Leah Dickens joined the Kenyon faculty in 2017. As a social psychologist specializing in the functions of emotions in everyday life, Dickens’s work extends beyond the positive/negative dichotomy of affect to investigate the nuanced complexity of emotional experience. Her current research centers on pride and gratitude, and how these can be beneficial to the self and relationships. Dickens’s work also involves social perception (how we view other people) and how our emotional experiences can color that perception.

Dickens received her doctorate. from Northeastern University in 2015 and was a visiting assistant professor at both Mount Holyoke College and Bowdoin College before coming to Kenyon. She teaches courses in social psychology and positive psychology—the psychology of “the good life.”

Areas of Expertise

Social psychology, positive psychology, emotions

Education

2015 — Doctor of Philosophy from Northeastern University

2012 — Master of Arts from Northeastern University

2009 — Bachelor of Arts from Connecticut College

Courses Recently Taught

Psychology is the study of behavior and mental processes. In this introductory course, we will explore a variety of areas in which psychologists conduct research: the biological foundations of behavior, sensory and perceptual processes, cognition, learning and memory, developmental psychology, personality and social psychology, psychological disorders, and variability in behavior related to culture. This course is only open to first-year and sophomore students. This counts toward the foundations requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every semester.

Social psychology is the systematic study of social behavior. In general, it examines how we are affected by our social environment: how we perceive and interpret the behavior of others and the social situation, how we respond to others and they to us, and the nature of social relationships. Application of social psychological theory and methodology is encouraged through participation in small-scale laboratory or field observational studies. This counts toward the person and society requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Generally offered every year.

Although much of psychology’s past has been spent investigating the problems facing human beings, the field and people in general are coming to realize that a life devoid of the negative is not synonymous with a life well-lived. This course will focus on the aspects of life that tend to help individuals and communities flourish. We will discuss emotions (past-, present- and future-oriented), character traits (strengths and virtues), and institutions (work, school, family) and how these influence the good life. Through lecture, readings, discussions and hands-on activities, we will investigate the empirical literature on positive psychology, including points of conflict and avenues for future research. This counts toward the clinical issues and health requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Generally offered every year.

Social psychology is the systematic study of social behavior. In general, it examines how we are affected by our social environment: how we perceive and interpret the behavior of others and the social situation, how we respond to others and they to us, and the nature of social relationships. Application of social psychological theory and methodology is encouraged through participation in small-scale laboratory or field observational studies. This counts toward the sociocultural perspectives requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Generally offered every year.

Although much of psychology’s past has been spent investigating the problems facing human beings, the field and people in general are coming to realize that a life devoid of the negative is not synonymous with a life well-lived. This course will focus on the aspects of life that tend to help individuals and communities flourish. We will discuss emotions (past-, present- and future-oriented), character traits (strengths and virtues), and institutions (work, school, family) and how these influence the good life. Through lecture, readings, discussions and hands-on activities, we will investigate the empirical literature on positive psychology, including points of conflict and avenues for future research. This counts toward the clinical issues and health requirement for the major. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Generally offered every year.

This is the first semester of the two part sequence required for senior psychology majors. Each section will have a different topic, but in every seminar students will read and discuss psychological literature, write and discuss critiques of research articles, review the literature and develop a research proposal on a topic in psychology and make a formal oral presentation to the class. This theoretical framework will lay the groundwork for the execution of a project in the second half of the practicum. This counts toward the senior capstone requirement for the major. Prerequisite: senior standing and psychology major. Offered every fall.

Individual study in psychology allows students the opportunity to pursue research on a topic of special interest. The course is designed in consultation with a faculty mentor. The level of credit can range from 0.25 to 0.5 unit of credit and students may take more than one semester of individual study. Typically, only juniors or seniors may pursue this option. To enroll, a student must first identify a member of the psychology department who is willing to mentor the project. The student must give the department chair a written description of the project, including the nature of the proposed work and a list of references. The project should include reading and reviewing scientific literature and will likely entail a research project in which original data are collected. The student and faculty member are expected to meet, on average, once a week. The final project will likely be a paper written in the style of the American Psychological Association. Additional assignments may be required as well, including a public presentation. The amount of work required for the individual study should approximate that required of other 300-level psychology courses. It is possible for students to pursue a group project but more work will be expected for the completed project and each student will write her or his own individual paper. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline.