Course Listing

PSYC 101(F, S) LEC 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(F) TUT The Psychology of Success

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). We will talk about barriers to success, the search for success, and the cost of searching for success. Each week we will read a book or a set of articles (or possibly documentaries or podcasts). One partner will write a paper and the other will write a response. This course is not meant to make you more successful; the goal is to think critically about important issues, use evidence to make arguments, be skeptical, and practice writing and speaking in a convincing and engaging way. [ more ]

PSYC 158 TUT Freud: A Tutorial

Last offered Spring 2021

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, Civilization and Its Discontents. 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 161 SEM Nonviolence 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) LEC 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. You must register for lab and lecture with the same instructor. [ more ]

PSYC 212(F) LEC 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. [ more ]

PSYC 221(F) LEC Cognitive Psychology

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

Taught by: TBA

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PSYC 222(F, S) LEC 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 ]

Taught by: Omer Daglar Tanrikulu, Joseph Cruz

Catalog details

PSYC 232(F, S) LEC 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) LEC 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 areas such as advertising, law, economics and business, and politics will also be discussed. [ more ]

PSYC 252(F, S) LEC Psychological Disorders

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

PSYC 258 SEM Language 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 272(F) LEC Psychology of Education

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) SEM 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 in using animal models to study complex behavior and their associated neural mechanisms. [ more ]

PSYC 313(F) SEM 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 315 LEC Hormones 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(S) TUT Neuroethics

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 ]

PSYC 322 SEM Concepts: 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 TUT Great 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 SEM Choice and Decision Making

Last offered Fall 2020

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 327(S) SEM Cognition and Education

This class will examine two interrelated topics in education. One is societal issues in schooling, such as educational inequality, tracking, dropping out, international differences, and fads. The other is principles in the cognitive psychology of learning, such as desirable difficulty, that can be used to improve educational practice. The readings will mostly be scientific articles. [ more ]

PSYC 328(S) SEM Cognitive Approaches to Visual Perception

When you open your eyes, you immediately perceive your environment in great detail. Seeing is so quick and effortless that people mistakenly think that vision works like a camera. However, the reason it feels effortless is due to the tremendous amount of complex processes and computations that take place in your brain whenever you open your eyes. In this course, we will explore such processes from a computational perspective. How does cognitive psychology approach visual perception? What is the relationship between perception and cognition? How can we experimentally study visual consciousness? In addition to exploring such questions, we will also examine how our visual system processes certain visual features in our environment, such as motion, color, depth and shape. [ more ]

Taught by: Omer Daglar Tanrikulu

Catalog details

PSYC 332(F) SEM 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 either online or 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 333(S) TUT Children's Minds

Humans stand out in the animal world for their capacity to develop ideas and consider those of other people. Where does this capacity come from, and how does it develop? Why do some people seem more inclined to consider ideas than others? What can schools do to foster the pursuit of ideas? Young children ask questions, tell stories, speculate, invent, and predict. By middle childhood, they are capable of constructing ideas about any number of complex topics: death, justice, infinity, and the nature of time, to name four. Yet by adolescence only some people are disposed to pursue ideas. We will examine data on children who collect objects (such as bugs or rocks) and information (about things like dinosaurs, contagion, and death), and examine the role such collections play in the capacity to construct ideas. We will consider research on how and when children puzzle over philosophical problems (for example, identity and fairness), how they learn to plan, their ability to learn from thought experiments, their emerging conception of what an idea is, and what they know about knowledge and its role in shaping beliefs and making decisions. We will also spend time looking at individual and cultural variation, as well as the influence of adults. We will read work in developmental, educational and cognitive psychology, as well as anthropology. [ more ]

PSYC 334(F) SEM 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 SEM Early Experience and the Developing Infant

Last offered Fall 2020

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) SEM 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 338 SEM Inquiry, 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 341 LEC Stereotypes, 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(F) SEM 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 346(S) SEM Environmental Psychology

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 ]

PSYC 349(S) SEM Psychology and Law

This course focuses on applications of psychology to the administration of justice. Drawing from the areas of social, personality, cognitive, and developmental psychology, we will look critically at the processes of criminal justice. We will compare the law's informal theories of human behavior with what psychologists know on the basis of empirical studies. We will cover a number of contemporary topics including police-civilian interactions, custodial interrogations, false confessions and guilty pleas, forensic evidence, deception detection, eyewitness identifications, alibi generation and corroboration, repressed and recovered memories, and jury selection and decision-making. We will also discuss methodological issues associated with conducting research in psychology and law. In the laboratory component of the course, students will design and conduct their own empirical research projects based on course readings and topics. These semester-long projects will be conducted collaboratively in pairs or teams. [ more ]

