Course Listing

PSYC 101(F, S)Introductory Psychology

An introduction to the major subfields of psychology: behavioral neuroscience, cognitive, developmental, social, and psychological disorders and treatment. The course aims to acquaint students with the major methods, theoretical points of view, and findings of each subfield. Important concepts are exemplified by a study of selected topics and issues within each of these areas. [ more ]

PSYC 127 TThe Psychology of Success

Last offered Fall 2017

This course will examine the psychology of success from a scientific perspective. After considering what success means, we will examine two broad influences on success: personality (e.g., intelligence, grit, and mental illness) and environment (e.g., schooling, parenting, and practice). Other topics will include how discrimination affects success, cross-cultural differences in how children are cared for, and the self-help industry. [ more ]

PSYC 158 T(S)Freud: A Tutorial

This tutorial is devoted to the systematic reading of the principal works of Sigmund Freud, one of the deepest, subtlest, and most influential thinkers of the last one-hundred years. Students will read Freud's work more or less chronologically, beginning with his writings on hysteria and concluding with his deeply pessimistic essay, "Analysis Terminable and Interminable." In tutorial, we will consider the development of Freud's thought over the course of his professional life: his general psychological writings on the nature and functioning of the human psyche, his clinical writings on psychoanalysis as a form of treatment, and his cultural writings on art and artists, on the origin of human society, on religion, and on the relation of the individual to society and civilization. We will not be considering the relevance of Freud's ideas for purposes that transcend his own psychological agenda in the tutorial. Nor will we be much concerned with assessing whether Freud was "right" or "wrong" or whether his thought has clinical relevance today. Instead, we will seek to understand Freud as much as possible on his terms and not on ours, as a historical figure of originality, complexity and contradiction, whose thought deserves close reading and deep understanding within the context of Freud's thought itself. [ more ]

PSYC 161Nonviolence and Positive Psychology

Last offered Fall 2018

In this course we will explore the theory and practice of nonviolence in the context of research in Positive Psychology. Nonviolence means choosing not to threaten or injure others, and its practice requires cultivating personal qualities that enable such a choice. Positive Psychology refers to the scientific study of those qualities that enable people to live happy and fulfilling lives. We will begin by studying the history and moral theories of nonviolence. We will then evaluate the claims of those theories regarding the positive effects of nonviolence by discussing research on psychological benefits to the practitioner, attitude change in the adversary, and effects on the larger community. Topics will include self-control, empathy, forgiveness, tolerance, aggression, resisting violent assault, civil disobedience, and courage. Along the way we will introduce basic concepts in research design and interpretation of data to help us evaluate the research with a critical eye. This course is a part of a joint program between Williams' Center for Learning in Action and the Berkshire County Jail, in Pittsfield, MA. The class will be composed equally of nine Williams students and nine inmates. An important goal of the course is to encourage students from different backgrounds to think together about issues of common human concern. Classes will be held at the jail, with transportation provided by the college. * Please note the atypical class hours, Tuesday, 4:45-8:30 pm. [ more ]

PSYC 201(F, S)Experimentation and Statistics

An introduction to the basic principles of research in psychology. We focus on how to design and execute experiments, analyze and interpret results, and write research reports. Students conduct a series of research studies in different areas of psychology that illustrate basic designs and methods of analysis. [ more ]

PSYC 212(F)Neuroscience

This course is designed to give an overview of the field of neuroscience progressing from a molecular level onwards to individual neurons, neural circuits, and ultimately regulated output behaviors of the nervous system. Topics include a survey of the structure and function of the nervous system, basic neurophysiology and neurochemistry, development, learning and memory, sensory and motor systems, and clinical disorders. Throughout the course, many examples from current research in neuroscience are used to illustrate the concepts being considered. The lab portion of the course will emphasize a) practical hands-on exercises that amplify the material presented in class; b) interpreting and analyzing data; c) presenting the results in written form and placing them in the context of published work; and d) reading and critiquing scientific papers. Lectures will be pre-recorded and shared asynchronously. Students will be divided into small groups (~6 students each) that will meet synchronously with the instructors once a week for 30 minutes to further discuss concepts covered in the lecture. These meetings will take place within the scheduled class period and be in either in-person or online formats. If in-person numbers are too low to populate a given discussion subgroup, then that group would meet via the previously described online format. The lab component will be available to remote students in modified form, and will cover much of the same content as the in-person sections. Evaluation will be based on participation in discussion groups, exercises, problem sets and quizzes performed in small groups, lab reports, two midterm exams, and a final exam. [ more ]

