Department of Psychology

Course Information

Click on the plus sign or the course title to find additional course information such as brief description, questions addressed in the course, and which semester this course will be offered or was last offered. 

PSYC Core

This is an introduction to the scientific study of mind and behavior.  It is a general survey of different areas of psychology including neuroscience, learning, memory, development, social, personality, and clinical.

  1. How is our behavior affected by the environment?
  2. How do we process information, remember, and make decisions?
  3. What is abnormal behavior and what do different disorders look like?

This course is designed to be an introduction to Psychology with consideration of the major areas of the discipline. We will discuss most of the major areas of psychology including, but not limited to, abnormal, biological, cognitive, developmental, and social psychology. Our goal is to gain an understanding of: 1) how psychologists think, 2) what psychology really is, 3) the basic areas with which psychology deals, and 4) the way psychology is relevant in your own life. After taking this course you should have a better understanding of your own and others thoughts and behaviors. We will accomplish this by interactively examining the relations between laboratory data, theory, and everyday life.

  1. What is Psychology?
  2. How do the diverse areas of Psychology differ from each other and how are they the same?
  3. How do we design experiments to understand psychological processes?

This course is designed to be an introduction to the psychology major for new psychology majors. The course is required of all majors in psychology and taken in the first year as a psychology major at Auburn University. Topics covered will be an overview and design of the psychology curriculum, course selection, faculty introduction, faculty expectations, student assessment, career development, critical thinking, diversity, and ethics.

  1. What career options do you have with a B.A. in Psychology?
  2. How do you navigate the psychology curriculum to prepare for the future?
  3. How do you accrue the experiences you need to be competitive for jobs and graduate school?

The course introduces students to the cycle of collecting (using surveys and experiments), analyzing (using Excel) and reporting conclusions about psychological and other social and behavioral sciences data. The course provides a critical thinking approach for quantitative argumentation with data.

  1. How numbers represent individuals’ attributes of interest to psychologists?
  2. How to process data to find systematic patterns from among variability?
  3. How to generalize information obtained in a small sample or experiment to larger populations?
  4. How to read and interpret graphs, tables and statistical indicators?

This course focuses on the methodologies and strategies used to conduct scientifically sound research in psychology. It is one of the few “cornerstone” courses in psychology—all of what we know about behavior and thought is derived from the questions psychologists choose to pose and the methods they use to examine those questions. Indeed, modern psychology is based on the results of well-conducted and scientifically rigorous research practices. The goal in this course is to introduce you to the basic concepts and principles that form the basis of sound psychological science. Students will finish the course with (a) a thorough working knowledge of basic principles and practices of psychological science; (b) enhanced critical thinking skills in the areas of analysis, evaluation, and creativity; (c) improved writing and oral communication skills; and (d) increased confidence in their ability to understand and produce psychological research.

  1. How do I conduct scientifically sound and interesting psychological research?
  2. What skills are necessary to become an effective problem-solver and analytical thinker—and how can I develop these skills?
  3. What writing and oral skills are necessary to clearly communicate complex scientific information to my peers—and what do I need to do to develop these skills?

Group A

This is a course that will help you understand the specific things that result in positive and negative outcomes in human whole-person development.  We will examine human thoughts/beliefs, emotions/motivations, physiology, and behaviors, and also many things in our environment as they interact with all things about us as individuals from conception to old age.  We will examine and discuss what promotes and what hinders human happiness and “success”.

  1. What is my current personal developmental condition, in terms of my beliefs/thoughts, emotions, motivations, physiology, “environments”, and behaviors (and how did I get this way)?
  2. When I have a longer lasting opportunity to influence another person’s whole-person development, such as if I am a spouse, a parent, a teacher, a manager, a friend, a co-worker, etc., what specifically can I do to help that person or those persons develop in more positive ways and avoid/eliminate negative developmental influences?
  3. What specifically can I do to increase positive developmental influences in my life and reduce/eliminate negative influences on my personal life-span development. 

The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of topics related to abnormal psychology.  The primary emphasis of this course will be on classification of and symptoms associated with psychological disorders (e.g., depression, eating disorders).  We will also discuss causes of and treatments for psychological disorders. 

  1. What are the most common forms of mental illness?
  2. How do we define abnormal versus normal behavior?
  3. What can be done to prevent and treat psychological disorders?
  4. How can we be better advocates for individuals with psychological disorders?