PSYC 352 SEM Clinical 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 353(F) SEM High-Risk Behaviors in Psychopathology: A Transdiagnostic Approach to Treatment and Research

This seminar will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the science, study, and treatment of high-risk behaviors commonly seen in severe psychopathology. Course topics will include: alcohol and substance use, disordered eating, impulsivity (for example, in the context of bipolar and borderline personality disorder), and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs). Readings will involve empirical studies and theoretical papers that have shaped the study of these behaviors and their relationship/presence in DSM-5 psychological disorders. Additionally, readings will include studies that have examined prevalence rates of these behaviors, current models of etiology, distal and proximal indicators of risk, assessment and safety planning, science-based interventions, cultural factors/issues of diversity and social justice, and ethical considerations in research and treatment. 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, preventing, and treating high-risk behaviors in clinical practice. Students will write a detailed grant proposal, including a review of the relevant literature, based on a selected course topic and framed as a potential future research study that would address an existing gap in the literature. [ more ]

PSYC 355(S) SEM 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 in juxtaposition the theories and scientific research that surround them, as well as the sociocultural political contexts in which they evolve. 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 SEM The Science of Suicide and Related Psychopathology

Last offered Fall 2020

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 357(F) SEM Depression

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 TUT Developmental Psychopathology: Trajectories of Risk and Resilience

Last offered Fall 2020

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

Last offered Spring 2021

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, sexual assault, and natural and community 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 372 SEM Advanced 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 SEM Critical Issues in Learning and Teaching

Last offered Fall 2020

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) IND 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) IND 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 401 SEM Psychology 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

Catalog details

PSYC 403 SEM The Psychology of Love

Last offered Fall 2020

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 404(F) SEM Bias and Discrimination: Sources and Consequences

We often assume that our experiences reflect an objective reality, that the way we see the world is the way it really is. Yet research contradicts this notion, showing that our perceptual experiences are malleable and subjective. They are shaped by higher-order, top-down influences such as our cognitions, social groups, surroundings, motivations, emotions, and prior experiences. In this class, we will explore how subjective experiences and idiosyncratic categorizations of people into social groups directly influence social justice outcomes across varied domains. For example, how do these differences in our subjective experience influence the ways in which people relate to one another? What are the implications for fair treatment across multiple factions of society, including education, employment, health care, and criminal justice? Are there effective interventions and policies for reducing gender, racial, and ethnic bias? For promoting inclusivity? If so, why are they effective? To develop an evidence-based understanding of bias and discrimination, we will critically analyze source materials from popular press literature, films, books, and podcasts, as well as empirical research from across multiple approaches and sub-disciplines of psychology. The class format will be primarily discussion based and student-led. [ more ]

PSYC 405(F) SEM Why 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 on to them so fiercely? What assumptions do we make about the nature of memory, emotions and cognitions 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 407(F) SEM Success and Failure

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 and discrimination; the importance of parents, family, teachers, and friends; and what we really mean by success. For each topic we cover, we will read a book or watch a film, then delve deeper by reading and discussing scientific journal articles. Class meetings will be student-led discussions. You will write three or four 5-7 page papers. The larger goal will be to practice useful life skills such as how to lead and participate in a meeting (i.e., a class discussion), how to write engagingly and convincingly, and how to assess an argument skeptically and discuss it using evidence. [ more ]

PSYC 408(F) SEM The Psychology of College

What happens to people while they're in college? Does it have an impact on people's core identity, the way they think, form relationships, or participate in society? 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 SEM Feelings & Emotions: Shaping the Brain and Society

Last offered Fall 2020

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 SEM The Resilient Mind

Last offered Fall 2020

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 416(F) SEM Psychology of Nonviolence

In this course we will explore the theory and practice of nonviolence in the context of empirical research in Positive Psychology. Nonviolence refers to 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 personal qualities that enable people to live happy and fulfilling lives. We will begin by studying the history and moral theories of nonviolence. Using research from across the subdisciplines of psychology, we will then evaluate the empirical claims of those theories regarding psychological benefits of nonviolence to the practitioner, attitude change in the adversary, and effects on the larger community. An important focus of the course will be to critically assess the research methods and data analyses used in these studies. Topics will include self-control, empathy, forgiveness, tolerance, courage, aggression, resisting violent assault, and civil disobedience. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

PSYC 493(F) HON 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) HON 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 ]