Psychology Course Descriptions

Course Catalog: here 

101WL and 101NL. Introductory Psychology. (with lab and without lab)

This course surveys the scientific study of behavior and mental processes as natural phenomena. Basic psychological areas such as biopsychology, perception, learning, memory, motivation and emotion are typically addressed. Broader, integrated topics such as development, personality, and social and abnormal psychology are also explored. Students who enroll in 100WL gain additional focus on how psychologists formulate research questions, gather data and interpret findings based on the major conceptual approaches in the field of psychology. Psychology 101WL or 101NL is a prerequisite for all other courses, and is also required for the neuroscience major.

3000-3999. Special Topics for Non-Majors.

These courses are offered occasionally in specific areas of psychology at an intermediate level between Psychology 101 and advanced-level courses. Topics and formats vary depending upon the instructor. The content of each course or section will be announced each semester. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL.

205. Research Methods in Psychology.

This course presents students with conceptual approaches and practical techniques for applying the scientific method to behavioral research. Students learn about observational, correlational and experimental research designs and have the opportunity to apply these designs in the laboratory while investigating relevant psychological phenomena. Appropriate statistical procedures and computer software are used to analyze the data from these labs; therefore, students must take a course in statistics prior to 205. This course also covers research ethics and emphasizes effective communication through scientific writing and oral communication. Counts toward the minor in statistics and the neuroscience major (behavioral track). Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, an additional Psychology course at any level and Statistics 113; or permission of the instructor.

207. Developmental Psychology.

This course is intended to describe and explain the changes in behavior that occur with the passage of time from conception until death. While emphasis is placed on the early years of most rapid change, appropriate topics are covered throughout the life span. As the mature individual is a product not only of his or her own life history, but also of the history of our species, there is some discussion of evolutionary theory and developmental data gathered on other species. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL.

215. Cultural Psychology.

This course is designed to introduce students to current theories and research about the ways in which our sociocultural contexts influence human mind and behavior. Topics will highlight cultural similarities and differences in basic psychological processes, including human development, personality, motivation, cognition, emotion, health, morality, and social relationships. Students will also learn how to consider issues of culture in interpretation of personal experience and in application of cultural diversity issues to various settings. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL. Also offered through Peace Studies.

232. Laboratory Animals: Ethics, Care and Techniques. (0.5 unit)

This half-unit course introduces students to the techniques, use and care of laboratory animals. Students gain knowledge and hands-on experience in the areas of anesthetics/analgesics, surgical techniques and proper animal handling and husbandry. Topics covering the ethical use of animals in research, appropriate and humane care, and the functions of regulatory agencies are covered. Concurrently, students explore the relationships between humans and animals used in teaching and research. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL or Biology 101 or permission of instructor.

238. Neuroscience of Fear (summerterm study abroad)

Brain structures that control the fear response are shared across humans, mammals, birds, and reptiles. These structures have been evolutionally preserved because fear helps to protect us from danger, injury, and death. Though the dangers of modern society differ substantially from those of our ancient past, aspects of our primal fear instincts remain. Are such emotions merely intrusions from another time or do they still have a function in our consciousness today? With a focus on the fear response, we will examine the evolutionary aspects of emotions, how they are displayed in infancy, develop over time, and tie into decision-making in our everyday lives. We will examine this issue from a multidisciplinary perspective, synthesizing recent work from the fields of biology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy.

238. Psychology and Law.

This course explores the contributions psychological science can make and has made to legal policy and the legal system through examination of several topics within the field of psychology and law. Students will also learn about legal concepts and the functioning of the legal system. Topics include eyewitness identification, child witnesses, alternative dispute resolution, the insanity defense, jury behavior and capital punishment. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL.

253. Personality.

Personality theories provide a framework with which to understand a person’s development, motivation and behavior. This course examines traditional and contemporary theories of personality, focusing on representative theorists from the psychoanalytic, trait, behavioral, cognitive and phenomenological approaches. Evaluation of theories on logical and empirical grounds is discussed. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL.

255. Sport Psychology.

This course is designed to develop an understanding of human behavior and mental processes in sport and exercise settings. Topics examined include (a) psychosocial aspects (e.g., motivation, psychological responses to injury, aggression) involved in the sport training process and competition among adults, youth and children at all skill levels; (b) psychological skills training for athletic performance (e.g., relaxation, self-talk); (c) social influences (e.g., leadership, cohesion); and (d) major exercise psychology concepts and issues (e.g., exercise adherence, motives for participation, and exercise and psychological well-being). Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL.

313. Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Designed to acquaint the student with major applications of psychological findings and techniques to problems of management and industry, this course includes human factors engineering, personnel procedures and organizational behavior. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Statistics 113 or Economics 200. Also offered through Peace Studies.

317. Abnormal Behavior.

This course is designed to study the major psychological disorders, and how stress plays a role in their appearance and severity.  The course uses case histories, lecture, movie excerpts, discussion, and extensive use of primary literature to explore the latest thinking in how our biology, psychology, and social environment intertwine to create mental illness and mental health.   Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL.

318.  Environmental Psychology. (with lab)

This lecture-laboratory course studies the relationships between humans and physical environments — both natural and built. Topics include environmental assessment, attitudes and behavior toward the environment and the psychological effects of such environmental factors as crowding, architectural design, extreme environments, pollution and natural disasters. The laboratory is required of all students. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL; if taken for psychology credit, Psychology 205. Also offered as Environmental Studies 318 and through Peace Studies.

322. Positive Psychology. (with lab)

While there is no shortage of lay theories and self-help literature that offer advice on how to achieve “the good life,” this lecture-laboratory course will examine the nature of positive emotions and well-being from the viewpoint of empirical psychology research. Recent empirical research will be reviewed, and students will apply the information in class discussion, written assignments, and hands-on experiences. By examining the relationship between happiness and such topics as life circumstances, character strengths, the conflicted mind, reciprocity, social relationships, trauma, and spirituality, we will understand and apply empirically-supported ideas for enhancing well-being. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Psychology 205. Also offered through Peace Studies.

325. Social Psychology. (with lab)

This lecture-laboratory course covers the theory and research of how individual humans think, feel, and behave when influenced by their social environment. Topics include the social self, thinking about people and situations, attributions, attitude formation and change, conformity, affiliation and attraction, altruism, aggression, prejudice and group dynamics. The laboratory is required of all students. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Psychology 205. Also offered through Peace Studies.

326. Hormones and Behavior. (with lab and without lab)

This lecture-laboratory course provides an introduction to the field of behavioral endocrinology. The interplay between hormones and behavior is explored by reviewing current knowledge derived from human and animal research in the field. Topics include the influence of hormones on reproductive behavior, parental behavior, aggression, sexual orientation, moods and emotions, psychiatric disorders and perceptual and cognitive abilities. Environmental and experiential influences on endocrine function are also examined. May be taken as an elective toward the neuroscience major (behavioral track) with permission of instructor. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL; if taken for laboratory credit, Psychology 205.

327. Sensation and Perception. (with lab and  without lab)

This is a lecture-laboratory course that examines from multiple perspectives the ways in which humans and lower animals perceive and react to the world around them. All of the major senses are covered, with particular emphasis on vision and hearing. Topics include perceptual development, color perception, visual illusions, taste and smell perception, brain disorders and perception, perception of music, psychophysics, visual and hearing impairment, and pain perception. Counts toward the neuroscience major (behavioral track). Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL; if taken for laboratory credit, Psychology 205.

4000-4999. Special Topics for Majors & Minors

These courses cover special topics not regularly offered in the curriculum. The courses are designed for juniors and seniors and are taught in either a seminar or a regular class format, possibly with laboratory. The content of each course or section will be announced each semester. Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and sometimes Psychology 205; may be restricted to Psychology majors and minors.

401. Fundamentals of Learning. (with lab)

A lecture-laboratory course covering the major psychological principles that underlie behavior and its modification through environmental manipulation. An emphasis is placed on the experimental analysis of human and non-human behavior. Topics include the theoretical and historical underpinnings of a science of behavior, classical and operant conditioning, aversive control, choice and preference, conditioned reinforcement, behavior modification, and Applied Behavior Analysis. Counts toward the neuroscience major (behavioral track). Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Psychology 205.

402. Memory and Cognition. (with lab and without lab)

This lecture-laboratory course (can be taken with or without lab) offers a fairly comprehensive study of human cognition. In addition to extensive coverage of human memory, the course includes an analysis of such major areas as object perception, attention, semantic organization, decision-making, problem-solving, and human intelligence. Where possible, students consider evidence that sheds light on the neural correlates of cognition, drawn mainly from the related disciplines of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. In addition to providing an introduction to leading theories and empirical findings, the course also examined several applied domains, such as repressed and recovered memories and eyewitness testimony. Counts toward the neuroscience major (behavioral track). The lab emphasizes the use of classic and contemporary empirical techniques to understand the nature of mental representations that underlie various phenomena in the domains of basic and applied cognition. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL; if taken for laboratory credit, Psychology 205.

