Gatepost Interview: Margaret Campbell Obaid Psychology Professor

(Photo by Brad Leuchte)

What is your educational and professional background?

I went to Framingham State as an undergrad, actually. It was Framingham State College then. I graduated in 2008. I was a psychology major and an English minor here. After that, I took a year off from school and I worked at the Veterans’ Hospital in Bedford doing more clinically oriented stuff. I worked with veterans who were recovering from addictions. After that, I went to graduate school at Clark University and I moved into social psychology. I finished my degree there this past summer.

What courses are you teaching right now?

This semester, I’m teaching General Psychology and Social Psychology. In general, I’ll be teaching classes in the social/cultural area of psychology for the most part.

How would your students describe you?

That’s a hard question! I don’t know how they would describe me. I know how I hope they would describe me. I think in general I try to be respectful of students and their viewpoints. I try to be engaging, try to get it so it’s not just me talking to them, but them also contributing to the class and being more engaged. I think that I, especially in certain topic areas, get very excited, so that probably comes across.

What topics are you most excited about?

My area of research is intergroup relations and political psychology. …  A lot of what I do is looking at people’s religious beliefs and how they relate to their political attitudes. … I teach General Psych, and the great thing is I’m forced to go out of my usual area. It makes you fall back in love with General Psychology.

 What are some of your accomplishments?

Professionally, of course, because I just finished my dissertation, that feels like the most salient one right now. I defended it in July. Beyond that, I have done quite a few different research projects. One of them got some media coverage. I don’t know if that makes it a bigger accomplishment, but it was exciting to get interviewed and to have that covered in New York Magazine. And, it was in Scientific American. It was on people’s beliefs about good and evil and how that relates to their political attitude about diplomacy and war. It got picked up a lot in terms of the Syrian conflict. … I also have done some conference organizing in the Peace Psychology Division of APA [American Psychology Association], which is a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too.

What would you say the best part of your job is? 

Definitely working with the students. I haven’t done a lot of advising yet. I’m looking forward to getting to talk more one-on-one with students and helping them find the areas of psychology they are passionate about. I love teaching. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Even before I knew I loved psychology, I knew I wanted to teach.  I love being in a classroom with students. I love seeing students getting excited about topics, finding their own avenues to pursue and branching off on the things we’ve talked about in class.

What do you do outside of teaching?

I have a 6-month-old son. He takes up a lot of my time right now. … I also love reading. English is one of my other loves. I’m in a book club with a bunch of my friends. I used to play co-ed rec soccer. … I like getting outside, hiking.

What class would you advise all students to take?

A lot of people do end up taking General Psychology, but as a psychologist, of course I’m going to pick a psych class. General Psych is great because you see the breadth of psychology. I love all of it, and I think all of it applies to all of our lives. In General Psych, even if students don’t fall in love with the whole course, they’re going to find areas of psychology that speak to them.

What would your advice to FSU students be?

I would say the more you can get involved in the campus community, the better. I know we have a diverse student body, and that it’s more challenging for some people. When I was a student here, I worked full time. It was difficult to be in all the clubs I wanted to be in. But I would say really try to find one group, and maybe that’s a group of people within your major you connect with. Maybe it’s the student activities board, but find some way to be part of the community because I think that makes the experience a lot better.

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