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Amherst College Psychology for 2012-13

100 Introduction to Psychology

An introduction to the nature of psychological inquiry regarding the origins, variability, and change of human behavior. As such, the course focuses on the nature-nurture controversy, the processes associated with cognitive and emotional development, the role of personal characteristics and situational conditions in shaping behavior, and various approaches to psychotherapy.

Limited to 40 students per section. Fall semester: Professors Baird and Sanderson and Visiting Professor Clemans.  Spring semester: Professor Raskin and Visiting Professor Mendoza.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

122 Statistics and Experimental Design

An introduction to and critical consideration of experimental methodology in psychology. Topics will include the formation of testable hypotheses, the selection and implementation of appropriate procedures, the statistical description and analysis of experimental data, and the interpretation of results. Articles from the experimental journals and popular literature will illustrate and interrelate these topics and provide a survey of experimental techniques and content areas.  

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester: Professor Schulkind.  Spring semester: Professor McQuade.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

123 Research Methods

This course is designed to explore the principles of behavioral science research and the rationale underlying various research methodologies. The course will take a hands-on approach to research design, data collection, and data analysis. Students will learn how to understand and critically evaluate original research reports, independently design and execute psychological investigations, and write scientific reports in APA format. Topics include the reliability and validity of measures, content analysis, correlational designs, randomized experiments and causal inference, experimental control, and ethical considerations. Time in class will be split between lectures, small group exercises and design of research projects, and data analysis using SPSS. 

Requisite: PSYC 122. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Demorest.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

212 Behavioral Neuroscience

This course will examine how brain function regulates a broad range of mental processes and behaviors. We will discuss how neurons work and how the brain obtains information about the environment (sensory systems), regulates an organism’s response to the environment (motor systems), controls basic functions necessary for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and sleep, and mediates higher cognitive function such as memory and language. We will also consider the consequences of brain malfunction as manifested in various forms of disease and mental illness.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Baird.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

220 Social Psychology

The individual’s behavior as it is influenced by other people and by the social environment. The major aim of the course is to provide an overview of the wide-ranging concerns characterizing social psychology from both a substantive and a methodological perspective. Topics include person perception, attitude change, interpersonal attraction, conformity, altruism, group dynamics, and prejudice. In addition to substantive issues, the course is designed to introduce students to the appropriate research data analysis procedures.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Not open to first year students. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester:  Visiting Professor Mendoza. Spring semester:  Professor Sanderson.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

221 Personality Psychology

A consideration of theory and methods directed at understanding those characteristics of the person related to individually distinctive ways of experiencing and behaving. Prominent theoretical perspectives will be examined in an effort to integrate this diverse literature and to determine the directions in which this field of inquiry is moving. These theories will also be applied to case histories to examine their value in personality assessment.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Demorest.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

226 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as NEUR 226 and PSYC 226.) An introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, this course will explore the neural bases of behavior at the cellular and systems levels. Basic topics in neurobiology, neuroanatomy and physiological psychology will be covered with an emphasis on understanding how neuroscientists approach the study of the nervous system. Three class hours and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or BIOL 181 or 191. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Turgeon and Graf.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

227 Developmental Psychology

A study of human development across the life span with emphasis upon the general characteristics of various stages of development from birth to adolescence and upon determinants of the developmental process.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or 212 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students.  Fall and spring semesters. Visiting Professor Clemans.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

228 Abnormal Psychology

A review of various forms of psychopathology including addictive, adjustment, anxiety, childhood, dissociative, impulse control, mood, organic, personality, psychophysiological, schizophrenic, and sexual disorders. Based on a review of contemporary research findings, lectures and discussion will focus on the most relevant approaches for understanding, diagnosing, and treating psychological disorders. The biopsychosocial model will serve as a basis for explaining the etiology of psychological disorders, and discussion will focus on empirically supported interventions for treating these conditions.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or 212, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor McQuade.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

233 Cognitive Psychology

This course will examine how the mind extracts information from the environment, stores it for later use, and then retrieves it when it becomes useful. Initially, we will discuss how our eyes, ears, and brain turn light and sound into colors, objects, speech, and music. Next, we will look at how memory is organized and how it is used to accomplish a variety of tasks. Several memory models will be proposed and evaluated: Is our brain a large filing cabinet? a sophisticated computer? We will then apply these principles to understand issues like intelligence, thinking, and problem-solving. Throughout the course, we will discuss how damage to various parts of the brain affects our ability to learn and remember.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or 212 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Schulkind.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2016

