Courses in psychology are designed to explore the principles of human and animal behavior.
The curriculum is designed to meet three goals:
- To provide a basic background in principles and exploratory methods of psychology
in preparation for graduate studies in areas such as experimental, clinical, and physiological
psychology and medicine;
- To prepare students to function at the bachelor’s level in careers which involve
applications of psychology to such areas as education, business, and human services;
- To contribute to the general education of all students.
General Psychology (LSI)
A broad overview of topics in psychology and an introduction to scientific methodology.
Offered each semester.
Learning and Conditioning (LSL)
Train your own rat! An introduction to the principles of learning and conditioning
in both humans and animals. Topics include classical conditioning, operant conditioning,
and applied behavior analysis. Laboratory work includes conditioning rats. Offered
once per year.
Perception and Cognition
Overview of perceptual and cognitive psychology. Topics include visual and auditory
illusions, motion and depth perception, face recognition, attention, memory and amnesia,
first and second language acquisition, problem solving, judgment and decision making,
intelligence, and creativity. Students participate in computer-based experiments that
are classics in the field of human perception and cognition. Offered once per year.
An introduction to the structure and function of the neuron, basic neuro-chemistry,
neural substrates involved in learning and memory, behavioral disorders, neurodegenerative
diseases, and sexual behavior in humans and animals. Offered each semester.
An introduction to statistical procedures in psychology.Topics may include basic measurement,
probability, measures of central tendency and variability, correlation, regression,
hypothesis testing, the t-test, analysis of variance, and non-parametric techniques.
Students may not receive credit toward graduation for both this course and sociology
227 or business administration 227. Offered each semester.
Abnormal Psychology (LSI)
Understanding the nature, causes, and treatment of various mental health conditions
(e.g., anxiety, depression, autism-spectrum disorders, schizophrenia-spectrum disorders). Offered
Child and Adolescent Development
The process of human development from conception through adolescence. What are the
general stages of development? What role does genetics versus the environment play
in development of our characteristics and personalities? Offered once per year.
Lifespan Developmental Psychology
A comprehensive overview of human development from womb to tomb. Topics include the
biological, psychological, and social forces that drive and shape development, and
the dynamic impact of context and culture on these processes. Offered once per year.
Understanding how the social world impacts people. Topics include attitudes, stereotypes,
aggression, communication, persuasion, attraction and intimacy, and the application
of psychology to social problems such as improving people’s health and improving the
criminal justice system. Offered each semester.
Research Methods in Psychology (W)
Learn how to design, analyze, and report research studies. Prerequisites: psychology
100 and psychology 227. Offered each semester.
The below courses are “seminar-style” courses which tend to enroll 12-16 students
and focus on more specific topics relevant to our professors’ areas of expertise.
Most psychology majors will take 5 - 7 of these courses. Courses are also available
to non-majors. Each course is generally offered either once per year or once every
Experimental Research in Cognitive Psychology (EXP)
In this class we ask questions about how human thought is similar to or different
from animal thought. We read articles about memory, reasoning, social behavior, and
communication in a variety of species including monkeys, apes, fish, birds, small
mammals, and more. This class has an additional lab component in which we will study
animal cognition. The first few weeks of the semester we’ll visit the Miller Park
Zoo to conduct behavioral observations, participate in online simulations, and learn
how to study dog cognition. Students will then form small groups to design their own
research projects studying an aspect of dog cognition of their choice. Three or four
dogs will come to the lab every week for these projects. Students write papers on
this work, present it to their classmates, and debate about human (and animal) nature.
Crime and the Justice System: A Social Psychology Perspective
This course focuses on topics related to crime, the justice system, and serial killers.
Questions investigated in the class include: “Why do people confess to crimes they
didn’t commit?” “Can we trust eyewitness memories?” “How do popular television shows,
like CSI and Criminal Minds, affect people when they serve on juries?” and “Is criminal
profiling a legitimate science?” amongst others. Students will read a book on the
OJ Simpson trial, as well as study and discuss several current unsolved crime cases.
For their final project in the class, students will pick a topic related to crime
that is of interest to them and explore it in more depth.
Introduction to Clinical and Counseling Psychology
This seminar introduces key issues in the field of Clinical and Counseling Psychology.
This course builds on your knowledge of psychopathology (as covered in abnormal psychology)
and focuses on evaluating and comparing the major therapeutic approaches (e.g., psychodynamic,
humanistic, and cognitive-behavioral). Additional aspects of Clinical and Counseling
Psychology will be covered, including current issues and controversies (e.g., DSM
controversies, the involvement of psychologists with the Department of Defense). We
will read primary sources and articles, view therapy videos, and participate in integrated,
multidisciplinary learning opportunities.
