College Course Descriptions

Course information is subject to change.

20000. Fundamentals of Psychology. This course introduces basic concepts and research in the study of behavior. Principal topics are sensation, perception, cognition, learning, motivation, and personality theories. J. Cacioppo. Autumn. 

20100. Psychological Statistics. Psychological research typically involves the use of quantitative (statistical) methods. This course introduces the methods of quantitative inquiry that are most commonly used in psychology and related social sciences. PSYC 20100 and 20200 form a two-quarter sequence that is intended to be an integrated introduction to psychological research methods. PSYC 20100 introduces explanatory data analysis, models in quantitative psychology, concept of probability, elementary statistical methods for estimation and hypothesis testing, and sampling theory. PSYC 20200 builds on the foundation of PSYC 20100 and considers the logic of psychological inquiry and the analysis and criticism of psychological research. D. Yurovsky. Autumn.

20200. Psychological Research Methods. This course introduces concepts and methods used in behavioral research. Topics include the nature of behavioral research, testing of research ideas, quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection, artifacts in behavioral research, analyzing and interpreting research data, and ethical considerations in research. A. Henly. Winter.

20300. Biological Psychology. PQ: Some background in biology and psychology. This course does not meet requirements for the biological sciences major. What are the relations between mind and brain? How do brains regulate mental, behavioral, and hormonal processes; and how do these influence brain organization and activity? This course introduces the anatomy, physiology, and chemistry of the brain; their changes in response to the experiential and sociocultural environment; and their relation to perception, attention, behavioral action, motivation, and emotion. PQ: Some background in biology and psychology. L. Kay, B. Prendergast. Winter.

20400. Cognitive Psychology. Viewing the brain globally as an information processing or computational system has revolutionized the study and understanding of intelligence. This course introduces the theory, methods, and empirical results that underlie this approach to psychology. Topics include categorization, attention, memory, knowledge, language, and thought. M. Berman. Spring.

20500. Developmental Psychology. (=CHDV 25900) This is an introductory course in developmental psychology, with a focus on cognitive and social development in infancy through early childhood. Example topics include children's early thinking about number, morality, and social relationships, as well as how early environments inform children's social and cognitive development. Where appropriate, we make links to both philosophical inquiries into the nature of the human mind, and to practical inquiries concerning education and public policy. K. O'Doherty. Spring.

20600. Social Psychology. (=CHDV 26000) PSYC 20000 recommended. This course examines social psychological theory and research that is based on both classic and contemporary contributions. Topics include conformity and deviance, the attitude-change process, social role and personality, social cognition, and political psychology. W. Goldstein. Autumn.

20700. Sensation and Perception. What we see and hear depends on energy that enters the eyes and ears, but what we actually experience – perception – follows from human neural responses. This course focuses on visual and auditory phenomena, including basic percepts (for example, acuity, brightness, color, loudness, pitch) and also more complex percepts such as movement and object recognition. Biological underpinnings of perception are an integral part of the course. K. LeDoux, Winter.

20850. Introduction to Human Development. (=CHDV 20000) This course introduces the study of lives in context. The nature of human development from infancy through old age is explored through theory and empirical findings from various disciplines. Readings and discussions emphasize the interrelations of biological, psychological, and sociocultural forces at different points of the life cycle. TBA. Autumn.

21125. Conceptual Development. This course is an intensive foray into the contemporary literature on conceptual development. Through years of education and experience we come to understand increasingly complex and accurate theories of how the world works. However, how we come to comprehend the nuances of concepts like gravity or even how a child learns to grasp the concept of seven is still widely disagreed upon. Our exploration will combine theoretical and empirical papers to gain an appreciation for various theories of conceptual development and evaluate their ability to explain observed psychological phenomena. The ultimate goal is for students to become familiar with the major debates and issues of the field, understand the various mechanisms proposed as drivers of conceptual development and to come up with new and interesting paths and ideas. D. Gibson. Spring.

21690. Media and Psychology. This course will examine the influence of media on individuals and groups from both a developmental and socio-cultural perspective. Topics will include young children’s academic and social-emotional skill learning from television, video and tablets; adolescents’ social media identities and experiences including cyber-bullying; media influences on adults’ health behaviors, aggression, prejudice, and more.  Students will engage in both qualitative and quantitative research on media and psychology as part of this course. K. O'Doherty. Winter.

