Psychology

The Department of Psychology introduces students to the content and methods of the science of psychology. Students survey the foundations of the field, learn about statistics and experimental design, and have an opportunity to pursue specific interests through upper-level seminars, applied internships, and supervised and independent research. The Department offers two degree options (a BA and a BS degree), both of which prepare students for graduate work in areas of psychology, or for work in related fields such as medicine, law, education, social work, and public policy. Students with a degree in psychology are also particularly well suited for any entry-level position that demands a solid liberal arts education.

Departmental requirements for a degree in Psychology are laid out below. While they provide a broad overview of the field, there are also opportunities both within and outside of the major to explore specific interests.

  • Students interested in cognitive and/or behavioral neuroscience should focus on the Psychology courses that comprise the Behavioral Neuroscience concentration, along with Philosophy courses on philosophy of mind and of language, and Biology courses in genetics, animal behavior, physiology, and evolutionary theory.
  • Those with interests in mental health should consider Psychology courses on abnormal psychology, psychotherapy, testing, neuropsychology, and learning, as well as Sociology courses on social work and the courses, drawn from a variety of departments that comprise the Health Studies minor.
  • Students oriented toward social/developmental/legal policy issues should look at Psychology courses in social psychology, psychology and law, and false memories, along with Sociology and Philosophy courses related to criminology and the law. The Health Studies minor also includes a number of relevant policy-related courses.

Throughout their time at Fairfield, students should work with their advisors to refine their interests. Together they can then identify specific courses within and outside of the major that will enrich their understanding of those areas of interest.

PY 0101 General Psychology3 Credits

This course introduces the science of mental processes and behavior by addressing a range of questions including: How is brain activity related to thought and behavior? What does it mean to learn and remember something? How do we see, hear, taste, and smell? How do we influence one another's attitudes and actions? What are the primary factors that shape a child's mental and emotional development? How and why do we differ from one another? What are the origins and most effective treatments of mental illness?

PY 0111 Developmental Psychology for Non-Majors3 Credits

The course encompasses a developmental psychology approach to the growth of the individual from birth to old age, tracing motor, perceptual, language, cognitive, and emotional growth and emphasizing normal development. Psychology majors and students who have taken PY 0211 or PY 0212 may not take this course.

PY 0118 Psychology of Death and Dying3 Credits

Attributes: HSSS Health Studies: Social Science

Recent biomedical research, psychological theory, and clinical experience provide the foundation for this life-cycle study of death, dying, and bereavement. Some topics include the funeral process, cultural differences, suicide, the hospice approach, end-of-life issues, and euthanasia.

PY 0121 Fundamentals of Social Psychology3 Credits

This course surveys the major areas of concern in social psychology, emphasizing current issues and research in the fields of social influence and conformity, human aggression, prejudice, interpersonal attraction, propaganda, and persuasion. Psychology majors and students who have taken PY 0221 may not take this course.

PY 0122 Psychology and the Law3 Credits

Implicit psychological assumptions about human behavior and how it should be controlled form the basis for the legal system, particularly our criminal justice system, from its code to its enforcement. This course examines those assumptions in light of current psycho-legal theory and research. It covers the treatment of traditional psychiatric populations (the mentally ill, mentally retarded, homeless) by the justice system in contrast to that received by normal people; clinical issues such as the insanity defense, predicting dangerousness, the validity of psychiatric examinations and lie detectors; and jury selection, eyewitness testimony, decision-making, sentencing, and parole.

PY 0124 Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology3 Credits

This course introduces the field, contributions, and methods of industrial/organizational psychology. It covers the history of this branch of applied psychology and the psychologist's role, along with other scientist-practitioners concerned with the world of work, in developing and maintaining human work performances and work environments. The course explores current concepts and methods in several specialties within this field: personnel, organizational behavior and development, counseling, labor relations, consumer, and engineering/ergonomic psychology. Topics include recruitment, selection, training and development, and appraisal of individuals and groups; development and change of organizational cultures; and relations between organizations and their stakeholders. The course emphasizes the unique contributions of psychological science to understanding human work skills, interests, attitudes, motivations, satisfactions and stresses; work careers, management, leadership, communication, group processes, and organization.