While many fields in psychology are focused on the common factors that influence people’s behavior, the study of personality concerns itself with the factors that make individuals distinct. This course will examine both classic and contemporary perspectives on human personality. Topics of interest will include how psychologist conceive of and measure personality, the biological and developmental factors that make individuals distinct from one another, and how personality influences people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. 

  1. How do psychologists explain and measure personality?
  2. Is personality innate is or is developed through experience?
  3. What are the mechanisms that explain how personality leads to differentiated behavior?
  4. How do people understand and explain their own and other’s personality characteristics?

Social Psychology is the scientific study of how normal people think and feel about the world as well as how they interact with and influence one another. While each individual has their own distinct personality, this course examines the general patterns of behavior that we see in most people and attempts to understand how situational factors exert influence over them. We will cover topics such as prejudice, prosocial/antisocial behavior, romantic relationships, and persuasion.

  1. How do people explain their own behavior and the behavior of others?
  2. Why do people help/harm others?
  3. What makes people feel attracted to one another?
  4. How can people influence others to get what they want?

This course offers a broad coverage of psychology in the workplace. You will be exposed to the ways in which psychological principles are used to describe, understand, and predict how individuals and groups behave in organizations, and how this knowledge can be applied to enhance the effectiveness of the workplace. Example topics include job analysis, performance appraisal, personnel selection, training and development, work motivation, stress and worker well-being, group processes and work teams, and leadership.

  1. How do you measure and predict job performance? 
  2. How are job stressors and strains related? 
  3. What are the major theories of leadership? 

Group B

Behavioral Neuroscience is designed to introduce students to the structure and function of the brains of humans and other animals. Topics include the overall design of the brain, how the brain senses and directs movement in the environment, and brain modules involved in motivation, emotion, thinking, learning, memory, etc.  Methodologies include clinical studies of brain damage, experimental brain interventions, imaging, and so forth.

  1. How and why does your brain function as it does?
  2. What are the general design features of brains – especially human brains?
  3. How and why does the brain monitor the environment and generate behavior? 

This course introduces students to the subject matter and methodologies of biological (nature) and psychological (nurture) analyses of learned behavior. It recognizes the broad, pervasive role that learning and behavior theory play in helping us understand our human lives. Learning methodologies such as modeling, punishment, Pavlovian conditioning, instrumental/operant conditioning, & concept formation are presented in detail, and then applied to our daily lives (health, literacy, sexual behavior, parenting, child development, drug addiction, choice, and so forth.)

  1. How did your personal nurture make you the person you are? 
  2.  How can we change behavior using changes in the environment?
  3.  How do we learn from our previous actions?

This course is designed to be an introduction to sensation and perception.  The main objectives of the course are to understand how the physical world stimulates our senses and how these sensations are transformed by our nervous system to produce our perceptions of the surrounding environment.  In undertaking this task we will view sensation and perception within a biological/behavioral framework.  We will accomplish this by interactively examining the relations between laboratory data, theory, and everyday life.

  1. Ever wonder how we see, hear, taste, smell and touch the object filled world that we live in?
  2. How does your pet cat, dog, snake, or bird sense the world around them?
  3. How is the world they perceive the same or different from ours?

This course addresses how humans process information.  You will gain an understanding of the basic models and theories related to perception, attention, memory, language, and decision making.

  1. How do we measure thinking?
  2. How are our memories fallible?
  3. What types of shortcuts do we use when making decisions?

The main objectives of this course are as follows: 1) understand the basic principles of cognitive neuroscience, 2) increase awareness and understanding of methods used in cognitive neuroscience, 3) acquire a basic level of competence in brain systems, and 4) develop an understanding of disorders of the brain and nervous system.  

  1. How does the brain perform complex cognition functions, such as memory?
  2. What parts of the brain are affected by disorders such as depression?  
  3. How can we measure brain activity?  

Group C

This course is designed to teach basic behavioral principles and general procedures used to change human behavior. Completing the course requirements should set a foundation for students who want to learn more about applied behavior analysis and attend graduate school with a focus on behavior analysis.  

  1. What are the basic principles of behavior modification?
  2. What are typical behavioral interventions for some common clinical problems?
  3. What are ethical issues related to use of behavior modification.

This course provides you an introduction into training and supervision processes used in organizational settings.  The course will focus on business settings.  However, the methods and processes taught do transfer to other settings including home, educational, government, and military organizations. 