21750. Biological Clocks and Behavior. (=BIOS 24248) Biological Clocks and Behavior, will address physiological and molecular biological aspects of circadian and seasonal rhythms in biology and behavior. The course will primarily emphasize biological and molecular mechanisms of CNS function, and will be taught at a molecular level of analysis from the beginning of the quarter. Those students without a strong biology background are unlikely to resonate with the course material. Therefore, a quality grade in PSYC 20300 (Introduction to Biological Psychology) is a prerequisite for enrollment in this course; additional biology courses are also desirable. Completion of Core Biology will NOT suffice as a prerequisite.  Those students who will not have completed PSYC 20300 by the beginning of the Autumn 2014 should not enroll in this course. For biology majors:  Completion of three quarters of a Biological Sciences Fundamentals Sequence. B. Prendergast. Spring.

22580. Child Development in the Classroom. This discussion-based, advanced seminar is designed to investigate how preschool and elementary students think, act, and learn, as well as examine developmentally appropriate practices and culturally responsive teaching in the classroom. This course emphasizes the application of theory and research from the field of psychology to the realm of teaching and learning in contemporary classrooms. Course concepts will be grounded in empirical research and activities geared towards understanding the nuances and complexities of topics such as cognitive development (memory, attention, language), early assessment systems, standardized testing, “mindset”, “grit”, exercise/nutrition, emotion regulation, and more. K. O'Doherty. Autumn.

22831. Debates in Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. This course will survey some of the current debates in the fields of cognitive and social neurosciences. The readings and discussions will cover a variety of topics ranging from the functional specificity of brain regions supporting face processing to the network of brain regions believed to support mental state inferences about others. Discussions and response papers will emphasize careful consideration of each perspective on these topics. J. Cloutier. Spring.

22880. Psychological Impacts of Education Policy: Understanding the Impact on Teachers, Families, and Students. In this discussion-based course, we will apply a psychological lens to investigate the ways in which children, teachers, and parents are impacted by education policy decisions. Throughout this course we will shift our level of analysis of education policy from a macro to a micro level, beginning with large-scale federal policies and narrowing our focus to decisions made at the school and classroom levels. Finally, we will examine examples of practice from other countries and other fields as a way to stimulate our own ideas about best practices and look at the bidirectional nature between psychology and education policy. In addition to discussing central topics in education policy, we will review empirical articles to understand how teachers, families, and students are impacted, and learn how psychologists design experiments to answer interesting and focused research questions about education. M. Schaeffer. Spring.

23280. Language for Thought and Action. How do people produce and understand language? Traditional approaches to answering this question have focused on figuring out how the mind represents and manipulates strings of words. On this view, language is similar to a piece of software that can be studied in a vacuum, independently from the system that implements it. Yet, an alternative view proposes that to understand how the mind gives rise to language, we cannot study linguistic behavior in isolation, but have to explicitly consider the neural, bodily, and social context in which people use language. In this course, we adopt this ethological approach and explore how the mind and brain’s linguistic and non-linguistic systems interact, across a range of contexts. In doing so, we will cover theoretical and empirical work from cognitive science, biology, and neuroscience, with a specific focus on recent work in embodied cognition. By the end of the course, students will have a thorough understanding of current theories on the interaction between language, thought, and action, and will be equipped to come up with questions and experiments that will contribute to the field. T. Gijssels. Spring.

23290. Linguistic Perspectives on Language Disorders. (=LING 23800) Language disorders provide a fascinating look at the nature of many aspects of linguistic structure, and in some cases provide key data for answering questions about the nature of human language. In this class, we discuss several common speech and language disorders (such as aphasia, dysarthria, and specific language impairment) as well as more general neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism spectrum disorder) which can impact language. While we will discuss clinical characterizations of these disorders to some degree, the focus of the class will be on working directly with language data from speakers in order to understand specific linguistic patterns associated with these disorders, and to explore how these patterns can inform questions about, for example, the nature of phonological representations, the structure of the lexicon, and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics in language processing. The course is designed to give students exposure to research on language disorders (including several novel experimental techniques for studying disordered language) while also giving them an opportunity to refine their analytical skills in linguistics.PQ: Introduction to Linguistics. May be waived with consent of instructor.  K. Franich. Winter.

