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Courses

Course descriptions listed on this page for the Department of Psychology are from the 2018-2019 College Catalog. For more information on the courses offered during the fall and spring semesters, please log in to the course schedule through STAR.

Psychology 100 - Introduction to Psychology
Fall, spring
An introduction to the principles and methodology of psychology as emerging from the various areas of the field, such as physiological, sensation and perception, learning, cognition and memory, social, personality, and abnormal. Required for the psychology major. One unit.

Psychology 200 - Statistics
Fall
An introduction to descriptive and inferential statistical methods in analysis and interpretation of psychological data. Required for the psychology major. One and one-quarter units.

Psychology 201 - Research Methods in Psychology
Spring
A thorough survey of methods and techniques employed in psychological research. Topics include observational research, surveys, case studies, experimental designs, and ethical issues in research. Emphasis is on critical evaluation of research. Students develop the skills to design an experiment, statistically analyze and interpret the results, and to present the findings in a written and oral report. One and one-half units.

Psychology 220 - Perception and Social Neuroscience
Annually
The two major contemporary theories of perception are discussed for each of the sensory/perceptual systems (e.g., vision, audition, and haptics). For both theoretical approaches, a critical examination is made of the relation of sensory processes, perceptual abilities, and action systems with the goal of explaining how we are able to perceive the world. One unit.

Psychology 221 - Physiology and Behavior
Fall, spring
The structure and function of the nervous system is studied to provide an appreciation of the biological basis of behavior. The first half of the course emphasizes neuroanatomy, basic cell physiology, effects of drugs on behavior, and the autonomic nervous system. Later topics include physiological influences on sleep-wake and circadian rhythms, reproductive behavior, eating and drinking, learning and memory, emotions, and mental illness. One unit.

Psychology 223 – Learning
Alternate years
An intensive evaluation of how behavior is acquired and maintained. Focuses on Pavlovian and operant conditioning in animals and humans. Special topics include the application of these principles to psychotherapy, drug addiction, self-control, and biological influences and constraints on learning. Fulfills the Biological Fundamental Area Requirement. One unit.

Psychology 225 - Developmental Psychology
Annually
A survey of theory and research pertaining to both cognitive and social development from birth to adolescence. Special topics include prenatal development, early experience, perception, learning, memory, language, emotions, achievement, moral development, gender role development, parenting, schools, and peer relationships. One unit.

Psychology 226 - Personality
Alternate years
Covers several major conceptions of personality such as the psychoanalytic, humanistic, cognitive, trait, and behavioral approaches. The theories of such psychologists as Freud, Maslow, Kelly, Allport, and Skinner are presented to attain a broad understanding of human personality. One unit.

Psychology 227 - Social Psychology
Annually
An overview of the methods and research findings of social psychology. Emphasis is on the experimental analysis of topics such as person perception, interpersonal attraction, prosocial behavior, aggression, social exchange, and group behavior. Fulfills the Individual and Social Processes Fundamental Area Requirement. One unit.

Psychology 228 - Psychology of Adolescence
Annually
A survey of research and theories related to physical, social and cognitive development during adolescence with a particular emphasis on identity and school, family, and peer contexts. Topics include puberty and brain development, social transitions and culture, peer pressure, motivation and achievement, identity formation, extracurricular involvement, autonomy and moral development, sexuality, problem behaviors, eating disorders, and emerging adulthood. Fulfills the Developmental Processes Fundamental Area Requirement. One unit.

Psychology 229 - Psychopathology
Annually
Examines mental illness throughout the life span, with discussions of the developmental, biological, behavioral, psychosocial, cultural, and other theories that attempt to explain emotional and behavioral problems. One goal for the course is to develop an understanding of how information about mental illness and mental health is obtained, and the problems associated with the evaluation and interpretation of this information. One unit.

Psychology 232 - Developmental Science and Education
Alternate years
This course considers the ways in which the scientific research in developmental psychology has relevance for practice in educational settings. The course focuses primarily on research on cognitive development and how it helps us to understand children’s literacy, mathematical reasoning, and scientific thinking. Other topics include motivation, social cognition, and specific problems in learning such as ADHD. Students participate in a community based learning project in local schools as part of this course. One unit.

Psychology 235 - Cognitive Neuroscience
Annually
This course is a topical introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience, in which we look specifically at the neural substrates of cognitive function: from how we remember and see, to how we control our own actions and thoughts and have conscious awareness. We will cover the experimental toolkit of cognitive neuroscience (ranging from reaction time tests to functional MRI), and the results of recent research into perception, attention, learning and memory, and their neurological underpinnings. Throughout the course, special attention is given to dysfunctions of cognitive functioning resulting from brain damage or psychopathologies.  One unit.

