Psychological and Social Sciences

Psychological and Social Sciences

The Psychological and Social Sciences (PSS) major is a multidisciplinary degree program for students interested in understanding human behavior, group dynamics, and the influence of culture and the media on individuals’ actions. Students take courses in a number of disciplines including Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and Human Development and Family Studies.

Research and scholarship are prized pursuits of both students and faculty in the PSS program. Students can get involved in research in a number of ways. All students enrolled in PSYCH 100, PSYCH 200, and PSYCH 301W are part of the Penn State Abington Participant Pool, managed using the SONA system (existing students and faculty can access SONA using the link on the right). The participant pool has roughly 800 participants per year each of whom are required to complete 3 hours of research experience either by engaging in actual psychology and social science studies or by completing an alternative assignment. The Participant Pool allows Thesis Students, undergraduate research assistants in the ACURA (Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities) program, students engaging in independent studies, and faculty to collect data for their studies.

Social Science Labs offer students the opportunity to partner with faculty doing cutting edge research in their fields. Many students do this through the ACURA program but faculty also run active research labs as well.

Students in the PSS program often attend regional and national conferences to present their work.

An internship required for all students emphasizes the application of classroom knowledge to real-world settings.

The Bachelor of Arts degree provides students with a broad foundation in social and psychological theory.

The Bachelor of Science degree offers an additional emphasis on research and quantification and requires students to complete a senior thesis.

Dr. Fran Sessa
Psychological and Social Sciences Program Chair
Dr. Manohar Singh
Division Head, Social Sciences


PSS Faculty - engaged in cutting edge research and scholarship

  • Michael J. Bernstein was awarded the 2015-2016 Penn State Social Science Research Institute Collaborative Fellowship ($10,000.00) for his work entitled, "Social ostracism and biobehavioral health."
  • Jake Benfield was awarded the 2014-2015 Penn State Social Science Research Institute Collaborative Fellowship ($10,000.00) for his work entitled, "Soundscape-induced psychology and biobehavioral stress recovery."  
  • Beth Montemurro, (2014). Deserving Desire: Women’s Stories of Sexual Evolution. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  • Karen Bettez Halnon, (2014). The Consumption of Inequality: Weapons of Mass Distraction. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Allen M. Hornblum, Judith L. Newman, and Gregory Dober, (2013). Against their Will: The secret history of medical experimentation on children in Cold War America,. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • P.J. Capelotti and Beth O’Leary, eds.  2014. Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space.  Springer Space and Society Series.
  • P.J. Capelotti received a 2014-2015 grant from National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, ($49,631.00) to support the project: “The Place Names of Franz Josef Land.”
  • Michael J. Bernstein received a 2013-2016 grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1323418 and BCS-1323349) ($325,000) to support work entitled, “Social exclusion as a determinant of individuation and stereotyping.”