Psychologists study mind and behavior in both human and non-human animals. They test hypotheses and theories using systematic observations of behavior in experimental, field, computer modeling and self-report settings.
We believe that the best way to communicate this empirical approach is by participating in it, so students learn and apply psychological methods in our courses. Our curriculum addresses current psychological theories that apply to a wide range of phenomena, but it also shapes students to employ various approaches to the empirical analysis of such theories. During this process, students develop analytical, research, quantitative and communication skills. Our empirical orientation also leads students to participate in collaborative and independent research experiences under the mentorship of our faculty.
Questions about behavior can be addressed at multiple levels of complexity (e.g., neural, cognitive and contextual) and from multiple perspectives (e.g., learning, perceptual, developmental and social). Our curriculum embodies these multiple conceptual approaches, as reflected in diverse course offerings as well as our participation in the Biological Foundations of Behavior and Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind interdisciplinary programs.
A major in Psychology consists of 10 courses:
- PSY 100 and 230;
- Four Area Studies courses; at least one course from each of the areas below. (It may be possible to substitute a related, non-introductory course with permission.) A single course may not be counted for more than one Area.
Perception and Physiological Psychology
PSY 240. Neuroscience.
PSY 301. Sensation and Perception.
PSY 302. Biopsychology.
Development and Cognition
PSY 304. Developmental Psychology.
PSY 305. Cognitive Psychology.
PSY 311. Origins of Moral Thought.
PSY 313. Cognitive Neuroscience.
PSY 317. Health Psychology.
Personality, Social and Psychopathology
PSY 307. Personality Psychology.
PSY 308. Psychopathology.
PSY 309. Social Psychology.
PSY 315. Cross-Cultural Psychology.
PSY 317. Health Psychology.
Evolution and Adaptation
PSY 250. Animal Behavior.
PSY 306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.
PSY 310. Conditioning and Learning.
PSY 311. Origins of Moral Thought.
PSY 312. Embodied Cognition.
- One elective course in Psychology; the elective course must be above the 100 level. (It may be possible to substitute a related, non-introductory course with permission.)
- Three 400-level courses. At least two of the three courses must be Empirical Research (ER) courses. A student approved to enroll in PSY 490 may count one semester of Independent Research towards this requirement.
The writing requirement in the Psychology major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.
Joint Majors may be developed with several departments with permission of the respective department chairpersons. Students with a special interest in the Biological Foundations of Behavior may elect that major with a concentration in either animal behavior or neuroscience. Students with a special interest in the Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind may elect that major.
The requirement for a minor is any six courses in Psychology.
Majors in the Department of Psychology have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science; Danish Institute for Study Abroad at University of Copenhagen; Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University programs in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; Boston University London Internship Program; IES Abroad programs in Austria and Spain; Syracuse University Abroad programs in Spain. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.
A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (W) Writing requirement; (ER) Empirical Research requirement.
100. Introductory Psychology. (N)
An experimental and conceptual analysis of the processes of learning, thinking and perception and the biological bases of behavior. The relationships of these to behavioral development, social behavior and more complex phenomena of personality formation and abnormal behavior are undertaken. Required laboratory work involves investigation of the various processes in animals and humans. Offered every semester. Students cannot earn credit for both PSY 100 and PSY 101 unless permission is obtained from the department.
101. Introduction to Psychological Science. (NSP)
A topics-based, non-lab, non-survey, question-and procedure-oriented discussion of important perspectives in contemporary psychological science. The course will examine origins, support for, and applications of a series of theoretical positions. In the process, students will learn to appreciate the empirical procedures through which psychologists formulate and evaluate hypotheses about behavior, using texts as well as primary literature that illustrates how these procedures occur in actual practice. Students cannot earn credit for both PSY 100 and PSY 101 unless permission is obtained from the department.
230. Experimental Design and Statistics.
Descriptive and inferential statistics. Research design as reflected in statistical methods. Analysis of variance designs for independent groups and for repeated measurements. Statistical power and comparison techniques. Required laboratory will focus on design and methodology. Offered every semester. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110.
Area Studies Courses
240. Neuroscience. (N)
Principles of nervous system function from the molecular through the organ system level as illustrated by the vertebrates and invertebrates. Approximately one half of the course will cover basic cellular principles of nervous system organization, development and physiology. The remaining lectures will consider the role of functionally identified neural networks in behavior control. Prerequisite: BIO 220 or BFB/PSY 302. Offered every Spring. Same as BFB/BIO/SPM 240.
250. Animal Behavior. (N)
An integrative approach to animal behavior from the perspectives of ethology, behavioral ecology and comparative psychology. The structure, function, development and evolution of behavioral adaptations including foraging and predation, communication, social organization and reproductive strategies. Observational and experimental research required. Prerequisites: BIO 110 and permission of instructor. Corequisite: either BIO 210 or PSY 230, or permission of the instructor. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB/BIO 250.