Advanced Behavioral Processes
How can we predict what behavior an animal (including humans) will exhibit in a certain
situation? How can we use our understanding of learning to shape and change animal
behavior? In this course we study basic learning theory (classical and operant conditioning)
in an effort to answer these questions and better understand how the external environment
shapes behavioral output. An accompanying lab allows students to use the principles
discussed to study learning and memory in rat subjects. The lab also includes a sheep
brain dissection in which students will be able to see the structures of the brain
involved in various learning paradigms.
Counseling & Psychotherapy (IT, W)
This course provides an overview of counseling methods and models of psychological
treatment. Approaches covered include behavioral and cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic,
person-centered, and Gestalt. The course also covers therapeutic response modes, family
and group therapy, and community interventions.
Mental Health and Aging
Mental health and aging is a service learning course that challenges some of the common
myths and stereotypes of aging, both in class and by direct interaction with older
folks in the local community. In the first part of the semester, we will look at some
of the more common mental health conditions that elders may face (depression, anxiety,
dementia); these conditions contribute to the myth that most elders are "sick, sad,
and depressed". The reality is, however, that most individuals over the age of 65
are not only healthy, but happier than younger adults. In the second half of the semester,
we will explore the resiliency factors that contribute to high levels of life satisfaction
and happiness (resilience, a sense of control in life, social support, to name a few).
What students most enjoy about this course, however, is the opportunity to form relationships with
older members of our community through volunteering on a regular basis – students
in the course have called bingo, taught short classes on social media, and even learned
a few things about card games and life from their community partners.
Advanced Human Neuroscience
This course surveys the theory and practice of using recordings of electrical (and magnetic)
activity of the brain to study cognition and behavior. It explores what brainwaves
reveal about normal and abnormal perception, attention, decision-making, memory, and
language comprehension. The course aims to give students an idea of how we can use
direct measurements of neural activity to and learn more about human behavior and
answer questions in psychology that we can’t answer if we just look at someone’s behavior.
Psychology & the Environment
In this course, you will be challenged to apply psychological science to better understand
how people interact with the natural environment. For example, we will explore (a)
how human behavior impacts the natural environment and (b) how the natural environment
influences human well-being. Students will also learn about current environmental
threats and efforts to promote environmental sustainability. Learning will occur
through a variety of activities: readings, discussion, videos, guest speakers, and,
most important, a laboratory experience in which you will design and conduct your
own original research study.
This course will take a case study approach to understanding neuroanatomy. Students
will be given case studies throughout the semester and will be required to investigate
the symptoms to determine possible diagnoses. The course will examine how an individual's
behavioral and cognitive deficits can be traced to underlying pathology in the peripheral
and central nervous systems.
Psychological and Educational Applications of Virtual Reality
In this class we explore the use of Virtual Reality (VR) in psychological research,
treatment, and education. We will learn how VR is being used to treat phobias and
PTSD. Students will get hands-on experience with current Vive room-scale VR machines
(located on campus) and learn to make their own environments in VR.
Foundations of Learning
The brain is such an amazing organ! It is constantly changing and adapting based on
the way we navigate our world and in response to specific learning experiences. This
course involves an examination of learning, conditioning, and underlying mechanisms
through discussion and evaluation of primary sources. Topics include modern theories
of classical conditioning, consolidation and reconsolidation, and extinction.
Psychology of Gender
In Psychology of Gender, students will explore the differences between men and women
and, more importantly, why these differences may exist. For instance, are most men
more aggressive than women because of certain hormones or because they were raised
differently and given different toys and video games to play with as children? Social
factors will be discussed as potential causes of differences, ranging from Disney
movies to toy commercials to treatment in schools, as will potential biological causes,
such as testosterone levels. A large section of the course is devoted to differences
in mating and attraction, including a focus on controversial questions such as “Why
do men tend to focus more on attractiveness in a partner while women focus more on
status or signs of resources?” Or “Why are men, on average, more open to casual sex?”
Additional focus is given to gender identity and sexual orientation, with discussions
of such cases as David Reimer, who was born a boy but raised as a girl following a
childhood medical accident, and individuals who have, for instance, female genitalia
but male chromosomes. By the end of the course, students should have a deeper knowledge
of the differences between men and women, why these differences may exist, and a deeper
appreciation for the idea of “gender” as a whole.
Identity, Social Justice, and Psychology
This service-learning course examines various aspects of identity development through
the lens of contemporary social concerns. We will consider how, when full human development
is impeded by conditions of poverty, discrimination, and injustice, associated costs
to identity accrue not just for the oppressed, but for those participating in oppression,
even indirectly. During the semester, students will spend out-of-class time interacting
with community members, understanding how their neighborhoods and identities have
been shaped both positively and negatively by race relations, migration, and aging.
