Psychology Courses


PS 101 Introduction to Psychology

One unit. A survey course dealing with the major fields of psychology, including learning, perception, memory, motivation, development, social behavior, disorders of psychological functioning, and physiology of behavior. An introduction to the methodology, frameworks, and principles of contemporary scientific psychology. No prerequisites. Offered fall and spring semesters.

PS 111 Child Psychology

One unit. An examination of the biological, emotional, social, cognitive, and familial factors that affect personality development and adjustment during the first decade of life. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered fall and spring semesters.

PS 112 Adolescent Psychology

One unit. A study of the psychological reactions to the changes at puberty. Topics include body image, identity consolidation, and the role of the adolescent in American society. Discussion of the interactions between the adolescent and the family and peers, and their effects on personality development. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered spring semester.

PS 113 Psychology of Adulthood and Aging

One unit. An examination of the experience of adulthood and aging during young adulthood, middle age, and old age. Topics include research on mental health and dysfunction in adulthood, individual differences, relationships, creativity, managing stress, achieving a meaningful career, retirement, death and dying. Contributions from cognitive psychology, humanistic psychology, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis are studied. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered as required.

PS 116 Psychological Statistics and Methodology (TC)

One unit. This course introduces the basic principles of experimental design, how to write papers using APA style, and how to use the statistical techniques employed in psychological research, including descriptive statistics, t-tests, ANOVA, correlation, and regression. The course includes a required, weekly 3-hour laboratory section where students learn statistical computer applications. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered fall and spring semesters.

PS 209 Is Religion ‘Man-made’?

One unit. Are religious “truths” divinely given or are they created by humans under the impact of cultural considerations? We will unravel this issue by approaching the question from various perspectives. We will consider, for example, the psychological approach of Freud as well as the anthropological approach of Malinowski. We will also consider the manner in which Biblical scenarios are conditioned—if not determined—by historical and cultural circumstances. Also considered will be the psychology of Jung and his contention that religious symbols are the inevitable products of a “collective unconsciousness.” We will conclude the course with an investigation of how religious symbolism is self-consciously employed—even manipulated—in the arts. The creative use of symbolism will be illustrated through an examination of various novels and movies. Cross-listed with RE 209. No prerequisites. Offered as required.

PS 212 Psychopathology

One unit. A discussion of current assumptions about the nature and causes of psychological disorders based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders (DSM) used by mental health practitioners. Basic concepts and prevailing theoretical approaches are discussed and evaluated. Description and discussion of the major psychological disturbances, their etiology, and treatment are presented. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered fall and spring semesters.

PS 213 Psychological Testing

One unit. A presentation and discussion of the basic issues and techniques in the construction, use, and evaluation of psychological scales. Review of the outstanding tests of intelligence, aptitudes, achievement, interests, and personality. Prerequisite: PS 101. Can be taken with or after PS 116. Offered fall and spring semesters.

PS 214 Death and Dying: Psychological Issues

One unit. Every life has, at one point or another, been touched by loss. The decisions we make about how we will respond to these losses have major psychological ramifications. Do we respond differently to different losses? Are some methods of coping better than others? What does disturbed grief look like? From Freud through more recent research by Kubler-Ross psychologists have been fascinated by issues surrounding death and dying. This course will explore some of those issues from the perspectives of both the dying and the bereaved. We will cover topics such as child bereavement, grief and grieving in response to specific life losses and the needs of the dying and palliative care. Emphasis will be placed on the developmental differences in responses to loss, coping strategies and effectiveness of outside interventions. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered each summer.

PS 220 Forensic Psychology

One unit. An exploration of the applications of psychological research in the criminal justice and civil legal systems. Among the topics covered are understanding criminal and other antisocial behavior, selection and support of law enforcement officers, profiling techniques, trial consultation in jury selection and child custody cases, and the impact of psychological research on public policy legislation. Prerequisite: PS 101 or permission of the instructor. Offered as required.

PS 239 From Table to Laboratory: Exploring Food Choice (ILC)

One unit. The course will be organized around three principal themes: sweetness, hunger, and our microbiomes.  Why were people so driven to obtain sugar and to use it to satisfy such a high percentage of their caloric needs?  Psychological and historical research reveals much about this.  Furthermore, we now see sugar regarded almost as a toxin!  Was the fasting of a medieval saint the psychological equivalent of “anorexia nervosa,” a disease first described by late Victorian doctors?  And how does medieval fasting and Victorian anorexia compare to our contemporary understanding of eating disorders? We are alarmed by stories of food contamination but is our fear well founded? In our zeal for “clean” food and bodies have we overlooked the need to “feed” the microbes that live inside us? We will explore why there’s so much anxiety about eating. This course is offered only as an Intermediate Learning Community with HI 239.