PSYC 221(S)Cognitive Psychology

This course surveys current research on human cognition. Topics include perception, attention, learning, education, memory, psychology and law, categorization, language, judgment, decision making, reasoning, intelligence, problem solving, and consciousness. [ more ]

PSYC 222(F)Minds, Brains, and Intelligent Behavior: An Introduction to Cognitive Science

This course will emphasize interdisciplinary approaches to the study of intelligent systems, both natural and artificial. Cognitive science synthesizes research from cognitive psychology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, and contemporary philosophy. Special attention will be given to the philosophical foundations of cognitive science, representation and computation in symbolic and connectionist architectures, concept acquisition, problem solving, perception, language, semantics, reasoning, and artificial intelligence. [ more ]

PSYC 232(F)Developmental Psychology

An introduction to the study of human growth and development from conception through emerging adulthood. Topics for discussion include prenatal and infant development, perceptual and motor development, language acquisition, cognitive development, and social and emotional development. These topics form the basis for a discussion of the major theories of human development, including those about early experience, neural plasticity, dynamic systems, information processing, social learning, attachment, parenting, and family systems. [ more ]

PSYC 242(F, S)Social Psychology

A survey of theory and research in social psychology. Topics include conformity, group dynamics, stereotyping and prejudice, aggression, altruism, attraction and love, the self, social perception, attitudes and attitude change, and cultural psychology. Applications in the areas of advertising, law, business, and health will also be discussed. [ more ]

PSYC 252(F, S)Psychological Disorders

A study of the phenomenology, etiology, and treatment of the major forms of psychological disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, the schizophrenias, dissociative disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, addictions, and others. The course emphasizes an integrative approach which incorporates and analyzes theories and research from psychological, biological, interpersonal, and sociocultural perspectives. [ more ]

PSYC 258Language and Literacy Development

Last offered Spring 2019

Language is uniquely a human function and fundamental to one's participation in society. Children learn to talk in the first three years of life at an impressive speed. However, in order to successfully participate in academic and social life, it is critical for one to develop literacy skills. Learning to read is a multifaceted process that involves various cognitive resources. This course is an introduction to language development and literacy acquisition in first language and in a cross-linguistic environment including Japanese, Chinese and English. Linguistic concepts such as phonology, syntax and morphology will be introduced as we discuss the acquisition processes. Questions to be addressed include: How does a child develop oral language from birth? How does a child learn the meaning of words? How is learning to talk and read similar or different across various languages? How is learning to read different from learning to speak? How "natural" is it to learn to read? [ more ]

PSYC 272Psychology of Education

Last offered Spring 2020

This course introduces students to a broad range of theories and research on education. What can developmental research tell us about how children learn? What models of teaching work best, and for what purposes? How do we measure the success of various education practices? What is the best way to describe the psychological processes by which children gain information and expertise? What accounts for individual differences in learning, and how do teachers (and schools) address these individual needs? How do social and economic factors shape teaching practices and the educational experiences of individual students? The course will draw from a wide range of literature (research, theory, and first hand accounts) to consider key questions in the psychology of education. Upon completion of the course, students should be familiar with central issues in pre-college education and know how educational research and the practice of teaching affect one another. [ more ]

PSYC 312(S)From Order to Disorder(s): The Role of Genes & the Environment in Psychopathology

This course examines how experimental methods in neuroscience can be used to understand the role of nature (genes) and nurture (the environment) in shaping the brain and behavior. In particular, we will explore how neuroscience informs our understanding of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. We will investigate the biological underpinning of these disorders as well as their treatments. Readings will include human studies as well as work based on animal models. Topics will include: the ways in which environmental and genetic factors shape risk and resiliency in the context of psychiatric disease, the neural circuits and peripheral systems that contribute to psychopathology, and the mechanisms through which interventions may act. In the laboratory component of the course, students will gain hands-on experience using the research tools discussed in class to explore novel research questions. [ more ]