234 Memory

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of the study of memory. We will begin by examining empirical research on memory for different kinds of content: factual information vs. personal events vs. cognitive skills. This research will be used to evaluate several contemporary models of memory. From there, we will examine how memory theories have been applied to understanding “real world” issues such as eyewitness testimony, and the false/recovered memory debate. We will also discuss developmental changes in memory-from infancy to old age. We will supplement our analysis of memory with evidence from the rapidly growing field of cognitive neuroscience.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester.  Professor Schulkind.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

236 Psychology of Aging

An introduction to the psychology of aging. Course material will focus on the behavioral changes which occur during the normal aging process. Age differences in learning, memory, perceptual and intellectual abilities will be investigated. In addition, emphasis will be placed on the neural correlates and cognitive consequences of disorders of aging such as Alzheimer’s disease. Course work will include systematic and structured observation within a local facility for the elderly.

Requisite: PSYC 100  or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 20 students. Fall semester.  Professor Raskin.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Spring 2014

247 Health Psychology

An introduction to the theories and methods of psychology as applied to health-related issues. We will consider theories of reasoned action/planned behavior, social cognition, and the health belief model. Topics will include personality and illness, addictive behaviors, psychoneuroimmunology, psychosocial factors predicting health service utilization and adherence to medical regimens, and framing of health-behavior messages and interventions.

Requisite: PSYC 100 or 212 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Sanderson.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Fall 2012

248 Proseminar: Research and Writing in Psychology

The topic for this proseminar (which is one of four similar proseminars offered across the College) changes year to year. In 2012-13, the proseminar in Psychology will be on Good and Evil.

Proseminars are designed to give students the knowledge and the intellectual and technical skills necessary to do advanced research and writing in their major.  They are most suitable for junior majors who are considering writing a senior honors thesis, and for senior majors, who are not writing a thesis, but who would like to have the experience of writing a significant paper in the discipline.

Across all subfields of psychology, researchers have examined the fundamental question of what drives behavior. Two particular types of fundamental behavior of great interest to psychologists and lay people alike are prosocial behaviors (those that help others) and evil behavior (those that harm others).  Why do even infants show a preference for people who engage in cooperative behavior?  What leads people to fail to give help in emergencies, even in cases in which are life-threatening?  What drives some people to help others--even at great personal cost--and others to ignore those in need--or, worse yet, deliberately harm others?  Why does harming one person to help many others feel different--and even appear different in the brain--than standing by and watching harm occur to others?

In this seminar, we will examine both historical and current research across all of the fundamental areas in psychology--biological, developmental, social--on the role of multiple factors (e.g., genetics, environment, social, cultural) in driving both good and evil behavior.  Students will gain skills in understanding the various methods used to test empirical questions in psychology, reviewing and interpreting research studies, and creating and testing their own research question that builds on prior research in a novel way.

Open to juniors and seniors, but priority in admission will be given to junior majors who are considering writing a senior thesis and to senior majors who have opted not to write a thesis. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester.  Professor Sanderson.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014

252 Self and Identity

This course will examine classic and contemporary research on selfhood and identity, two central topics of interest within social psychology. Topics will include development of self-concept; sources and accuracy of self-knowledge; self-esteem; self-regulation; self-presentation; the formation of collective identities; and contending with threats to self and identity.

Requisite:  PSYC  100.  Not open to first-year students.  Limited to 25 students.  Fall semester.  Five College Mellon Fellow Salvatore.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2012

325 Psychopharmacology

In this course we will examine the ways in which drugs act on the brain to alter behavior. We will review basic principles of brain function and mechanisms of drug action in the brain. We will discuss a variety of legal and illegal recreational drugs as well as the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to treat mental illness. Examples from the primary scientific literature will demonstrate the various methods used to investigate mechanisms of drug action, the biological and behavioral consequences of drug use, and the nature of efforts to prevent or treat drug abuse.

Requisite: PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 226, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

337 Stereotypes and Prejudice

This advanced seminar provides students with an overview of the social psychological study of stereotyping and prejudice. Topics will include the automatic and controlled components of stereotypes, interracial anxiety, workplace discrimination, and the neurocognitive correlates of racially biased behavior. We will learn about intergroup topics through weekly discussions of articles on theoretical and empirical research. The goal of these discussions will be to integrate various perspectives in the field in order to gain an understanding of how stereotypes and prejudices develop, why they are maintained, and how they can be reduced. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, provide written reaction papers, and develop a final research proposal.  

