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. STUDENTS WHO HAVE TAKEN AP PSYCH AND RECEIVED A 4 OR A 5 ON THE EXAM ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO TAKE PSYC 100.
Limited to 40 students per section. Not open to five college students. Fall semester: Professors Sanderson and Cohen. In the Fall, 20 seats will be reserved for first-year students. Spring semester: Professors Hart and Smith. Spring semester priority given to first-year students. This course is open to all students in the fall semester. Only first-year students may pre-register in the Spring semester for the course.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
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. A one-hour weekly lab will be devoted to data analysis using statistical software.
Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester: Professor McQuade. Spring semester: Professor Schulkind.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
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. Fall semester: Professor Smith. Spring semester: Professor Demorest.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
The topic of this course is social cognition, a field that is concerned with the way in which our minds represent and process social information. Some of the topics we will be considering include: the processes that we use to categorize and interpret the social world, the nature of unconscious automatic social processes, when and how our emotions contaminate our judgments, the role that our physical bodies have in manipulating our mental processes, and the role of physiological measurements in understanding social cognition. In addition to instructor-led discussions, a substantial amount of class time will consist of student-led discussions of primary source readings. The course will also include a research project in which students will design, conduct, write up and present a group-based research project in the domain of social cognition. This course requires students to design, plan, and conduct original empirical research.
Requisite: PSYC 122. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-2020. Visiting Professor Smith.2021-22: Not offered
This course will explore how children learn through play. The first part of the course will focus on defining play and exploring researchers’ differing perspectives on whether children can learn by playing. The second part of the course will involve visits to the Beneski Museum and the Holyoke Children’s Museum to explore the role of museums in studying and advancing children’s playful learning. Students will learn about the unique strengths and weaknesses of museum-based research and how socio-economic, educational, ethnic, and racial factors affect how children and families interact with museum exhibits. The third part of the course will be devoted to designing interventions that will encourage playful learning goals established in cooperation with the director and administrators at the Holyoke Children’s Museum. These interventions will be designed in small groups and implemented in the museum; therefore, there will be a significant amount of work and travel outside of class meetings.
Requisite: PSYC 100. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Palmquist.2021-22: Not offered
Students in this course will design and execute an original research project related to creativity. Psychologists have defined creative ideas as those that are original, useful, and surprising. Creativity can be observed in many contexts (e.g., the arts, science, athletics, politics, and business), and can refer both to ideas as well as the people and social environments that foster such ideas. The semester will begin with a careful reading of the literature which will help students develop individual research proposals; group projects will be selected from amongst these proposals. The rest of the semester will be devoted to conducting the group projects; this will include designing experimental procedures, developing stimuli, and data collection and analysis. Written and oral presentation will accompany each step in the process to enable students to receive and offer constructive feedback. The semester will culminate with oral and written presentations of the experimental projects.
Requisite: PSYC 122 or equivalent. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Schulkind.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked somewhat in parallel to one another. While psychologists have traditionally focused on how humans think, feel, and behave, neuroscientists have primarily focused exclusively on the workings of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a relatively new discipline that lies at the intersection of these fields and seeks to understand the neurobiological processes that underlie cognition. This course serves as a broad introduction to the field of cognitive neuroscience and will focus on a variety of questions, including the following: How does the brain obtain and process information about the environment via sight, taste, and touch? How does the brain support our capacity to learn and speak different languages? What happens to the brain when it is afflicted with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, schizophrenia, and autism? This course will provide students with a foundational understanding of modern cognitive neuroscience and the ways in which researchers examine the relationship between the mind and the brain.
Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Cohen.2021-22: Not offered
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. PSYC 212 does not count as credit towards the neuroscience major. Students interested in the Neuroscience major should enroll in 213. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
(Offered as PSYC 213 and NEUR 213) 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. Laboratories will include basic neuroanatomy and behavioral experiments. Three class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.
Requisite: BIOL 191 or PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Cannot be taken if PSYC 212 has been taken because of substantial overlap between the two courses. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professor Turgeon.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
The individual’s behavior as it is influenced by other people and by the social environment. The major aim of this 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. Preference to Amherst College students. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Smith.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
This course examines how psychologists understand the patterns of experiencing and behaving that constitute an individual’s personality. Personality psychologists are concerned with the ways in which a person is like all other people in these patterns (common psychological processes), like some others (individual differences), and like no one else (uniqueness). In examining these questions, we study the “grand theories” of Freud, Skinner, and Rogers, as well as the contemporary models of traits and scripts. We explore what professional observations led to the major theoretical ideas in personality psychology, and we critically examine how these ideas have been tested in empirical research. Furthermore, we study the lives of the theorists to examine how their professional ideas were informed by their personal lives. Students will also take personality assessment devices throughout the semester as a way to better understand the models, and perhaps themselves as well.
Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Demorest.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This highly interactive course brings together students to examine the roles race and other intersecting identities play in their lives. Course work includes an interdisciplinary blend of scholarly readings, in-class dialogue, experiential learning activities, reflective writing, and an intergroup collaborative action project aimed at bettering relationships and communication patterns outside the class itself. The course readings link students’ personal experiences with race to a socio-historical understanding of individual, institutional, and structural discrimination, and to the ways social inequality is embedded in social institutions and individual consciousness, constraining life chances. The readings address power imbalances within and between racial groups, and the ways privilege is allocated and social inequalities are sustained. Students will engage in sustained and respectful dialogue around racial divisions, learning to build skills in intergroup communication, collaboration, and relationships. Students will bring their own experiences with race into the classroom as a legitimate process of learning. Class members will explore similarities and differences between their experiences with race and privilege within and across racial identity groups, with the goal of coming to understand the underlying conditions that account for these different experiences and perceptions.
Requisite: PSYC 100 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Professors Aries and Hart.2021-22: Not offered
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. Professor Palmquist.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
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 consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 Amherst college students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor McQuade.2021-22: Not offered
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 consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Schulkind.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
The field of sports psychology examines psychological variables that impact athletic participation and behavior. This course introduces students to theories and research across diverse areas of psychology, including social, cognitive, developmental, and clinical. Topics will include the role of goals and equity in providing motivation, strategies for successful performance, the use of imagery, attributions for successful versus unsuccessful performance, the predictors of aggression, the causes of the “homefield choke,” effective approaches to coaching, the “hot-hand effect,” the role of personality, the predictors of injury, and the impact of gender on athletics. This course will involve intensive participation in class discussion and many written assignments.
Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Sanderson.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
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. Spring semester. Professor Raskin.2021-22: Not offered
This course provides an introduction to the topic of persuasion – the act of attempting to change the thoughts, feelings or behaviors of others. Lectures, primary source readings and assignments will focus on developing students’ understanding of the mental processes that control people’s reactions to persuasive messages. By examining scientific theories of persuasion, empirical research investigating the ways in which people’s minds can be changed, and real-world examples of successful and unsuccessful persuasion attempts, students will develop the ability to recognize, evaluate, create, and resist persuasive messages. Ultimately, students will use the knowledge they acquire in the course to design a theoretically-based persuasive campaign on a topic of their choosing.
Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Smith.2021-22: Not offered
The field of health psychology examines how psychosocial factors, including personality, social influences, and culture, influence physical health in a variety of ways. The three central issues that we will focus on in this course are the promotion and maintenance of health (e.g., how psychosocial factors influence health-promoting and health compromising behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and disordered eating), the experience and development of pain and illness (e.g., how psychosocial factors influence pain, chronic illness, and life-threatening disease), and the treatment of illness (e.g., how psychosocial factors influence health care interactions, screening behavior, and adherence to medical regiments).
Requisite: PSYC 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Sanderson.2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
(Offered as PSYC 325 and NEUR 325) 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, PSYC/NEUR 226, or NEUR 213, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 22 students. Not open to five college students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
In this course we will examine how to apply psychological theories to understand the lives of political leaders. We begin this course with a consideration of the role of personality in political leadership. We then examine psychological theories that can be fruitfully applied to the study of individual lives. Over the course of the semester, we will evaluate existing psychobiographies of important figures and students will conduct their own psychobiographical analyses of figures of their choice.
Requisite: PSYC 220, 221, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester: Professor Demorest.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
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, 228, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Demorest.2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
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. Open to seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Sanderson.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as PSYC 356 and NEUR 356) This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, addiction, fear, and sex. Students will read original articles in the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral scientific literature. Key goals of this course will be to make students conversant with the most recent scientific findings and adept at research design and hypothesis testing.