PS 240 Psychology of Prejudice (D)

One unit. An examination of the debates on the roles of biology, family, culture, development, and economic opportunity in generating prejudice. This course will explore classic and contemporary works in the areas of stigma, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Empirical research will be examined to evaluate theoretical explanations for these phenomena. Prerequisite: PS 101 or permission of the instructor. Offered as required.

PS 241 Psychology of Gender (D)

One unit. This course examines the similarities and differences between men and women from a psychological perspective, with emphasis on the following themes: major theories of gender development, including the psychoanalytic, cognitive, and behavioral models; the development of gender roles across the life span; application of schema theory to the understanding of gender; examination of biological and psychological sources of gender awareness; and exploration of gender issues in film and media. Offered as required.

PS 244 Decisions and Persuasion (D)

One unit. This course explains the psychology of social cognition, social influence, and how leadership intersects with American diversity. Factors that influence decisions are examined from the perspective of behavioral economics. Persuasion is studied from a perspective of identifying common triggers that prompt compliance, as well as ways to harness social influence to promote stronger societies. Students are challenged to apply theoretical ideas and empirical research to real-world problems, to explore diversity within America, and to practice critical thinking skills. Offered fall semester in the First Year Program.

PS 245 Psychology of Boys and Men

One unit. An examination of male psychological development from boyhood through old age. Topics include the anthropology of manhood, masculinity, men’s attitudes toward women, being a son, being a father, male homosexuality, the spiritual life of men, and psychological disorders peculiar to boys and men. No prerequisites. Offered as required.

PS 246 Psychology of Creativity

One unit. An overview of historical and current explanations of creativity, with an emphasis on the development of creative thought in children and adults. Discussion of problem solving, and the mastery of creative performances and creative products. The course includes field experience as a means of understanding the creative process. Prerequisite: PS 101 or permission of the instructor. Offered spring semester.

PS 247 ‘Other’ Sexualities (D)

One unit. This course considers the meaning, expression and experience of sexual and erotic life other than heterosexuality, in historical context and from the perspective of contemporary psychiatry and gender studies. Topics include the origin of sexuality as a topic in developmental and forensic psychology, male homosexuality and lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, and the paraphilias, including sexual sadism and sexual masochism, fetishism and transvestic fetishism (cross-dressing), exhibitionism, voyeurism, and pedophilia. Emphasis will be placed on both theoretical and experiential accounts of the meaning of these sexualities for individuals. Careful distinctions are made between biological sex, assigned sex, sex of identification, gender and sexual orientation. Illustrations are drawn from psychiatry, queer (alternatives) studies, sociobiology, philosophy and literature. Readings include texts by psychologists and sexologists (Krafft-Ebing, Ellis, Moll, Freud, Ferenczi, Money, Katz), representatives of contemporary psychiatry, and theoreticians and advocates representing lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) studies and gender studies literature (Sedgwick, Halberstam). No prerequisites. Offered as required.

PS 248 Existential Psychology

One unit. An examination of some of the basic ideas of existential and phenomenological psychology in the humanistic tradition. Theorists whose work is studied include Medard Boss, Rollo May, R.D. Laing, Viktor Frankl, and Alan Watts. Topics include authenticity, change, choice, and the creation of personal meaning. No prerequisites. Offered as required.

PS 249 Psychology of Media

One unit. An investigation of the impact on the public of the mass communication of printed and electronically mediated information and entertainment. Students will study the psychological effects on target audiences of media ranging from newspapers, magazines, and books to film, television, and the Internet. Topics include the psychology of advertising and propaganda, the relation of medium and message, and the application of psychological concepts to the production of mass media. Prerequisite: PS 101 or permission the instructor. Offered as required.

PS 251 Sleep and Dreams

One unit. An in-depth analysis of how we spend approximately one third of our lives. Topics include theories of why we sleep, stages of sleep, the physiology of sleep, sleep deprivation, circadian rhythms, sleep disorders and their treatment, sleep medication, historical and modern theories of dream content and meaning. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered as required.