PSYC 313(S)Opioids and the Opioid Crisis: The Neuroscience Behind an Epidemic

Opioid misuse, including addiction, has emerged as a major health epidemic in the United States. This course will explore the science of opioids as well as the historical and societal context surrounding their use and abuse. We will examine the neurobiological mechanisms through which opioids interact with pain pathways and reward circuits within the brain and we will explore how changes in these systems contribute to opioid tolerance, dependence, and addiction. We will consider how genetic, environmental and behavioral factors can powerfully influence these processes. Finally, we will consider alternative approaches to pain management as well as interventions for the treatment of opioid abuse. Students will be expected to design and conduct an empirical project related to the course material. Critical evaluation of peer-reviewed primary literature from animal and human studies will serve as a foundation for class discussions. Evaluation will be based on class presentations, participation in discussions and empirical projects, written assignments, and a poster presentation of the empirical project. [ more ]

PSYC 315Hormones and Behavior

Last offered Fall 2018

In all animals, hormones are essential for the coordination of basic functions such as development and reproduction. This course studies the dynamic relationship between hormones and behavior. We will review the mechanisms by which hormones act in the nervous system. We will also investigate the complex interactions between hormones and behavior. Specific topics to be examined include: sexual differentiation; reproductive and parental behaviors; stress; aggression; and learning and memory. Students will critically review data from both human and animal studies. All students will design and conduct an empirical research project as part of a small research team. [ more ]

PSYC 319 TNeuroethics

Last offered Spring 2020

Neuroscience studies the brain and mind, and thereby some of the most profound aspects of human existence. In the last decade, advances in our understanding of brain function and in our ability to manipulate brain function have raised significant ethical challenges. This tutorial will explore a variety of important neuroethical questions. Potential topics will include pharmacological manipulation of "abnormal" personality; the use of "cosmetic pharmacology" to enhance cognition; the use of brain imaging to detect deception or to understand the ability, personality or vulnerability of an individual; the relationship between brain activity and consciousness; manipulation of memories; the neuroscience of morality and decision making. In addition to exploring these and other ethical issues, we will explore the basic science underlying them. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSYC 322Concepts: Mind, Brain, and Culture

Last offered Spring 2020

Every time we see something as a kind of thing, every time that we decide that an object is a cup rather than a glass, when we recognize a picture of a familiar face as a picture of ourselves, or even when we understand speech, we are employing categories. Most categorization decisions are automatic and unconscious, and therefore have the illusion of simplicity. The complexity of these decisions, however, becomes apparent when we attempt to build machines to do what humans perform so effortlessly. What are the systems in place that allow us this extraordinary ability to segment the world? Are they universal? How does conceptual knowledge differ across cultural groups? How do concepts affect our perception? How do the categories of experts differ from the categories of novices? Do children have the same kind of conceptual knowledge as adults? How are categories represented in the brain? In this course, we explore various empirical findings from cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and anthropology that address these questions. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSYC 324 TGreat Debates in Cognition

Last offered Spring 2018

The field of cognition is filled with controversies about how the mind really works. For example, is there sufficient evidence for a system in vision that can become aware of things without actually "seeing" them? Is it necessary to assume that babies come into the world armed with innate linguistic knowledge? Are humans inherently rational? Can we make inference about the mind using neuroimaging? These debates, and others that we will consider, help fuel scientific discovery in cognition in interesting ways. In this class, we will consider some of these contemporary debates, weigh evidence on both sides, and discuss the implications for what we know about the mind. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSYC 326(F)Choice and Decision Making

Being human means that we sometimes make choices that we know are bad for us. In this course we survey theoretical and experimental approaches to understanding our strengths and weaknesses as decision makers. Topics include rationality, the debate over cognitive biases, fast and frugal heuristics, impulsivity and self-control, addictions and bad habits, paternalism, and moral decision making. [ more ]

PSYC 327Cognition and Education

Last offered Spring 2020

In this class we will read scientific articles about two interrelated topics. One is societal issues in schooling, such as fads, charter schools, tracking, dropping out, international differences, and segregation. The other is principles in the cognitive psychology of learning, such as desirable difficulty, that can be used to improve educational practice. [ more ]

PSYC 332(S)Children's Mathematical Thinking and Learning

Are babies statistical experts? Will I ever be good at calculus? What are we born with and what do we learn? Before children are ever taught formal mathematics in a classroom, they are confronted with situations where they must use their informal understanding of geometry, space, and number to successfully navigate their environments. In this course we read and discuss both foundational and cutting-edge articles from neuroscience, cognitive science, education, and psychology to understand how humans bridge this gap between the informal and formal mathematical worlds. We will also tackle questions such as: How do culture and language affect numerical understanding? What are the sources of children's mathematical misconceptions? What are the effects of early environmental input or input deprivation on mathematical development? What do we know about gender differences in math achievement? How do stereotypes, prejudice, and math anxiety affect math performance? For your laboratory component, you will work with a small group of other students to develop an original research project that tests a specific hypothesis about children's mathematical thinking and learning. Data will be collected in community schools, with the permission of parents, teachers, and children. Your results will be written-up in for your final paper, which will be in the style of an empirical journal article. [ more ]