301. Sensation and Perception. (N)
Review of phenomena and research on sensory processes and their role in perception. Readings and discussion will examine evidence from behavioral, psychophysical and physiological research and consider implications for explanations arising from the mechanistic, cognitive, computational and naturalistic theoretical perspectives. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB/SPM 301.
302. Biopsychology. (N)
Behavioral and mental processes as viewed from a biological perspective with particular emphasis upon the role of neurochemical and endocrine factors in central nervous system function. Topics covered will include reproduction and gender, chemical senses and ingestion, emotion, learning, sleep and psychopathology. A neuropharmacological approach to the study of the nervous system will be emphasized. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every semester. Same as BFB/SPM 302.
304. Developmental Psychology.
An examination of the relative contributions of nature and nurture on children’s behavioral, cognitive and perceptual development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Topics include the development of language, concepts, intelligence, socialization, motor abilities and emotional understanding, with discussion informed by current and classic primary reading. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as SPM 304.
305. Cognitive Psychology.
In this course we will ask how some familiar human behaviors—seeing, classifying, remembering, speaking, reasoning—are possible. We will learn how cognitive scientists go about answering these questions and what some of the classic answers are. The idea is both to introduce some key findings in cognitive psychology and to develop the skills to understand and critically evaluate cognitive psychology research. In addition to lectures, the course will include hands-on experiments and demonstrations; student presentations of individual journal articles; and debates about the broader implications of some cognitive psychology research. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as SPM 305.
306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.
What is intelligent behavior, what is it for and how did it evolve? We will attempt to answer these questions and understand the nature and development of Mind from a comparative perspective. We will do so by investigating learning, perception, memory, thinking and language in animals and humans. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: One of: PSY 100, PSY 301, PSY 302, PSY 303, PSY 304, PSY 305, BIO 240, BIO 250 or PHI 338, or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Same as BFB/SPM 306.
307. Personality Psychology.
This course provides an evaluative and comparative overview of major models of personality selected to illustrate psychodynamic, trait, cognitive, humanistic, physiological and learning approaches. The course will emphasize the testability of the models and their connection with current research. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as SPM 307.
This course will serve as an introduction to descriptive and theoretical approaches to the study of psychopathology. In addition to the study of disease-related processes, special emphasis will be placed upon developing an understanding of those biological, psychological and social conditions that are essential for healthy psychosocial functioning across the life span. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as SPM 308.
309. Social Psychology.
This course involves the student in exploration of some of the basic topics in experimental approaches to social psychology, such as cognitive and motivational perspectives on social phenomena, the role of affect and emotion in social action and current uses of the concept of self. Issues explored in this context include self-affirmation processes, regulation of social action and the relationship between affect, cognition and action. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Spring. Same as SPM 309.
310. Conditioning and Learning.
An introduction to the process by which human and animal behavior changes as a function of experience. Examines basic mechanisms for learning (including habituation, sensitization and classical and operant conditioning) and explores the scientific and practical application of these mechanisms to explain and predict behavior. Discusses the extent to which learning mechanisms are consistent across species and how the physiology, natural environment and social systems of individual species interact with basic learning processes to produce different behavioral outcomes. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB 310.
311. Origins of Moral Thought.
Moral values define us, unite us, and give meaning to our lives. How have we come to hold our particular moral convictions? We will examine this question on three different timescales: millennia (human evolution), centuries (cultural dynamics), and years (child development). Students will evaluate and synthesize insights from psychology, philosophy, biology, anthropology, economics, and history in order to understand the manifold origins of moral beliefs and behaviors, thus challenging existing values and cultivating improved abilities to create a better future. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or placement. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BFB/BIO/PSY 250 or PHI/SPM250. Same as SPM 311.
312. Embodied Cognition. (NSP)
In this course we will study intelligence by focusing on perception and action in the environment. To this end, we will focus on ecological psychology, robotics, artificial neural networks and simulated evolution. Although students will be expected to build simple robots and work with computer models, no background knowledge of engineering or computing will be assumed. (Knowledge of programming is not required.) Prerequisite: PSY 100. Same as SPM 312.
313. Cognitive Neuroscience.
Cognitive neuroscience explores the relations between neural systems and cognition. This course will provide both an introduction to some theoretical issues in cognitive neuroscience (e.g. the degree of localization of cognitive faculties), as well as an in-depth look at the neural bases of memory, language and motor control. Of particular interest will be understanding the technologies and techniques of cognitive neuroscience—including direct neural recording; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); magnetic encephalography (MEG); electroencephalography (EEG); and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Prerequisite: PSY 240 or 302 or 305.
315. Cross-Cultural Psychology.
Cross-Cultural Psychology serves as an introduction to the relationships among cultural processes, human consciousness, human health and human development. Prerequisite: PSY 100.
317. Health Psychology.
This course explores the complex factors that affect human health, specifically examining how health and health-related behavior is influenced by the interrelationship of multiple environmental and individual factors ranging from individual personality to health policy. This course also examines the fundamental principles and theories of Health Psychology and how theoretical and empirical findings are applied to improve the health of individuals and groups. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110. Same as PBH 317.
