Research, Boredom, and the Frontiers of Knowledge– Update 1

Perhaps this is just my opinion, but I think people tend to find psychology one of the most interesting, mystifying, and exciting of the sciences. Regardless of their sometimes controversial validity, the concepts of the ego, unconscious desire, self-actualization, and many others have permeated through much of Western and global imagination. When I tell people I am conducting psychology research, many of them look at me with wide eyes asking me exactly what it is I am researching. When I tell them I’m studying nostalgia and imagination, their eyes get even wider. Then when I tell them what I am specifically doing day by day and week by week here at William & Mary, their eyes start to wander a bit more. I am not electrocuting rats on a wheel, I am not plugging strange wires into peoples’ brains, and NO I am NOT analyzing you right now! Instead, I am combing through the PsycINFO database searching for articles about how to conceptualize, quantify, and measure such murky concepts as imagination, nostalgia, and creativity. In addition, I am going to spend several hours planning and constructing the actual study on Qualtrics.

Psychology research, and really all research in general, is not as cartoonishly adventurous as many people imagine it to be. It requires patience, attention to detail, and a lot of rethinking and backtracking. That being said, I don’t mean to say research is boring either. Can it be tedious and frustrating? Absolutely, but what keeps me excited about my research and consistently drawn into the articles I read is the fact that I am one of those lucky enough to explore the frontiers of our knowledge regarding nature, the world, and humanity. Even in the 21st century, there is still so, SO much we do not know about what is going on right inside our heads. Humanity has written and spoken of the imagination for almost our entire existence, but what is it, where is it, and why do we have it? These questions are only beginning to be answered, and I hopefully get to be a part of those answers.