The Norton Psychology Labs grew out of a Dutch project called “ZAP.” ZAP, in Dutch, stands for Zeer Actieve Psychologie, which means Very (Inter)Active Psychology. The goal of the ZAPS project was to develop interactive learning material to stimulate discovery and experiential learning in the psychology classroom. As a result, the project produced a set of short, interactive labs (called “ZAPS”). At the core of each ZAP lies a multimedia simulation of a psychological phenomenon or experiment. Students experience a phenomenon, are themselves the subject in a psychological experiment, or play the role of a scientist performing an experiment. In all of the ZAPS the primary purpose is for students to be involved and engaged and become enthusiastic about psychology.

ZAPS were developed by a team of psychologists and ICT specialists from the University of Twente and the Erasmus University Rotterdam, both in the Netherlands. A picture of this team can be found below. ZAPS fit perfectly in the new, modern, and computer-enhanced programs of both universities. The development of ZAPS was sponsored by SURF, the Dutch higher education and research partnership organization for network services and information and communications technology (ICT).

ZAPS were highly successful in the Netherlands, with many universities using them. In 2004 the originator and coordinator of the ZAPS project, Ton de Jong, contacted W. W. Norton and met with Jon Durbin, psychology editor, in New York City. Soon ZAPS: The Norton Psychology Labs were born. Norton came up with the idea of a “class results feature” that soon became one of the key attractions of the ZAPS. Now ZAPS has won the Dutch “National ICT Award,” a prestigious competition to which many projects are submitted. ZAPS recently won the European Academic Software Award (EASA 2004)—out of 180 submissions.

The ZAPS Team: