Bard College Catalogue 2016-17
Kristin Lane (director), Thomas Cain, Sarah Dunphy-Lelii, Richard Gordon (emeritus), Justin Hulbert, Thomas Hutcheon, Frank M. Scalzo, Stuart Stritzler-Levine
The science of psychology is a quest to understand the human mind and behavior. At Bard, faculty and students seek to answer questions about the workings of the brain; the interactions of brain, mind, and behavior; the person in social context; the development of the person throughout childhood and adulthood; the nature of thinking and language; and the problems and pathologies that people develop, along with methods of helping them.
The Psychology Program is rooted in the idea that mind and behavior are best understood from multiple, intersecting levels of analysis, ranging from biological mechanisms and individual psychological processes to social, cultural, and other environmental influences.
The program offers all students the opportunity to learn how the unique perspectives and empirical methods of psychology can illuminate human thought and behavior. The language and analytical approaches of psychology have become a common basis for many professional endeavors, making students who major in psychology well equipped for graduate study in this field, as well as in a variety of related career pursuits.
Areas of Study
The program provides grounding in the areas of abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology. It provides a thorough foundation in empirical methodology and analysis, and offers opportunities to participate in meaningful research and laboratory experiences.
In brief, abnormal psychology is both an applied discipline and a research-oriented science that pertains to the study of psychopathology (i.e., psychological disorders, atypical development) and personality. Cognitive psychology seeks to understand how the human brain governs action, imagination, decision making, and communication. Developmental psychology involves the study of change (both growth and decline) over the life span, including changes in cognition, social interaction, and brain development. Neuroscience focuses on understanding the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems as it investigates questions of brain and behavioral development, normal brain function, and disease processes. Finally, social psychology is the scientific study of people in their social contexts, emphasizing the empirical study of behavior and social thought, preferences, and feelings about oneself, one’s social groups, and others.
Prior to Moderation in psychology, students entering the College after the fall semester of 2012 are required to complete the following courses: Introduction to Psychological Science (Psychology 141), preferably in the first year (although a score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam may fulfill the requirement); a sophomore sequence of Statistics for Psychology (Psychology 203) in the fall and Research Methods in Psychology (Psychology 204) in the spring; and at least two additional 200-level courses in psychology.
Psychology students must complete the following requirements to graduate: two additional 200-level courses in psychology (for a total of four, not including 203 and 204); one course in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, or physics; two 300-level courses following Moderation, at least one of which must be completed before beginning the Senior Project; and the Senior Project. At least one 200-level course must be completed from each of the following course clusters: in Cluster A, a core course in abnormal or personality psychology (courses numbered 210–219); in Cluster B, a core course in developmental or social psychology (courses numbered 220–229); in Cluster C, a core course in cognitive psychology or neuroscience (courses numbered 230–239.
All requirements for the major must be completed with a grade of C or higher (with the exception of Introduction to Psychological Science, for which the minimum is a C-).
Although the Psychology Program is housed in the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing, students decide at the time of Moderation whether they will pursue their degree in psychology from either the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing (SM&C) or the Division of Social Studies (SSt). These divisional degrees are distinguished by two features: a) an SSt degree entails at least two courses in one or more related disciplines in the Social Studies Division (see the Psychology Program website for particular courses that fulfill this requirement) and b) the Senior Project for an SM&C degree must have an empirical focus, in which the student collects and analyzes data, or presents a detailed plan for doing so. The SSt Senior Project does not carry this requirement, though it may of course do this. An SSt degree may be particularly suited for those intending to pursue law, social work, or education; and an SM&C degree may be particularly suited for students intending to pursue a research degree in psychology, medicine, or the natural sciences.
Requirements for students entering the College prior to fall 2012 can be found on the Psychology Program website.
Opportunities for Additional Learning
Students are strongly encouraged to pursue opportunities for research or community-based practicum experiences that complement their regular course work and that connect academic learning with practical applications. The program offers advanced methodology courses in abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience under the direction of program faculty who provide opportunities for learning how to conduct research in each subfield of psychology. In addition, opportunities exist in local communities for students to pursue interests in cognitive, abnormal, and developmental psychology. Students are also encouraged to gain experience through summer research opportunities in the Bard Summer Research Institute. Students have also been successful at obtaining summer research positions at major universities.