23300. Cultural Psychology. There is a substantial portion of the psychological nature of human beings that is neither homogeneous nor fixed across time and space. At the heart of the discipline of cultural psychology is the tenet of psychological pluralism, which states that the study of "normal" psychology is the study of multiple psychologies and not just the study of a single or uniform fundamental psychology for all peoples of the world. Research findings in cultural psychology thus raise provocative questions about the integrity and value of alternative forms of subjectivity across cultural groups. In this course we analyze the concept of "culture" and examine ethnic and cross-cultural variations in mental functioning with special attention to the cultural psychology of emotions, self, moral judgment, categorization, and reasoning. R. Schweder. Autumn.

23301. The Empathic Brain. This class introduces undergraduate students to current social neuroscience research and theories of empathy. The focus of this course is on how people perceive, experience, and respond with care to the internal states (e.g., cognitive, affective, motivational) of another. The study of empathy serves as the basis for integrating a variety of data and theories from evolutionary biology, affective neuroscience, developmental psychology, social psychology, behavioral neurology and psychiatry. J. Decety. Winter.

23360/33360. Methods in Gesture and Sign Language Research. (=CHDV 23360, CHDV 33360, PSYC 33360) In this course we will explore methods of research used in the disciplines of linguistics and psychology to investigate sign language and gesture.  We will choose a set of canonical topics from the gesture and sign literature such as pointing, use of the body in quotation, and the use of non-manuals, in order to understand the value of various effective methods in current use and the types of research questions they are best equipped to handle. D. Brentari, S. Goldin-Meadow. Autumn. 

23800. Introduction to Learning and Memory. This course examines basic questions in learning and memory. We discuss the historical separation and division of these two areas as well as the paradigmatic differences in studying learning and memory. We also discuss basic research methods for investigating learning and memory and survey established and recent research findings, as well as consider several different kinds of models and theories of learning and memory. Topics include skill acquisition, perceptual learning, statistical learning, working memory, implicit memory, semantic vs. episodic memory, and memory disorders. D. Gallo. Winter.

23860. Beyond Good and Evil: The Psychology of Morality. Morality is a mysterious and possibly uniquely human capacity that influences how we make decisions in a number of domains. In this course we will explore how and why human beings have the moral intuitions that they do and also where these intuitions come from--what about our moral intuitions are built in and how are these intuitions shaped by experience? To achieve these goals, we will discuss literature from developmental, social, and evolutionary psychology as well as some literature from behavioral economics and experimental philosophy. We will briefly review the history of moral psychology, but spend the bulk of our time discussing contemporary debates and findings from research on moral psychology. A. Shaw. Autumn.

24055. The Psychological Foundations of Wisdom. Thinking about the nature of wisdom goes back to the Greek philosophers and the classical religious sages, but the concept of wisdom has changed in many ways over the history of thought. While wisdom has received less scholarly attention in modern times, it has recently re-emerged in popular discourse with a growing recognition of its potential importance for addressing complex issues in many domains. But what is wisdom? It’s often used with a meaning more akin to "smart" or "clever". Is it just vast knowledge? This course will examine the nature of wisdom—how it has been defined, how its meaning has changed, and what its essential components might be. We will examine how current psychological theories conceptualize wisdom and consider whether, and how, wisdom can be studied scientifically; that is, can wisdom be measured and experimentally manipulated to illuminate its underlying mechanisms and understand its functions? Finally, we will explore how concepts of wisdom can be applied in business, education, medicine, the law, and in the course of our everyday lives. Readings will be drawn from a wide array of disciplines including philosophy, classics, history, psychology, behavioral economics, medicine, and public policy. Third- or Fourth-Year Standing. A. Henly. Spring.

25101. The Psychology of Decision Making. We constantly make decisions, determine our preferences and choose among alternatives. The importance of our decisions range from ordering a meal at a restaurant to choosing what college to attend. How do we make such decisions? What are the rules that guide us and the biases that shape our decisions? What determines our preferences? What impacts our willingness to take risks? In this course we consider how the way we go about gathering information affects our judgment, and how the way we frame problems affects our perceptions and shapes the solutions to problems. We learn what governs choice and the systematic way it deviates from normative rules. We consider how we think about the future and how we learn from the past. The course focuses on the psychology behind making decisions with implications for a wide range of areas such as public policy, law and medicine. It is highly recommended to take this course before taking PSYC 25700 The Psychology of Negotiation. Third- or Fourth-Year Standing. B. Keysar. Autumn.

