tend to work in universities testing and developing new data analysis systems that interpret customers’ emotional responses to products through the use of psycho-physiological measurements. These systems employ high-tech and interactive visualizations to analyze and translate biological data. This typically includes facial recognition and eye movement trackers. Neuroscience researchers work with customers and internal product teams to plan and coordinate projects that use creative research methods and measurements. They gather existing research to extrapolate insights that will guide research questions and directions. Neuroscience researchers participate in design-thinking workshops with product teams to ensure that findings are properly translated into actionable product goals.
Related Resource: 5 Characteristics of a Psychology Major
All of these careers in experimental psychology will need candidates who have inquisitive minds, passion for numbers and natural empathy for end users.