Experimental Psychologist Career (Salary + Duties + Interviews)

Behind every theory or application of psychology is a psychologist, but not all psychologists are involved in every step of the process. Some psychologists focus on the application, working directly with patients using theories that have been developed and tested. Others are a part of developing theories, going off of hunches and conducting tests to see whether their hunch has traction. 

If you are interested in the experimental side of psychology, you may want to pursue a career in experimental psychology. This career doesn’t look like the “average” psychology career but can be crucial in helping all psychologists do their jobs with the most updated information and perspectives available. Learn more about experimental psychology, what it takes to get into this field, and how you can take the next steps on your path today. 

What does an Experimental Psychologist Do?

Experimental psychologists use the scientific method to test out different theories or questions that they or others have developed in the world of psychology. An experimental psychologist may spend their entire career attempting to answer one question, as one set of data or one study may not be enough to answer psychology’s larger questions.

Experimental psychologists may use data, surveys, focus groups, or other various experiments to seek out the answers that shape their careers. Many factors must be considered when these experiments are taken, especially when it comes to psychology. Motives, background, perception, and the diversity of subjects all come into play and shape the results of a study, survey, or experiment. 

Job Requirements

In order to earn grant money for research, you have to know what you’re talking about. Experimental psychologists start out by earning their doctorate degree in experimental psychology or another approach to psychology that might shape their experiments. Through this work, an experimental psychologist will build up their resume by working under other experimental psychologists and contributing to research that may be published. With enough credentials and by answering the questions that spark interest, an experimental psychologist may find work at a college or university and conduct their experiments using grant money or on the school’s dime.

Salary

A well-respected experimental psychologist can live a comfortable life while answering the world’s biggest questions, but this salary is not guaranteed to all. Remember, your doctorate degree is usually the minimum requirement if you want to conduct research at a university or in an esteemed research center. These salaries reflect experimental psychologists who have completed these degrees and are currently working to answer the questions that they or others in their field have. 

Experimental Psychologist Reported Salary

Low

Average

High

Economic Research Institute


$96,610


ZipRecruiter

$17,500

$62,493

$138,500

Salary.com

$73,459

$97,711

$122,148

VeryWellMind


$92,000



Schools for Experimental Psychology Degrees

Want to dive into experimental psychology? It’s time to apply for schools. These are some of the best programs for experimental psychology. The more esteemed your degree, the more likely you will be recognized by leaders in your field and organizations that fund your research. 

  • The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI) 
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) 
  • Yale University (New Haven, CT) 
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA) 
  • The University of South Carolina - Columbia (Columbia, SC) 
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) 
  • University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) 
  • University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) 
  • University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI)
  • Texas State University (San Marcos, TX) 

Companies That Hire Experimental Psychologists

A lot of organizations have questions that experimental psychologists can attempt to answer through data collection and research. Any of the following organizations could put out a job listing for an experimental psychologist to work in-house or with various clients: 

  • Research centers 
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government agencies
  • Private businesses 

Interviews from an Experimental Psychologist

Want to learn more about specific graduate programs in experimental psychology? Watch this video from Seton Hall University. You may also take a path to a PhD in experimental psychology through studying other fields of psychology, like YouTuber You Can Do STEM did!

Learn how experimental psychology differs from applied psychology with this video from Psy vs. Psy. 

Famous Experimental Psychologists

The most famous experiments in psychology are often the most controversial, but they have also influenced the way that we think about the human mind, personality, and behavior. 

For example, Stanley Milgram’s experiments on obedience showed the world just what people would do if they felt like they had to obey a researcher or authority figure. 

Phillip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment took a terrifying look into what people were capable of if they were given a certain role to play in society.

Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment showed how children pick up certain behaviors and traits through observation, including violent ones. 

Martin Seligman’s Learned Helplessness Experiments showed just how run-down we can feel and how helpless we can become if we do not believe that we are in control of what happens to us. 

Finally, Jane Elliot’s Blue Eyes Brown Eyes experiment showed how easily children (and adults) can develop prejudiced behavior, just because they are told they are in one group or another.

Experimental Psychology Examples

Experimental psychologists focus on one task within psychology: conducting experiments to answer the field’s largest questions. The average day of an experimental psychologist may include:

  1. Sorting through participants in a study to ensure they are working with a diverse group
  2. Administering tests to participants 
  3. Collecting and organizing survey data
  4. Looking at trends in data to come to conclusions
  5. Writing about their experiences and how it influenced their conclusions
  6. Sharing their work in a journal
  7. Applying for grants or funding to continue conducting their experiments

About the author 

Theodore

Theodore created PracticalPsychology while in college and has transformed the educational online space of psychology. His goal is to help people improve their lives by understanding how their brains work. 1,700,000 Youtube subscribers and a growing team of psychologists, the dream continues strong!

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