Recent Senior Projects in Psychology
- “Am I Math Compatible? How Stereotype Threat Relates to Gender and Math Identification in Women"
- “A Behavioral and Neurochemical Investigation Into the Comorbidity of Insomnia and Cocaine Dependence”
- “Conflict Minerals: The Influence of Social Surveillance on Prosocial Consumption Behavior"
- “The Effects of High and Low Valence Affective Faces on Facilitation of Learning in Children with Autism”
The descriptions that follow are listed numerically, from introductory 100-level courses to 300-level Upper College courses and seminars, and represent a sampling of courses from the past four years.
History, Systems, and People in Psychology
Theoretical insights and conceptual attempts to understand human behavior are traced from speculations within the ancient world to current scientific thinking. Students are also introduced to the lives, times, and ideas of individuals who have made significant contributions to psychology. Particular attention is given to James, Pavlov, Freud, Skinner, and Asch, and to correspondence between and among pivotal figures in the field.
Cultural Perspectives of Human Development
This course explores the nature of culture as an environmental context within which development occurs across the life span. It examines cross-cultural research from two perspectives: cross-national comparisons and subcultures within a larger, dominant culture. Particular focus is placed on the contrasting of Western and non-Western cultures. Empirical investigations of cultural variability in development are strongly emphasized.
Geared toward nonmajors, the course considers development from conception through early adolescence, with an emphasis on how the changes in children’s minds, bodies, emotions, and social interactions work together to produce behaviors both universal to our species and unique to each individual. In considering what environments promote optimum development, the class relates empirical findings to the field’s theoretical models of the genetic, biological, cognitive, and cultural influences on development.
Psychology of Good and Evil
cross-listed: human rights
Hannah Arendt observed that “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” This course examines why ordinary people can behave in extraordinarily deplorable ways, yet at the same time have the capacity for exceptional acts of altruism and even heroism. The class takes a social psychological approach to understanding the situational and personal causes of acts of social destruction and humanitarianism. Topics covered include aggression, prejudice, genocide, volunteerism, and morality.
Neuroscience of Everyday Life
This course examines the role of neuroscience in everyday activities such as sleeping, waking, eating, and drinking, and in everyday sensory and cognitive processes. Basic neuronal function and synaptic regulation is discussed, as is the way neural systems are organized and regulated to give rise to everyday behaviors. Lab work uses scientific approaches to answer questions about the relationship between brain and behavior.
Introduction to Mind, Brain, and Behavior
Psychology 131 / Computer Science 131
See Computer Science 131 for a full course description.
Introduction to Psychological Science
How does the mind create the reality we perceive? How do experiences shape the brain, and how do processes in the brain influence thought, emotion, and behavior? This course investigates these and similar questions by studying the science of the human mind and behavior. Topics covered include memory, perception, development, psychopathology, personality, and social behavior. A focus is on the biological, cognitive, and social/cultural roots that give rise to human experience. The course also considers how behavior differs among people and across situations.
Statistics for Psychology
An introduction to the concepts and methods of statistics, aimed at helping students gain a fundamental grasp of the tools needed to understand and conduct research in psychology. Topics include frequency distributions and probability, descriptive statistics, simple correlation and regression, sampling distributions, t-tests, and basic analysis of variance. Prerequisite: Psychology 141 or its equivalent.
Research Methods in Psychology
Students gain an understanding of research methods and design through a combination of readings, lectures, class discussions, and hands-on laboratory experience. They work individually and in groups to design and conduct observational studies, surveys, and experiments. Ethical issues are discussed at each stage of the research process, and students develop the ability to assess research critically. Prerequisite: Psychology 203 or the equivalent.
Adult Abnormal Psychology
A review of the main forms of psychopathology, with an emphasis on clinical definition, formal diagnosis, etiology, and treatment. The system of psychiatric diagnosis offered by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV is utilized in defining clinical syndromes including anxiety disorders, conversion disorders, psychophysiological disorders, antisocial and impulse disorders, schizophrenia, affective disorders, alcoholism, and eating disorders.
Child Abnormal Psychology
This course investigates the early and multiple factors contributing to psychopathology emerging in childhood, as well as the diagnostic and treatment standards now in practice. Students work from an empirically based developmental psychopathology perspective, with an emphasis on the risk and protective factors that shape abnormal and normal developmental trajectories. The course explores various models for understanding maladaptive development through the examination of current research and diagnostic practices in specific diagnostic areas.
This course considers theoretical perspectives and their implications for personality development, psychological adjustment, and everyday behavior. Specific themes include psychodynamic, humanistic, trait, social-cognitive, and biological perspectives. Also examined are motivation and cognition, how we relate to others, the stress-depression link, and the applications of personality theory to behavior in clinical (focusing on personality disorders) and healthy populations. Prerequisite: Psychology 141 or permission of the instructor.
cross-listed: gss, sociology
Social psychology is the scientific study of human thought, behavior, and feelings in their social contexts. This course surveys many of the processes that influence and are influenced by our interactions with others. Students use principles of social psychology to understand the ordinary origins of benevolent (e.g., altruism) and malevolent (e.g., aggression) aspects of human behavior. The course emphasizes the influence of culture, race, and gender on the topics addressed. Prerequisite: Psychology 141.
