PSYCH 448, Seminar in Psychology, functions as our special topics course number. Content changes from quarter to quarter and typically reflects the research interests of the faculty who teach the classes.
PSYCH 448A: Stress, Aging, and the Brain
Philosophy and Scope of Class:
In this course, we will examine how the brain and, consequently, behavior change in response to stress and with age. Animal models of stress and age-related phenomena will be the major focus of the course but whenever possible humans will be an integral part of many discussions. We will consider current theories and basic biological and psychological implications of stress and aging, as well as how neurodegenerative diseases associated with stress and aging affect both the individual and society.
Topics to be covered include how stress and aging affect the brain, cognition, motor/sensory, and immune systems.
PSYCH 448B: Linear Regression & Modeling
The course focuses on linear regression, path analysis, and structural equation modeling and will provide both a practical and applied understanding of these statistical methods. These methods are widely used in social science research to answer a variety of empirical research questions. Students will acquire an understanding of:
- How each type of analysis can be used to answer empirical research questions
- Advantages and disadvantages of each analysis
- Basic requirements for conducting the analysis
- Steps for conducting and interpreting the analysis
- Comparisons among these statistical methods
PSYCH 222A: Psychology of Health & Stress
This course will explore how stress affects our bodies and minds over time. We will consider various influences on people's mental and physical health, from individual (psychological and biological) factors to social and cultural norms. Students should expect to critically evaluate their own choices and behaviors, and be open to making small changes to improve personal health and thus minimize the negative long-term effects of stress.
PSYCH 448B: Self-regulation
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of different theories and issues in the measurement of self-regulation in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, and to have some understanding of how it is linked to environmental factors and psychopathology
Self-regulation is one of the most widely studied topics in psychology, but there is little agreement on its operationalization or measurement. Construct labels include impulse control, impulsivity, effortful control, self-control, dysregulation, sensation seeking, novelty seeking, disinhibition, behavioral under control. The construct is studied at both the state and the trait levels, and through self-report surveys, behavioral and neuropsychological tasks.
Moreover, poor emotional and behavioral self-regulation has been implicated in the development of multiple forms of psychopathology, including anxiety and depression, behavior problems such as ADHD, CD, ODD and substance use disorders, and good self-regulation has been linked to positive child outcomes including academic achievement and work and relationship success.
The goals of this course are to provide an overview of the variety of ways that researchers have sought to operationalize self-regulation, to understand the developmental and neural underpinnings of self-regulated behavior, how self-regulation is influenced by environment, adversity and stress processes across development, to understand how self-regulated behavior changes from childhood into early adulthood, and to explore how self-regulation may be connected to different forms of psychopathology.
PSYCH 448C: Metascience
The literal meaning of the word "metascience" is "science of science." Towards that broad goal, this course will focus more specifically on how psychological science currently functions, and how it could be improved to more efficiently produce accurate, comprehensive, and incisive understanding of human behavior.
Concretely, we will start with the well-known 2015 paper whose abstract stated: "We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. [only] 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result" (Open Science Collaboration, Science 349, aac4716 (2015)).
In this course, we collectively will grapple with questions such as: what do these findings mean? Is the replicability of published findings in psychology as low as these studies suggest? If so, what factors contributed to that outcome? What can be done to improve it? What does it mean for a study to be replicable?
While discussing these topics, we will touch on philosophy, history, and sociology of science, and perhaps, psychology of science as well because scientists are people, and their behavior (their research, publications) reflect the same kinds of issues that affect everyone, whether or not the make a living as scientists.