  1. How does one conduct a job analysis to show training needs?
  2. How do I develop a training program?

An inquiry into the biological, personal and social foundations of play, sport, and spectator behavior. How does motivation, emotion, personality, and other mind/body variables influence athletic performance. Lecture class includes pursuit of topics of interest to you, applied exercises visualization and hypnosis.

  1. What defines “sport”, and what are the similarities and differences among sports?
  2. What is the nature of competition?
  3. What similarities and differences exist in male and female athletes and their sports?

This is an in-depth course that covers various topics within human memory including memory development, different types of memory, why we forget, ad  how emotion affects memory.

  1. Are emotional events better remembered?
  2. Do we lose memory as we age?
  3. Can I trust my memory?

Humans are motivated to do a great number of things. We are motivated to satiate basic biological needs, seek relationships with others, achieve a sense of competence, and pursue freedom and happiness. This course will examine many different factors that give people the energy and direction to attain the things they need and desire. We will discuss the biological factors that underpin most of human motivation, the evolutionary origins of basic psychological needs, and how people can set and pursue their goals in the most effective manner.

  1. What are the biological factors underlying motivation?
  2. What are the basic psychological needs common to all people and how do we attain them?
  3.  Why is it that some people find little difficulty motivating themselves to achieve their goals while others struggle, and what can we do to help the latter?

This is an introduction to the study of the behavioral effects of many drugs. We cover drugs that are used therapeutically, such as antidepressants, drugs used to treat schizophrenia and psychosis, stimulants, and tranquilizers.  We also cover substance abuse, its risk factors, and its treatment, as well as other drugs that are used recreationally; representative drugs include cocaine, marijuana, and psychedelics

  1. How are drugs taken or delivered and how does this influence their affects?
  2. How do we assess the therapeutic benefits of drugs and compare them with other approaches to treating behavioral disorders?
  3. How does the contemporary understanding of substance abuse, which views it as a behavioral disorder, influence its treatment and its role in society?

Game theory examines how people interact with one another and make decisions that are not only based on their motivations and outcomes, but also other people’s motivations and outcomes.  We focus on understanding each situation and how we and other people approach the situation and which strategies we should use. We focus on rational and psychological perspectives.  We cover topics such a strategies, competition, cooperation, conflict styles, negotiations, and trust games.

  1. What is the best strategy for competing versus cooperating with another person?
  2. How do conflict styles affect negotiations?
  3. How are decisions affected by an individual versus a group or organization?

Occupational health psychology (OHP) is an emerging interdisciplinary field concerned with psychological factors in employee health, safety, and well-being. This course provides an in depth treatment of this literature, focusing mainly on occupational stress and safety. We will cover topics such as occupational stress, work-family, bullying/mistreatment, burnout, accidents and safety, and interventions.

  1. What are major consequences of occupational stress? 
  2. What is the work-family interface? 
  3. How can we reduce accidents and injuries in the workplace? 

Students will learn about the history, theories, development, and applications of psychological testing and assessment. The acquisition of knowledge related to test theory and test construction will allow students to critically evaluate the tests considered in the course and those that are currently in use in the field of psychological testing.

  1. What basic psychometric principles guide test construction?
  2. What are the differences between projective and objective tests?

This course introduces students to the profession of clinical psychology. It covers a number of topics in this broad-ranging field, including the history of clinical psychology, comparison of clinical psychology with other mental health professions, professional roles and career opportunities for clinical psychologists, research methods in clinical psychology, assessment methods, and models and techniques of psychological treatment.  This course should be of general interest to all psychology majors, and is especially important for those who plan to attend graduate school in clinical psychology or a related helping profession.

  1. How did the field of clinical psychology develop?
  2. What are the various professional roles, activities, and settings for clinical psychologists?
  3. How is clinical psychology similar to and different from other mental health professions?
  4. What are the primary methods of psychological assessment?
  5. What psychological treatments have been developed, and which are the most effective?

This course focuses on how psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors contribute to health and illness across the lifespan. In this course, we will learn to identify behavioral contributors to chronic illness and discuss cutting edge intervention research to improve health outcomes in children, adolescents, and adults.

This course will be of interest to all psychology majors, those interested in clinical psychology, and students interested in careers in the health professions.

