W&J rising senior Julia Hurwitz stands outside of the University of Michigan's Social Minds Lab and gives two thumbs up.

Taking Care of Injustice: Psychology major studies developmental decision-making in Social Minds Lab

Created: August 10, 2022  |  Last Updated: September 12, 2022  |  Category:   |  Tagged: , , ,

WASHINGTON, PA (August 10, 2022)—For years, tattled-on kids have asked their tattlers, “Why did you tell on me?” and rising senior Julia Hurwitz might finally have an answer for them.

A psychology major minoring in gender and women’s studies, Hurwitz spent the last several months interning under the leadership of Dr. Felix Warneken and Yeonjee Bae in the University of Michigan’s Social Minds Lab, and investigating prosociality and reporting behaviors in children to determine how they assess and respond to right and wrong. Completing her research, she’s bringing new-found knowledge back to W&J.

“It’s been really cool working in a lab at a top research university,” Hurwitz said, noting that she mainly developed Qualtrics surveys and tested participants in her role, interacting with them in-person. “I’ve done research in the past…but it’s always been online. This is the first time I’ve been able to do something different.”

Interested primarily in evolutionary psychology, the developmental psychology practiced in the Social Minds lab was just that for Hurwitz—different. Still, she still managed to diversify the work.

“I found ways to implement evolutionary psychology theory into moral development and bring my two interests together,” Hurwitz said.

Though funding through the Maxwell Award and National Science Foundation did much to make that a possibility, additional support form W&J also played a role in Hurwitz’s success.

“Dr. Hannah Bradshaw helped me a lot,” said Hurwitz of the assistant professor of psychology for whom she serves as a research assistant. “She’s sort of become my research mentor within the Psychology Department and really opened a lot of doors for me.”

The College itself has seemingly served a similar function.

“I’ve done things at W&J that a lot of my peers haven’t done yet,” Hurwitz said, noting that courses like “Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences” and her assistantship with Bradshaw have given her an advantage. “That creative and scientific freedom at W&J…has shown me that I have the capability work in a lab setting.”

Clinging to that capability and coupling it with her summer experience, Hurwitz plans to pursue a Ph.D. in experimental, social, or evolutionary psychology after graduation. Though it’s a lofty goal, as a LINK mentor, student ambassador, member of the international psychology fraternity Psi Chi, research assistant, and proud president, she’s sure she’ll meet it.

“I feel ready for graduate school,” Hurwitz said. “Being at a place where your education can be individualized makes you less scared to participate and speak up…and I think the benefit of that really sets me apart.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu or call 888-W-AND-J.