PY 0131 Abnormal Psychology for Non-Majors3 Credits

Attributes: HSSS Health Studies: Social Science

This course introduces students to the field of abnormal behavior, presenting the classic behavior patterns in the classification system and discussing the possible causes and remediation of such. Psychology majors and students who have taken PY 0231 may not take this course.

PY 0201 Statistics for Life Sciences4 Credits

Attributes: EVAP Environmental Studies: Applied Professional Skills

Corequisite: PY 0201L.

This introductory course in statistical methodology and analysis includes descriptive statistics such as frequency distributions, central tendency, variability, and correlation as well as an introduction to probability, sampling theory, and tests of significance including the t-test, chi-squared, ANOVA, and non-parametric statistics. This course is open to majors in the behavioral, biological, and physical sciences. The lab complements the course by givingstudents supervised computation and problem-solving exercises using calculators and computers. Note: This course does not fulfill any core requirements.

PY 0201L Statistics Lab0 Credits

Attributes: EVAP Environmental Studies: Applied Professional Skills

Corequisite: PY 0201.

PY 0202 Research Methods in Psychology4 Credits

Prerequisites: PY 0101, PY 0201.

Building on PY 201 Statistics, this course teaches students to read, evaluate, design, conduct, and report psychological research. The course emphasizes critical thinking and effective oral and written communication. Students work through several different research projects.

PY 0211 Developmental Psychology for Majors3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

Using a research-oriented approach, this course focuses on the principal themes, processes, and products of human development from conception through adolescence. Students who have taken PY 111 or PY 212 may not take this course.

PY 0212 Developmental Psychology for Majors with Lab4 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

Although the content of this course is identical to PY 0211, it offers psychology majors the opportunity to participate in a laboratory experiential learning component in preschool Head Start classrooms. Specific hands-on assignments complement course material. Students who have taken PY 0111 or PY 0211 may not take this course.

PY 0215 Adult Development and Aging3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

This course examines the theoretical underpinning and current research related to a number of key issues in the field of adult development and aging including physical, cognitive, and social-emotional changes, diseases, and disorders, as well as successful aging and resiliency.

PY 0217 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Lifespan Development3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0111 or PY 0211 or PY 0212.

This course explores various developmental processes and cultural practices across the lifespan such as rites of passages, marriage, parenting, and gender equality from cultures across the globe. How do different cultures view various developmental milestones? What is similar across cultures? What is different? Ultimately, from a psychological perspective, what exactly is culture? And what variations in the course of development can be traced to the influence of culture?

PY 0221 Social Psychology3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

This course surveys the major areas of concern in social psychology, emphasizing current issues and research in the fields of social influence and conformity, human aggression, prejudice, interpersonal attraction, propaganda, and persuasion. Students who have taken PY 0121 may not take this course.

PY 0222 Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination3 Credits

Attributes: PJST Peace and Justice Studies, UDIV U.S. Diversity

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

This course will familiarize students with basic and applied social psychological research on stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, and minority experience. After considering the cognitive and motivational factors that contribute to stereotyping and prejudice, we will proceed to examine prejudice in the "real world," exploring literature on discrimination-related policies, effects of stereotyping, prejudice, and identity on achievement and status, and prejudice reduction programs. The course will take a primarily empirical approach, focusing on the ways in which scientific methods and empirical evidence can inform our understanding of these emotionally-charged and socially consequential issues.

PY 0231 Abnormal Psychology for Majors3 Credits

Attributes: HSSS Health Studies: Social Science

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

This advanced course in abnormal behavior offers an in-depth analysis of current research and theories of psychopathology. It examines the biological and psychological antecedents of abnormal behavior. The course emphasizes oral and written analysis.

PY 0232 Theories of Personality3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101; PY 0111 or PY 0211 or PY 0212.

The advanced presentation, analysis, and evaluation of theories of personality from Freud through Skinner broadens student understanding of the normal human personality in terms of theoretical structure, function, and dynamics, while enriching theoretical and historical understanding of the topic.

PY 0233 Gender and Mental Health3 Credits

Attributes: WSGF Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Gender Focused

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

This course will explore the relationship between gender and mental health. Topics to be discussed include gender identity, gender differences in development throughout the lifespan, the impact of social and societal gender expectations on functioning, as well as gender differences in the response to trauma and victimization. The course will also include an in-depth examination of sex differences in clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, and personality disorders.

PY 0234 Theories in Psychotherapy3 Credits

Prerequisites: PY 0101, PY 0231.

