Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Newly minted PhD, professor, pop culture junkie, voracious reader, and author of the Raised By Wolves series, Every Other Day, Nobody, and More

Anonymous asked: I just finished your book Every Other Day and I really loved it. I'm also a huge fan of your Raised by Wolves trilogy. You create the characters and the world so well that I can't stop thinking about them after I put the book down. Anyway, I have recently been seriously considering pursuing a career in psychology and I'm curious to know how you realized it was the right fit for you and if you have any advice you could give me? I would really appreciate it.

I’m so glad you enjoyed RBW and EOD! That makes me very happy. :)

My interest in psychology has much the same roots as my interest in writing—I am essentially interested in people, the way our minds and emotions and relationships work.  I started college with the vague idea that I might be interested in neuroscience. Or possibly law.  I ended up majoring in cognitive science, which was an interdisciplinary major that mixed psychology, philosophy, and linguistics (among others).  

The thing that really sold me on psychology, though, was getting involved in research as an undergraduate.  I worked in three different psychology labs, and my undergraduate advisor was such an incredible research mentor.  We even published papers together.  Ultimately, I got really into the science of psychology: asking questions, designing ways to get at them, and then ending up with actual answers.

The great thing about psychology, as a research discipline, is that there is a psychology of everything.  If it involves people, it involves psychology.  So there is, for instance, a psychology of fiction and the imagination.  And that meant that I was able to do the science I loved, but on a topic I was equally passionate about as a writer.  One of my friends in grad school was a former actress who was studying the psychology of acting.  I knew other people who studied the psychology of art and music and ideas… morality, politics, religion, economics, prejudice… there are SO MANY things to study, and so many mysteries of the mind and human behavior to unravel. 

So if you’re thinking you might be interested in going into psychology research, I’d recommend trying to get some experience working in a psychology lab to get some first hand research.  If you’re interested in clinical psychology or counseling, I am not the best person to give advice, because that’s very different than what I do.

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