  1. Is it possible to treat chronic pain without medication?
  2. What be done if a patient needs a life-saving transfusion but is afraid of needles?
  3. People say the key to losing weight is “eat less, move more.” If this is true, then why are one-third of adults in our country obese?

This course explores children’s social and emotional development while taking into consideration both biological and environmental contexts.  Some examples of topics covered are emotional development, attachment, temperament, personality development and parenting. The overriding questions that are addressed are:

  1. What is the normative social developmental trajectory?    
  2. What roles do biology and environment both play in social development?
  3. What factors contribute to healthy social development?

This course is constructed as an introduction to the psychological theories and methods used to examine how people make decisions. The courses discusses from simple heuristics used to make quick decisions to more complex strategies used to make decisions. Decisions are explored in everyday choice, consumer purchases, jobs and organizations, and life events. 

  1. Do we make rational decisions?
  2. How do emotions affect decision making?
  3. How can I improve my ability to make decisions?
  1. What are the primary biological, psychological, and social theories used to explain the development, maintenance and treatment of addictive behaviors?
  2. How are chemical and behavioral addictions similar to one another?  How do they differ?

This second undergraduate statistics course is for students planning to pursue a graduate degree in psychology and/or students participating in research activities.  The course focus in analyzing data from experiments or surveys using ANOVA (one-way, factorial, repeated, etc.) or multiple regression models.  The course uses menu-driven statistical software, as well as syntax-based R statistical programming language.  This course has as prerequisite STAT2010 or equivalent.

  1. How to obtain the appropriate tests for the design and type of factors/variables in an experiment or survey?
  2. How to assess the statistical conclusion validity of your analysis?
  3. How to present the results of experiments or surveys using graphs and tables.

This course discusses how problems in youth are viewed in a developmental, social, and environmental context. Research findings and case examples are used to illustrate the theoretical perspective, classification, clinical description, developmental course, etiology, assessment, and prevention/treatment of the major psychological disorders in children and adolescents. 

  1. What are the major approaches to classification, assessment, and intervention for childhood behavioral and emotional disorders?
  2. How do we address conduct problems, attentional disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety and mood disorders and other challenges that children face?

The heightening public awareness that environmental contaminants can act on the nervous system, and have effects that appear in behavior, presents a major challenge to psychologists and other neuroscientists, who are being asked to identify hazards associated with a bewildering array of neurotoxic substances. The inclusion of nervous system damage in general, and its behavioral manifestations in particular, represents a sea change in public concern over unintended exposure to chemicals. As an example, concern over lead poisoning lies in claims that it lowers scores on IQ tests and results in disruptive and even criminal behavior, effects that, once they were finally detected, led to the removal of this dangerous element from paint and gasoline.  This course will examine toxic substances that act primarily on the nervous system, how their effects are detected, and how our understanding influences public health policy. 

  1. How easy is it to detect a five-point drop in scores on I.Q. tests or a contaminant-related increase in criminal behavior, and what are the social implications of both? 
  2. Can we predict effects from experimental models using laboratory animals?
  3. What are the differential effects of contaminants over the course of a lifespan, beginning with gestation and ending with aging?

Behavioral pharmacology is the study of the interaction between behavior and drugs that act on the nervous system. The study of behaviorally active drugs spans many disciplines and can be conducted along any of several levels of analysis, ranging from changes in minute elements of the cell membrane to more global issues like the treatment of serious behavioral disorders and the behaviors associated with substance abuse. In this course we examine behaviorally active drugs, their clinical utility, their actions on the nervous system, experimental approaches to characterizing drug-behavior interactions, and clinical applications

  1. How does our understanding of the brain, and especially our understanding of neurotransmission, inform our appreciation of drug effects?
  2. How do social determinants and neurobiology interact in our understanding of the behavioral neuroscience of substance abuse and its treatment?
  3. How do the behavioral and clinical actions of drugs from different categories inform our understanding of brain function? 

This course provides an advanced investigation into understanding the quantitative approaches and research used in Social Sciences. It is recommended for advanced undergraduate students who wish to pursue graduate studies to better prepare them for graduate school.

  1. How do I critically evaluate when different data require specific quantitative approaches to address question being investigated?
  2. How can I apply quantitative techniques using software packages to investigate question of interest?
  3. How do I Interpret quantitative results and explain and present the results to any audience?

Last Updated: May 16, 2016