Psychology
Year: Show curriculum in:

Amherst College Psychology for 2009-10

11 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.

Fall semester: Limited to 120 students. Professor Sanderson.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
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

12 Introduction to Biological Psychology

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.

Limited to 75 students.  Fall and spring semesters. Professor Turgeon.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
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

17 Psychology of Food and Eating Disorders

Food shapes our lives in many ways that extend far beyond mere ingestive acts. Through a broad survey of basic and clinical research literature, we will explore how foods and food issues imbue our bodies, minds, and relationships. We will consider biological and psychological perspectives on various aspects of eating such as metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression relief, food taboos, bulimia, and the anorexias. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Requisite: Psychology 11 or 12. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Baird.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2010

20 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: Psychology 11. Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Sanderson.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

21 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: Psychology 11. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Demorest.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

22 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: Psychology 11 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester: Professor Schulkind. Spring semester:  Keiter Visiting Professor Valdesolo.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
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

25 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: Psychology 12 or Psychology/Neuroscience 26, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Turgeon.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

26 Introduction to Neuroscience

(Offered as Neuroscience 26 and Psychology 26.) 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 three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: Psychology 12 or Biology 18 or 19. Limited to 36 students. Spring semester. Professors Turgeon and S. George.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

27 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: Psychology 11 or 12. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Olver.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

28 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: Psychology 11 or 12, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Halgin (University of Massachusetts).

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

31 The Social Function of Emotion

Whether it involves deciding what's right or wrong, deciding who or how we love and desire, negotiating business relationships and power dynamics in the workplace, or managing intergroup competition and prejudice in the world at large, successfully navigating through the social landscape can be a complicated endeavor. Rationalist models of judgment and decision making have typically relegated the experience of emotions to, at best, an obstacle to be overcome, and at worst a necessarily biasing and corrupting force. By adopting a functionalist approach to emotion, this course will explore the ways in which emotional states shape our social interactions. In particular, we will seek to identify the conditions under which emotions can aid our decision making and facilitate social functioning.

Requisite: Psychology 11. Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2009-10. Keiter Visiting Professor Valdesolo.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009

32 Psychology of Adolescence

This course will focus on the issues of personal and social changes and continuities which accompany and follow physiological puberty. Topics to be covered include physical development, autonomy, identity, intimacy, and relationship to the community. The course will present cross-cultural perspectives on adolescence, as well as its variations in American society. Both theoretical and empirical literature will be examined.

Requisite: Psychology 11. Limited to 25 students.  Spring semester. Professor Aries.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2014

33 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: Psychology 11 or 12. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Schulkind.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

34 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: Psychology 11. Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Schulkind.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

35 Sports Psychology

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: Psychology 11. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Sanderson.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2013

36 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: Psychology 11 or 12.  Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Raskin.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Spring 2014

38 Psychobiography: The Study of Lives

Psychobiography aims to apply psychological theory to understand the lives of significant figures. We begin this course with a consideration of what constitutes good and bad psychobiography. 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., those of Freud, and Horney) to models focusing on important organizing variables (e.g., scripts and interpersonal styles). Next, we evaluate existing psychobiographies of important figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Emily Dickinson, and Joseph Stalin. Finally, each student prepares a psychobiographical term paper on a figure of his or her choice.

Requisite: Psychology 11. Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester. Professor Demorest.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2012

40 Sex Role Socialization

An examination of the processes throughout life that produce and maintain sex-typed behaviors. The focus is on the development of the psychological characteristics of males and females and the implications of that development for participation in social roles. Consideration of the biological and cultural determinants of masculine and feminine behaviors will form the basis for an exploration of alternative developmental possibilities. Careful attention will be given to the adequacy of the assumptions underlying psychological constructs and research in the study of sex differences.

Requisite: Psychology 11 or 12. Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester. Professor Olver.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010

43 Gender, the Brain and Behavior

This course will explore a number of interrelated questions regarding gender and science. We will start by describing gender stereotypes: beliefs about the characteristics, abilities, traits, and behaviors that distinguish women and men. We will then examine the empirical investigations and scientific theories from the fields of biology and psychology that purport to define and explain gender differences. We will consider, for example, gender identity, sexual orientation, cognitive abilities and preferences, parenting, and communication styles. We will draw on scientific literature from the fields of evolutionary psychology, behavioral endocrinology, developmental biology, genetics, and developmental psychology. We will look closely at the nature of the evidence from both human and animal research as well as consider the political and social contexts in which gender differences and similarities are studied. We will conclude by questioning whether the doing of science is itself a gendered activity. This course will pay particular attention to the development of the students’ skills in both writing and oral presentation.

