Exploration of the major topics in psychology, including how we receive and interpret information from the world, learning and motivation, the relationship between brain and behavior, development, personality (both normal and abnormal), and the social aspects of our behavior. The major controversies in psychology provide the binding themes in the course, such as nature versus nurture and theories about the relationship between mind and body. We will examine some of the ‘grand’ questions that psychologists have posed and investigated – what forces shape our behavior, who do we love and why, what is prejudice and who conforms, and do we think and behave rationally. These issues are examined at several levels of explanation, from neurotransmitter functioning, through conditioning, and the influence of the group. We will delve into the history of psychology, from the Greeks to the neuropsychological and pharmaceutical revolutions of today.
Psych 1 F07syllabus
Psychology 1, Paul Rozin, Fall, 2007
Kinjal Doshi, Min Gong, Daniel Hackman, Eranda Jayawickreme, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan (Graduate teaching assistants)
The purpose of this course is to teach you both what we know in modern psychology, and how we come to know it. The textbook is an excellent presentation of the state of our knowledge in various areas of psychology. The lectures and “laboratories,” rather than reiterating the text, will emphasize the process of studying the mind, and in particular, the accomplishments and failures of attempts to apply a scientific approach to psychology. The process of inquiry and its historical course will be emphasized in lectures and "lab" activities. An additional aim of the lecture/laboratory material is to encourage critical thinking, and to convey how a "case is made" in terms of the interaction of theory and evidence, in the natural and social sciences.
In class, we will consider selected topics in some depth. The topics have been chosen to broadly represent the substantive areas of psychology. They include areas in which our understanding is considerable, and others in which we know much less. In the course of doing this, you will see the mode of operation of both the social and natural sciences, since psychology falls within both of these approaches. At one end (e.g., in the study of color vision), psychology is much like physics, whereas at the other "end" (e.g., in the study of violence), psychology is more like sociology. And in some areas of study (e.g., food intake), there are both social and natural science perspectives.
Given the focus on the process of discovery in the course, the class will participate in a number of data gathering activities. For the most part, the 200-350 students in the course will serve as “subjects,” and engage in filling out questionnaires and participating in demonstration experiments. Almost all of this will be accomplished on web based activities, through the two programs of Survey Monkey and Inquisit. In addition, in a few cases, students will actually collect data from others. The data generated from these studies will be presented in class, in the context of the topic under discussion. The data bases, minus information that would allow for the identification of individual persons (including only data on gender and culture [Asian origin or not]). The data you provide about yourself or others will not be connected to your identity in any way, and will not be evaluated in terms of grading. Your identification serves merely to allow us to record that you completed the assignment, and possibly to connect data from one project with data from another.
There is an initial questionnaire, completed in the first days of the course, on Survey Monkey. This is designed primarily to assess the state of knowledge of psychology and related disciplines that the student brings to the class. This will serve as an aid to setting the proper level of the lectures. The initial questionnaire also includes demographic information, which can be used with later questionnaires to allow us to analyze by gender and other features. Finally, there are a few questions in the initial questionnaire which will inform issues we will be discussing in the first set of lectures.
As is traditional in introductory psychology courses around the United States, students are also required to participate in active research projects, carried out by graduate students, undergraduate students in junior/senior research courses, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty in Psychology. Each student must complete three hours of participation during the semester. Units of participation are one half hour, and typically occupy a half hour (1 of 6 required credit units) or an hour (2 of 6 required credit units). Some of these projects are carried out on the web, and some in classrooms or laboratories. It is in your interest to participate in at least one study that involves going to a laboratory, to understand the role of being a subject. All data you produce is anonymous, but will be credited to your “account” to track your fulfillment of the requirement. In each case of participation, you will be given information (either at the time or later, by email) of the purpose of the study, and the types of general findings generated.
The text provides a readable and coherent presentation of the state of the field and its major problems, and will also serve as a background for the lectures. Text assignments match, more or less, the materials covered in lecture.
Some students express concern in past versions of this course, that the lectures are more complementary to the text, than repetitive of the text. This is intentional. The text is an excellent summary of the state of the field. The lectures are designed to complement this by providing a sense of how we explore the mind, how we collect and analyze data, and how we make progress in psychology.
Some students are also frustrated by the fact that lecture power points are made available on the blackboard site after, but not before the lectures. Some students like to take notes right on the powerpoint displays, or printouts of them. This is an understandable aim, but it interferes with the development of the lecture material, and the engagement of the student in the lecture. It is like attending a play but having the script in front of you, so you can read ahead.
Class attendance is not required, and attendance will not be taken. However, the material presented in lectures is by and large different from that in the text, will teach you things that you will not learn in the text, and will constitute about half of the items on the examinations. In addition, various demonstrations and data gathering efforts will take place in class. These cannot be represented well in the lecture powerpoints. Participation in the class data-gathering efforts is part of the course requirement. You will be able to miss a few of these, but the point of the course is partly for you to learn by participation.