We will also discuss how small actions can spark long-term change. Together with these
neighborhood partners, we will try to capture the unique identity of the West side
of Bloomington, ultimately supporting the revitalization of this vibrant community
through a service project.
History and Systems of Psychology (IT)
A study of the historical, philosophical, and conceptual foundations of contemporary
psychology. The course will trace "history of ideas" from early Greek philosophy to
modern psychology, with particular emphasis on the Darwinian revolution.
Sports and Exercise Psychology
This course examines a wide variety of topics in sport and exercise psychology by
investigating how psychological factors influence participation and performance in
sports and exercise and how, in turn, participation in sports and exercise affects
the psychological makeup of an individual. We examine research and theory that has
been utilized and developed in the study of sport and exercise behavior and the application
of psychological concepts and principles to improve sport and exercise performance
(e.g., imagery and mental practice, arousal, motivation, expertise, confidence, attention,
Mental Health Immersion Semester Signature Work Seminar
In this course, students who are registered for the Mental Health Immersion Semester
will design, develop, and implement a signature work project. The scope and nature
of the project will be determined and will be developed with the supervision of the
course instructors. Examples of possible projects are to present a workshop on conflict
management, or coping with stress, etc. to appropriate student groups. Students will
engage in reflective assignments that encourages them to consider their work from
multiple perspectives (e.g, cross-disciplinary, diversity, ethics). Progress will
be documented with a portfolio and will culminate at the end of the semester with
a formal presentation to an invited audience.
Brain Injury and Recovery
The brain is an incredibly plastic organ that quickly responds to environmental change.
This course will investigate the mechanisms of plasticity that follow brain injury
and the impact that these changes have on behavior. Topics include cell death and
survival, spontaneous recovery and rehabilitation with a focus on stroke, traumatic
brain injury, and spinal cord injury.
In this class we explore how early experiences can have a huge impact on a child.
We discuss how nutrition, stress, environmental quality, genetics, drug use, obesity,
prematurity, and poverty can all have a lasting influence on our development.
Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience (W) (EXP)
We will study the neural mechanisms of behavior in animals, investigated through laboratory
demonstrations and student conducted experiments.
Science and Practice of Mental Health Treatment Seminar
In this integrative seminar, students will study the scientific foundations and current
practices of mental health fields through traditional and experiential learning methods.
Readings, experiential activities, guest speakers, regional travel, and conference
participation will comprise the main elements of this seminar.
Internship/Internship with Directed Study
Supervised experiential learning for students in psychology. Placements include, but
are not limited to, mental health clinics, educational agencies, and correctional
systems. A substantial written project is required.
Thesis In psychology
Independent research conducted in collaboration with a faculty member. This course
will provide students with research experience that will provide a foundation for
graduate study. Students will complete and defend a thesis.
This is an introductory course covering the basic helping skills used by clinical/counseling
psychologists and other helping professionals. Thus, the course is relevant for students
considering careers in psychology, education, medicine, social work, business, or
other fields that emphasize human interaction. Students will learn about the process
of helping, specific helping strategies, and underlying psychological theories. You
will also learn how ethical principles, research, and sensitivity to diversity impact
the helping process. Come prepared to actively practice skills, provide feedback
to other students, be videotaped, and to document your personal development.
Sapient Species: What They Know, Why We Owe
Nonhuman minds are shaped for the wild, yet many are captive – this disconnect generates
important questions: Can we ensure that such complex minds are suitably engaged and
challenged in captive environments? Do we have an ethical duty to ensure that they
are? And, if so, does this duty extend to all species, not just those that look like
us (primates) or captivate us (elephants, seals, bears), but those that bore, scare,
or annoy us (insects, bats, snakes)? We will spend two weeks at the Louisville Zoo
designing cognitively appropriate enrichment for primates, other large gregarious
species, and nongregarious species. We will conduct research to explore two questions:
Would treating these animals to cognitive challenges allow them to lead more species-typical
lives in captivity? And might such enrichments be a way to treat these wild minds
Aggression and Violence: A Social Neuroscience Approach
In this course, co-taught by a professor of social psychology and a professor of neuroscience,
students will learn about the social and physical causes of violence and aggression.
Social topics range from violent video games to weather to parental care; neuro topics
range from traumatic brain injury to genetics to hormones. For a final project, students
will select a serial killer and research what factors may have led to this person’s
crimes. Students will also tour the local juvenile detention center and county jail.
Explanation of General Education flags
As indicated, some Psychology courses meet the following General Education requirements:
LSI – Life Sciences Issues Course
LSL – Life Sciences Lab Course
IT – Intellectual Traditions
U – Encountering U.S. Diversity
W – Writing Intensive Courses