Requisite: Psychology 11 or 12. Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2009-10.  Professor Turgeon.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008

44 The Social Psychology of Race

(Offered as Psychology 44 and Black Studies 52 [US].) An interdisciplinary investigation of the social psychology of race in the United States examining the nature and causes of racial stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. We will discuss alternatives to more traditional cognitive approaches that regard stereotyping primarily as a bias produced by the limits of individual processing. While grounded in social psychological theory, we will examine the emergence of race as an important social variable resulting from the interplay of various socio-historical forces. Readings will range from scientific journal articles to personal and intellectual accounts by some key figures in race research including G. Allport, W.E.B. Du Bois, N. Lemann, J.H. Stanfield, S. Steele, and C. West.

Requisite: Psychology 11. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hart.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Fall 2009

45 Psychology of Morality

Morality can guide our behavior, stifling self-interest and promoting altruism. Yet, we can also point to many examples when our moral sense fails us--instances of hypocrisy, iniquity, or violence. This class will apply current psychological research to explore how and why morality influences our judgments and actions. We will place a specific emphasis on the relative roles of emotions and of principled reasoning in these processes. We will incorporate evidence and argument from the fields of evolutionary biology, philosophy, anthropology, social neuroscience, and social psychology to explore the effects of moral thinking and feeling on topics such as economic and legal decision making, political affiliation, helping behavior, aggression and social deviance.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Keiter Visiting Professor Valdesolo.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009

46 Environmental Psychology

The field of environmental psychology emerged in response to our society’s increasing concern about environmental problems. While it deals with applied problems, the field makes use of theory and research on basic psychological processes to study the relationship between people and their environments. This course introduces students to the methods and findings of the field. In the first half of the course we will examine empirical research on topics such as the effects of environmental qualities (e.g., temperature, light, air pollution) on human functioning; differences in environmental attitudes and activism as a function of various human factors (e.g., culture, personality, gender); and the influence of interventions (e.g., education, reward, punishment) on promoting conservation behavior. In the second half of the course, students will conduct their own research on a topic of their own choosing.

Requisite: Psychology 11 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2009-10. Professor Demorest.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2011

47 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: Psychology 11 or 12. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Sanderson.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Fall 2012

53 Clinical Psychology

This course will examine methods used by clinical psychologists to understand the psychology of individual personalities. The course will focus on the analysis of narrative imagery to decipher the dominant patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that reflect the way an individual organizes his/her experience of the world. We will study narratives freely generated (i.e., autobiographical reports) as well as those generated to a standard psychological test (i.e., the Thematic Apperception Test). In the second half of the course, students will each pick a psychological test to study in detail and will lead class meetings devoted to those tests.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Demorest.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013

54 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: Psychology 20 or 21. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Sanderson.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

56 Neurophysiology of Motivation

This course will explore in detail the neurophysiological underpinnings of basic motivational systems such as feeding, 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: Psychology 12 or 26 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Baird.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

57 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: Psychology 11 and 12, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester.  Professor Raskin.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

59 Hormones and Behavior

This course will analyze how hormones influence the brain and behavior. We will focus on the role gonadal hormones play in animal behaviors such as aggression and sex and consider whether these hormones greatly influence human behaviors. Sexual orientation, maternal behavior, cognitive abilities, the menopause, etc., will be addressed from the point of view of science and from a social, historical and cultural perspective. Students must have a strong science background; knowledge of biology or neuroscience is preferred.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Turgeon.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2012

60 Developmental Psychobiology

A study of the development of brain and behavior in mammals. The material will cover areas such as the development of neurochemical systems, how the brain recovers from injury, and how early environmental toxins influence brain development. Emphasis will be placed on how aberrations in the central nervous system influence the development of behavior.

Requisite: Psychology 12 or 26 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Raskin.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010

63 Psychology and the Law

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: Psychology 20 and consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2009-10.  Professor Hart.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2012, Spring 2014

66 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: Psychology 33. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Schulkind.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2013

68 Autobiographical Memory

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. The 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: Psychology 33 or 34. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Schulkind.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014

71 Psychopathology

This term, used for mental illness and mental distress, is defined by differing perspectives, i.e., medical model, family systems and psychodynamics.  How the psychological and psychiatric communities define, and measure dysfunctional behavior depends upon these differing perspectives.  We will review the ideas and concepts behind the definitions and descriptions of psychological and psychobiological disorders i.e., Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder.  Students will write final papers on topics such as, whether specific diagnoses are scientifically or socially constructed, whether psychopathology is distress, disability or social deviance, and how a specific disorder can be understood from the point of view of depth psychology as well as underlying brain mechanisms.    

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Raskin.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

77, 78, 78D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Psychology who have received departmental approval. Fall semester.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

97, 98, 97H, 98H 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 semester.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
 

Trees on the Quad