The course has the following components:
The basic lectures
Special topics of interest presented as part of lectures, for 5-15’ about once a week
Demonstrations and data-gathering activities in class
Questionnaires and experiments completed with the student as subject that are web based
A few data gathering activities in which students will make measurements or observations on others
All of these activities are integral parts of the course, and will be covered in examinations.
Conceptual Outline of the Course (Lectures)
I. A SCIENCE OF PSYCHOLOGY
1. Scientific Understanding. We will discuss the nature of explanation in psychology, and the different types of explanation that psychologists and biologists employ. We will illustrate the nature of explanation by observing some animal behavior (on videotape) and trying to interpret and understand it.
INCLASSDEMO: Observation and interpretation of behavior (videotape of rat behavior).
SPECIAL TOPIC: Psychology and the public: The Issue of memories of child abuse
INCLASSDEMO: Eyewitness reliability
2. The route to discovery. We illustrate the "scientific method," through a historical treatment of the discovery of how salmon migrate. We also introduce, with both salmon data and some data generated by the class, the basic idea of statistical inference.
INCLASSDEMO: Extra Sensory Perception (ESP)
Gender and handwriting
3. The experiment. The nature and power of experiment. In class design of an experiment
ATHOMELAB: Data gathering: Can people distinguish coke from pepsi
4. Biological perspectives: The nervous system. We next consider whether all behavior and mental events can be represented as biological (physical) processes (and hence be subject to discovery by the scientific method). This brief section will provide a biological background for the rest of the course. It will include a brief historical review of the discovery of the brain-mind relationship.
INCLASSDEMO: Measuring the speed of the nerve impulse
Measuring the size of mental images
II. THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY AND MAJOR MOVEMENTS OR "WORLD VIEWS" IN PSYCHOLOGY
In this major part of the course, we will consider, roughly in historical order, the major movements in psychology. In each case, we will describe the basic history and philosophy of the movement, and then illustrate how the movement worked by selecting an example of something interesting studied by the adherents of the movement.
5. Psychoanalysis and Dreams. We begin at the beginning of the 20th century, with one of the first organized approaches to the study of the mind: Psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis also became a world view, which extended beyond psychology. We will consider, through an intellectual biography of Sigmund Freud, how the basic ideas of psychoanalysis came into existence, and the nature of the theory and evidence for it. A focus on understanding of dreams will give you the opportunity to experience the frustrations of the enterprise of scientific psychology, as it comes to grips with a fascinating phenomenon that is very difficult to study. The study of psychoanalysis will also give us a chance (by contrasting hysterical and neurological illness) to discuss the ways in which the study of the brain can and cannot aid us in the understanding of behavior and mind.
ATHOMELAB: Students will be subjects in a reaction time study on what is called Implicit Associations. This will illustrate, in relation to psychoanalysis, that individuals may “hold” attitudes that they do not acknowledge.
5. Behaviorism and Phobias. We will next consider the general view of humans and science put forth in the position called behaviorism. Behaviorism began as a viewpoint early in the 20th century, partly as a reaction against psychoanalysis. This position emphasizes the role of learning, and calls for an objective science of psychology. We will sample research on animal learning to illustrate this approach, considering the problem of what is associated in Pavlovian conditioning and the problem of avoidance learning. Behaviorism and psychoanalysis are probably the two approaches in psychology that have had the greatest influence in the world at large. We will illustrate the behaviorist approach by considering phobias as an example of learning. This will also give us an opportunity to explore applications of basic learning principles.
SPECIAL TOPIC: The Mozart effect: Does listening to Mozart improve the mind?
6. Cognitive Science
Cognitive science (along with cognitive neuroscience) is probably the dominant movement in psychology today. It is devoted to the scientific study of mental events, such as those involved in perception, memory and thinking. It is represented at Penn by the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Both are among the more prominent Research Centers in the world in this area. Because cognitive science directly attacks what might be considered the most difficult challenge for psychology, can we scientifically study mental events?, we will spend quite a bit of time on this exciting area, covering its operation in three areas: color vision, perception, and reading.
6A. Color Vision. For an example of psychology as it should be, and a model for other less well developed areas of psychology, we will explore the basic phenomena and theories of human color vision. This will illustrate the relations between theories, observations and experiments. We will see how two alternative theories deal with a set of data, and how each theory emphasizes different phenomena and leads to different types of experiments.
INCLASSDEMO: Many in-class demonstrations of color vision phenomena
SPECIAL TOPIC: How does a baseball player hit a 90 MPH fastball?
