Course information is subject to change.
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. K. Ledoux. Autumn.
20250. Introduction to Statistical Concepts and Methods. Statistical techniques offer psychologists a way to build scientific theories from observations we make in the laboratory or in the world at large. As such, the ability to apply and interpret statistics in psychological research represents a foundational and necessary skill. This course will survey statistical techniques commonly used in psychological research. Attention will be given to both descriptive and inferential statistical methodlogy. It is recommended that students complete MATH 13100 and MATH 13200 (or higher) before taking this course. TBA, Winter.
20300. Biological Psychology. (= BIOS 29300, CHDV 20300) 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, S. London, 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. Rosenberg. 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. K. Meidenbauer. Autumn.
20700. Sensation and Perception. (NSCI 20140) 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. S. Numanbayraktaroglu, Autumn.
21116. The Development of Social Cognition. Our species is notably social, with both positive and negative consequences: we thrive in groups, yet we often discriminate against those who are not like us. This course focuses on social cognitive development in childhood, with the goal of understanding the foundations of human nature in a social context. Topics include theories of mind, social learning, motivation and achievement, moral development, social categorization and the origins and development of our tendency to divide the world into "us" versus "them." K. Kinzler, Winter.
21260. Psychology Research Incubator. Answering questions about how minds work, how choices are made, or about the forces that shape behavior depends on understanding how to carry out research. This course guides you through the process of developing an original research project of your own design. Whether your questions come from research you are already working on in a lab or reflect independent interests of your own, this course will lead you through the process of designing an empirical study to address an issue that interests you. From the first stages of turning an idea into a study, you will work either individually or with a group to develop your research questions scientifically to address issues that can add new knowledge to psychological science. In this course you will learn to: (1) generate testable hypotheses that are informed by prior research, (2) design and implement methods for testing these hypotheses, and (3) write an IRB protocol in order to collect data. The course culminates with drafting a research grant proposal so you will be well positioned to take advantage of the increased funding opportunities available for undergraduate research. Prerequisites: PSYC 20200. Open to second and third year students only. A. Henly. Winter.
21750. Biological Clocks and Behavior. (= BIOS 24248, NSCI 21400) 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. For Biology majors: Completion of three quarters of a Biological Sciences Fundamentals Sequence. B. Prendergast. Spring.
22350. Social Neuroscience. (=BIOS 24137, CHDV 22350, NSCI 21000, ECON 21830) Social species, by definition, create emergent organizations beyond the individual — structures ranging from dyads and families to groups and cultures. Social neuroscience is the interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of neural, hormonal, cellular, and genetic mechanisms, and to the study of the associations and influences between social and biological levels of organization.The course provides a valuable interdisciplinary framework for students in psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics and comparative human development. Many aspects of social cognition will be examined, including but not limited to attachment, attraction, altruism, contagion, cooperation, competition, dominance, empathy, isolation, morality, and social decision-making. J. Decety. Autumn.
22580. Child Development in the Classroom. (= CHDV 22580) 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.
23000. 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.
23165/33165. Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Morality. The past decade has seen an explosion of empirical research in the study of morality. Amongst the most exciting and novel findings and theories, evolutionary biologists and comparative psychologists have shown that moral cognition has evolved to facilitate cooperation and social interactions, and that certain precursors of morality are present in non-human animals. Developmental psychologists came up with ingenious paradigms, demonstrating that the elements underpinning morality are in place much earlier than we thought. Social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in social decision-making and identify the contribution of specific neuropeptides to moral sensitivity. Changes in the balance of brain chemistry, and in anatomical connectivity between specific regions can cause drastic changes in moral behavior. The lesson from all this new knowledge is clear: human moral cognition and behavior cannot be separated from biology, its development, and evolutionary history. As our understanding of the human brain improves, society at large, and justice and the law in particular, are and will be increasingly challenged. This class provides an overview of the current theories and research on morality and examines this fascinating topic from both the social and biological sciences persectives. J. Decety. Winter.
