Professor Curt Carlson’s first college experience was at the University of Dallas, which provided an excellent liberal arts education, including a semester abroad in Rome. Curt learned a great deal in Dallas, but he transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where the psychology department was larger and research opportunities were more abundant. His experiences there helped him gain admission to the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his master’s and doctorate in experimental psychology. Curt is trained as a cognitive psychologist, meaning that he studies how the mind works. Specifically, he is interested in face perception and recognition memory, which dovetail nicely into eyewitness identification, an important real-world application.
A Conversation with Dr. Carlson
What draws you to your discipline?
“The intersection of psychology and law is a fascinating area, with many real-world applications. In particular, mistaken eyewitness identification is the primary cause of wrongful convictions, which drives my passion to conduct research in this area. I am excited to produce experimental research that can help the criminal justice system better distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. I especially enjoy involving my students in this research, helping them to conduct behavioral experiments and publish their results in excellent peer-reviewed journals.”
What has been your favorite course to teach?
“Cognitive and evolutionary psychology are my two favorite subjects to teach, as the material is so foundational to understanding the human mind and how it evolved. There are so many misconceptions about where we came from and what our cognitive strengths and weaknesses are. As an educator, it is powerful to direct students’ minds away from myths and misinformation, and toward scientific-based information.”
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed.
“My Applied Cognition Lab is currently hard at work on a multi-year grant from the National Institute of Justice on improving police procedures regarding eyewitness evidence. Recently, we have provided experimental support for a theory about how eyewitnesses make decisions from lineups. We are learning how police should create lineups, and especially what they should not do, in order to not only protect the innocent but also to make it more likely that a guilty suspect is identified.”
- Ph.D., Experimental/Cognitive Psychology, University of Oklahoma, 2008
- M.S., Experimental/Cognitive Psychology, University of Oklahoma, 2004
- B.A., Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2002
- Professor, Experimental Psychology, TAMUC, 2020-Present
- Associate Professor, Experimental Psychology, TAMUC, 2014-2020
- Coordinator, General Psychology Masters and Educational Psychology Ph.D., 2009-Present
- Assistant Professor, Experimental Psychology, TAMUC, 2008-2014
Awards and Honors
- Principle Investigator of Grant from National Institute of Justice ($341K), 2019-2022
- Interviewed by the Discovery Channel, 2018
- Professor of the Year, Keck Family Education Awards Ceremony, 2017
- Recognition Memory
- Face Perception
- Eyewitness Memory
- Fellow of the Psychonomic Society
- American Psychology-Law Society
- Association for Research in Memory, Attention, Decision-Making, Imagery, Learning, Language, & Organization
PSY 205 Applied Professional Ethics
PSY 2301 Introduction to Psychology
PSY 518 Thesis
PSY 610 Nonparametric Statistics
PSY 612 Psychology Education Statistics
PSY 620 Introduction to Human Cognition