John A. Bates
Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences
M.S., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts
B.A., Youngstown State University
Jack Bates' C.V. (.pdf)
I didn't become a psychology major until the end of my junior year at Youngstown State University. The "intention to graduate" form I was completing required that I specify my major. I had none, or at least until then I had not declared one. But when I counted the hours of coursework I had completed in several possible majors, I discovered I had accumulated far more hours in psychology than in anything else. I decided I must really enjoy that stuff!
A couple of years of employment as a night-shift orderly in a hospital psychiatric ward convinced me that a career path as a counselor or clinical psychologist was not for me. I was, and continue to be, more interested in the scientific study of the nature of being human rather than in the equally valid, but for me less attractive, profession of psychotherapist.
Doctoral education at the University of Massachusetts provided me with the credentials to find employment as an assistant professor, but not with a particular area of passion. I discovered that while in the process of lecturing on educational psychology to a classroom of future school teachers, when, to my dismay, it was revealed to me that many of them held firm beliefs in a variety of pseudoscientific or otherwise unsubstantiated claims, including that UFOs carry aliens from other worlds, that the full moon causes violent behavior and that ESP really exists.
Since then, I have conducted numerous studies of college students’ pseudoscientific beliefs, across America and in several other countries. That research led me to more focused study of the psychological nature of belief in general, and from there to the psychophysiology of belief formation. Most recently, I have been exploring ideas about the origins and functions of human consciousness and self-awareness.
I am honored and delighted to be teaching and studying at the University of Baltimore. My students are among the most sincerely committed to their educations that I ever have encountered in my 25-plus years as a professor. The Baltimore area is full of interesting places to visit and exciting things to do. And I have the opportunity both to teach courses in areas of great personal interest to me (Evolutionary Psychology and Psychology of Weird Beliefs, for example) and to serve with a great group of bright, talented and enthusiastic colleagues. Life is good!