23370. Bright and Dark Sides of Empathy. (=CHDV 23370) This course invites students to critically explore the science of empathy by examining its scope and its limits. It delves into cutting-edge research from evolutionary theory, neurobiology, developmental and social psychology, social neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, and behavioral economics to illuminate the mechanisms behind feeling for and with others. Questions explored in this course include: What are the evolutionary roots of empathy? What are the neural and neuro-endocrinological mechanisms that facilitate empathy? How does empathy develop in young children? Is empathy a limited-capacity resource? How is empathy modulated by unconscious processing and implicit attitudes (e.g., group dynamics, social status)? Is empathy necessarily a good thing for social decision-making? Why empathy can make us act unfairly? Why do some individuals (i.e., psychopaths) lack empathy and concern for the well-being of others? How does empathy improve the overall effectiveness of medical care? This course introduces undergraduate students to current research and theories of empathy. The study of empathy serves as the basis for integrating a variety of perspectives including evolutionary biology, behavioral economics, affective neuroscience, developmental psychology, social psychology, behavioral neurology and psychiatry. J. Decety. Autumn.
23660. The Disordered Mind. What are disorders of the mind? What are some of the theoretical and practical issues surrounding the identification, classification, and treatment of such disorders? What do mental disorders have to teach us about the typically-functioning mind? This seminar course will address these and other questions within biological, psychological, and sociocultural perspectives to attempt to understand the current and historical paradigms that have influenced our perception of what it means for the mind to be “disordered.” Included will be discussion of behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and developmental disorders. K. Ledoux, Spring.
23820. Attention and Working Memory in the Mind and Brain. (=NSCI 20110) This course will provide a broad overview of current work in psychology and neuroscience related to attention and working memory. We will discuss evidence for sharp capacity limits in an individual's ability to actively monitor and maintain information in an "online" mental state. Readings will be primarily based on original source articles from peer-reviewed journals, with a focus on behavioral and neural approaches for measuring and understanding these basic cognitive processes. PQ: NSCI 20110 (Fundamental Neuroscience) is required for Neuroscience majors only. E. Awh; E. Vogel. 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. Winter.
24060/34060. Understanding Practical Wisdom. (=BPRO 24050) 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 in philosophy and psychological science, how its meaning has changed, and what its essential components might be. We will discuss how current philosophical and 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. The course will include lectures by philosophers and psychologists. This course is offered in association with the Chicago Moral Philosophy Project https://hydeparkinstitute.org/chicago-moral-philosophy-project/ and with the Virtue and the Good Life program https://hydeparkinstitute.org/vgl/ A. Henly; H. Nusbaum. Spring.
24010. Systems Neuroscience (NSCI 20130). This course covers vertebrate and invertebrate systems neuroscience with a focus on the anatomy, physiology, and development of sensory and motor control systems. The neural bases of form and motion perception, locomotion, memory, and other forms of neural plasticity are examined in detail. We also discuss clinical aspects of neurological didsorders. PQ: NSCI 20111, NSCI 20121 or consent of instructor. D. Freedman, Spring.
24133/34133. Neuroscience of Seeing. ( NSCI 22400) This course focuses on the neural basis of vision, in the context of the following two questions: 1. How does the brain transform visual stimuli into neuronal responses? 2. How does the brain use visual information to guide behavior? The course covers signal transformation throughout the visual pathway, from retina to thalamus to cortex, and includes biophysical, anatomical and computational studies of the visual system, psychophysics and quantitative models of visual processing. PQ: BIOS 24203 or consent of instructor. Note(s): This course is designed as an advanced neuroscience course for undergraduate and graduate students. The students are expected to have a general background in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. W. Wei, J. Maunsell, M. Sherman, S. Shevell. Autumn.
24231. Methods in Computational Neuroscience. (CPNS 34231). Topics include (but are not limited to): relating neural data to behavior, Signal Detection theory, models of vision and artificial neural networks, Information Theory, Generalized Linear Models, dimensionality reduction, classification, and clustering. PQ: For Neuroscience Majors: NSCI 20130, BIOS 26210 and BIOS 26211 which must be taken concurrently, or consent of instructor. S. Bensamia, M. Freeman, M. Kaufman. Winter.
24450. Foundations of Neurosciences (NSCI 20101). This course is an introduction to the broad field of neuroscience. This is a lecture-based course that aims to introduce undergraduate students to concepts and principles that explain how the nervous system is built and how it functions. Examples of thematic areas covered in lectures include: (a) cellular anatomy of the nervous system, (b) development and evolution of the nervous system, (c) sensory systems, (d) motor systems, (e) cognition and behavior. D. Freeman, P. Kratsios, Autumn.