To develop is to change. From birth to death, we are constantly changing as we grow—sometimes we gain skills, sometimes we lose them. This course examines the balance of growth and decline across the life span, along with the unique characteristics of people at each life stage. Changes studied include cognition, physical maturation, social interaction, gender, language, and cultural influence.
This course is about how people perceive, remember, and think about information. The major topics covered include object recognition, memory, concept formation, language, visual knowledge, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, and conscious and unconscious thought. The course also considers the neural underpinnings of these topics. Prerequisite: Psychology 141 or permission of the instructor.
The ability to express thoughts and emotions and to interact with the environment largely depends on the function of the nervous system. This course examines basic concepts and methods in the study of brain, mind, and behavior. Topics include the structure and function of the central nervous system, brain development, learning and memory, emotion, sensory and motor systems, the assessment of human brain damage, and clinical disorders such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
Sensation and Perception
As we read a line of text our eyes make a series of short, rapid movements followed by brief pauses. Yet we experience reading as a continuous flow of information. So how does our brain construct a stable representation of the world when provided with ever-changing sensory information? In this course, students consider the anatomy and physiology of sensory structures; the cognitive processes that turn raw sensory information into our perception of the world; and how the same information can lead to different perceptions across individuals and cultures.
This course is an overview of classic theories and current research in human learning and memory. Students evaluate models of memory, including debates on the cognitive representations of knowledge. They examine the role of awareness in memory, false memory, the biological bases of memory, diseases and disorders of memory, and methods for brain imaging. Prerequisite: 100-level course in psychology or biology, or permission of the instructor.
Evolutionary psychology is the scientific study of human nature, based on understanding the psychological adaptations that our ancestors evolved in prehistory to cope with the challenges of survival and reproduction. This course investigates multiple facets of human behavior and cognition from an evolutionary perspective.
Drugs and Human Behavior
cross-listed: mbb, sts
An exploration of the biological bases for the behavioral effects of several psychoactive substances, including therapeutic compounds, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, and drugs of abuse. The course focuses on mechanisms of drug action and physiological and behavioral effects. Broader societal issues such as drug addiction, drug policies and testing, and controversial therapeutic interventions are discussed in relation to selected compounds. Prerequisite: an introductory psychology or biology course, or permission of the instructor.
Motivation concerns the processes that give behavior its energy and direction. The study of motivation endeavors to explain “why we want what we want” and “why we do what we do.” Topics covered include the biological bases of motivation; behavioral approaches, including drive and learning theories; cognitive approaches, with particular emphasis on competence and attribution theories; and the influence of emotion on motivation. Prerequisite: Psychology 141 or permission of the instructor.
Psychology of Human Sexuality
This course examines psychological, biological, evolutionary, and sociocultural influences on sexuality. Topics investigated include gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, psychology of intimate relationships, human sexual response, and variations in sexual behavior. The class may also discuss the roles religion, law, and public policy play in sexual expression and sexual health and well-being. Prerequisite: Psychology 141.
Advertising and Consumer Behavior
The average American will spend two years of his/her life watching TV ads. The ubiquitous nature of these ads invokes the sentiments of Will Rogers, who once said, “advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.” However, at their core, advertisements are designed to persuade an audience to take an action. To influence consumer behavior, a successful ad requires an understanding of how the mind works. This course addresses the psychological principles underlying advertising strategies.
Judgment and Decision Making
John F. Kennedy once noted, “The essence of ultimate decision remains impenetrable to the observer—often, indeed, to the decider himself.” As this quote reminds us, conscious reflection and verbal report often lead to inaccurate descriptions of the causes of our judgments and decisions. In this course, students strive to ascertain the underlying causes of these mental processes by relying on contemporary research in fields such as psychology, neuroscience, economics, and political science. Source materials include empirical articles, review papers, videos, and case studies.
Bad Is Stronger than Good
cross-listed: human rights
A photography/psychology student recently discovered, or at least conjectured, that photographically conveying a sad or negative scene was easier than doing so for a cheerful landscape. Why do we more easily recognize and register the bad, and why is it more salient in our lives than the good? The so-called negative bias that “bad is stronger than good” has been found across a wide array of psychological literature in both human and animal life. This Upper College seminar addresses some of these studies.