This course explores similarities and differences across a wide range of psychotherapeutic endeavors by means of lectures, films, and tapes. The course covers traditional psychoanalytic techniques and more recent innovations.

PY 0236 Human Neuropsychology3 Credits

Attributes: HSST Health Studies: Science and Technology

Prerequisites: PY 0261.

Human neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on functional structures and systems of the human brain and how they support various higher order psychological processes (e.g., learning, attention, executive functioning, higher-order thinking, memory, language, emotion, and motor skills). This course thus concentrates on the brain-behavior relationships beyond the cellular-molecular level, with an emphasis on typical life-span development and common neuropathological syndromes (e.g., strokes, dementia, and traumatic brain injury) in relation to functional structures and systems of the human brain. Assessment and treatment interventions of neuropsychological disorders are addressed within this context.

PY 0238 Psychological Testing3 Credits

Prerequisites: PY 0101, PY 0201.

This course offers an introduction to the principles of psychological test construction, administration and interpretation, and reviews the roles that these tests have in a broad clinical assessment and research. Specific evaluation of test reliability and validity are applied to test construction and to various published tests of intelligence, achievement, personality, and neuropsychological functioning.

PY 0251 Cognitive Psychology3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101 or PY 0261.

How can we study the mind? This course surveys topics in cognitive psychology, including attention, memory, thought, imagery, language, problem solving, and decision making. Through lectures, readings, demonstrations, and exercises, students learn about how we think and about scientific explorations of the mind.

PY 0252 Learning and Applied Behavior Analysis3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101 or PY 0261.

This course focuses on the environmental determinants of behavior and behavior change. The first two-thirds of the course highlight current concepts and research in Pavlovian and operant conditioning, reinforcement, discrimination, extinction, punishment, avoidance learning, etc. The remaining third of the course emphasizes applied behavior analysis (aka: behavior modification) that is, how these learning concepts and principles can be successfully applied to education, parenting, therapy, medicine, and everyday life.

PY 0261 Behavioral Neuroscience3 Credits

Understanding the brain is one of the last and most challenging frontiers of science. Our brain functioning determines what we see, hear, know, think, or feel. Starting with the molecular and cellular machinery of neurons and the anatomy of the nervous system, the course proceeds through the neural basis of sensation, perception, memory, emotion, language, sexual behavior, drug addiction, depression, schizophrenia, etc. The enormous strides made by neuroscience in the last several decades show every sign of continuing and increasing; this course provides the foundation upon which a thorough understanding of brain-behavior relationships can be built.

PY 0262 Sensation and Perception3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101 or PY 0261.

How do we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell? What about individual differences? This course deals with basic sensory mechanisms and with perceptual processing. Students examine color, depth, pattern, and motion perception and complete an integrative final project. Students may do experiential learning to enrich their understanding of individual differences in sensation and perception.

PY 0272 Hormones and Behavior3 Credits

Prerequisite: BI 0171, BI 0172; or PY 0261.

This upper level course in psychology will provide students with an overview of behavioral neuroscience, with an emphasis on behavioral endocrinology (hormones and behavior). Topics include the description of major classes of hormones, the techniques used in behavioral neuroscience, and the discussion of hormone-mediated behaviors including male and female reproductive behaviors, stress / fear, memory and cognition, parental behaviors, ingestive behaviors, and circadian rhythms. After weekly mini-review sessions of the relevant text, this course will emphasize primary research (journal) articles with student-led discussions.

PY 0274 Drugs and Behavior3 Credits

Attributes: HSSS Health Studies: Social Science

Prerequisite: PY 0261.

This survey course discusses the psychopharmacological properties of the more significant drugs used for research and by society in general. Drug classes include alcohol and nicotine, depressants and stimulants, tranquilizers, opium derivatives, and hallucinogenic compounds. The course emphasizes drug action sites in the central nervous system as well as behavioral alteration in controlled and uncontrolled environments.

PY 0281 Special Topics (Shell)3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

This intermediate level course focuses on a specific issue or topic in one of the major areas of psychology, including but not limited to social, cognitive, clinical, developmental, or biological psychology. In successive offerings, the content of this course will vary considerably. Thus, students may take more than one section of the course provided the content is different.

PY 0281D Special Topics: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience3 Credits

Prerequisite: BI 0170 or PY 0261.