PSYC 334(F)Defining and Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline describes a system of processes that pushes children out of school into jails and prisons. This course will explore the pipeline and the relationships between school, prison, and society. We will begin with the history and creation of the modern-day school-to-prison pipeline, focusing on the educational and public policies that encourage the criminalization of "others", with particular emphasis on folks of color and under-resourced communities. We will also look to firsthand accounts from those pushed into the pipeline to humanize the topic and engage in thoughtful and compassionate discussion. Together, we will define "school" and "prison", identifying how these definitions are aligned with the most current iteration of the pipeline, and how they can help us as we work to dismantle it. [ more ]

PSYC 335(F)Early Experience and the Developing Infant

The period from conception to age three is marked by impressive rapidity in development and the plasticity of the developing brain affords both fetus and infant an exquisite sensitivity to context. This course delves into the literature that highlights the dynamic interactions between the developing fetus/infant and the environment. The course readings span a range of disciplines and cover a diversity of hot topics in the study of prenatal and infant development, including empirical research drawn from the developmental, neuroscience, psychopathology, and pediatric literatures. [ more ]

PSYC 337(S)Critical Perspectives in Special Education

What makes special education "special"? This course will explore the role, purpose, and function of special education in the United States. Given special education's assumption of dis/ability (Baglieri, 2012), we will also create collective and individual frameworks for discussing and deconstructing dis/ability. This course will examine history, policy, and pedagogy related to special education; we will also discuss how law and school practices have systemically and systematically excluded students of color from general education classrooms, leading to the overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx children in special education. We will listen to narratives shared by people with dis/abilities and our educational histories to understand how personal connections to special education influence our current beliefs and future practice. [ more ]

PSYC 338Inquiry, Invention and Ideas

Last offered Spring 2020

Children tinker, explore and create, but some more than others, and under some conditions more than others. What leads children to investigate, invent and build their own ideas? We will examine the development of curiosity, invention, and the ability to have or construct an idea. We will also look at what accounts for individual differences between children, including the role of intelligence, creativity, social cues, and opportunity. We will look at how these processes unfold at home and in school, and discuss the educational implications of the research we read, and the research we conduct. [ more ]

PSYC 341Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Last offered Spring 2020

This course will examine social psychological theories and research that are relevant to the understanding of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. We will take a variety of social psychological perspectives, emphasizing sociocultural, cognitive, personality, or motivational explanations. We will examine the impact that stereotypes and prejudice have on people's perceptions of and behaviors toward particular groups or group members and will explore a variety of factors that tend to exacerbate or weaken this impact. We also will consider some of the sources of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination and some of the processes through which they are maintained, strengthened, or revised. In addition, we will examine some of the effects that stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination can have on members of stereotyped groups, as well as some implications of the social psychological research findings for issues such as education and business and government policies. A major component of this course will be the examination of classic and ongoing empirical research. [ more ]

PSYC 342(S)Social Judgment

This course focuses on how people make judgments and decisions in their social lives and why they are sometimes biased and irrational in their choices. We will place a strong emphasis on exploring how ideas from the judgment and decision-making literature can aid in our understanding of social psychological phenomena, including planning for the future, understanding other people, and resolving interpersonal conflicts. We will also place an emphasis on people's judgments and decisions as they pertain to their happiness and well-being, exploring how concepts in the judgment and decision-making literature can help us to understand why certain types of outcomes are more satisfying than others and why people sometimes choose in ways that fail to maximize their well-being. As we explore these questions, we will survey a variety of methods and perspectives, ranging from classic social psychological experiments to techniques imported from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology. [ more ]

PSYC 346Environmental Psychology

Last offered Spring 2020

This is a course in social psychology as it pertains to the natural environment. We will consider how the environment influences aspects of human psychology (e.g., the psychological implications of humans' disconnect with nature), as well as how human psychology influences the environment (e.g., why some people engage in environmentally destructive behaviors despite holding proenvironmental attitudes). At the core of this course is an attempt to examine various ways in which research and theory in social psychology can contribute insights to understanding (and encouraging) environmentally responsible behavior and sustainable practices, both here at Williams and globally. Because human choice and behavior play such an important role in environmental problems, a consideration of human psychology may therefore be an important part of the solution. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSYC 348(F)Psychology of Prejudice