Psychology 236 - Cognition and Memory
Annually
Examines current perspectives on how a physical system can have intelligence and know its world. Historical, cognitive science (computer metaphor), connectionist and embodied cognition perspectives will be surveyed. Of interest is how we can model cognitive ‘machinery’ and how this machinery produces such phenomena as attention, pattern recognition, and information storage. One unit.

Psychology 237 - Psychology of Language
Alternate years
An overview of the psychology of language. Language is defined as a shared, symbolic system for communication. Topics will include speech perception, comprehension, and production, as well as language acquisition and bilingualism. These basic concepts of language are then applied to an understanding of different forms of language use (e.g., spoken, written, sign) and language disorders (e.g., aphasia, dyslexia).  Prerequisite: Psychology 100. One unit.

Psychology 238 - Judgment and Decision Making
Annually
This course will provide an overview of the psychological research on human choice and decision making. It will investigate sources of bias and error in decision making and consider whether the actual choices that people make in their own lives align with theories that prescribe how decisions should ideally be made. Topics will include risk and uncertainty, emotion and intuitive judgment, self-control, moral decisions, and social influences on decision making. When possible, the course will consider how existing research findings can be applied to reduce biases and improve the quality of decision making.  One unit.

Psychology 244 - Health Psychology
Alternate years
This course provides an introduction to major theories, methodologies, and concepts in health psychology. Students will consider what “health” means; appraise strengths and weaknesses of biomedical and Ayurvedic health care approaches; identify how health behaviors and stress contribute to the onset of chronic illnesses (e.g., diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease); appreciate how sociopolitical and historical contexts shape the etiology and treatment of HIV/AIDS and cancer in the U.S.; and improve the ability to locate, read, and synthesize original research. Fulfills the Elective Course Requirement. Prerequisite: Psychology 100. One unit.

Psychology 252 - Food, Nutrition & Health
Alternate years
The primary goal of this course is to help students consider the importance of diet for our overall health and well-being. Questions addressed in this course include the following. What are the basic macronutrients found in food? What are the differences between reductionistic and wholistic approaches to studying food and nutrition? How does the food industry manufacture processed foods to create desire? How do various environmental factors (e.g., social setting, container size and shape) influence food consumption? This course will emphasize the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat and dairy while increasing consumption of non-processed plant-based foods. This is not a course on eating disorders. Students applying to graduate programs (e.g., Nursing) that require applicants to complete a course in nutrition should know this course does not satisfy that requirement. Format will be lecture and some discussion. One unit.

Psychology 253 - Evolution of Behavior
Alternate years
Explores the origins and nature of human nature. Focuses on the evolutionary origins of human nature as revealed through the available fossil record and through analysis of other primate species, particularly chimpanzees. Topics include sex differences, language development, the origins of psychiatric disorders, and the evolutionary basis for human social behavior and human intelligence. One unit.

Psychology 299 - Special Topics in Psychology
Annually
A first-time course offering. From time to time courses on particular topics will be offered. One unit.

Psychology 305 - History and Theory of Psychology
Fall, spring
An examination in historical perspective of what are considered to be the major systems (e.g., psychoanalysis, behaviorism, existential psychology) of psychology. The course begins by raising a number of philosophical questions regarding the status of psychology as a scientific discipline, moves on to a comprehensive treatment of the systems themselves, and finally, returns to initial questions to determine the extent to which they have been answered. One unit.

Psychology 314 - Science, Medicine, and the Holocaust
Annually
What can be learned of biomedical ethics from a study of the Holocaust? How did a healing profession justify its murderous actions? Were physicians and scientists pawns of a totalitarian regime, or were they active contributors to the racial Nazi ideology? Is the study of genetics susceptible to the same political forces that corrupted the field of eugenics? How did the Holocaust come to shape our current code of ethics in human experimentation? This seminar will seek answers to these and many related questions from a voluminous literature that is populated by contributions from historians, biomedical ethicists, philosophers, theologians, journalists, and artists. Far from a value-free discipline, ideological forces will be shown to be at the core of scientific inquiry. This lesson is of particular importance to aspiring scientists and health practitioners. One unit.

