Psychology Professor Spotlight: Dr. Benjamin Seltzer

Dr. Benjamin K. Seltzer is a psychology professor at Washington & Jefferson College. He is originally from Reading and he attended undergraduate school at Vassar College in N.Y. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, he received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Minnesota.

Throughout his six years teaching at W&J, Dr. Seltzer has taught a wide variety of classes. He offers sections of Elementary Psychology (PSY 101 and 102) every year. He divides the rest of his time among an introductory course in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (PSY 295), two advanced laboratories in Industrial and Organizational Psychology or Personality Psychology (PSY 495 and 435, respectively), a course in Political Psychology (PSY 390) and an FYS course on the Psychology of Heroes.

Dr. Seltzer chose to teach psychology because it always fascinated him. He is deeply intrigued by the idea that thoughts, emotions and behaviors could be analyzed and explained scientifically. “I’m the kind of person to chat up strangers in the checkout line at the grocery store, and – like everyone else – want to know why people behave the way that they do,” said Dr. Seltzer when asked how his passion for psychology emerged. Dr. Seltzer took a different path teaching than most other Industrial and Organizational Psychologists. Most go on to do research at universities or consultation for large corporations or the government. Dr. Seltzer prefers a work-life balance a less bit frantic than offered in those settings. More importantly, he enjoys exposing a younger audience to the intricacies of psychology. “There’s nothing quite as powerful as watching someone realize the potential of behaviorism for the very first time,” said Dr. Seltzer.

As a student, Dr. Seltzer was drawn to small, liberal arts colleges where student-professor interactions constituted the core of the institution. He found his way to W&J because it resembled the experience he had during his undergraduate years. “Now that I’m on the other side of the podium I find that my preferences haven’t changed a bit. I love interacting with students and challenging their preconceptions at every conceivable opportunity,” Dr. Seltzer said

Aside from teaching, Dr. Seltzer works on a number of projects and committees associated with Assessment and Institutional research. Many years ago, he even played in W&J’s pep band at football games. He has sung professionally, plays a variety of instruments and has taken on a new hobby of reading a book a week, following the footsteps of one of his academic heroes, Paul Meehl. “I adore visitors to my office! Since I’m usually working through the lunch hour I don’t wander through campus nearly as often as I’d like. Accordingly, it’s the highlight of my day when folks stop by (Dieter-Porter, room 306C) to chat,” said Dr. Seltzer. Dr. Seltzer is enthusiastic about his job and having the opportunity to hear from and guide students.