This foundational neuroscience course is focused on learning about the building block of the central nervous system, the neuron (nerve cell). Understanding the structural, biochemical and biophysical properties of neurons and their role in basic information processing is an important foundation for any student wishing to study more complex neural and behavioral functions. The content of the course will focus on cellular components of the nervous system, genes and neural function, electrical properties of membranes, synaptic transmission, development of the nervous system, and neuroplasticity. Last, throughout the course, the student will be introduced to examples of how abnormalities in the molecular and cellular processes of the brain can lead to neuropsychiatric diseases.

PY 0281E Special Topics: Psycholinguistics3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101; sophomore standing.

This course explores the phenomenon of language in the mind and brain, including: How do children learn their first language(s) and why is it such a different experience for an adult to learn a language? What about second language acquisition? What are language disorders? Is spoken language processed differently from written language? What about sign languages? The class will include discussions, presentations, and hands-on analysis of language data.

PY 0291 Internship in the Teaching of Psychology3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0101.

Racism, sexism, classism, and their attitudinal and behavioral corollaries, bias, prejudice, and discrimination are characteristics of American culture that have plagued society and compromised America's democratic ideals throughout its history. The course explores the notion of race as a social construct and the development of individual cultural and racial identities, as well as ethnocentrism, racism, and ways to counter racism. All cognition takes place in the context of culture. The course also explores the influence of culture on cognition, between people in monocultural race/ethnic groups and within bicultural groups. An experiential component offers multicultural exposure.

PY 0295 Supervised Research3 Credits

Prerequisites: PY 0202.

The course provides research training experience in a supervised setting in which students work closely with a faculty mentor on various research projects. Such work may include assisting in designing and running lab research, data analysis, field experience, and library research. This hands-on experience enhances students' understanding of issues in research design and analysis, and prepares them for more advanced research opportunities should they choose to pursue them (e.g., independent research). Student researchers are expected to spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in their faculty mentor's lab. Enrollment by permission only.

PY 0301 Senior Seminar: Modern Psychology: History and Current Issues3 Credits

This seminar introduces students to the major historical perspectives in psychology; encourages critical thinking and the generation of creative ideas; and helps students engage in thoughtful questioning of the theory and knowledge base that constitutes the science of psychology. Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of the instructor is required for junior psychology majors.

PY 0321 Senior Seminar: Social Psychology3 Credits

This seminar challenges conventional wisdom that psychological processes propel people toward animosity, violence, and suffering and away from compassion, cooperation, and flourishing. As such, the course focuses as much on humans' positive potentialities as on our negative potentialities, and will devote as much attention to psychological approaches to building healthy communities/individuals as to approaches aimed at understanding social strife and psychological suffering. We will take a broad approach, exploring current research in social, evolutionary, and developmental psychology as well as related work in biology, philosophy, and economics. Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of instructor is required for junior psychology majors.

PY 0322 Senior Seminar: Health Psychology3 Credits

Attributes: HSSS Health Studies: Social Science

This course provides an in-depth survey of the discipline of health psychology framed within the context of socio-cultural factors such as ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status. Among the topics covered: stress, coping behaviors, biomedical and biopsychosocial models of health and illness, health behaviors, patient-provider communication. The students explore new ways to integrate theory and research with the advances in the science and practice of health psychology, and present their work in a final independent project. Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of instructor is required for junior psychology majors and non-majors.

PY 0331 Senior Seminar: Abnormal Child Psychology3 Credits

Prerequisites: PY 0111 or PY 0211 or PY 0212.

This course provides a survey of the theory and research in the field of clinical psychology related to children and adolescents. More specifically, the seminar explores: the diagnostic characteristics of the major types of child psychological disorders, the etiology of each disorder from the different theoretical perspectives, and effective approaches to treatment and prevention. Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of the instructor required for junior psychology majors and non-majors.

PY 0332 Senior Seminar: Current Issues in Clinical Psychology3 Credits

This course provides an in-depth exploration of current research and practice in the field of clinical psychology. Factors that contribute to the etiology, maintenance, identification and treatment of psychological distress will be discussed. The course will also include an in-depth examination of clinical disorders including mood, anxiety, psychotic, eating, traumatic stress, and personality disorders. Treatment, resilience and coping will also be discussed. Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of the instructor required for junior psychology majors.