Psychology 315 - Biology of Mental Disorders
Alternate years
A brief consideration of the historical and philosophical basis of biological psychiatry is followed by a thorough overview of the major neurotransmitter systems and behavioral genetics necessary for an understanding of the biological aspects of major psychological disorders, including anxiety disorders, psychosomatic disorders, affective disorders (unipolar and bipolar depression), schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. For each of these disorders, the current state of knowledge concerning modes of treatment is reviewed, with an emphasis on the relative efficacy of pharmacotherapeutic agents, including minor tranquilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Prerequisite: Psychology 221 or Permission of instructor. One unit.

Psychology 316 - Drugs of Abuse
Alternate years
Drug addiction is the central theme of this course. Understanding drug action begins with a consideration of how drugs affect the brain. A basic working knowledge of brain chemistry is established with emphasis on information concerning the various major neurotransmitter systems that are affected by drugs of abuse. Considered next are the different addictive drugs, including alcohol, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, and the hallucinogens, and specific issues pertaining to the drug addict. The impact of drugs and addiction on society is the subject of the last part of the course. Issues with regard to prevention and treatment are considered. The ultimate goal of this course is to provide sound biological and psychological information from which a rational drug policy can be formed. One unit.

Psychology 318 - Seminar: Advanced Statistics
Alternate years
Several advanced techniques in inferential statistics are covered, including multivariate analysis of variance, multiple regression, factor analysis, path analysis, and structural equation modeling. One unit.

Psychology 321 - Neuroanatomy and Behavior
Alternate years
Open to third- and fourth-year students interested in a comprehensive study of brain and spinal cord anatomy and function. Structure is studied to provide a foundation for understanding clinical implications of nervous system injury and disease. Begins with study of gross anatomy of the sheep brain. Topics include motor and sensory systems, limbic system, cranial nerves, cerebral cortex, and blood supply to the brain.  Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. One unit.

Psychology 326 - Cognition Across Cultures
Alternate years
This course examines empirical and theoretical approaches to understanding human thinking across languages and cultures. One unit.

Psychology 328 - Adolescent Health
Alternate years
An advanced seminar in the field of adolescent development that focuses on the epidemiology and etiology of health-related behaviors during adolescence.  This course emphasizes a public health perspective and covers topics such as reproductive health, substance use, nutrition and exercise, sleep, violence, mental health, injuries, and disease.  Further, students will explore health disparities, health education, and domestic and global perspectives on adolescent health.  One unit.

Psychology 332 - Processes in Psychotherapy
Annually
What are the common mechanisms by which psychotherapy works? To answer this question, this seminar will examine the theoretical foundations of contemporary psychotherapies, such as psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and acceptance-based treatments. Through readings, videos, and lectures by experts in the field, we will consider how change occurs within and across the types of therapy and the “best practices” for studying symptom change over time. Additionally, by integrating research methodology into the course structure, we will examine how randomized controlled trials test the efficacy of psychological therapies. One Unit.

Psychology 334 - Eating and Its Disorders
Alternate years
An advanced seminar in the field of clinical psychology that closely examines contemporary research in the eating disorder field. Students explore topics such as the following: problems in the assessment, diagnosis, and classification of eating disorders; risk factors for developing disordered eating; comorbidities between eating pathology and other psychiatric conditions; the roles of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and culture in the etiology and maintenance of disordered eating; prevention and treatment of eating disorders. One Unit.

Psychology 337 - Substance, Use, Misuse, and Abuse
Alternate years
An advanced seminar in the field of clinical psychology that closely examines the substance (ab)use field, with a particular emphasis on alcohol. Students explore topics such as the following: definitions of harmful/hazardous drinking, familial transmission of alcohol use problems; alcohol, sex, and sports on college campuses; legal debates in the substance use field; philosophies regarding, and clinical approaches to, substance abuse recovery. One unit.

Psychology 338 - Consciousness and Control
Annually
This seminar focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognitive control and consciousness and its disturbances following brain injury or psychiatric illness. We define cognitive control as the ability to flexibly adapt behavior to current demands, by promoting task-relevant information and behaviors over temporally-extended periods and in the face of interference or competition. Consciousness we define as a subjective awareness of the world and free will. These abilities seem central to most higher cognitive functions, and contribute to the unique character of human behavior. Our goals are to define the neural mechanisms that underlie cognitive control and consciousness, to understand how these mechanisms govern behavior, and to use this knowledge to improve our understanding of the relationship between brain and behavior in psychiatric disorders and neurological damage. One unit.