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. PQ: Third or fourth-year standing. This course is recommended for PSYC 25700 The Psychology of Negotiation. B. Keysar. 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. PQ: 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 for the Biological Sciences Major. G. Norman. Autumn.
25790. Psychology of Race, Ethnicity, and Social Class: Perspectives and Impact This course will explore contemporary theories, findings, and social issues concerning the topics of race, ethnicity, and social class as they relate to human behavior from the perspective of the individual in various social contexts. Drawing from disciplines such as cognitive, developmental, and social psychology, this course will also incorporate perspectives from social epidemiology, health disparities research, and critical race theory. Therefore, this course will be guided by a critical analysis lens that recognizes the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity, and social class, using the United States as a "case study" to evaluate the complexities of social inequality. Learning will take place through a series of lectures, in-class activities, and weekly readings, and will emphasize interdisciplinary research, multilevel analysis, and critical evaluation of empirical research articles. PQ. PSYC 20200 or instructor consent. Third or fourth-year standing. C. Cardenas-Iniguez. Winter.
26010. Big Data in the Psychological Sciences. Innovative research in Psychology has been pushing the bounds of traditional experiments through the usage of “Big Data”, where experiments are conducted at humungous scales—at the levels of thousands to millions of participants, images, or neurons. With these developments in the field, fluency in these new technologies, methods, and computational skills are becoming increasingly important. In this course, students will develop an understanding of these new directions, and will learn practical plug-and-play tools that will allow them to easily incorporate Big Data in their lives and research. We will also discuss the looming ethical issues and societal implications that come with Big Data. The class will culminate in a final project in which students will be able to collect and analyze their own Big Data. PQ: Familiarity with basic statistics and excel. Psych 20100 (Statistics) and Psych 20200 (Research Methods) recommended but not required. W. Bainbridge, Winter.
26020. Habits of a Free Mind: Psychology for Democracy. (=SOSC 26020). Are we capable of engaging across lines of difference without feeling traumatized and without dehumanizing? How can we navigate “cancel culture” in which a misinterpreted word, heterodox views, or guilt-by-association can result in ostracization on college campuses, mobbing on social media, and retractions and redactions of published works? Instructor Pamela Paresky, primary researcher and in-house editor of the NY Times bestseller, The Coddling of the American Mind, leads this interdisciplinary, experiential, and unconventional shared inquiry. In addition to reading chapters from that book, texts include Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, and a variety of short readings in philosophy, poetry, social science, theatre, and historical and contemporary essays. You will begin by identifying why being a free thinker matters to you. Through in-class exercises, experiential assignments, and an emphasis on playfulness, you will spend the quarter developing and practicing mental and interpersonal habits designed to increase your capacity to tolerate discomfort, expand your facility with free speech, civil dialogue, and productive disagreement, and strengthen your ability to make a difference in an area that matters to you. At its core, this course is about what it means to be human.You must be willing to engage in authentic critical self-examination, abide by an unfamiliar set of class norms, experience psychological discomfort, and be playful. P. Paresky, Spring.
26780. Emotion and Motivation. What are emotions and how do they motivate us? In this course we will explore the universally experienced concept of emotion and how it is fundamentally inseparable from that of motivation. From their shared neurobiological mechanisms and evolutionary theories to their psychological impact on behavior, this course will trace the commonalities between emotion and motivation. Topics will include autonomic correlates of emotions, the motivational utility of positive and negative emotions, and relationships to development, cognition, social behavior, and mental health. Interdisciplinary research will be emphasized, particularly in the critical evaluation of current theories and empirical research. F. Rockwood, Spring
26880. Comparative Chronobiology and Timed Behavior. From bacteria to blue whales, organisms keep time. The importance of time is unquestionable. Imagine if a willow flowered in the dead of winter or a mouse emerged at noon; the outcomes are not pleasant. Such occurrences, though, are the exception not the norm. So perhaps it is important to ask why don’t plants flower in the dead of winter or nocturnal rodents emerge during the day? How do they track the days and seasons, and modify their reproductive, social and self-regulatory behaviors accordingly? Decades of research have come to one basic answer: engrained in their genomes lay a network of genes that collectively generates hyperprecise timekeeping mechanisms which impact diverse aspects of cellular- and organismal-level processes. These timing mechanisms are called ‘biological clocks’. This course will address how biological clocks are constructed out of the genes, RNAs, and proteins expressed over the course of the lifespan. The material will consist of scientific articles (empirical studies and review papers) surveying the mechanisms of clocks in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. After understanding how clocks measure circadian time intervals, we will turn to clocks that impact behavior and physiology over non-circadian intervals (years, tidal cycles, menstrual/and estrus cycles) and to still more mysterious timing mechanisms that generate ultradian (>24h) oscillations. PQ: This course assumes that students are comfortable with reading structured reports from generalist and specialist scientific journals; possess a basic understanding of genetics; have familiarity with neuroscience via an introductory course on biopsychology or the equivalent. The completion of Biological Clocks and Behavior (PSYC 21750) accomplishes all prerequisites, but it is not required. Experience in 200 level biology or neuroscience courses is preferred. JP. Riggle. Winter.