PS 252 Health Psychology

One unit. Health psychology is the area of psychology that focuses on how biological, psychological and social factors are related to the prevention of illness and the promotion of health and well-being. Health psychology includes such topics as relaxation and understanding stress, perfectionism, self-esteem, effective communication, anger management, diet, sleep habits and patterns, and regular exercise. Students will be challenged to think critically about their personal health and engage in a personal health improvement project. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered as required.

PS 253 Positive Psychology

One unit. Positive psychology is a relatively new field of study that emphasizes and explores human strengths, positive emotions, and well-being. In this course, specific emphasis will be placed on the science and practical applications of increasing human strengths and happiness. Some questions that will be answered throughout the semester include: “What is happiness? What helps determine it? What can be done to increase it?” Other related topics that will be explored in the course include gratitude, resilience, coping, friendship and love, forgiveness, mindfulness, flow, and positive development across the lifespan. Students will engage in a series of experiential exercises throughout the semester that will help them better understand concepts in positive psychology, and potentially increase personal subjective well-being.

PS 254 Psychology and Literature

One unit. This interdisciplinary course provides students with an opportunity to read a broad range of drama, poetry, and fiction from the ancient Western classics to modern literature from a psychodynamic perspective on human experience. We will consider the many themes about which creative writers have provided insight into human feeling, thought and action long before psychology as a human science attained similar insights. Authors read include a selection from the following: Euripides, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Mann, Lewis Carroll, T. S. Eliot, Hermann Hesse, and Peter Shaffer. The course will be a seminar in setting, with generous opportunity for presentations and discussions led by students. No prerequisitesOffered as required.

PS 291 Special Topics in Psychology

One unit. Discussion and analysis of areas not covered in regular courses. The content is determined by the instructor and the department based upon student interest and faculty research. Prerequisites: PS 101 and permission of the instructor. Offered as required. May be taken more than once.

PS 292 Child Life

One unit. This course explores the application of psychology to the field of Child Life. A Child Life Specialist is a medical professional who helps children and their families cope with stress related to illness, injury, hospitalization, or disability. A Child Life Specialist promotes age appropriate coping through play, medical preparation, and education. Students will learn about Child Life and its relationship to child development, clinical psychology and health psychology. This course will also examine the history of Child Life and core principles of Child Life including family-centered care, characteristics of the hospitalized child, loss, grief/bereavement in children, play techniques, and expectations regarding preparation, professionalism, and coping. Alternative careers in psychology in hospital settings will be compared to Child Life. Prerequisites: PS 101 or permission of the instructor.

PS 311 Theories of Personality

One unit. An examination of the principal theories of the origin, structure, and dynamics of the personality, including the psychoanalytic, trait, existential, and behavioristic schools of thought. Theorists studied include Freud, Jung, Adler, Skinner, Horney, Erikson, Bandura, Rogers, and May. A comparative and critical approach is taken. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered as required.

PS 315 Principles of Counseling Psychology

One unit. The course deals with various schools of counseling and psychotherapy, including the psychoanalytic, existential-humanistic, client-centered, Gestalt, behavioral, transactional, rational- emotive, and reality therapy approaches. Basic issues discussed are the goals, function and role of the therapist, the therapist-client relationship, communication strategies, transference, and countertransference. Prerequisites: PS 101. PS 212 is recommended, but not required. Offered as required.

PS 351 Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior

One unit. A survey of the clinical and recreational uses of psychoactive compounds. Topics include the anthropological perspective on drug use, issues of dosage and administration, the pharmacological models of psychopathology and the use of drugs in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, and the psychopharmacology of drug addiction. Emphasis is placed on research that reveals the brain mechanisms underlying the therapeutic, euphoric, and addictive characteristics of drugs. Prerequisite: PS 101 or permission of the instructor. Offered Spring Semester.

PS 382 Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

One unit. Psychoanalysis remains one of a very few perspectives on human reality which continue to exert a major theoretical and practical influence around the world. The course examines a variety of topics and controversies introduced by Freud, his followers, and his critics such as: the doctrine of unconscious mind; the object of desire (sexuality, aggression, love); the meaning of relationship; the extent of freedom; dreams and fantasy; narcissism; and madness, as well as issues pertaining to the nature of science and the foundations of psychology. Cross-listed with PH 302. Offered as required.

PS 397 Internship in Psychology

Zero or one unit. Supervised internship at an approved institution or agency outside of the college under the supervision of a psychology department faculty member. Prerequisites: PS 101 and permission of the instructor. Offered fall and spring semesters. May be taken twice. This course is not part of the senior LC.

