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Introduction to Psychology
(PSY 256 3.0 Cr)

Arts & Sciences

Course Description

The field of psychology has changed dramatically over the past century. Psychological "truths" of twenty-five years ago are considered misguided, even erroneous, today. Yet, many of the fundamental questions of psychology remain the same. What does it mean to perceive? What do our brains do? Why do people act differently in groups than when they are alone? How does memory work? What's going on in my child's mind? This course will tackle these and other questions by surveying the work of classical and contemporary psychologists. Students will be encouraged to think about the theoretical bases of this work and to consider how such work can be relevant to everyday life.

Learning Objectives
After completing this course, students will be able to:

• Understand the unique perspectives and approaches of psychology among the various social sciences
• Have an appreciation for the way in which their lives are shaped by psychological factors around them
• Understand the basic concepts that are used by psychologists and be able to explain them to others
• Be able to apply some psychological concepts in everyday life

Breadth of Assignments
This course relies on a number of different assignment types to adequately explore the topic of Psychology. Students are expected to use the Discussion board to share opinions and experiences with their classmates, in effort to enrich and personalize the course materials. Students are also assigned textbook reading, collaborative exercises and writing assignments, online research and case studies, and tests and self-assessment quizzes.

Required Resources
Sternberg, R. J. (2000). Pathways to Psychology, (2nd ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN: 0-15-508047-4

Introduction to Psychology
Arts & Sciences
Module/Topics

Module 1: What is Psychology?
• Defining psychology and how it is different from other disciplines that study human nature
• Goals that psychologists work toward
• Issues and questions that psychologists research
• Logic and purpose of the "experimental design"
• Ethical issues faced by psychologists
• The history of how psychology emerged as its own discipline

Module 2: Biological Psychology

• Applying an evolutionary framework to psychological ideas
• How certain human characteristics are shaped by the environment rather than by genetic factors
• Components of the nervous system
• Basic anatomy and physiology of a neuron
• Differences between the endocrine system and the nervous system

Module 3: Sensation and Perception

• Differences between sensation and perception
• Basic anatomy of the eye
• Basic anatomy of the ear
• Explaining how the context in which we see an object affects the way that we perceive it

Module 4: Consciousness
• "Selective attention"
• Relation between attention and consciousness
• Different levels of consciousness
• Different stages of sleep
• The effects of sleep deprivation
• Different sleep disorders
• The theories about dreams
• Describing how different drugs affect states of consciousness

Module 5: Learning and Memory
• Differences between classical conditioning and operant conditioning
• Differences between implicit and explicit forms of memory
• Differences between sensory memory, short-term memory, long-term memory, and working memory
• Differences between principles of memory storage and retrieval
• Memory as a constructive process

Module 6: Thought, Language, Intelligence, and Creativity
• Patterns of thinking that may hinder successful solutions in everyday life
• Applying specific logical strategies to different kinds of thinking problems
• Pitfalls that people often encounter in their reasoning
• Language and the stages of its acquisition
• Nonverbal signals
• Different ways that psychologists have tried to define intelligence
• Creativity

Module 7: Developmental Psychology
• "Nature vs. nurture"
• Piaget's four stages of cognitive development
• Attachment, and how psychologists have measured it
• Explaining what is meant by "temperament"
• Ideas about how one's identity develops
• Approaches to morality

Module 8: Social Psychology
• "Cognitive dissonance" and how it may potentially lead to changes in self-concept
• Theories of attraction and love
• Negative consequences that group settings can have on performance
• Conforming, complying, and obeying
• The nature of stereotypes
• Antisocial behavior and tactics that might be used to diminish it

Module 9: Motivation and Emotion
• Origins of eating disorders
• Theories about the development of sexual orientation
• Different kinds of needs, such as the need for power, need for achievement, need for affiliation, and Maslow's hierarchy of needs
• Roles that intrinsic and extrinsic motivators play
• Different approaches to the study of emotion

Module 10: Personality
• Different psychodynamic theories of personality, especially that of Sigmund Freud
• Strengths and weaknesses of psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, trait, and interactionist perspectives of personality
• Ways that humanists believe that people are motivated to achieve self-actualization
• Trait inventory and a Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
• Strengths and weaknesses of different personality measures

Module 11: Abnormal Psychology and Treatment

• Criteria that psychologists use when differentiating between normal and "abnormal" behavior
• Anxiety disorders
• Mood disorders
• Symptoms, origins, and types of schizophrenia
• Personality disorders, somatoform disorders, sexual disorders and cognitive-impairment disorders
• Causes of suicide
• Legal issues that psychologists must consider
• Goals and methods of psychodynamic, humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, and biological therapies
• Different types of psychotherapy

Module 12: Health Psychology
• The nature of stressors and the body's response to them
• Ways in which personality has been shown to relate to physical health and illness
• How psychologists think about pain
• How people cope with chronic health problems
• Effects of social support on physical health
• Current research into the relationship between emotions and health


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