Requisite: PSYC 212 or 226 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Baird.2021-22: Not offered
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.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as PSYC 361 and NEUR 361) Although curiosity about the nature of consciousness has animated the work of philosophers, artists and others, this course will approach the topic from a scientific perspective. How do electrochemical signals in our brain produce our experience of colors, sounds, tastes and our awareness of ourselves? We will read and discuss primary source scientific journal articles drawn from both psychology and neuroscience with a focus on questions including: What kinds of brain activity distinguish conscious from unconscious states? Can objects in the environment (e.g., advertisements) affect our behavior even if we are not consciously aware of those objects? Are there different types of consciousness? Is consciousness peculiar to human beings (does it require language?) or is consciousness experienced by other species, as well? Does science have the tools necessary to achieve a complete understanding of human consciousness? Overall, the goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the current states of the scientific study of consciousness.
Requisite: PSYC 211, PSYC 212, PSYC 233, or PSYC/NEUR 213. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Cohen.2021-22: Not offered
This course will examine how infants learn to communicate through gestures, body language, and preverbal vocalizations, and how nonverbal communication develops through childhood and adulthood. The course will also examine how nonverbal communication in humans compares to communication in nonhuman species such as dogs, chimpanzees, and dolphins. As a precursor to these discussions, we will explore the theoretical controversies surrounding the definition of "communication." Students will read empirical work, engage in collaborative research design, conduct naturalistic observations, and will develop a final paper that explores the communicative content of nonverbal interactions.
Requisite: PSYC 227. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Palmquist.2021-22: Not offered
Psychology strives to understand (and predict) human behavior. The law aims to control behavior and punish those who violate laws. At the intersection of these two disciplines are questions such as: Why do people obey the law? What are the most effective means for punishing transgressions so as to encourage compliance with the law? The idea that our legal system is the product of societal values forms the heart of this course. We will repeatedly return to that sentiment as we review social psychological principles, theories, and findings addressing how the principal actors in legal proceedings affect each other. We will survey research on such topics as: criminal versus civil procedure, juror selection criteria, juror decision-making, jury size and decision rule, the death penalty, insanity defense, and eyewitness reliability. To a lesser degree the course will also consider (1) issues that arise from the impact of ideas from clinical psychology and other mental health-related fields upon the legal system, and (2) the impact that the legal system has had upon the field of psychology.
Requisite: PSYC 220. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Hart.2021-22: Not offered
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. Spring semester. Professor McQuade.2021-22: Not offered
Attachment theory has long been a framework for understanding the development of mental health and psychopathology. To what extent do infant attachments enhance, or disrupt, later adult relationships? Do early traumas in attachments affect the development of psychopathology? Can brain development be influenced by infant attachments? What role do adult relational attachments play in mental health? In this seminar we will examine attachment theory from a psychodynamic and psychobiological perspective. We will review some of the classic attachment literature of psychoanalytic theorists, for example, John Bowlby, Melanie Klein, and D.W. Winnicott. We will read the empirical evidence that measures attachment styles in children and adults, and we will discover how translational research from animal models reveals the possible neural and physiological correlates that mediate attachment behaviors. This is an upper-level seminar, which requires full student participation in class discussion as well as weekly writings, and student presentations.
Requisite: PSYC 212, 221, 227, or 228, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Raskin.2021-22: Not offered
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. Fall semester. Professor Schulkind.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as PSYC 367 and NEUR 367) This course will be an in-depth exploration of contemporary issues in the field of human neuroscience. Topics include a rigorous examination of the methods neuroscientists use to study the human brain, how the brain changes throughout the lifespan, the ways in which researchers have developed brain/machine interfaces, and the neural processes that support decision-making. For each topic, we will read several empirical articles and discuss them with an emphasis on experimental design, factors that may be confounding the data, and interpretation of the data. Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, in-class debates, and a research proposal. Overall, the goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the cutting edge of human neuroscience research and to increase their ability to think like scientists.
Requisite: PSYC 211 or PSYC 212 or PSYC/NEUR 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Cohen.2021-22: Not offered
Autobiographical memory encompasses everything we know about our personal past, from information as mundane as our Social Security number to the most inspirational moments of our lives. This course will begin by evaluating several theoretical frameworks that structure the field. We will consider how personal knowledge influences our sense of self and will examine both the contents of autobiographical memory and the contexts in which it functions, including eyewitness testimony, flashbulb memories, and the false/recovered memory controversy. We will discuss individual differences (gender and age) in autobiographical memory and will also examine the neurobiology of long-term memory and the consequences of damage to the system (i.e., dementia and amnesia). Finally, we will explore how social groups retain memories for important cultural events.
Requisite: PSYC 233 or 234. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Schulkind.2021-22: Not offered
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. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Open to senior majors in Psychology who have received departmental approval.
Fall semester. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021