How Confident Are Psychology Undergraduates in Their Major Choice?

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Eric Landrum


Introduction. Psychology may be one of the most misunderstood undergraduate majors today. This is evident by the growing number of psychology students (Snyder & Dillow, 2013) potentially entering the field with false assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Misalignment of expectations and reality is observed most often when undergraduates enter the job market. Career options are underestimated while pay scales are overestimated (Gallucci, 1997). This becomes a problem when 88% of undergraduates realize - usually too late - that with a psychology baccalaureate, career options may be slim but often fall into the lowest salary tier.

Researchers have explored solutions to address the problem of misinformation through the use of introductory courses, classroom presentations, psychology clubs, and career advising (e.g., Rajecki, 2012). Students report feeling more informed about the major and their options after participating in one or more of those resources. Characteristics, personalities, and occupational pursuits of typical psychology majors have also been assessed (Naydenova, et al., 2012), but the intentions of those individuals who major in psychology without career goals remain unexamined. Is the psychology major a last resort or is it a first choice? If students were aware of the career and salary limitations afforded by a bachelor’s degree in psychology, would they still choose to major in it? The goal of our research is to examine student confidence in choosing the psychology major.

Method. Our goal is to survey 150 psychology majors to ascertain their confidence in selecting the psychology major. Participants will be asked about their confidence at the time of first declaration of the psychology major as well to current confidence levels. After IRB approval, undergraduate majors will be surveyed using Qualtrics.

Anticipated Results and Discussion. By asking psychology majors to retrospectively assess their confidence at time of declaring the major, in comparison to current levels, changes over time can be approximated and examined in the context of current GPA, intention to apply to graduate school, understanding potential career paths, and other key variables. Understanding the role that confidence plays could be insightful to instructors and advisors who can create environments where confidence can be nurtured.

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