6B. Perception: Movement, Faces, and Persons. The construction in the mind of a model of the world. We will briefly discuss how we make sense out of the world, through a series of in-class demonstrations of the illusion of movement, and some discussion of the nature of face perception. We will then extend this to the domain of the social world, and person perception
INCLASSDEMO: Computer demonstrations and experiments on perceived movement in class
LAB: Web based study on person perception (Survey Monkey)
SPECIAL TOPIC: Amnesia
6C. Reading. With many demonstrations and a set of “lab” activities on the web, in which you will serve as “subject” in some classic reading experimentgs, we will explore how we can infer mental processes by studying behavior. We will pay particular attention to the use of the method of reaction time, which we will illustrate in some detail. We will also consider computer-simulation of mental events and behavior. Finally, we will relate basic scientific findings about reading to the problem of teaching reading and treating reading disability.
ATHOMELAB: Web activity on INQUISIT: letter identification tasks that identify stages of the reading process
INCLASSDEMO: In class demonstration of how we can infer “mental” processes from overt behavior, using as an example inferring a computer program from just looking at its output characteristics
In class Demonstrations of some of basic phenomena in reading
SPECIAL TOPIC: Artificial intelligence: Chess and computers
7. Evolutionary perspective (evolutionary psychology): Sex differences. We will consider a recent and different perspective on human nature. . This approach emphasizes adaptation and the evolutionary origins of behavior. We will apply it to the understanding of some aspects of sexual behavior, particularly sex differences, in humans.
ATHOMELAB: Web questionnaire (Survey Monkey) on sex differences.
SPECIAL TOPIC: Women and science
8. Cognitive neuroscience
also serve to introduce one of the major current perspectives in psychology, often described as Cognitive neuroscience, the study of the relation between brain anatomy, organization and function, and human behavior and mental processes. After briefly discussing the history of discovery of the brain-mind relationship, we will expand on one current problem in this area: cerebral organization (lateralization) in humans: the functions of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, and left handedness.
LABS: Measuring the speed of the nerve impulse in humans
Lateralization questionnaire: collection and analysis
of data on asymmetries and handedness
Data collection by students on asymmetric facial expressions
8. Cultural perspective (cultural psychology): Collectivism/Holism and the focus on relationships. In recent decades, the cultural perspective has gained prominence in psychology. This approach links psychology to anthropology, and emphasizes the important role of culture in shaping human beings. We will consider this perspective through recent studies that contrast individualism and collectivism, and in parallel, analytic versus holistic ways of thinking.
LAB: Questionnaire on Analytic vs Holistic thinking on the web, either with Survey Monkey and/or Inquisit
1. The economic perspective: The psychology of judgment and decision making. Preferences and rational decision making lie at the core of modern economics and the function of individuals, particularly in a market economy. Recent work in psychology has examined the ways in which people make decisions, and has called into question many of the assumptions made about people by economists. In particular, there seem to be serious problems with assuming humans make decisions in a rational manner. We will examine the successes and failures of humans as decision maker, and do so in reference to what would have been adaptive for humans in their ancestral environment.
LAB: Web based questionnaire on heuristics and biases
III. SPECIAL TOPICS IN MODERN PSYCHOLOGY
The topics to be covered in the last part of the course cover a wide range of psychology, all with implications for understanding and coping with issues that arise in modern human life. In each case, we will consider the topic from many of the various perspectives designated in the second section of the course.
10. Food and eating. All humans eat, and do so regularly. We will examine the forces that determine how much people eat, and if we have time, what they eat. We will be particularly interested in the interaction of evolutionary, cultural, biological, motivational and cognitive factors.
LAB: Web Questionnaire on body image, identification of infant facial expressions, and food ambivalence
11. Emotion. We will consider emotion from all of the perspectives described above. Our focus will be on facial expression of emotion.
12. Nature and nurture. We will consider a fundamental and politically sensitive issue in psychology: the role of genes (nature), as opposed to environment (nurture) in the determination of behavior. We will discuss athletic ability, intelligence and personality. And we will consider whether, as Freud proposed, experience in the first years of life has a strong determining effect on later life.
LAB: Examination of class-generated data on family resemblance
13. Ethnopolitical conflict, violence and identification. We will bring to bear many of the things we have learned in the course in an attempt to get insight into why there is so much conflict and violence between ethnic groups around the world. At the same time, we will confront the difficulty of making definitive findings in the more complex, social areas of psychology. We will consider critical thinking, and the nature of evidence.
IV. CONCLUSION: THE FUTURE AND FRONTIERS OF PSYCHOLOGY
14. We will briefly consider three recent and important new lines of study in psychology.
One is the development of the new field of neuroscience, which we will illustrate with a discussion of the biochemistry of mind. We will focus on findings that drugs (like prozac) that affect levels of brain neurotransmitters may produce surprising changes in personality.