Psychology 340 - Mental Health and Culture
Alternate years
An advanced seminar that explores the impact of cultural constructs (e.g., gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation) on the prevalence, diagnosis, nature, and treatment of mental illness. Students examine topics such as the following: psychiatric illnesses that disproportionately affect members of one gender or ethnic group; differences in help-seeking behavior across ethnic groups; diversity and multicultural competence in psychotherapy research and clinical practice. One unit.

Psychology 342 - Seminar: Gender-Role Development
Alternate years
Provides an examination of the role that gender plays in psychological development. Topics include depression, self-esteem, aggression, emotion, control and emotion expression, cognition, and social interaction. Theoretical perspectives as well as the empirical literature on gender development will be explored to assess the nature of gender-patterned behaviors and their consequences. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor; Psychology 225 recommended. One unit.

Psychology 345 - Seminar: Face Perception
Annually
Investigates the vast amount of information available from faces, such as age, gender, emotions, traits, and aesthetics. Discussion focuses on how we encode and remember faces and how we use information from faces in social interactions. One unit.

Psychology 347 - Clinical Psychology
Alternate years
A general introduction to the origin, development, and techniques of clinical psychology is covered in this course. Included is a survey of treatment issues, interviewing, importance of assessment and diagnosis. Importance of specific areas, e.g., behavior therapy, to the modern-day approach to clinical psychology is stressed. One unit.

Psychology 351 - Rational Choice/Irrational Mind
Alternate years
Examines the psychology of choice and decision making with a focus on broad questions about the extent to which human behavior can be considered rational. Examples of questions that will be addressed include: What is the source of people’s sense of happiness and subjective well-being? How do people understand risk and uncertainty? How do emotions influence decision making? Do people have stable, well-defined preferences that can be accurately known? To what extent do considerations such as fairness, social norms, and the need for control influence people’s decisions? The course will also explore the social context of decision making in relation to topics such as altruism and cooperation. One unit.

Psychology 353 - Language Thought and Culture
Alternate years
Do language and culture affect how people perceive their physical and social world? This seminar will examine a variety of topics relevant to this question. Specific topics will include cross-linguistic differences in areas ranging from color categorization to person perception; the universal and culture-specific effects of status on interpersonal communication; gender differences in communication style; cultural differences in the understanding of the self and their effect on basic psychological processes; and expert-novice differences in perception, categorization, and communication. One unit.

Psychology 354 - Psychology of Stigma
Alternate years
This is a seminar course that provides students with the opportunity to more deeply understand the phenomenological experience of stigmatization and to critically evaluate the empirical psychological literature examining the causes and consequences of stigmatization. Prerequisite: Psychology 227 or instructor permission. One unit.

Psychology 355 - Seminar: Resilience and Development
Alternate years
Covers risk and resiliency from early childhood through adulthood and focuses on defining resilience; sources of risk and protection within families, schools, and communities; and prevention programs. Special topics will include strengths-based models of resiliency, child maltreatment and health, problem-solving and creativity, resiliency across cultures, mentoring, and school- and community-based prevention and intervention. One unit.

Psychology 359 - Stress and Neuroplasticity
Annually
This advanced seminar explores the short- and long-term effects of psychosocial stress on the nervous system, and the role of stressful experience in adaptation and survival. Questions will include: How does activation of physiological stress responses affect the structure and function of the brain? In what ways might these effects be adaptive or deleterious? How do these effects relate to risk of neurological and psychiatric disorders? Through reading and discussion of scholarly literature in neuroscience, students will encounter current approaches to understanding the brain as a mediator of stress response and explore mechanisms of stress-induced neuroplasticity. Prerequisite: PSYC 221 or BIOL 267. One unit.

Psychology 366 - Seminar: Mind, Body, Health and Medicine
Alternate years
Examines a range of topics related to mind-body interactions, health care, and life style. Topics include mind-body relationships, placebo, stress and stress-reduction therapy, and a critical analysis of complementary and alternative medicine. This course should be of particular interest to premedical students considering a career in health care. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.  One unit.

Psychology 399 - Seminar Special Topics
Annually
A first-time course offering. Seminars are offered in a variety of topics within psychology, are smaller than lecture courses, and provide an opportunity for more student participation and discussion. One unit.

Psychology 470 - Directed Readings
Fall, spring
A reading program conducted under the supervision of a faculty member, generally focusing on an area of psychology not covered in-depth in course offerings. One unit.

Psychology 480 - Research Projects
Fall, spring
Students may undertake an independent research project under the direction of a particular faculty member. One unit.