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Bard College Catalogue 2020-21
Sarah Dunphy-Lelii (director), Justin Dainer-Best, Justin Hulbert, Thomas Hutcheon, Kristin Lane, Richard Lopez, Frank M. Scalzo
The mission of Bard’s Psychology Program is to serve a foundational role in engaging the College and broader community with the science of human behavior. The program provides a thorough foundation in empirical methodology and analysis, and offers opportunities to participate in meaningful research and laboratory experiences.
The Psychology Program cultivates an environment where teaching and research mutually inform one another by supporting faculty research; providing opportunities for students to become engaged in research during the academic year and summer; encouraging students to gain internships and externships; and hosting speakers from other institutions. All program courses strive to introduce students to foundational content in psychology’s subfields (social, cognitive, developmental, and abnormal psychology, as well as neuroscience); take a multilevel approach to answering psychological questions; engage students in integrative, critical thinking about the mechanisms underlying human thought and behavior; educate students in the process of science as it applies to human behavior; and prepare students to excel in their chosen place in an interdependent global society.
Areas of Study
The program provides grounding in the areas of abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology. In brief, abnormal psychology is both an applied discipline and a research-oriented science that pertains to the study of psychopathology (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 (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.
In order to sit for Moderation in psychology, students must take 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 4-credit course in the biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, mathematics, or physics program; two 300-level courses following Moderation into Psychology (at least one, and preferably both, completed before the Senior Project begins); 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 individual differences (e.g., Adult Abnormal Psychology; courses numbered 210–219); in Cluster B, a core course in developmental or social psychology (220–229); in Cluster C, a core course in cognitive psychology or neuroscience (230–239).
All requirements for the major (including the nonpsychology Science, Mathematics, and Computing course) must be completed for a letter grade (i.e., not P/D/F).
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: an SSt degree entails at least two courses in one or more related disciplines in the Social Studies Division (decided individually in consultation with the adviser); and 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..
Recent Senior Projects in Psychology
- “Helping Adolescents with Autism: Can Music Therapy Counteract the Effects of Hyperacusis?”
- “Idioms of Distress in Myanmar”
- “Keeping It in the Family: How Family Functioning and Childhood Environment Impacts Social Anxiety in College Students”
- “A Wizard Hat for the Brain: Predicting Long-Term Memory Retention Using Electroencephalography”
The course descriptions that follow are listed numerically, from introductory 100-level courses to 300-level Upper College courses and seminars.
History and Systems 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.
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
This course examines various forms of adult psychopathology (i.e., psychological disorders) within the contexts of theoretical conceptualizations, research, and treatment. Potential causes of psychopathology, diagnostic classifications, and treatment applications are addressed. Adult forms of psychopathology that receive the primary emphasis of study include the anxiety, mood, eating, and substance-related disorders.
Child Abnormal Psychology
This course investigates the 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 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.
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.
What environments promote optimum development for children? This specialized course prepares students to understand the biological, motor, perceptual, cognitive (including intelligence), language, emotional, social, and gender development of children, from conception through early adolescence. Child development history, theory, and research strategies are discussed, as are the effects of family, peers, media, and schooling.
Cognitive psychology is the study of mind: how we perceive the world, remember, represent knowledge, acquire new information, become aware of our emotions, make plans, reason, and use language. This course examines the empirical foundations that determine our understanding of mind, including classic research designs, recent advances in computational modeling, philosophical perspectives, and changes in cognition throughout the life span. Also considered is the neural underpinning of these topics. Prerequisite: Psychology 141 or Computer Science 131.
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.
The field of social neuroscience aims to elucidate the links between the mind, brain, and social behaviors. This course focuses on recent theorizing and methodologies from neuroscience that have identified the psychological processes at play as we go about our dynamic and complex social lives. Specifically, the class examines the brain bases of social judgments, the experience and regulation of emotions, embodied cognition, empathy, attachment, theory of mind, sexual attraction, romantic love, and neuroeconomics. Prerequisite: Psychology 141, an introductory biology course, or permission of the instructor.
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.
Learning and Memory
Memory is fundamental to all aspects of learning and behavior. It reminds us to pick up a friend after class, acts as a repository for driving skills, and can also incite flashbacks to an earlier car crash. How does the brain support memory? How do these capacities develop across the life span, and what can we do to improve our memory? The class evaluates theories and evidence from behavioral experiments, brain imaging methods, and cases of impaired memory. Prerequisite: a 100-level course in psychology.
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.
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.
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.
Current Treatments of Psychological Disorders
Psychotherapy has changed significantly over the past 50 years. Newer therapies, grounded in clinical psychological science, place a greater emphasis on the biopsychological bases of behavior, present functioning, achieving change within shorter time periods, and demonstrating treatment efficacy. This course focuses on common treatments for common mental illnesses, including anxiety and mood disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders. Prerequisites: Moderation in Psychology and a course in either adult or child abnormal psychology, or permission of the instructor.
