When you think of the best paid psychologists, you might think of a few of the most prestigious employers in the country.
But what about those who do more than just work for big pharmaceutical companies and universities?
Is the best pay even in the field of behavioral research?
In an article published by The Wall St Journal, the lead author of the article, Dr. Lisa Friel, tells the story of how a few well-respected researchers are still making just a little bit of money in the fields of psychology and behavioral sciences.
“I’ve had a few questions about whether my colleagues in psychology or behavioral science are making the most from their work, and that’s a valid question, and it’s not the only question that people have,” said Friel.
“The reality is that there’s a lot of people making a lot more money than we’re making.
We know that, but it’s still not clear what it is.”
Dr. Lisa Niederhauser, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Yale University, and Dr. Michael R. Tapp, professor of behavioral science and psychiatry at Columbia University, are the top paid researchers in the behavioral sciences at their institutions.
Dr. Friel says she’s not sure why some researchers make more than others.
“What we know about pay and what we know from past research is that the most successful researchers earn more money from their research than other researchers,” said Dr. Niedermayer.
“But how do they do that?
And it’s really hard to pin down what the answer is.”
The answer, she said, could lie in two different places: pay structures and pay scales.
There are different kinds of pay scales, and the different kinds also have different requirements.
The pay scales have a lot to do with what the research actually does.
The research that is most successful, in other words, can get paid a lot.
“It’s really important to make sure that we are paying people well, and making sure that the research that does the most good and has the greatest impact on society and human health is rewarded,” said Niederman.
“It’s a very complex area of research and there’s no single answer,” said Tapp.
Tapp has been doing research for the past 25 years on a variety of issues, including obesity and depression, which affect 1 in 7 Americans.
“I think that the best way to look at it is, is it important to pay people well?” asked Tapp.
“There’s a range of research questions, but I think it’s important to do the research and do the analysis and figure out what the best solution is.”
For example, how to structure pay scales for different types of research?
Do people earn more or less money if they are on different pay scales?
Do different pay levels affect research outcomes?
What about what is being done with funding?
“I think what we really need to look for is how to design pay scales to reflect the types of data that we’re looking at,” said Trask.
In the end, the best thing is that all of these people are doing the best they can.
“We’re paying people to do things that are good for society,” said Ruppert.
“When you’re doing this work, you’re getting paid to be a good person and a good scientist,” said Koss.
“That’s really the only way you can do well.”