FALL, 2007

MWF 9:40-10:40 a.m.



Professor:                  Joan Ostrove

Office:                        325 Olin Rice

Phone:                       x6464


Office hours:             Wednesdays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment


Writing assistant:      Katie Smith

Phone:                       952-454-7671 (cell)


Office hours:             Sundays 4 – 6 p.m., psychology department student lounge


Lab instructor:          Jamie Atkins

Office:                       328 Olin Rice

Phone:                       x6107


Office hours:             Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10-11 a.m.



Course description and overview:

            This class will introduce you to key ideas, controversies, and research in the very broad field of psychology.  The field is so broad in large part because we humans are so complex!  We are an amazing interplay of biological, psychological, social, and cultural events and influences.  The course will introduce you to how psychologists think, ask questions, and conduct research from biological, cognitive, social, and cultural perspectives in order to understand why and how we think and behave in the ways that we do.  It will begin to teach you how to “think like a psychologist” and will help you develop general critical thinking skills.  Because the class is introductory, we will move quite quickly through many topics.  There are intermediate and advanced courses offered in the department on virtually every area that is covered in the course; I strongly encourage you to take more courses on any topic that particularly interests you.

            The course also has a laboratory component.  You will meet in a separate lab section for an additional 1.5 hours a week with our lab instructor, Jamie Atkins.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more – in a much more “hands on” way – about how research is conducted in the field.   That class has its own syllabus and requirements.  Sometimes the topics you will be working on in the lab will coincide exactly with what we’re learning in our class at the time; other times, our timing will be a bit out of synch but it will all come together in the end!  Your performance in the lab will be included in your grade for this course.


Course goals:

  • Develop critical thinking skills
    • Find, evaluate, and analyze relevant ideas, information, data
    • Understand multiple perspectives on an issue or idea
  • Develop your skills as a writer
  • Learn and apply important concepts in the field of psychology
  • Learn basic research methods in psychology
  • Understand and appreciate human complexity and diversity


Required text and readings [available at the campus bookstore in Lampert unless otherwise noted]:


  • Myers, D. G. (2007).  Psychology (8th edition).  NY:  Worth Publishers.
  • Additional readings will be available online via the syllabus on my website or through the psychology department office.




            It is your primary responsibility to come to class prepared, having read and thought about the readings for the day.  You will also be expected to be an active participant in class.  Participation may mean a lot of different things – showing up prepared for class; sharing your ideas and thoughts; listening well to others’ ideas; asking questions; connecting the course material to issues in your life or the lives of other people you know, and/or to issues on campus and in the world, etc. 

In addition, the course has the following requirements:

·         “Human nature” essay This assignment will be handed out on the first day of class.

·         Field trip report  This assignment will be handed out during the first week of class.

·         Eight reaction papers over the course of the semester (due dates are on the syllabus).  This 2 page (typed, double-spaced) paper is an opportunity for you to think “on paper” about the article(s) (not the textbook chapter) that is/are assigned for that day.  The first page should be a summary, in your own words, of the article and its key points.  The second page is your response to the reading:  your opinions and reactions to the article and/or any unanswered questions you have about the material covered in the article. 

·         Hour exams  There will be six, non-cumulative hour exams throughout the semester.  You may drop the one lowest grade you receive on an exam.  As the grading system allows for one examination grade to be dropped, NO make-up exams will be given except under extraordinary circumstances (which will require documentation from the health center or the Dean of Students).  Missing an examination (beyond the ONE hour exam that may be dropped) without prior approval by me will result in a grade of zero for the missed exam.

·         Research paper  You will have the opportunity to write a paper that reviews psychological research in an area of your choosing.  Details about the assignment will be handed out in class early in the semester.


Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

      Class participation/ Reaction papers/Field trip report             5%

Exams (6 @ 10% each; lowest grade dropped)                         50%

      Human nature essay                                                                       5%

      Research paper (2% annotated bib; 5% draft; 13% final)         20%

      Laboratory                                                                                        20%


Course policies:


·         Academic integrity:  I expect all of you to follow the college’s guidelines regarding academic integrity, outlined in the Student Handbook.  Please talk to me if you are not clear how these guidelines apply to the course.  I will report any suspicion of academic dishonesty (including plagiarism and cheating, see the detailed descriptions of these in the Academic Honesty handout) to the Dean of Academic Programs.  Academic dishonesty may result in a zero on the assignment or in a failing grade in the course.


·         Late work:  You may not receive extensions on work in the class, except in the most extraordinary circumstances (in which you will need documentation from the Dean of Students’ Office or Health Services).  Reaction papers will receive a “check-minus” if they are turned in late (but it’s a lot better to turn it in late than to get a “0” factored into your grade!).  Research papers that are turned in late for any reason (besides an extraordinary circumstance) will have a third of a grade taken off for each day that it is late (e.g., a B+ would become a B if you hand in work any time after the exact time that it is due – the “day late” begins immediately after the time the assignment is due).  The exams may not be made up (or taken early) as described above.


·         Incompletes:  I will only grant incompletes under extraordinary circumstances that occur in the second part of the semester.  This will not include being really busy at the end of the semester.


·         Written assignments:  This is a “writing intensive” course, in which you will be expected to do a lot of different kinds of writing, both for class and for the lab.   Katie Smith is the writing assistant for the course, and it is part of her job to help you with these assignments.  You may go to her (or to me!) with questions before you start the assignments, or with drafts as you are working on the assignment.  I strongly encourage you to make use of her assistance and experience.  Please also see the information about the MAX Center (Macalester’s academic excellence center) on the last page of the syllabus.  I encourage you to take advantage of their assistance, too.  We will use the MAX Center extensively for the research paper assignment.