PS 442 Physiological Psychology

One unit. An introduction to the biological approach to the experimental study of behavior. Includes consideration of the types of biological data relevant to psychology and examines the principles governing brain activity, and the role of neurotransmitter systems in memory and motivational processes. Topics include the nervous system mechanisms underlying perceptual, emotional, and behavioral processes, and brain dysfunctions that may underlie schizophrenia and depression. Prerequisite: PS 101. Offered fall semester of even-numbered years.

PS 497 Field Experience in Psychology

Zero or Two units. Supervised field experience at an approved institution or agency outside of the college under the supervision of a psychology department faculty member. Prerequisites: PS 101 and permission of the instructor. Offered fall and spring semesters. This course is not part of the senior LC.

PS 593 Independent Study

One unit. Supervised independent research developed by the student and a faculty mentor. Limited to advanced majors. Offered fall and spring semesters. May be taken twice.

Courses that have been offered by the Department and may be offered again in the future. Please consult the Department for further information.

PS 243 Violence and Aggression
PS 314 Industrial/Organizational Psychology
PS 330 Experimental Psychology: Eating Behavior

Experimental Psychology Courses


PS 302 Experimental Psychology: Learning and Motivation

One unit. An examination of historical and contemporary learning theories including those of Pavlov, Watson, Hull, and Skinner. Emphasis is placed on the application of these theories to topics including Pavlovian and operant conditioning, habit formation, reinforcement and reward, punishment, motivation, and stimulus control of behavior. Students will be introduced to the measurement and experimental analysis of behavior by conducting laboratory experiments. The use of these techniques in various areas of psychological research and application (such as behavior modification) are discussed. Prerequisites: PS 101, 116. Offered fall semester.

PS 303 Experimental Psychology: Sensation and Perception

One unit. Students are introduced to research methods in perceptual psychology. Topics include psychophysical methods, neural mechanisms of seeing and hearing, illusions, distance perception, and schools of perceptual psychology. Some laboratory work is required. Prerequisites: PS 101, 116. Offered as required.

PS 304 Experimental Psychology: Memory and Thinking

One unit. A survey of classic and current issues, theory, and research in the area of human cognition. Topics considered include memory and attention processes, problems of representation of information, hemispheric specialization, and the structure of categories and creativity. Some experimental work is required. Prerequisites: PS 101, 116. Offered as required.

PS 305 Experimental Psychology: Environmental Psychology

One unit. An examination of the philosophy, theory and research of environmental psychology. Discussion of the contributions of the American Functionalist and Ecological schools of psychology, and theories of the effects of stress, environmental overload, and constraint on freedom and undermanning on a person’s reaction to the environment. Other topics of discussion include research on the effects of crowding, noise, weather, natural disasters, and the urban environment. Some experimental work is required. Prerequisites: PS 101, 116. Offered as required.

PS 306 Experimental Psychology: Human Development

One unit. An in-depth review of classic and contemporary theory and research on human development. Emphasis is placed on core issues in developmental psychology, research methodology with human subjects, and ethical issues in the investigation of human development. Topics covered include perceptual, cognitive, social, emotional, and moral elements of personality development. Prerequisites: PS 101, 116. Offered as required.

PS 308 Experimental Psychology: Social Psychology

One unit. A survey of theory, research, history, and research methods used by social psychologists. Topics include social cognition, social perception, self-justification, social influence, conformity, interpersonal attraction, pro-social behavior, aggression, and prejudice. Basic and applied research in the laboratory and the field will be evaluated. Students will work independently or in small groups on a research project. Prerequisites: PS 101, 116. Offered fall semester.

Senior Learning Community Courses


PS 400 Reflective Tutorial (W)

One unit. A seminar required of all senior psychology majors which includes a field placement. The seminar is linked with Psychology 441, History of Psychology, and is taken concurrently with that course. Students meet to discuss current issues in psychological research and application, and their relation to the history of psychology. Prerequisite: Must be taken in conjunction with PS 441. Offered fall and spring semesters.

PS 441 History of Psychology

One unit. An historical survey of the development of modern psychology, with particular emphasis on the growth of the science of psychology in the United States. For students with a dual major whose first major is psychology, this course is linked with PS 400, the senior reflective tutorial and taken concurrently with that course. Prerequisite: Senior status. PS 101, 116. Offered fall and spring semesters.