Prejudice is everywhere. This class is intended to help you understand why. Readings and discussion will seek to illuminate the roots of prejudice, its many forms, and how it may be reduced. We will investigate how scientists measure undesirable and even unacknowledged attitudes, and consider the effects of people being unaware of their own biases, both psychologically and societally. Overall, we will use scientific evidence to inform our understanding of social identities, their complexities, and their consequences, and students will design and conduct empirical research projects based on the course material. [ more ]

PSYC 349Psychology and Law

Last offered Spring 2019

This course examines the legal system in light of psychological research findings, Supreme Court rulings, wrongful conviction cases and illustrative crimes. The law's informal theories of human behavior will be compared to what psychologists know on the basis of theories and research regarding such topics as Miranda, lie detection, police interrogation, false confessions, eyewitness identification, repressed and recovered memories, forensic evidence, and juries. The course will also explore the psychological mechanisms underlying legal decisions, and demonstrate how psychological findings can contribute to legal system reform. [ more ]

Taught by: Amanda Bergold

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PSYC 352Clinical and Community Psychology

Last offered Fall 2018

This course provides an overview of theory, methods, and professional issues in the fields of clinical and community psychology (and related fields). In addition to academic work (primary source readings and class discussions), students are encouraged to apply their experiences in academic psychology to field settings, and to use their fieldwork experience to critically evaluate theory and research. The course includes a supervised field-work placement arranged by the instructor in a local mental health or social service agency. Students must complete a brief survey about their interests and schedule in order to place them in an agency. Students should email the instructor to obtain the survey as well as receive permission to register for this course. [ more ]

PSYC 355(S)Psychotherapy: Theory and Research

Psychotherapy is a young, barely 100-year old psychological endeavor which attempts to promote change and healing through social interaction. How can it be that talking with a psychotherapist can help people change -- emotionally, cognitively, and/or behaviorally -- and how exactly does it help people achieve relief from psychological disorders and problems? In this course, we will study some of the key approaches to psychotherapy by examining the theories and scientific research that surround them, and considering theory and research in juxtaposition. This will be accomplished by a close reading and critical analysis of primary source theoretical papers, the "raw data" (videotapes and transcripts) of therapy sessions, case studies, and contemporary empirical research on the outcomes and change processes of psychotherapy. Students will learn how to evaluate the efficacy claims of both standard and new therapies and how to evaluate claims about the mechanisms by which those therapies work. Current controversies in psychotherapy and psychotherapy research will be addressed and debated as well. All students will design and conduct an empirical research project based on the course material. [ more ]

PSYC 356(F)The Science of Suicide and Related Psychopathology

The course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the science and study of suicide and related psychopathology (e.g., non-suicidal self-injury) in both clinical and community samples. Course topics will include prevalence across the lifespan, current models of etiology, distal and proximal indicators of suicide risk, risk assessment and safety planning, suicide prevention and science-based interventions, an exploration of cultural factors/issues of diversity and social justice, and current/future directions in this particular area of research and clinical practice. Readings will involve empirical studies and theoretical models that have shaped the study of suicidality, and recent studies that have taken a multidisciplinary approach (e.g., neuropsychological research; machine learning) to understanding suicide. Students will evaluate published research based on theory, methodological rigor, ethical considerations, diversity/inclusion, and current gaps in the literature that contribute to difficulty in predicting and preventing suicide. Students will design and conduct an empirical research project based on the course readings and topics discussed, such as analyzing existing data sets, examining media depictions/reporting, and/or conducting online surveys. These projects will be completed in pairs or teams. [ more ]

PSYC 357Depression

Last offered Fall 2019

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of depression. Topics will include assessment, models of etiology and course, effective approaches to prevention and intervention, and depression in specific populations. Readings will expose students to seminal works in the field as well as current methods and research findings. Throughout the course, students will evaluate current research based on theory, methodological rigor, and potential impact on prevention and intervention efforts. [ more ]