Current Treatments of Psychological Disorders
Psychotherapy has undergone something of a revolution over the past 50 years, with new therapies focusing on helping people change their thinking or behaviors and, in some instances, placing a greater focus on the social and interpersonal context in which symptoms occur. Following a review of traditional therapeutic concepts, the course considers treatments for a spectrum of disorders, including anxiety, personality, and eating disorders; depression; and bipolar disorder. Prerequisites: Moderation in psychology and a course in abnormal or developmental psychopathology.
Executive Control of Thought and Action
Sit on a bus and you are immediately aware of a variety of stimuli: the sound of people talking, the sight of passing cars, the smell of the person next to you. Now imagine reading a newspaper on that bus. The conversation, cars, and passengers are now irrelevant sources of information. This demonstrates a fundamental function of executive control: the biasing of information processing in the service of internally generated goals. This course investigates the mechanisms that underlie executive control, particularly in situations where individuals must rapidly switch attention among multiple tasks.
Psychophysiology: The Mind-Body Connection
Psychophysiology correlates cognitive, emotional, and behavioral phenomena to physiological responses. This course emphasizes theory, research methodology (strengths and limitations of each measure), and practical applications. A variety of response systems are covered, including heart rate, skin conductance, muscle activity (electromyography), changes in pupil diameter, and eye gaze. Special attention is paid to measures of brain activity, including electroencephalography, event-related potentials, functional magnetic resonance imaging, optical imaging, and magnetoencephalography. Prerequisite: Moderation into psychology or consent of instructor.
Anxiety and Its Disorders
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent, and the most treatable, of all psychological illnesses. This course provides a detailed overview and critical analysis of anxiety disorders, with particular focus on the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of such disorders. Recent psychological and cognitive-behavioral models and approaches, and related empirical findings, are emphasized. Prerequisite: a class in abnormal psychology.
Grounded Cognition and the Representation of Knowledge
Grounded cognition proposes that cognitive systems evolved to support action, so that perceptual systems are the foundation of concepts in memory. Recent advances in neuroimaging methods provide strong support for this new perspective, driving a reevaluation of long-held assumptions regarding the representation of concepts, processes of memory, and the role of language in cognition. This course examines these new theories on the “embodiment” of knowledge in the context of prevailing paradigms. Prerequisite: Moderation in psychology or permission of the instructor.
Science of Forgetting
From tip-of-the-tongue moments to more serious lapses, forgetting is a regular occurrence. But we still have a lot learn about how and why these episodes occur. Do memories simply decay over time or is interference to blame? Can memories be repressed, only later to be recovered? How do drugs, alcohol, and traumatic injuries affect memory consolidation? This seminar considers leading psychological and neuroscientific theories of forgetting as it addresses these and other questions. Prerequisite: Psychology 230, 231, or 243; or permission of the instructor.
The Psychology of Prejudice
cross-listed: human rights
This course focuses on the empirical study of intergroup relations. It is designed to provide an overview of the social-psychological study of issues in prejudice and stereotyping. The bulk of the course examines the cognitive, affective, and motivational origins of stereotyping and prejudice, but students also explore the experience of being a target of prejudice. A broad range of social groupings are considered, including gender and ethnicity, as are scientifically based means of prejudice reduction.
Recent Developments of Pharmacotherapies
This seminar examines newly discovered drug treatments for several mental illnesses. Initial class meetings focus on readings that provide a background for understanding the methods used for identifying and testing potential new therapies. Subsequent meetings consist of student-led discussions of topics of interest. This course is open to moderated psychology students and other students at the discretion of the instructor.
The Work and Legacy of Stanley Milgram
cross-listed: human rights, sts
It has been more than 50 years since the work of Stanley Milgram demonstrated that large numbers of individuals, in multiple samples of men and women studied, were willing to punish another person when ordered to do so by an experimenter. This seminar considers the prominence of Milgram’s work and its continued relevance to the study of social psychology.
Brain Mechanisms of Addictive Behavior
Rapid strides have been made recently in our understanding of the neurological underpinnings of addiction. This research seminar begins with a brief history of our understanding of the mechanisms of brain reward systems and how the findings in this area have led to modern concepts of addictive behavior. An in-depth analysis is made of contemporary theoretical and neurobiological approaches to conceptualizing and treating addictive behaviors, particularly drug abuse but also extending to gambling, eating, and sexual activity.
