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Dr. Stephen Mitroff’s undergraduate course called “Science in the District” focuses on how cognitive psychology research plays a role in many real-world professions. Last semester FABBS (Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences) joined Dr. Mitroff and the students on several trips around DC and has produced a series of short videos that highlight how cognitive science can be used to benefit society. The 1st video, which focuses on aviation security, is out! You can see more details (and the video) here:

Dr. Steve Mitroff’s Dean Seminar “Science in the District” had first-year students at GW learn about basic principles of cognitive psychology and then take field trips around DC to see how those principles are used in practice. Today was the last class and they visited Capitol Hill to meet with science committee staffers to learn about policy. A film crew followed them all semester so keep an eye out for several short videos to come soon!

From airport security to highway safety, cognitive psychology can be applied to real-world situations every day, as freshmen in the Science in the District Dean’s Seminar discovered.
Like anyone who has boarded a plane, the students in Associate Professor of Psychology Stephen Mitroff’s freshman seminar Science in the District were all too familiar with the headaches and hassles of airport security. They knew about long lines at checkpoints as passengers removed their shoes and security officers searched through carry-on bags. And more than a few students admitted they had rolled their eyes and wondered if the security employees couldn’t do their jobs a little bit better.

But that was before Mitroff’s class gave them a peek behind the curtain—and they saw airport chaos from a cognitive psychology point of view. During a field trip to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) headquarters at Reagan National Airport, the students trained a watchful eye on the multitude of factors that come into play when thousands of passengers rush through security gates—from the angle and detail of computer monitors to whether an officer got enough sleep the night before. They looked for clues to impaired visual perception. Were the tables too cramped? The alcoves too noisy? Were there too many display screens? Too few?

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