First Year Seminar: Why do people believe weird things?
The beliefs we hold — about ourselves, about others, and about the world — are much closer to quickly constructed and poorly tested hypotheses than established fact. This is particularly true for paranormal beliefs. Because our beliefs shape everything from the life decisions we make, to the way we interact with others, to the governmental policies that are implemented, we have an obligation to critically evaluate our own beliefs whenever possible. This can only be done with the use of critical thinking skills. One goal of the course is therefore to learn critical thinking skills and apply these to paranormal phenomena. A second goal is to use standard psychological science and its methodological tools to examine paranormal beliefs and thus to gain an understanding of the origins, functions, and survivability of such beliefs. We will explore psychological processes that contribute to irrational beliefs, superstitious and erroneous beliefs and behavior. Why do we believe weird things?
PSYC 140: Social Psychology
In this introduction to psychological aspects of human social behavior, we discuss such topics as the relationship between attitudes and behavior, how people judge one another, interpersonal and group influence processes, and relations between individuals and groups, with strong emphasis on real-world applications. We also introduce scientific methods and formal theories for studying social behavior.
PSYC 145: Psychology of Human Sexuality
This course is a study of human sexuality emphasizing psychological aspects. We will cover sexual development from childhood to adulthood, sexual orientations, biological influences, sexual attitudes and behavior, gender, sex therapy, sexual coercion and abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual health, and the development of sexual relationships. The study of human sexuality is inherently interdisciplinary in nature (drawing from such varied disciplines as sociology, women’s studies, biology, anthropology, history, and others). Although we will cover some material from these disciplines, we will take an explicitly social psychological perspective, focusing on individual, personal, and social aspects of sexual behaviors, attitudes and beliefs.
PSYC 201: Design of Psychological Research
This course serves as an introduction to research methods in psychology. In this class, we will explore the major concepts in planning research studies, research design, and analysis. We will review how to search and critically evaluate scientific research, how to design and conduct research projects, collect, analyze and interpret data, and communicate the findings to an audience of psychologists. We will also discuss the various limitations of each research approach, as well as methods for assessing threats to validity and reliability of psychological measures. Throughout the course we will work on developing critical thinking skills and deepen our understanding of the field of scientific psychology.
PSYC 340: Research Methods in Social Psychology
We conduct empirical studies in order to become familiar with techniques for measuring attitudes and social behavior in the field and the lab, for analyzing and evaluating data, and for reporting findings and conclusions. Students gain direct experience in the process of conducting research studies by working as experimenters and data analysts.
PSYC 440: Seminar in Social Psychology
In this seminar, we read and discuss primary sources in theoretical or applied social psychology. Previous seminars have looked at applications of social psychology principles in law, medicine, mental health, consumer behavior, conservation, and education, and theories of social construal, social influence, and social systems. Students are responsible for leading class sessions and contributing to a group document, such as an annotated bibliography or literature review.