PY 0351 Senior Seminar: False Memories3 Credits

Can people repress memories for childhood trauma? How accurate are eyewitnesses at reporting what they saw? Although most of the time, our memories serve us quite well, many of the strategies and mechanisms that help us remember accurately can also lead to errors. This course examines various types of memory distortions and what they can tell us about the mechanisms of memory. Through readings and class discussions, we will explore research addressing confusions between real and imagined memories, the reliability of eyewitnesses recollections, children's suggestibility, as well as clinical issues such as repression and dissociation from a cognitive perspective. Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of instructor is required for junior psychology majors.

PY 0361 Senior Seminar: Current Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0261.

This senior seminar will provide students with an overview of current research in behavioral neuroscience, with particular emphasis on behavioral endocrinology (hormones and behavior). It is strongly recommended that students complete PY 0261 before enrolling, although exceptions may be made. After a brief overview of a particular topic, including discussion of brain areas involved and techniques used to examine them, this course will emphasize current research articles in neuroscience. Specifically, how is behavioral neuroscience used to examine mechanisms behind certain behaviors and to treat anomalies? Areas of focus include clinical conditions (Alzheimer's, Autism, Post-partum depression) and addictive behaviors/drugs of abuse (Alcohol, Cannabis, Anabolic Androgenic Steroids). Open to senior psychology majors. Permission of the instructor required for junior psychology majors and non-majors.

PY 0365 Neuroanatomy and Behavior3 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0261.

This hands-on laboratory course in behavioral neuroscience will introduce students to comparative neuroanatomy using rat, sheep, and human brain specimens. Students will participate in animal handling, brain sectioning, small animal surgeries, and drug administration, and will gain experience with rodents on a number of behavioral assays, including tests for spatial memory and reproductive behaviors. In small group exercises, students will become proficient in critiquing and presenting scientific literature, and will help in all stages of an experiment, from design to data collection to analysis and the writing up and presentation of results. In addition, students may work on a service-learning project with a community partner during the semester. Enrollment by permission only.

PY 0365L Neuroanatomy and Behavior Lab1 Credit

Corequisite: PY 0365.

PY 0381 Senior Seminar: Special Topics (Shell)3 Credits

In this seminar, students undertake an in-depth study of a current topic in psychology, using mostly primary sources. Coursework emphasizes discussion and writing. Open to junior and senior psychology majors or by permission of instructor.

PY 0391 Internship in Applied Psychology3 Credits

Senior psychology majors gain practical, career-related experience in a variety of supervised field settings through the internship program. Student interns choose from a wide selection of placements in traditional psychology-related programs: mental health, social service, school psychology, early child and special education, probation, and hospital administration. Intern placements in related disciplines include human factors engineering, human resource development, advertising, and public relations. Internships emphasize the integra­tion of learning, both cognitive and experiential. Interns may register for one or two semesters, depending on the availability of appropriate placement sites and quali­fied supervisors. Interns spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in on-site work and complete the required academic component specified by the faculty coordinator. Enrollment by permission only.

PY 0392 Internship in Applied Psychology3 Credits

Senior psychology majors gain practical, career-related experience in a variety of supervised field settings through the internship program. Student interns choose from a wide selection of placements in traditional psychology-related programs: mental health, social service, school psychology, early child and special education, probation, and hospital administration. Intern placements in related disciplines include human factors engineering, human resource development, advertising, and public relations. Internships emphasize the integra­tion of learning, both cognitive and experiential. Interns may register for one or two semesters, depending on the availability of appropriate placement sites and quali­fied supervisors. Interns spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in on-site work and complete the required academic component specified by the faculty coordinator. Enrollment by permission only.

PY 0395 Independent Research1-4 Credits

Prerequisite: PY 0202.

This course involves a limited number of upper-division students (usually seniors) in all aspects of an advanced research project. Students must obtain the consent of the professor with whom they will work prior to registering for this course. Frequently a research proposal is required prior to acceptance into this course; early planning is essential. Enrollment by permission only.

Professors

Braginsky
Henkel
Primavera,
chair
Salafia

Associate Professors

Andreychik
Harding
McClure

Assistant Professors

Hollingsworth
Rakowitz

Instructor

Creane

Lecturers

Amico
Claydon
Elias
Fitzgerald

Professors Emeriti

Gardner
McCarthy