27010. Psycholinguistics (= LING 27010). This is a survey course in the psychology of language. We will focus on issues related to language comprehension, language production, and language acquisition. The course will also train students on how to read primary literature and conduct original research studies. E. Ronai (Autumn); J. Riggle (Spring).
28610. Neuroendocrine Mechanisms of Human Behavior. (=CHDV 28600). This course aims to explore the role hormones play in the study of human behavior and development across various stages in the life course. We will explore how biological mechanisms take part in explaining many different aspects of human behavior, and how these explanations fit into discourse from the fields of evolutionary biology, psychology, and behavioral economics. N. Nickels, Spring.
28791. Behavioral Science and Public Policy. (=PBPL 28791). Many policies are aimed at influencing people's behavior. The most well-intentioned policies can fail, however, if they are not designed to be compatible with the way people actually think and make decisions. This course will draw from the fields of cognitive, social, and environmental psychology to (1) examine the ways in which human behavior deviates from the standard rational actor model typically assumed by economics, and (2) provide strategies for improving the design, implementation, and evaluation of public-facing policies. The basic premise of this course is that a foundational understanding of human behavior can lead not only to more effective policies, but enhanced decision-making and well-being. K. Wolske, Spring.
28810. From Fossils to Fermi’s Paradox: Origin and Evolution of Intelligent Life. (=BPRO28800). The course approaches Fermi's question "Are we alone in the universe?" in the light of recent evidence primarily from three fields: the history and evolution of life on Earth (paleontology), the meaning and evolution of complex signaling and intelligence (cognitive science), and the distribution, composition, and conditions on planets and exoplanets (astronomy). We also review the history and parameters governing extrasolar detection and signaling. The aim of the course is to assess the interplay between convergence and contingency in evolution, the selective advantage of intelligence, and the existence and nature of life elsewhere in the universe—in order to better understand the meaning of human existence. P. Sereno, L. Rogers, S. London, Winter.
28850. Biological Nature of Psychological Problems. (=BIOS 16120). This course is based on the strong assumption that psychology is a biological science, albeit with elements of the social sciences. The course uses a combination of lectures and classroom discussion of primary and secondary source readings assigned for each class meeting. It presents a strong biological science perspective on individual differences in emotions, motivations, and cognitions that cause distress or interfere with adaptive life functioning, but does so in a non-stigmatizing manner. The course begins with a description and discussion of the nature of psychological problems. The course will survey what is known about the genetic, environmental, and epigenetic bases of such problems and the methods used to study genetic influences and gene-environment interactions. Next, students will review what is currently known about the neural and other biological mechanisms involved in maladaptive individual difference in emotion, motivation, and cognitive processes, with discussion of the methods of studying such mechanisms in humans and nonhumans. The pros and cons of the medical model of 'mental illness' will be discussed as the major contrast with the natural science view advocated by the instructor. PQ: BIOS 10130. NO BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES MAJORS OR NON-MAJOR PRE-MED STUDENTS, except by petition. B. Lahey, Spring.
28910. Animal Models in the Study of Cognition.(=NSCI 21300) This course will be a combination of lecture and seminar. In the first half of the course we will read and discuss seminal literature in the study of cognitive questions using animal models (primarily rodents). In the second half of the course we will learn about study design and design two different types of studies in smaller groups. Evaluation will be through short weekly papers, class discussion and a final paper. PQ: PSYC 20300 or equivalent background in neuroscience and/or biological psychology. L. Kay. Spring.
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. B. Prendergast. Winter.