Healthy aging is associated with changes in the efficiency of cognitive and neural processes. While particular processes decline (such as attention and memory), others improve (such as emotion regulation). This course examines current theoretical accounts of cognitive aging with a primary focus on identifying and evaluating the strategies older adults implement to deal with age-related changes in cognition. Age-related diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s) are also addressed. Prerequisite: Moderation in psychology or MBB, or permission of the instructor.
Science of Behavior Change: Promise and Pitfalls
Human beings constantly have to choose from myriad behaviors to engage in and/or refrain from—whether it’s eating, drinking, exercising, socializing, sleeping, or binge watching. How do we know which behaviors are most congruent with our goals, which most at odds? When certain patterns of behavior undermine health and well-being, are there any evidence-based cognitive or motivational strategies that can be applied to meaningfully change behavior? This seminar explores the promise and challenges of behavior change. Open to moderated psychology and MBB students, or with 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 to 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 Social Psychology of Emotion, Cognition, and Bias
There is a common misconception that cognition and emotion are two opposing psychological processes. Cognition is often thought of as cold, rational, and accurate; emotion as irrational and biased, something that spoils our otherwise accurate cognitive processes. This course explores how emotions and cognition interact to influence our thoughts, perceptions, and behavior.
Prejudice and Stereotyping
CROSS-LISTED: HUMAN RIGHTS
This course focuses on the empirical study of intergroup relations and provides an overview of the social psychological study of issues in prejudice and stereotyping. The class considers the cognitive, affective, and motivational processes that underlie manifestations of stereotyping and prejudice as well as the consequences of being a target of prejudice and stereotypes. Source material includes empirical readings from social, cognitive, and developmental psychology and neuroscience as well as videos and articles written for a general audience. Prerequisite: Moderation into psychology or MBB, or permission of the instructor.
One of the primary goals of the science of psychology is to understand and predict human behavior. Linear regression is an important statistical tool as it allows for the estimation of the relationship between two or more continuous variables and the translation of this relationship into prediction. In this seminar, students are introduced to the development, theory, and use of simple and multiple linear regression in the context of psychological research, and get hands-on experience conducting their own regression analyses on existing data sets.
Recent Developments in 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.
No Train, No Gain: Using Brain Training to Prevent Cognitive Decline
The finding that the brain changes as a function of experience and that this neuroplasticity extends beyond critical periods in development raises the possibility that behavioral interventions might be able to improve cognitive processes such as attention and memory. This course evaluates the evidence in favor of so-called “brain training,” with an emphasis on behavioral interventions designed to delay or prevent cognitive declines associated with dementia and healthy aging.
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.
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?
People spend roughly one-third of their lives asleep. All too many spend the rest of their lives chronically underslept. What are the benefits of sleep and the risks of not sleeping enough? This seminar attempts to answer such questions by reviewing the empirical literature and designing studies to better understand how to get the most out of sleep. Open to moderated students who have the instructor’s permission or have completed Psychology 230, 231, 234, or Biology 162.
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.
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.
Wild Chimpanzees: Social Behavior in an Evolutionary Context
DESIGNATED: THINKING ANIMALS INITIATIVE
As our closest living phylogenetic relative, the chimpanzee is one of the best tools we have for understanding our own evolution. This course explores the methods and findings of research devoted to chimpanzee natural social ecology, collected from the field over the past 60 years. Readings on the complex behavior of nonhuman apes living in the wild are augmented with studies reporting competencies of these animals living in captivity. Prerequisite: Psychology 141 or Biology 202.
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.
Podcasts: Disordered Experience
CROSS-LISTED: EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES
Despite the history of the term “talking cure,” the focus of most courses on psychological disorders are based almost entirely on the written word. The rise of podcasts, however, increases our ability to learn about mental illness and treatment directly from people who are willing to share their experiences. Each class meeting revolves around a podcast episode that provides insight into some aspect of mental illness, accompanied by reading primary source research articles and theory. Topics include cognitive processing therapy, gender identity, major depression, couples therapy, and opiate addiction.
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.
Clinical Psychology: Advanced Methodology
Students in the course participate in laboratory research related to clinical psychology. Specifically, they work on projects relevant to understanding the relationship between mood and cognition. In addition to rotating weekly presentations, students have the opportunity to participate in all levels of the research process.
Cognitive Psychology: Advanced Methodology
In this course, students gain experience working in a cognitive neuroscience laboratory. The class uses controlled experiments and brainwave recordings to investigate the cognitive processes that allow for the adaptive encoding, consolidation, retrieval, and forgetting of associative memories. Students participate in all phases of the research process, including experiment design, stimulus development, programming, data collection, analysis, and presentation.
Developmental Psychology: Advanced Methodology
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
The course involves 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.