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Course Description

How do biology and environment come together to create individuals with distinct thoughts and ideas? How do we learn? How do others influence us? These are just of a few of the questions that students will explore in this course. We examine different theoretical approaches to psychology and abnormal psychology, and how clinical psychologists treat patients today.

Unit 1: History of the Discipline

This unit introduces the study of psychology and major terms. It also gives a brief history of psychology as a field of study, and discusses the role of other disciplines, namely philosophy and physiology, in the formation of psychology. This unit also describes six main perspectives: structuralism, associationism, functionalism, psychoanalysis, Gestalt, and behaviorism.

Unit 2: Biology and Behavior

This unit examines the biological makeup of the nervous system, the brain, and the endocrine system. It also explores the major technologies used by researchers to study the functions of the brain. Lastly, it considers how genetics and drugs affect people’s behavior.

Unit 3: Developmental Psychology

This unit explores the different stages of development of humans, from prenatal to childhood to adolescence to adulthood. It also examines the physical, cognitive, and social changes a person experiences at different points in their lives.

Unit 4: Cognitive Psychology

This unit explores different aspects of cognitive psychology. First, it explores sensation and perception. Then, it examines the different ways organisms learn. Next, the unit delves into the way the brain stores memories and later retrieves them. The following lesson looks at the various ways people solve problems and considers which strategies have better success rates. Finally, in the last two lessons it explores how people acquire language and how researchers measure intelligence.

Unit 5: Evolutionary Psychology

This unit introduces the field of psychology called evolutionary psychology. The first lesson briefly explores the major areas of study for evolutionary psychology, paying particular attention to the foundational idea of natural selection. The next lesson considers how adaptations work and how they can explain human behavior. The third lesson discusses Darwin’s idea of sexual selection along with other mating behaviors that are a result of adaptations. The following two lessons examine why altruism exists in human behavior, specifically in relation to both kin and non-kin. The final lesson briefly covers the major critiques of evolutionary psychology.

Unit 6: Social Psychology

This unit explores several aspects of social psychology. First, it considers how and why people attribute their behavior to specific causes. Then it explores how people form attitudes and impressions about other people and groups. It also explains the difference between individualism and collectivism and how these kinds of cultures can influence a person’s personal identity. Next, the unit looks at how conformity, compliance, and obedience to other people can guide one’s behavior. In addition, the unit examines the ways people’s actions can change when part of a larger group. Finally, it delves into antisocial behavior such as aggression and prosocial behavior such as altruism.

Unit 7: Abnormal Psychology

This unit explores abnormal behavior as exhibited in various psychological disorders. It addresses the diagnostic manual used by psychologists, the DSM. It also explores several major disorders, including anxiety and mood disorders, somatoform disorders, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenic disorders, and personality disorders.

Unit 8: Psychology in Practice

This unit explores psychotherapy and some of the careers mental health professionals might choose. It also examines how psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, and various forms of group therapy are used in modern practice. In addition, it gives a brief overview of some of the psychoactive drugs that are used to treat patients with psychological disorders. Finally, the unit considers some of the ways that psychological research can influence the law.

Course Details

  • Date December 1, 2012
  • Tags High School Electives, Social Sciences
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