413. Community Psychology.

This seminar-internship course has two objectives: to provide an introduction to some basic issues, concepts and methods in community psychology; and to offer experiential learning through an internship placement in a community setting (approximately 80 hours over the course of the semester). Topics include the ecological perspective, stress and coping, and prevention and evaluation research. Possible internships include Head Start, nursing homes, and mental health-related hospital units and residential centers; a small number of students may participate in a community research project as their internship. Students are required to meet with the professor prior to registration, and generally internships are arranged, with assistance from the instructor, in the semester prior to enrollment. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, Psychology 205 and permission of instructor.

423. Psychology of Morality

In this seminar, we will explore the causes of good and evil from a social and cultural perspective. More specifically, we will learn about the ways in which social and cultural forces influence the psychological processes involved when individuals try to make decisions about what is right and what is wrong. We will also discuss issues and controversies in the study of morality, as well as the implications of moral decision-making for individuals and societies around the world. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Psychology 205.

432. Animal Behavior.

This lecture-laboratory course examines various forms of behavior as they appear throughout the phylogenetic scale. The roles of evolution, genetics and the neural system in the control of diverse behaviors from feeding to territoriality and human aggression are considered. Counts toward the neuroscience major (behavioral track). Prerequisite: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Psychology 205.

438. Human Neuropsychology.

This seminar course will examine the function of the human nervous system as it relates to cognition and behavior. Topics covered will include: language, attention, memory, motor skills, visual-spatial processing, problem solving, emotion, and consciousness. Special attention will be paid to the modern methodologies used to study brain-behavior interactions in normal and neuropathological populations. Lectures, discussions, and projects will make use of both empirical and clinical case materials. Prerequisites: Biology/Neuroscience 288 or Psychology 331. Also offered as Neuroscience 438.

442. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

An examination of the area of intellectual and developmental disabilities (e.g., mental retardation, autism, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) with primary emphasis on intellectual disability, previously called mental retardation. Among topics considered are the influence of biological and psychological factors in producing disabilities; cognitive and personality characteristics associated with the different levels of intellectual disability; assessment of intelligence and adaptive behavior; and societal intervention through community services, educational placement and treatment programs. On-site visits to residential facilities are generally scheduled. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, and Psychology 205 or Psychology 207, or permission of the instructor.

443. Introduction to Clinical Psychology.

This course examines the field of contemporary clinical psychology, focusing on the problems and procedures related to psychological diagnosis, the interaction between theory and practice, and important aspects of research in clinical populations. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and Psychology 317.

456. Health Psychology

Health psychology is an applied field devoted to understanding psychological influences on health and illness in our society. This course examines a variety of social and behavioral factors that affect our physical well-being, including the impact of life stress on the immune system, the influence of personality factors on specific illnesses and the relationship between doctor-patient interactions and adherence to medical advice. Other topics include obesity, heart disease, stress management and behavioral therapy. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL

461.  Psychological Science and Critical Thinking.

Do you know people who believe that: psychics can communicate with the dead, Bigfoot exists, homeopathic medicine is effective, houses can be haunted, people have been abducted by aliens, some folks are literally possessed by the devil, and vaccines are a cause of autism? In this seminar we will examine the evidence behind a variety of claims that generally fall under one or more of the overlapping headings of parapsychology, the paranormal, pseudoscience, or alternative medicine. More importantly, what psychological processes and statistical errors help us to understand the development of such beliefs? Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, Psychology 205, and permission of the instructor. Interested students without the recommended background should see the instructor.

468,469. SYE: Independent Research.

This course offers an opportunity for seniors to engage in empirical research. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, Psychology 205, senior status and permission of instructor.

471,472. Independent Study in Psychology.

This course offers students the opportunity to engage in in-depth documentary investigation of a particular topic in psychology. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL and permission of instructor.

489, 490. SYE: Independent Study.

This course offers senior students the opportunity to synthesize, integrate and expand their knowledge in the field of psychology by engaging in detailed documentary investigation of a particular topic in psychology. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, Psychology 205, senior status, and permission of instructor.

496, 497. Independent Research in Psychology.

This course offers students the opportunity to engage in empirical and/or experimental research in psychology. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, Psychology 205, and permission of instructor.

498, 499. SYE: Senior Project.

In this two-semester capstone course, students integrate acquired research skills and/or subject knowledge. Students are credited with 0.5 units in 498 and 1.0 unit in 499. Requirements include a proposal presented to faculty and other senior project students; a final colloquium on the project and/or a poster or oral presentation at the annual Festival of Science; attendance at colloquia of others doing senior projects; and a final written paper to be bound and filed with the department, the project supervisor, and the library. Prerequisites: Psychology 101WL or 101NL, Psychology 205, senior status, and permission of instructor.