PSYC 358 T(F)Developmental Psychopathology: Trajectories of Risk and Resilience

Why do some youth develop psychopathology in the face of adversity whereas others do not? How do we define psychological disorders in youth? Is resilience a static trait, or can it be promoted? How do we prevent youth from developing psychopathology? In this course, students will address these and other questions using a risk and resilience framework that examines the interactions among multiple risk and protective factors in the pathway to psychopathology. Specifically, students will examine the interactions between individual characteristics (e.g., neurobiological, interpersonal, cognitive, and emotional factors) and environmental contexts (e.g., family, school, peer, early adversity, poverty) in the development of risk and resiliency. Application of etiological models and empirical findings to prevention and intervention approaches will be explored. Throughout the course, students will evaluate current research based upon theory, methodological rigor, and clinical impact. [ more ]

PSYC 359Anxiety: Responses to Danger, Both Real and Imagined

Last offered Spring 2019

This is an advanced course on anxiety that takes an in depth look at the theory and research on the normative psychological processes that influence responses to danger, both real and imagined. Specifically, it examines the empirical research on psychological responses to traumatic experiences, such as combat, rape, and natural disasters. Responses to perceived or imagined threats are also discussed as the underpinnings of such anxiety disorders as Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia and OCD. Discussions focus on commonalities and differences in empirically supported treatments for anxiety disorders as well as controversies in the field. [ more ]

PSYC 361Psychology of Nonviolence

Last offered Spring 2018

Nonviolence refers to choice behavior in interpersonal interactions in which physical injury to others is rejected as an option. In this course we will study moral and psychological theories of nonviolence, and evaluate the empirical support for their central claims of psychological benefits to the practitioner, attitude change in the adversary, and positive exemplary effects on social interaction. Topics include empathy, tolerance, forgiveness, aggression, courage, resisting violent assault, and civil resistance. [ more ]

PSYC 372Advanced Seminar in Teaching and Learning

Last offered Fall 2018

This advanced seminar will give students an opportunity to connect theory to practice. Each student will have a teaching placement in a local school, and participate in both peer and individual supervision. In addition, we will read a range of texts that examine different approaches to teaching, as well as theory and research on the process of education. What is the best way to teach? How do various theories of child development and teaching translate into everyday practices with students? Students will be encouraged to reflect on and modify their own teaching practices as a result of what we read as well as their supervision. Questions we will discuss include: What is the relationship between educational goals and curriculum development? What is the relation between substance (knowledge, skills, content) and the interpersonal dynamic inherent in a classroom setting? How do we assess teaching practices and the students' learning? What does it take to be an educated person? [ more ]

PSYC 373(F)Critical Issues in Learning and Teaching

In this seminar we will take a deep dive into several key topics in education. We will examine psychological research as well as a range of other materials (essays, film, recordings of children and personal experiences) to help answer a series of questions, including: Does the kind or quality of schooling have a measurable impact on children? How do you create curriculum? How does one conduct high quality classroom observations? What do good teachers have in common? What is the best way to help teachers get better at what they do? Can remote learning work well in K-12 settings? [ more ]

PSYC 397(F)Independent Study: Psychology

Open to upperclass students with permission of the instructor and department. Students interested in doing an independent study should make prior arrangements with the appropriate professor. The student and professor then complete the independent study proposal form available at the Registrar's Office and should submit it to the department chair for approval prior to the beginning of the drop/add period. [ more ]

PSYC 398(S)Independent Study: Psychology

Open to upperclass students with permission of the instructor and department. Students interested in doing an independent study should make prior arrangements with the appropriate professor. The student and professor then complete the independent study proposal form available at the Registrar's Office and should submit it to the department chair for approval prior to the beginning of the drop/add period. [ more ]

PSYC 401Psychology in Popular Discourse: A Critical Examination

Last offered Fall 2019

This course considers several important contemporary topics from diverse psychological perspectives. These topics--which may include issues such as personal and external influences on success; technology and relationships; addiction--will be introduced via popular books, films, or podcasts, and we will analyze them more deeply with original research articles from across multiple approaches and sub-disciplines of psychology. A central goal in this course is for students to develop and apply the skills necessary to critically evaluate psychological ideas as they exist in the broader popular culture. The course will primarily be discussion based, and the students will lead these discussions. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSYC 403(F)The Psychology of Love

This seminar will examine psychological approaches to the study of attraction, affiliative bonds, attachment, and relationship health across the lifespan. These topics will be introduced via review articles, books, and films. Students will analyze these topics more deeply with presentations and student-led discussions of original research articles from across multiple perspectives and subdisciplines of psychology. [ more ]

PSYC 405(F)Why Do We Believe What We Believe?