We will then consider the computer revolution and modern cognitive science, and the use of computers to study the mind and to model the mind.
Finally, from the perspective of the new field of cultural psychology, we will re-examine psychology's view of human nature, from the point of view of how different cultures mould human nature. We will consider the definition of the self, the nature of human relationships, and the view of humans as "economic" creatures, optimizing within the framework of a market economy.
COURSE ADMINISTRATION Psychology 001-001/002, Fall, 2007
There is a course web site on BLACKBOARD, Psych 001-001/002, Fall 2007
There are two virtually identical websites.
All course handout materials (except the textbook) will also be duplicated on the blackboard website.
Powerpoints for each lecture topic (a topic may last for 3 lecture periods) will be placed on the website after the topic is completed
Information on the labs/activities will be posted
Also, we will post data from the class laboratories on the blackboard web site.
I do not like to do evaluations, but this is a necessary part of education, to provide feedback to both the institution and the individual. I also am not fond of multiple choice, objective examinations, but the class size makes this necessary. It is not that I think multiple choice examinations are a poor measure of what is learned; rather, I think students feel that they are, and that this has a demeaning effect. I try to make the course and examinations focus on ideas, and on the problem of how we can build a science of the mind, rather than on details of particular findings. This is the reason that the examinations are open book. This is to urge the student to think about the material, rather than memorize it.
Your grade for the course will depend almost entirely on your performance on two midterms and a final exam*
(* unless you participate in the voluntary extra section, see below).
You will also be expected to hand in results from all lab projects, which we will monitor by simply recording that the item has been handed in. In some cases, some data will be collected in class, but it will still be submitted from your computer through Survey Monkey.
The psychology department has a system for tracking your participation in the 3 hour research requirement, and your completion of this is necessary for you to receive a course grade. If you object to doing this, you can write to one of the Tas, and arrange to write a paper instead of research participation, to fulfill this requirement.
The midterms and final will both be of the same format: open-book multiple choice questions. You can bring the text and any notes to the exam. You cannot use laptops, since not everyone has access to one.
The first midterm covers the first third of the course (through the first 9 lectures and the text material on Sensation (chapter 4). The midterm (40 minutes) will consist of 20 questions; you are to answer the 17 you prefer to answer, leaving out answers to three items.
The second midterm covers the second third of the course (lectures 10-18) and the text material up to on Social influence and relationships (chapter 13). The midterm (40 minutes) will consist of 20 questions; you are to answer the 17 you prefer to answer, leaving out answers to three items. There will be no specific questions on the first third of the course, but general knowledge of this material will be assumed.
The final will consist of 3 sections, each 40 minutes in length, and each with 20 questions, of which 17 are to be answered. The first third of the final will cover the same material as the first midterm, the second third of the final will cover the same material as the second midterm, and the final third will cover the material in the last third of the course. The items on each third of the course will focus on that portion of the course, but will assume general knowledge of the other sections. In addition, the third part of the final may include questions that integrate information from the three parts of the course.
ALL EXAMINATIONS ARE OPEN BOOK. YOU CAN BRING YOUR TEXTBOOK, ANY NOTES YOU HAVE TAKEN, AND IF ENGLISH IS NOT YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE, YOU CAN BRING A DICTIONARY.
YOU WILL GET THE BETTER GRADE OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE FINAL AND THE MIDTERM. THIS MEANS, IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH YOUR MIDTERM GRADE, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE THE FIRST HALF OF THE FINAL.
Your grade on the first midterm OR the first third of the final will constitute one third of your final grade, and your grade on the second midterm OR the second third of the final will constitute one third of your final grade. Your grade on the last third of the final will constitute the final third of your course grade. You will get the benefit of the higher grade from either the midterm or the corresponding part of the final for each of the midterms.
This means that if you are satisfied with a midterm grade, you do not have to take the corresponding part of the final
First third of course
First third of Course
Higher of M or F grade
Second third of course
Second third of Course
Higher of M or F grade
Final third of Course
The exam questions will give about equal attention to the textbook and lectures (including labs and demonstrations), and in some cases will integrate material from both.
Sample exams (with answers) will be available on the blackboard site. However, in previous years, there was only one midterm, so you will examine examinations for the first and second halves of the course. In addition, there is some change in the material covered in lectures, and there is a new edition of the textbook this year.
Review sessions will be held by the graduate teaching assistants before each mid-term and before the final.
A large class, by its nature, does not encourage a lot of interaction between students and instructors. It also limits opportunities for individual expression in students. To get around this problem, to some extent:
Summary of each of the possible minicourses (all are open to students in either section). A full syllabus will be available before you have to make a commitment.
The instructor is Paul Rozin.
Room 112. 3810 Walnut St.
Office hour: Wednesday, 10:30-11:30
The graduate teaching assistants are: