‘Giving psychology away’

Olivia Higgins

[media-credit id=2147 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Psychology comes alive at Quinnipiac’s annual Fechner Day to celebrate the work of Gustav Fechner, a German philosopher, physicist, and experimental psychologist who pioneered the idea of psychology as a science.

It’s said that on Oct. 22, 1850, Fechner woke up with a new realization of how to study the mind; by examining the connection between physical stimuli and the sensations or perceptions they produce, according to Sharlene Walbaum, a psychology professor at Quinnipiac University.

Since then, psychologists have called Oct. 22 ‘Fechner Day’ to commemorate Fechner’s findings and his contributions to the field they now know and study.

Walbaum organizes a ‘psychology museum’ and panel of professors to speak every year on Fechner Day, allowing psychology students and professors to share their knowledge with the rest of the community.

“For me, it is a unique commemoration,” Walbaum said. “It celebrates the intersection between creative and scientific thinking. Of course, they must go hand-in-hand but the role of creativity in science is not always appreciated.”

Walbaum said 263 students signed in to walk through the psychology museum and many stayed for the mini ‘TED talks’ panel of professors afterwards in which several professors give five-minute TED talk style lectures.

“I also love the sense of camaraderie among members of the department,” Walbaum said. “We are doing something fun and compelling together. I am amazed at their willingness to take on such a challenge. Their contributions are always informative, funny and interesting.”

[media-credit id=2147 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Many students from a variety of psychology classes put together exhibits for guests to try or interact with.

Destiny DeJesus, a junior psychology and sociology major created an exhibit for extra credit in her psychology statistics class.

“What I’ve gotten from this experience is that learning doesn’t always have to be by the textbook or classroom setting,” DeJesus said. “You can learn in various ways and you can learn from the students and your peers around you, and just over all psychology has a bunch of different windows and ways to it.”

Psychology students can deepen their knowledge by bringing the subjects they learn about in classroom to life through exhibits for the museum, but some are also inspired by showing people the reasons why they love psychology.

Zurama Rodriguez, a junior behavioral neuroscience major, created the event for her sensation and perception class, but had an interest in Fechner Day for years..

“I think students should attend Fechner Day because it’s a way to keep up with old and modern-day psychology,” Rodriguez said. “You experience psychology every day and it’s so much more than just ‘abnormal’ psychology. It’s how our brain works, the history of it, how you perceive things, and how certain models can be used in therapeutic ways.”

[media-credit id=2147 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Professors also enjoy the event to ‘give psychology away’ to their students and members of the Quinnipiac community.

Professor Gary Giumetti, an industrial and organizational psychologist, is proud to see his students carry out the ideas and experiments they learn in class.

“Our celebration of Fechner Day means a lot to me as a psychologist and a professor,” Giumetti said. “This is one of our ways of ‘giving psychology away’ by helping students, faculty, and staff at the university to learn about the interesting psychological phenomena from our field’s past for them to experience.”