Introduction to Psychology

About the Course

What do your dreams mean? Do men and women differ in the nature and intensity of their sexual desires? Can apes learn sign language? Why can’t we tickle ourselves? This course tries to answer these questions and many others, providing a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior. It explores topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, religion, persuasion, love, lust, hunger, art, fiction, and dreams. We will look at how these aspects of the mind develop in children, how they differ across people, how they are wired-up in the brain, and how they break down due to illness and injury.

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Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 75 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2007.

Course Materials

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About Professor Paul Bloom

Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. He was born in Montreal, Canada, was an undergraduate at McGill University, and did his doctoral work at MIT. He has published in scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and in popular outlets such as The New York Times and The Atlantic Monthly. He is the co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and the author of two books: How Children Learn the Meanings of Words and Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human. His research explores children's understanding of art, religion, and morality.

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Syllabus

Professor

Paul Bloom, Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology

Description

What do your dreams mean? Do men and women differ in the nature and intensity of their sexual desires? Can apes learn sign language? Why can’t we tickle ourselves? This course tries to answer these questions and many others, providing a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior. It explores topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, religion, persuasion, love, lust, hunger, art, fiction, and dreams. We will look at how these aspects of the mind develop in children, how they differ across people, how they are wired-up in the brain, and how they break down due to illness and injury.

Texts

Gray, Peter. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers, 2007. 
Marcus, Gary, ed. The Norton Psychology Reader. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.

Requirements

Exams: There is a mid-term and a final. The final is on the last day of class. There will be no exam during the final exam period. Sample exams will be provided on the course website. You must have a Dean's Excuse to take a makeup exam.

Reading Responses: Starting on the third week of class, you will submit a short reading response every week. These responses will be graded pass/fail. There are ten responses, but you are allowed to skip or fail one of them without penalty (you only need to pass 9 of them). Details will be discussed in class.

Book Review: You will write one book review. Details will be discussed in class.

Experimental participation: All Introductory Psychology students serve as subjects in experiments. Specific details will be discussed in class.

Grading

Reading responses: 15%
Book review: 20%
Midterm examination: 30%
Final examination: 35%

Sessions

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in PSYC 110 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.

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