460. Advanced Quantitative Methods. (N, ER)
An examination of complex univariate and multivariate statistical techniques as applied in the context of psychological research. The course will focus on techniques including complex analysis of variance, multivariate regression and correlation, factor analysis, and power and effect size. We will examine published research and conduct research projects to explore the relationship between hypotheses, experimental designs and these statistical techniques. Offered every other year. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210 and one 300-level PSY course.
480. Collaborative Research in Comparative Cognition and Behavior. (N, ER)
Comparative perspectives and approaches to the study of selected topics drawn from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive ethology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, cognitive science and behavioral primatology. Research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210, one of PSY 250, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 310; OR one of BIO 250, 330, 379; OR one of BFB 250, 301, 302, 306, 330, 379; OR permission of the instructor. Offered every other Spring. Same as BFB/SPM 480.
481. Collaborative Research in Developmental Psychology. (N, ER)
An overview of methods for conducting research with children, with an emphasis on ethics of working with child participants. Current empirical and theoretical issues in developmental psychology are addressed through literature review and group research projects. Topics reflecting student interests are considered. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 304, or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as SPM 481.
482. Collaborative Research in Social Psychology. (N, ER)
Selected topics in experimental social psychology. Emphasis on experimental methods. Traditional areas of social psychology and topics that reflect student research interest are considered. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 309, or permission. Offered every Fall.
483. Collaborative Research in Human Cognition. (N, ER)
An in-depth consideration of selected empirical and theoretical issues in cognitive psychology. Emphasis is on recent literature covering basic research in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and computational neuroscience modeling, including such topics as attention and resource allocation, representation, concept formation, memory and topics reflecting research interests of participating students. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY/SPM 305, or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as SPM 483.
484. Collaborative Research in Personality. (N, ER)
Selected empirical and theoretical topics from the contemporary literature in personality psychology with emphasis on measurement issues and comparative analyses of major models and taxonomies. Topics that reflect student research interests will be discussed. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY/SPM 307, or permission. Offered every Spring.
485. Collaborative Research in Human Perception and Action. (N, ER)
Contemporary research and theories of the interrelations of perceptual and motor processes. Content will be drawn from the literatures of experimental psychology, neurophysiology and human factors. Animal models and computational algorithms will be considered when applicable, with primary emphasis on implications for human performance. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 301, or permission. Same as SPM 485.
487. Collaborative Research in Biological Psychology. (N, ER)
The neurophysiological and structural basis of behavior with emphasis on motivation and learning, including the use of psychopharmacological methods. The role of endocrine and metabolic processes in the regulation of behavior is integrated with considerations of structure. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 302 or BIO/BFB 240 or permission. Offered every other year. Same as BFB 487.
488. Collaborative Research in Psychopathology. (N, ER)
An upper-level, research-based seminar that explores normative, healthy and abnormal psychosocial development across the life span. Students are assisted to undertake individual or group research projects using a variety of methods—including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 308, or permission. Offered every Fall.
489. History and Philosophy of Psychology. (N)
The historical origins of contemporary psychology in European philosophy, physiology and biology and subsequent development of the schools of structuralism, functionalism, Gestalt, behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Emphasis on identifying the goals, implicit assumptions and potential contributions of scientific psychology. Prerequisite: Senior psychology major status or permission of instructor. Offered every year. Same as SPM/STS 489.
Anderson, Owens, Rottman
PSY 490. Independent Research in Psychology (ER).
Design, propose, conduct, and present a psychological research project guided by a faculty mentor familiar with your area of investigation. Students are responsible for all aspects of the project from protocol development to written and oral interpretation of the results. Typically reserved for seniors with cumulative GPA above 3.0 and major GPA above 3.2 who have successfully completed a relevant area studies course, though students may petition the department to enroll if they don’t meet these conditions. Students may elect to have a 490 project considered for departmental honors. Interested students should contact possible faculty mentors the semester before they plan to enroll. Prerequisite: Permission of faculty mentor and chairperson.
270-279, 370–379, 470-479. Special Topics in Psychology.
An examination of a single problem area of psychology receiving attention in the current literature. Permits in-depth analysis of a single, important psychological phenomenon. Admission by consent of instructor.
290, 390. Directed Research in Psychology.
Gain hands-on experience designing, conducting, and/or presenting a scholarly research project under the direction of a Psychology faculty member. Students normally produce a written final report. Typically reserved for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Interested students should contact possible faculty supervisors the semester before they plan to enroll. Prerequisite: Permission of faculty supervisor and chairperson.
353. Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. (H)
In-depth study of phenomenology, covering both its history and contemporary debates, and phenomenology-inspired research in cognitive science and psychology. Prerequisite: One prior Philosophy course and one prior Psychology course. Same as PHI/SPM 353.
Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2016-2017
- 37X. Emotion.
- 37X. Primate Behavior.
- 37X. Programming for Psychology.
- 47X. Collaborative Research in Moral Psychology. (N, ER)
- 47X. CBL: Applied Psychology.
- 47X. Cognitive Development.