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Psychology

Psychology at HSE University has seen rapid development at HSE University over recent years. For instance, in 2018-2019, the University appeared in three global ratings in this field - THE, QS and ARWU. Moreover, the University’s pending publications in this field will help it move up further in these ratings. Furthermore, admissions to the Bachelor’s programme in Psychology have almost tripled over the last few years, even though admissions criteria have been tightened. Besides, the University has opened several new laboratories, which are currently undertaking ambitious research, while also spurring more publications and the involvement of students in research.

Contemporary psychology is developing in tandem with technological progress, the digitalization of both society and human cognitive abilities, as well as interactions between people and the world. Another important factor in the evolvement of psychology plays is the rapid growth of brain research methods. At present, the overall focus of psychological research is shifting towards studying the evolution of mind as a socio-cultural phenomenon, including owing to the latest research into the digital transformations of the human mind, which has advanced significantly not only in psychology, but also in neuroscience.

With this in mind, psychology must deal with such challenges as uncertainty, complexity, and diversity, characteristic of the current stage of our society’s development. Moreover, new threats, such as rising inequality, radicalization and polarization processes, risks of socio-political unrest, and climate change, culminating in the increasing number and severity of natural cataclysms, distrust of conventional and nascent institutions, risks related to urbanization, information security concerns, are all now global, and thus require not only interdisciplinary analysis, but also innovative practices of psychological work with both individuals and social groups. This, in turn, shall contribute to enhancing subjective well-being, as well as personal and group performance.

In partnership with other HSE University’s subdivisions, the School of Psychology will focus further on those areas of research where it has already made globally recognized contributions:

  • psychology of personality and personal traits, motivation and research into individual self-determination - this area is of crucial applied value for developing programmes aimed at improving subjective well-being of employees in companies and organizations, persons with disabilities and health issues, etc. Ongoing research into subjective well-being and individual self-determination in Russia, a field largely developing thanks to the University’s efforts, will be further enhanced by the start-up of a new Master’s programme in Positive Psychology;
  • social psychological and cross-cultural research - analyzing various forms of group activity and transformations of values throughout the post-Soviet countries; cross-cultural adaptation of migrants; intercultural transactions, etc.;
  • research in environmental/ecological psychology - this area considers such pressing issues as global warming, urbanization processes, and a vital necessity to raise awareness among citizens about their role in combatting pollution. At present, HSE University has put together a strong team of researchers in this sub-field, maintaining numerous contacts around the world.
  • research into human cognitive functions – primarily, visual perception, attention, and working memory, with a special focus on: a) compressed representation of information about multiple objects in ensemble summary statistics; b) visual attention as the selection of specific visual stimuli for further deep processing; c) binding of visual information and perception and memory failures, the binding problem; d) visual working memory capable of retaining a limited amount of information for a short period of time and manipulating this data to perform the tasks at hand; and e) visual long-term memory.

The interdisciplinary nature and integration of the latest achievements, coupled with the hiring of international specialists, will help HSE University join global elite academia, as the following research areas are further promoted:

  • research on the digital transformation of human cognitive processes, user behaviour with digital products and interfaces. In particular, research into psychological mechanisms underlying perceptual, motor and mental tasks in digital environments, including user mistakes; perception of affordances provided by digital devices; differences in perception of various interface designs, will be considerably expanded;
  • computational cognitive science - developing computational models for human cognition, in particular, on the basis of trainable artificial neural networks. At  present, HSE University employs several international and local world-class specialists working in this field, and a Master’s programme will be set up to this end;
  • psychogenetic and neurogenetic research - these efforts shall be concentrated on the basis of cooperation between the HSE Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology (in particular, with its specialization in molecular biology and genome sequencing) and the School of Psychology. One of the main research focus will be on the neuro-genetic factors in learning, political behaviours, and economic decisions. Genetic research will provide a foundation for synthesizing various disciplines. Success in genome sequencing may further boost enquiries about the development of individual and culturally specific psychological characteristics, which, in turn, may be solved through psychology-based methodologies and approaches;
  • psychology of health and subjective well-being - this is a promising field for international interdisciplinary research projects in cooperation with HSE University’s academic partners;
  • lifelong learning - owing to the unpredictable changes in the job market, such activities as instruction, training and the so-called metacognition (i.e., awareness of one’s individual cognitive processes and strategies for managing one’s cognition in the course of acquiring new skills and experience) are rapidly evolving. This very crucial field shall rely on integrated teams from HSE University’s centre of competencies in education and psychology.

Educational activities will develop together with research promotion. For instance, the following fields will be enhanced within degree programmes offered at the Faculty of Social Sciences: mathematical and digital literacy; individualized student trajectories as the basis for interdisciplinary instruction; skills for devising and implementing solutions in response to new and complex problems and challenges, as well as competencies in acquiring new knowledge and practices (Learning to Learn); expanding social experience of students (e.g., by involving them in social projects, field research, analysis of real-life social processes).

Furthermore, HSE University will create new English-taught Master’s double-degree programmes with academic institutions in the USA and Europe. For instance, the new “Psychology in Education” track will be launched at the Bachelor’s level under the programme in Psychology, for the purpose of preparing experts in lifelong learning. A Specialist (or a Bachelor’s + Master’s) programme in Clinical Psychology will become available,  as well as CPD courses and Master’s programmes in Conflict Studies, User Experience, and Positive Psychology. Also, HSE University plans to further develop Master’s and PhD programmes in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience. The fields of Psychology, Neuroscience and Computer Science will contribute to the English-taught Master’s programmes  “Computational Cognitive Science” and “The Science of Learning”.  

 In addition, HSE University will start offering more options to include students in research and applied projects, e.g., via starting up new research laboratories and creating research groups, where students may engage in basic research tasks and pursue applied projects.