140 Full year course: four credits


This course covers core concepts in psychology beginning with the use of the scientific method in research and the physiological basis for behavior. Topics covered in the first semester include social psychology, perception, states of consciousness, memory and learning. During the second semester the focus is on human growth and development, personality, stress and adjustment, and ends with a unit on abnormal behavior, treatments, and therapy.
Class time is divided between lecture, films, discussions, experiments, and demonstrations. During the first semester, students take frequent unit tests, design, implement, and write a report on a social psychology experiment, write a paper on a movie selected by the instructor, and create a dream log with dream analysis and critique of that analysis. Second semester, students take frequent unit tests, read a book on which a paper is assigned, write a seven page research paper, and construct a personal time-line.
By special arrangement, students may prepare to take the Advanced Placement exam in Psychology. (2-4)


The purpose of this course in psychology is to introduce students to core concepts and content areas in the field. The course introduces students to the methods of inquiry and evaluation used by psychologists. The content of the course provides students with information about issues that all individuals encounter not only concerning themselves but in their relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances. Studying psychology should lead students to an appreciation of and tolerance for individual differences. Students should acquire insight into the complex determinants underlying individual and group behavior. Finally students should be prepared to be intelligent consumers of psychological services.
This course conforms to the American Psychological Association's recommended guidelines for a high school psychology course.


I. Introduction to Psychology
A. What is Psychology
B. Research Methods
C. Ethical Issues in Research
D. History of Psychology
E. Major Theories in Psychology

II. Social Psychology
A. Attribution Theory
B. Attitude Formation
C. Interpersonal Attraction
D. Conformity
E. Compliance and Obedience
F. Prejudice and Discrimination
G. Deindividuation and the Bystander Effect

III. Sensation and Perception
A. Experience and Biological Basis of Sensory Processes
B. Perceptual Organization
C. Perceptual and Physical Illusions

IV. States of Consciousness
A. Daydreaming
B. Sleeping and Dreaming
C. Sensory Deprivation
D. Meditation and Hypnosis
E. Drug-altered Consciousness

V. Learning and Memory
A. Classical Conditioning
B. Operant Conditioning
C. Cognitive Learning
D. Social Learning
E. Theories of Memory

VI. Intelligence and Testing
A. Theories of Intelligence
B. Emotional Intelligence
C. Intelligence Tests

VII. Motivation and Emotion
A. Primary Drives
B. Hierarchy of Motives
C. Emotions and their Expression

VIII. Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, and Adulthood
A. Physical Development
B. Social Development
C. Moral Development
D. Cognitive Development
E. Gender Differences

IX. Personality
A. Psychodynamic Theories
B. Humanistic Theories
C. Behavioral and Social Learning Theories
D. Trait Theories
E. Personality Inventories

X. Stress
A. Sources
B. Relationship with Health
C. Coping

XI. Abnormal Behavior and Therapies
A. Definition of Abnormal
B. Read a Novel on a Disorder
C. Anxiety Disorders
D. Personality Disorders
E. Schizophrenic Disorders
F. Mood Disorders
G. Somatoform and Psychophysiological Disorders
H. Dissociative Disorders
I. Eating Disorders
J. Treatments and Therapies


The variety of methods used in psychology are designed to involve students actively in the learning process and to promote both their intellectual and psychological development. These include lectures, class discussions, class experiments and demonstrations, working in groups, case study analyses, and audiovisual presentations.


Students are expected to:
keep an organized notebook of all notes and handouts
complete the assigned reading in textbooks and articles
come to class prepared and on time
ask questions and seek extra help as needed
demonstrate knowledge on written essays and tests as well as in class discussions
turn in homework assignments regularly
write one or two papers each term, varying from three to seven pages in length, including a research paper
design and implement a social psychology experiment and write a summary report
read supplementary books, construct a personal time line, and write a dream log with analysis

Note: Course expectations and methods will be coordinated with the Individual Education Plans of students who have them.


Students should be able to:
define key terms and use them in their everyday vocabulary
compare and contrast major theories in psychology
devise simple research projects, interpret and generalize from results, and evaluate the validity of the data
apply psychological concepts to their own lives; be able to recognize psychological principles in everyday situations
learn about the ethical standards psychologist and psychiatrists maintain
be sensitive in applying psychological principles to themselves and other people


Psychology: An Introduction, 10th edition, Charles G Morris

Each student may use this text book along with the accompanying Study Guide, which they may purchase


Oliver Sacks, The Man who Mistook His Wife For a Hat
Judith Guest, Ordinary People
Selected readings drawn from the instructor's collection of abstracts and articles


# The PBS series The Brain
# The PBS series The Mind
# The PBS series Discovering Psychology
# The ABC News/Prentice Hall series Issues in Psychology
# Short video clips from the instructor's and the school's collection


Social Experiment: Having learned about the basic research methods of psychology and basic principles of social psychology design a research investigation focused on a specific area of interest concerning social psychology. Implement the research project, analyze the collected data, and write a report on your findings.

Physiological Psychology and Encephalitis Lethargica: After viewing the film Awakenings, write a three to five page analytical paper that analyzes the information presented in the movie about Parkinson's Disease and Encephalitis Lethargica, with regards to the major personality and physiological changes seen in the two main characters.

Sensation and Perception Presentation: Having explored the senses, create a presentation on one particular sense and generate an activity for the class to reinforce the abilities and limitations of that particular sense.

Egg Baby Experiment: Adopt an egg and treat it as your own child for a week, keeping careful track of feedings, changings, baths, napping time, activities, babysitters, etc. for the baby. At the end of the week, examine the responsibilities, joys, and challenges of being a parent (even of an egg!).

Childhood Development: Having learned about Piaget's cognitive development, Kolhberg's moral development, and Erikson's social development pick a favorite children's book and identify the stages and types of development that the book is aimed at teaching.

Literature Examination: Having read Ordinary People, write five paragraphs regarding the use of specific defense mechanisms as shown by the main characters

Psychology in the News: Having learned some of the basic principles of psychology examine and analyze how these principles relate to current events. Find a current article and identify the principles being discussed or referred to as well as apply these principles to the events being reported.


The College Board offers an Advanced Placement examination in psychology. For both philosophical and pedagogical reasons the instructor believes that the psychology course should not be driven by that examination. In order to offer the additional information and training necessary for the Advanced Placement examination, students may choose to undertake additional reading. They will meet as a group weekly with the instructor to cover those topics not treated in the course and to practice examination questions. Students must begin these sessions in early in order to be ready for the examination in May. As this is an extra commitment which carries no credit, students who find they are over committed are free to drop the extra Advanced Placement sessions at any time.


Evaluation of students is based on classroom performance, homework, papers, quizzes, tests, and examinations.

Revised 2006 by Lori Hodin and