As scientists, we aspire to hold beliefs that are based in evidence. As humans, however, we are likely to embrace beliefs influenced by a variety of social, historical, cultural, political, racial and religious factors. In this class, we will explore the question of why we cling to certain beliefs, even in the face of significant contradictory evidence. For example, what assumptions do we make about strangers and why are we so convinced these assumptions are correct? How does our culture affect our parenting choices and why do we hold them so fiercely? What assumptions do we make about the nature of memory and are these assumptions valid? Are there "defensive moves" that we make when we are challenged racially, even when we are committedly antiracist? And, if so, why? In class, we will explore source material from popular culture: books, films, podcasts and popular press articles, and we will examine claims made about different belief systems. We will then critically evaluate these claims by exploring the available empirical psychological evidence. The format of this class is student-led discussions. [ more ]

PSYC 407Success and Failure

Last offered Fall 2019

The theme of this psychology senior seminar will be success. We will discuss the path to personal success, including the relative importance of hard work, genetic talent, and luck; barriers to success like poverty, discrimination, and incarceration; what parents should want, and do, for their children; how having a disability changes one's definition of success; what success means, and requires, during a war; and how science itself has been weakened by scientists' ambition for success. We will read a book or watch a film about each topic we choose, then delve deeper by reading and discussing scientific journal articles. Class meetings will be student-led discussions. You will learn how to assess an argument skeptically, seek additional evidence, and argue for solutions. You will practice useful life skills such as how to lead and participate in a meeting (i.e., a class discussion) and how to write engagingly and convincingly. The larger goal will be to leave this class more prepared to develop and communicate informed opinions in the future. [ more ]

PSYC 408(F)The Psychology of College

What do people learn in college? Are students fundamentally transformed by their college experience, and if so, what specific features of college actually make a difference? Most people's ideas about the impact of college come from personal experience, and the strongly held views of journalists, filmmakers, college spokespeople, relatives and public figures. Those beliefs are often misguided. Yet research can help us develop an accurate picture of just what it is that college does and doesn't do. Drawing on films, popular books and articles, as well as research from across the subdisciplines within psychology, we will examine some of the most common beliefs, and then delve into the psychological evidence that supports or refutes them. Our goal will be to develop a scientifically-based understanding of the psychological impact of college, and redesign various features of college to reflect our conclusions. Empirical work on this topic presents unique methodological challenges, so we will also spend some time designing studies that overcome those challenges. [ more ]

PSYC 412(F)Feelings & Emotions: Shaping the Brain and Society

This course will explore what emotions are, the evolutionary origins of emotions, and the tools and techniques researchers use to study emotions both in humans and in animal models. We will examine how brain state(s) may underlie different emotions and challenge widely held notions about how an individual's emotion can influence behavior and social factors. Questions we will explore include: Is it better to be emotional or rational? What are 'gut feelings'? Are there gender differences in emotionality and, if so, what are their origins? Popular press literature and scientific studies will fuel student-led discussions as we seek to develop an evidence-based understanding of emotions and how they shape the world around us. [ more ]

PSYC 413(F)The Resilient Mind

In this seminar, we will explore the psychological, environmental, and biological variables that shape an individual's response to stress and/or adversity. We will discuss how factors such as personality, coping style, social network/community, gender, brain mechanisms, and genes can influence one's ability to adapt and recover from a crisis. Students will critically examine depictions of resilience in popular literature and film, and employ empirical scientific articles from across multiple approaches and sub-disciplines of psychology to delve deeper into their analyses. Class meetings will be primarily discussion based and student-led, with the central goal of developing skills in forming and communicating evidence-based arguments. [ more ]

PSYC 493(F)Senior Thesis: Psychology

Independent study and research for two semesters and a winter study period under the guidance of one or more members of the department. This is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). After exploring the literature of a relatively specialized field of psychology, the student will design and execute an original empirical research project, the results of which will be reported in a thesis. Detailed guidelines for pursuing a thesis are available from the department and on our website. [ more ]

PSYC 494(S)Senior Thesis: Psychology

Independent study and research for two semesters and a winter study period under the guidance of one or more members of the department. This is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). After exploring the literature of a relatively specialized field of psychology, the student will design and execute an original empirical research project, the results of which will be reported in a thesis. Detailed guidelines for pursuing a thesis are available from the department and on our website. [ more ]