Courses by Depth Area

Abnormal / Health Psychology (PSY 105)

Courses in this area focus on understanding psychological processes involved in both healthy and maladaptive adjustment. The survey course, PSY 105, provides a broad overview of psychological disorders, including how psychological disorders are classified and treated, and the contribution of biological and experiential factors to the development of psychopathology. Other courses in this area build on this foundation to explore a wide range of issues related to abnormal behavior as well as the role of psychological processes in physical well being.

Biological Basis of Behavior (PSY 106/107)

The human brain may be the most sophisticated machine in the universe. This exceptionally compact device is responsible for virtually all behavioral and mental achievement, from the criminal to the sublime. Brain research, often called "the last frontier," has accelerated in recent years, and it has begun to reveal remarkable insight into memory, perception, emotion and an array of other behavioral and mental processes.

The brain is the centerpiece of a biological approach to behavior, but its role must be understood within the broad context of its evolution, and of the forces that shape it during an individual's development. Moreover, one must appreciate its relationship to other aspects of physiology, such as the endocrine and immune systems. The courses in this area have been designed to provide this broad perspective on the brain and behavior. The initial course, PSY 106/107, is also a core course in the Neuroscience major.

Cognitive Psychology (PSY 102)

Cognitive psychology is the study of what people and animals know and do. Relying on experimental evidence, models and theory, it studies how people and animals attend, learn, perceive, reason, and remember, and it examines how people, in particular, solve problems and use concepts, images, language and other modes of representation.

Cognitive Psychology, PSY 102, introduces major topics of this area. Subsequent courses focus on specific issues, perception, memory, reasoning, and language development, and on the research and modeling methods used to address them. Faculty research interests include sensory capabilities, like audition, vision, taste, smell, and touch, along with perception and perceptual coding, stimulus definition, mental representation, psycholinguistics, cognitive aspects of aging, individual differences in cognition, and perceptual and cognitive development.

Students can receive training in these general areas as well as in such specific issues as autobiographical memory, memory for rhyme and prose, categorization, imagery, specific learning, memory expert/novice differences, everyday cognition, and differences in perception by infant, children, adults, and the geriatric population.

Developmental Psychology (PSY 103)

The developmental track emphasizes development across age. It encompasses a broad review that includes biological, cognitive, emotional, and social processes as they develop across infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. It includes such diverse areas as the development of sensory and motor systems, the development of children's thinking and reasoning, and the development of social behavior in families, peer groups, and social institutions. Theoretical orientations represented are also diverse and range from views of human and animal development that emphasize biological evolution, to those that stress social learning or the organization of mental structures. See the Undergraduate Bulletin about the multi disciplinary undergraduate certificate programs in Human Development and Early Childhood Studies. The survey course in this area is Developmental Psychology, PSY 103.

Social Psychology (PSY 104)

Human social behavior is influenced by a wide array of factors involving both aspects of the situation in which people find themselves and processes that operate within the individual.  The courses in the social psychology area examine the diversity of factors that influence people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, including situational factors (such as other people, social roles, and aspects of the social environment), internal motivational and cognitive processes  (such as goals, attitudes, self-views, and unconscious processes), personality characteristics, and physiological processes.  Topics include social cognition, motivation and goals, close relationships, self and identity, stereotyping and stigmatization, group behavior, personality, social neuroscience, and courses that apply social psychology to health, business, and marketing. 

Students who are interested in this track take the survey course Social Psychology, PSY 104, and are encouraged to take Personality, PSY 221.  While these courses are available to all students, they are especially relevant to those who plan to go to graduate school in social, personality, clinical, or counseling psychology, and for students whose career plans involve a people-centered profession.