Race and the Law: A Psychological Perspective
Recent high-profile deaths of African Americans have brought issues about how race interacts with the law to the forefront of national dialogue. This seminar explores how cognitive and social psychology, as well as neuroscience, contribute to the conversation. The class considers how research on ordinary human tendencies can help answer questions such as: Why are we more likely to mistakenly “see” a weapon in the hand of an African American than a European American? How and why does sentencing differ based on racial factors?
Causes and Consequences of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are characterized by a persistent disturbance in eating behavior that results in poor physical and mental well-being. Using animal models, human experimental data, and epidemiological studies, this course provides an in-depth look at the pathogenesis, disease course, and psychological, biological, and social consequences of eating disorders. In addition to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and obesity, discussions touch on other disturbances in eating behavior, such as binge eating, picky eating, and food allergies. Prerequisite: one course in abnormal psychology or neuroscience, or consent of the instructor.
Preschoolers’ Thinking: Cognitive Development between 2 and 5 Years of Age
The primary focus of the course is on the cognitive developmental underpinnings of children’s burgeoning concepts about the social and biological world around them. For instance, does a 3-year-old understand that two people can have different perceptions of the same experience? When do children realize that thoughts and dreams can’t be touched, the way a toy can? Readings are drawn from empirical papers, theoretical essays, and other publications.
Children with Autism
Within the last 25 years, autism has become one of the most widely recognized childhood disorders. Where did it come from? How have we grappled with its increased prevalence? What is the long-term outlook for these children? The class explores the major theories of autism and the predominant diagnostic methods. Readings consist predominantly of primary empirical work, augmented by theoretical and popular writing. Prerequisites: Psychology 141 and a class in either child development or abnormal psychology.
Automaticity of Social Life
The idea that much of mental life occurs without conscious intention, awareness, or control has taken root as one of the central tenets of contemporary psychology. This seminar explores the ways in which large swaths of mental processes and behavior operate outside of conscious awareness. Readings draw from cognitive, social, and clinical psychology as well as neuroscience and philosophy. Prerequisites: Moderation into psychology or the Mind, Brain, and Behavior concentration; and at least one of the following: Psychology 220, 230, 243, or 271.
The Social Brain: Neuroscience Social of Attachment, Rejection, and Social Interaction
Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that draws on techniques and concepts from biology, psychology, and evolutionary anthropology to understand the neural bases of social interaction. This course covers topics such as the evolutionary origin of cooperation, attachment and bonding, social pain, and moral cognition; and considers how the neural mechanisms of social functioning break down in psychiatric conditions (e.g., borderline personality disorder) and antisocial behavior (e.g., psychopathy). Prerequisite: Psychology 230, 252, 347, PSY NEU, or Biology 204.
Psychobiology of Stress and Mental Illness
Recent advances in the understanding of the neurobiology and physiology of stress have changed the way stress is viewed, both as a primary phenomenon and as a secondary factor that precipitates or causes a variety of psychiatric disorders. The latter include phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. This research conference examines recent findings on the mechanisms and biological consequences of stress, and explores links between these effects and psychiatric disorders as reported in journal articles.
Abnormal Psychology: Advanced Methodology
Students work in the laboratory on research projects relevant to understanding eating disorders and the basic psychological and physiological processes associated with disordered eating. Enrollment is open to first-, second-, and third-year students with permission of the instructor.
Cognitive Psychology: Advanced Methodology
In this course, students work individually and in groups on research projects related to attention. A primary focus is on how media multitasking, which requires rapid shifting of attention between multiple sources of information, impacts learning. Students participate in all phases of the research process, including experiment design, development of stimuli, programming studies, and collecting and analyzing data.
Developmental Psychology: Advanced Methodology
In this course, students participate in laboratory research in child developmental psychology. Special emphasis is placed on 3- to 5-year-olds’ social cognition, perspective taking, and memory in the context of games. The bulk of the course is taken up by independent laboratory work and research, and students work with young children, parents, and members of the community to initiate research protocols.
Neuroscience: Advanced Methodology
Students participate in laboratory research in developmental psychopharmacology, neurochemistry, neuroanatomy, and/or neurobehavioral teratology using the zebrafish as an animal model. Within these general fields, specific roles of neurotransmitter systems in normal behavioral development and the neurobehavioral effects of chemical insults during early development are investigated.
Social Psychology: Advanced Methodology
This course provides hands-on experience in the practice of social psychology. Students, who are expected to enroll for two consecutive semesters, work individually and in teams on ongoing research projects. Topics include the roots of unconscious bias, gender disparity in the sciences, and behavior change. Students participate in all phases of the research process, including developing stimuli, programming studies, conducting experimental sessions, and coding and analyzing research data.