College Course Descriptions

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.

20209. Adolescent Development (CHDV 20209). Adolescence represents a period of unusually rapid growth and development. At the same time, under the best of social circumstances and contextual conditions, the teenage years represent a challenging period. The period also affords unparalleled opportunities with appropriate levels of support. Thus, the approach taken acknowledges the challenges and untoward outcomes, while also speculates about the predictors of resiliency and the sources of positive youth development. M. Spencer. Spring.

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 methodology. It is recommended that students complete MATH 13100 and MATH 13200 (or higher) before taking this course. S. Heald, Winter.

20300. Biological Psychology. 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. This course does not meet requirements for the biological sciences major. 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. Rosenberg, Spring.

20500. Developmental Psychology. 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.  This course introduces students to the field of social psychology - the scientific study of how people think about, feel about, interact with, influence, and relate to one another. Topics covered include self and social perception, social influence, beliefs and attitudes, altruism, and intergroup processes. Where relevant, we will discuss if and how findings in social psychology can be applied in real-world contexts such as health, work, and relationships. Y.C. Leong, 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. Required course for Comparative Human Development majors. 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.

21690. Media and Psychology: Causes and Consequences of Media Use across the Life Span.  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. 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.

22210. Mathematical Development: Cognitive and Attitudinal Factors. We will explore the early emergence of numerical and spatial skills in young children, which have been found to predict their long term mathematical outcomes. The course will examine the role of children's cognitive skills (e.g., number sense, working memory) as well as their math attitudes (e.g., math anxiety, math ability self-concepts, mindset, and math gender stereotypes). Finally, we will consider how key socializers - parents and teachers - contribute to children's math skills and math attitudes. S. Levine, Winter.

22350. Social Neuroscience. 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.  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.

23200. Introduction to Language Acquisition. This course addresses the major issues involved in first-language acquisition. We deal with the child's production and perception of speech sounds (phonology), the acquisition of the lexicon (semantics), the comprehension and production of structured word combinations (syntax), and the ability to use language to communicate (pragmatics). S. Goldin-Meadow, Winter.

23360. Methods in Gesture and Sign Language Research (LING 23360). 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. S. Goldin-Meadow, D. Brentari, Autumn.

23370. Bright and Dark Sides of Empathy. 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.  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. 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.

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. J. Maclean, 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, D. Freedman, M. Kaufman. Winter.

24450. Foundations of Neuroscience (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. Freedman, P. Kratsios, M. Sheffield, Autumn.

24451. Cognitive Neuroscience in Humans and Rodents.  This course examines how complementary research in humans and rodents informs our understanding of cognition and the brain. We will explore fundamental questions in cognition that include how we learn from reward, how we form and update mental maps, how we give rise to and process emotions, and why we sleep. You will learn the experimental methods used in each species to tackle these questions. At the end of the course you will appreciate the complementary research across species that were indispensable in advancing our understanding of how the brain gives rise to cognition. A. Bakkour, J. Yu, 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. PQ: Third or fourth-year standing. This course is recommended for PSYC 25700 The Psychology of Negotiation. B. Keysar. Autumn.

25120. Child Development and Public Policy (PBPL 25120). The goal of this course is to introduce students to the literature on early child development and explore how an understanding of core developmental concepts can inform social policies. This goal will be addressed through an integrated, multidisciplinary approach. The course will emphasize research on the science of early child development from the prenatal period through school entry. The central debate about the role of early experience in development will provide a unifying strand for the course. Students will be introduced to research in neuroscience, psychology, economics, sociology, and public policy as it bears on questions about “what develops?”, critical periods in development, the nature vs. nurture debate, and the ways in which environmental contexts (e.g., parents, families, peers, schools, institutions, communities) affect early development and developmental trajectories. The first part of the course will introduce students to the major disciplinary streams in the developmental sciences and the enduring and new debates and perspectives within the field. The second part will examine the multiple contexts of early development to understand which aspects of young children’s environments affect their development and how those impacts arise. Throughout the course, we will explore how the principles of early childhood development can guide the design of policies and practices that enhance the healthy development of young children. A. Kalil, Winter.

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 PSYC 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. 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. Spring.

25820. Psychology of Conflict: Lessons from Jerusalem.  Conflict is an inescapable aspect of life. Psychological theories help us to understand the origin of conflict, its escalation and resolution. In this course students will learn about the psychology of power, perspective taking and competition. We will also explore the various barriers to mutually-beneficial solutions. We will study all this in the context of Jerusalem, an ancient city that is sacred to many religions. It is a kaleidoscope of diversity, with multitudes of holy places, traditions, languages, identities and nationalities. Jerusalem will provide the prism through which to look at the intersection of linguistic and cultural landscapes, tensions between and within religions and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this multi-disciplinary course, we will consider concepts from Psychology, History, Sociology, Religion and Political Science. Students will engage in role plays to simulate real-life events, learning from direct experience as well as from discussions of research findings. We will use a variety of media including short videos, art, a virtual tour, and lectures by visiting experts. B. Keysar, 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, Spring.

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).

27950. Evolution and Economics of Human Behavior (CHDV 27950).  This course explores how evolutionary biology and behavioral economics explain many different aspects of human behavior. Specific topics include evolutionary theory, natural and sexual selection, game theory, cost-benefit analyses of behavior from an evolutionary and a behavioral economics perspective, aggression, power and dominance, cooperation and competition, biological markets, parental investment, life history and risk-taking, love and mating, physical attractiveness and the market, emotion and motivation, sex and consumer behavior, cognitive biases in decision-making, and personality and psychopathology. D. Maestripieri, Winter.

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.

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.

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.