25560. Body and Mind: How our bodies reveal and change emotion and thought. In investigating how the mind works, psychologists and neuroscientists are increasingly looking beyond the brain. Modern research has challenged the age-old Western belief that mind and body are separate and revealed that our bodies have an important influence on the way we think and feel. In this course, we will read and discuss empirical research in embodied cognition, emotion, non-verbal communication, mimicry, contemplative practices, exercise, and the performing arts, which all provide compelling evidence for reciprocal relationships between body and mind. Can smiling or sitting upright make you feel happier? How do children’s gestures in the classroom reveal implicit knowledge and enhance learning? How do dancers convey emotion from their movements alone? What are the psychological effects of exercise across the lifespan? In addition to exploring these and other questions, we will develop transferable skills in critical thinking, writing, reflection, and communication that will contribute to success throughout college and beyond. PQ: PSYC 20100 or equivalent and PSYC 20200 are strongly recommended. H. Mangelsdorf. Autumn.

25700. The Psychology of Negotiation. Negotiation is ubiquitous in interpersonal interactions, from making plans for a trip with friends or family, to determining working conditions with an employer, to managing international conflicts. In this course we examine the structure of different negotiations and the psychology that governs the processes and outcomes of a negotiation. For instance, we consider the role of perceptions, expectations, intuitions and biases. We evaluate the role of information processing, modes of communication and power in influencing a negotiated outcome. We see how the psychology of trust, reciprocity, fairness, cooperation and competition can affect our ability to benefit from an exchange or contribute to the escalation of conflict. To better understand the dynamics of the negotiation process, we learn both through engaging in a variety of negotiation role-plays and relating these experiences to research findings. It is highly recommended to take "25101 The Psychology of Decision Making" before taking this course, as it provides the conceptual foundations. Third- or Fourth-Year Standing. B. Keysar. Winter.

25750. The Psychology and Neurobiology of Stress. (=BIOS 29271) This course explores the topic of stress and its influence on behavior and neurobiology. Specifically, the course will discuss how factors such as age, gender and social context interact to influence how we respond to stressors both physiologically and behaviorally. The course will also explore how stress influences mental and physical health. Note: This course does not meet the requirements of the Biological Sciences Major. G. Norman. Spring.

PSYC 25901. Psychology for Citizens. (= CHDV 26901) This course will examine aspects of the psychology of judgment and decision making that are relevant to public life and citizenship. Judgment and decision making are involved when people evaluate information about electoral candidates or policy options, when they vote, and when they choose to behave in ways that affect the collective good. Topics considered in the course will include the following. (1) What is good for people? What do we know about happiness? Can/should happiness be a goal of public policy? (2) How do people evaluate information and make decisions? Why does public opinion remain so divided on so many issues? (3) How can people influence others and be influenced (e.g., by policy makers)? Beyond persuasion and coercion, what are more subtle means of influence? (4) How do individuals’ behaviors affect the collective good? What do we know about pro-social behavior (e.g., altruism/charitable giving) and anti-social behavior (e.g., cheating)? (5) How do people perceive and get along with each other? What affects tolerance and intolerance? W. Goldstein. Winter.

PSYC 25950. The Psychology of Stereotyping and Prejudice. (= CRES 25950) This Course introduces concepts and research in the study of stereotyping and Prejudice. Topics include the formation of stereotypes and prejudice; the processes that underlie stereotyping and prejudice; stereotyping and prejudice from the target’s perspective; and prejudice and stereotype reduction. The course will cover a variety of groups (e.g. race, gender, weight, and sexual orientation) and explore the implications of stereotyping and prejudice across a number of settings (e.g. educational, law, and health). J. Kubota. Spring. 

PSYC 26660. Genes and Behavior. (= CHDV 26660) There are complex interactions between the genome and behavior. This course will examine how behavior can be understood by investigating the sequence and structure of genes, especially those expressed in the brain. It will consider behaviors in several species (including human), and present various molecular, genetic, and genomic approaches used to uncover how genes contribute to behavior and how behavior alters the genome. Lectures will provide background for gene-behavior interactions that will be further discussed using primary literature readings. PQ: At least one course in biology or psychology strongly recommended. S. London. Winter.

29800. Honors Seminar. This course is a reading and discussion of general papers on writing and research, and individual students present their own projects to the group. A literature review, data from ongoing or completed empirical projects, or portions of the thesis paper itself can be presented. Students are expected to give thoughtful feedback to others on their presentations and written work. PQ: Must be majoring in psychology. B. Prendergast. Winter.