Some other points about written assignments:  Please type, double-spaced with 12-point font, all of your written assignments for this course.  Please do not use margins that are larger than 1 inch – all around.  Don’t use smaller margins, or smaller font, either.  Length is not necessarily strength, but when I expect you to write at least a page on a topic, I’d like it to be a full page!


·         Accommodations for students with disabilities:  I will provide any reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities that will assist in making this course accessible and will provide an optimal educational experience for everyone.    Please speak to me at the beginning of the semester so that we can make an effective plan.  Assistant Dean of Students Irene Kao is an excellent resource if you would like assistance thinking about accommodations.
























Sat, 9/1


Poem or song lyric

W 9/5

Critical thinking

Prologue, Ch 1

F 9/7

Critical thinking

Essay due in class

M 9/10


Ch 2

W 9/12


Sacks, RP #1 due

F 9/14


Field trip report due

M 9/17


Ch 3

W 9/19



Th 9/20

Class trip; depart 6:15 p.m.

Pinker lecture, Mpls Public Library

F 9/21

Checking in, catching up

Bring weekly schedule/planner

M 9/24


Bandura et al., RP #2 due

W 9/26


Ch 8, Final paper topic due

F 9/28


Loftus, RP #3 due

M 10/1


Ch 9

W 10/3



F 10/5


Meet in library (2nd floor)

Sun, 10/7

FY course dinner, 6 p.m.


M 10/8 

Sensation & Perception

Ch 5, Kleege, RP # 4 due

W 10/10

Sensation & Perception

Ch 6

F 10/12

Sensation & Perception

Guest:  Laurie Johnson, Ph.D.

M 10/15


Harlow, RP #5 due

W 10/17


Ch 4

F 10/19



M 10/22


Meet in library; annotated bibliography due

W 10/24


Ch 12 (to p. 497 only)

F 10/26 



M 10/29


Ch 13

W 10/31

Thinking & Language

Ch 10;

F 11/2

Thinking & Language

Ch 10

M 11/5


Ch 11 

W 11/7


Gardner, RP #6 due

F 11/9



M 11/12


Ch 15

W 11/14


Ch 15

F 11/16

Personality development

Final paper drafts due

M 11/19

Stress & Health

Ch 14

W 11/21

Stress & Health

Ch 14

F 11/23



M 11/26



W 11/28

Social psychology

Zimbardo, RP #7 due

F 11/30

Social psychology

Ch 18

M 12/3

Social psychology

Ch 18

W 12/5

Psychological disorders

Rosenhan, RP #8 due

F 12/7

Psychological disorders

Ch 16

M 12/10


Ch 17

W 12/12



F 12/14


Report on final papers

M 12/17


Final paper due

More about the readings to which you will write reaction papers


These essays and research articles are intended to expose you to the writing and research of people who work directly in the subdisciplines of psychology that we will be learning about throughout the semester.  Note that you will be reading most of these these before reading the chapter on that particular topic.  You will probably find that most of these readings stand quite well on their own and do not require much background in the area in order to understand them.  Others may presuppose some information or knowledge that you’ll probably get in class and/or by reading the chapter later.  Do your best with those.  All of the readings raise critical, sometimes philosophical or foundational issues (I offer some of these issues, below, as examples) that I want us to be able to talk about before delving into the details of the particular area. 

Note:  Readings designated by * are handouts.  Others are accessible on the web by clicking on the reading my website or on Moodle.


9/12: Neuroscience:  Insights about how the mind works from those who have damage to their brains

*Sacks, O. (1985).  Introduction and Chapter 1 of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.  NY:  HarperCollins.


9/24:  Learning:  Do we learn by imitation?

*Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S.A. (1961).  Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models.  Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575-582.


9/28:  Memory:  How do we know whether what we [think we] remember really happened?

*Loftus, E. F. (1997).  Creating false memories.  Scientific American, 31-35.


10/8 Sensation and Perception:  Vision from the perspective of a person who is blind

*Kleege, G. (1999).  Introduction, Chapters 1 and 4 from Sight Unseen.  New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press.


10/15:  Development:  What is the role of early attachment to our caregivers?

*Harlow, H. (1958).  The nature of love.  American Psychologist, 13, 673-685.


11/7:  Intelligence:  How did one influential theory of intelligence develop?

Gardner, H. (2003) "Multiple Intelligences after Twenty Years." Invited Address, American Educational Research Association, April, 2003


11/28:  Social Psychology:  Why do people do really bad things?  Can psychology help us understand what happened at Abu Ghraib during the war in Iraq?

Zimbardo,: A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil:  Understanding How Good People Are Transformed into Perpetrators (2003)


12/5:  Psychological Disorders:  Is there such a thing as mental illness?  How can we know?

*Rosenhan, D.L. (1973).  On being sane in insane places.  Science, 179, 250-258.



Writing resources at the MAX Center


The MAX Center, located on the first floor of Kagin, is Macalester’s academic resource center.  They provide excellent assistance with writing (among other academic skills you’ll need to develop here).


You can receive assistance with all stages of your writing from the MAX Center:

·        Getting started

·        Research

·        Early drafts

·        Revising

·        Editing


How to get the best help from MAX Center writing tutors:

·        Go well before an assignment is due.

·        Take any handouts (including the course syllabus).

·        Take any writing you have already done (including notes, drafts, outlines).

The MAX Center:

·        helps students get started on papers;

·        provides reader commentary on drafts;

·        assists students in learning, understanding, and using the writing process;

·        answers questions about citation, format, and grammar;

·        teaches students how to revise, proof-read, and edit their own work.

MAX Center staff do not provide a proof-reading service to students, nor do they “rewrite” student papers. They do provide writing instruction and guidance (including helping students learn how to proof-read their own work), helping students to do better with their own work.


As the folks at the MAX Center like to say, “Come early, come often!”