Requisite: PSYC 220. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Mendoza.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

338 Personality and Political Leadership

In this course we will examine how to apply psychological theory to understand the lives of political leaders. We begin this course with a consideration the role of personality in political leadership. We then examine psychological theories that can be fruitfully applied to the study of individual lives, from traditional psychodynamic theories of the whole person (e.g., Freud) to models focusing on important organizing variables (e.g., scripts and interpersonal styles). Next, we evaluate existing psychobiographies of important figures such as Mohandas Gandhi, Adolf Hitler and Woodrow Wilson. Finally, each student prepares a psychobiographical term paper on a figure of his or her choice.

Requisite: PSYC 220, 221, or permission of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Demorest.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

353 Psychological Assessment

This course examines methods used by psychologists to understand the  psychology of individual personalities. The primary focus is on three psychological assessment tools: the Early Memories Procedure, the Thematic Apperception Test, and the traditional interview.  Students will take these devices themselves, read the theory behind them, examine case studies by prominent psychologists using these devices, and conduct their own interpretations of responses given by college students and by psychotherapy patients. In the process, students should develop a good understanding of the complexity of the clinical thought process.                  

Requisite: PSYC 221 or 228. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Demorest.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

354 Close Relationships

An introduction to the study of close relationships using social-psychological theory and research. Topics will include interpersonal attraction, love and romance, sexuality, relationship development, communication, jealousy, conflict and dissolution, selfishness and altruism, loneliness, and therapeutic interventions. This is an upper-level seminar for the major requirement that requires intensive participation in class discussion and many written assignments.

Requisite: PSYC 220 or 221. Open to seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Sanderson.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2016

355 Social Development and Peer Relations

This seminar covers theory and research on lifespan social development, with a particular emphasis on childhood and adolescence.  Topics include socialization processes, attachment, the development of friendship and peer networks over time, and the interplay of biological, psychological, and contextual factors which shape social interactions across the lifespan. 

Requisite:  PSYC 227. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Clemans.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

357 History of Psychiatry

Though the history of madness is as old as humanity, the field of psychiatry has come of age over the past 300 years. The understanding and treatment of mental illness within the psychiatric profession has drawn upon neurological and medical, as well as psychological and psychodynamic points of view. An emerging field, Neuropsychoanalysis, attempts to integrate the two. This course will survey psychiatry’s evolution, with special emphasis on the major contributions that have changed perspectives and directions in psychiatric medicine. We will also review the history of how mentally-ill patients have been housed, from custodial asylums to de-institutionalization and community-based programs, as a reflection of changing attitudes towards mental disease. Seminar. One class meeting per week.

Requisite: PSYC 212 and 228, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Raskin.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

359 Hormones and Behavior

This course will examine the influence of hormones on brain and behavior. We will introduce basic endocrine (hormone) system physiology and discuss the different approaches that researchers take to address questions of hormone-behavior relationships.  We will consider evidence from both the human and the animal literature for the role of hormones in sexual differentiation (the process by which we become male or female), sexual behavior, parental behavior, stress, aggression, cognitive function, and affective disorders.    

Requisite: PSYC 212 or NEUR 226.  Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2012, Spring 2015

364 Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology

This course examines the development, maintenance, and treatment of psychopathology in children and adolescents. Disorders discussed will include behavioral (e.g., Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder), anxiety (e.g., the phobias and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), mood (e.g. Depression), and developmental (e.g. Autism). Using a developmental perspective, topics will focus on risk factors, theory and etiology, family and social influences, and evidence-based psycho-social treatments. Course readings will come predominantly from empirical research articles and will be discussed in-depth in class. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, to provide written reaction papers, and to develop a final research proposal.  

Requisite: PSYC 228.  Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor McQuade.

 

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

366 Music Cognition

Current theories of cognitive psychology will be evaluated in light of what is known about the effects of musical stimuli on learning, memory, and emotion. The course will begin by examining how musical information is stored and, subsequently, retrieved from memory. Particular attention will be paid to comparing learning and memory of musical and non-musical stimuli. The course will also compare the behavior of trained and untrained musicians to determine how expertise influences cognitive performance. Finally, the course will consider the ability of music to elicit emotional responses and the psychological basis for its use in applied settings.

Requisite: PSYC 233 or 234. Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester. Professor Schulkind.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2014

490 Special Topics

This course is open to qualified students who desire to engage in independent reading on selected topics or conduct research projects. Preference will be given to those students who have done good work in one or more departmental courses beyond the introductory level. A full course.

Open to juniors and seniors with consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

499, 499D, 498 Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Psychology who have received departmental approval. A full course.  Spring semester.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016