Psychology 448, Seminars

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.

Autumn 2020

PSYCH 448A: Developmental Psychopathology

Meets: TBA
5 credits | SLN: 20802

The goal of this course is to provide you with a thorough understanding of how psychopathology emerges and develops over the lifespan. We will review common disorders of childhood and adolescence, risk and protective factors as well as contextual factors associated with these disorders, and the etiology, course and outcomes of child and adolescent psychopathology, all from a developmental perspective. By the end of the course, you should have a thorough understanding of this literature, an ability to critically examine research in child and adolescent psychopathology, and an understanding of the controversies regarding current research and practice. As a writing ("W") course, a primary learning objective will be to cultivate your own ideas/interpretations of the course material and practice effective communication of complex ideas through writing.

Winter 2021

Science of Suicide Risk and Prevention

Meets: TTH 1:30pm-3:20pm
4 credits | SLN: 19523

Instructor: Kevin Kuehn 

Class will focus on causes of suicidal thoughts and behaviors and various prevention/intervention programs.

Past Quarters

PSYCH 448A: Advanced Statistical Inference: Frequentist Hypothesis Testing and its Alternatives

Meets: TF 9:40-11:50 -Full Term (Taught Asynchronously)
4 credits | SLN: 13322
Instructor: Laura Little

Psychology as a scientific discipline has utilized frequentist statistical methods as the central analytical approaches in the field. However, these analytical approaches have been routinely criticized for nearly 60 years. What do we make of this historical disdain for hypothesis testing in light of the continuing use of this approach? What other methods can be used to advance psychological knowledge and theory?

In this seminar, we will consider these and related issues. We’ll read historical and more recent papers on statistical inference, generally, as well as focus on some specific issues. Topics include:philosophy of statistics (what constitutes statistical evidence?) critique of hypothesis testing, competing approaches to statistical testing, & competing approaches to frequentist inferential methods.

The course has no exams, and evaluation is based on participation and an annotated bibliography submitted at the end of the quarter.

Psych 448 A: Linear Regression & Modeling

Meets: TTH 3:00-4:50
4 credits | SLN: 18938

Instructor: Anne Fairlie

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 448 B: Developmental Psychopathology

Meets: MW 8:30-10:20AM
5 credits | SLN: 18939

(W) Writing credit course

The goal of this course is to provide you with a thorough understanding of how psychopathology emerges and develops over the lifespan. We will review common disorders of childhood and adolescence, risk and protective factors as well as contextual factors associated with these disorders, and the etiology, course and outcomes of child and adolescent psychopathology, all from a developmental perspective. By the end of the course, you should have a thorough understanding of this literature, an ability to critically examine research in child and adolescent psychopathology, and an understanding of the controversies regarding current research and practice. As a writing ("W") course, a primary learning objective will be to cultivate your own ideas/interpretations of the course material and practice effective communication of complex ideas through writing.

Psych 448 C: Augmented Humanity

Meets: TTH 1:30-3:20PM
5 credits | SLN: 18940
Instructor: Ione Fine

(W) Writing credit course

Augmented Humanity is a term that is used in a variety of ways. This course will focus on technologies designed to become an intrinsic part of the neural functioning of the brain. Technologies discussed will include cochlear and visual electronic prostheses, brain-machine interfaces, and genetic engineering. This course will examine current and future augmented humanity technologies, using an integrated approach that combines engineering, neuroscience, psychology and ethics. There are no pre-requisites for this course other than PSYCH major status. However, this class assumes a basic knowledge of how neurons work (e.g. what an action potential is), and neuroanatomy (e.g. what the cochlea, retina does). I will provide background readings on these topics before each class.

There are five main goals for student learning: 1) To understand the basic engineering/biological principles that underlie electronic prostheses, brain-machine interfaces and human genetic engineering of cognitive and sensory diseases; 2) To understand, for each of these technologies, the interplay between stimulating technology and the underlying neurophysiology and how this affects their function; 3) To understand, for each of these technologies, important safety issues, technical and neurophysiological limitations within current devices, and how safety, technology and neurophysiology is likely to affect future device development; 4) To understand the wider psychological implications of these technologies, at an individual and societal level; and, 5) To think critically about the current and future ethical implications of these technologies from the point of view of a scientist, a patient/parent, and society as a whole.

It is also worth noting that the ethics of Augmented Humanity are complex, and will involve discussions about societal perceptions of disability, and inequities in access to medical care. It is important that opinions can be expressed freely. However we should all be sensitive and inclusive in how we discuss these matters. If you have any concerns about anything I said as an instructor, or something that a student said in class, please voice your concern in or after class, email me, see me privately in office hours, or make a scheduled appointment.

Psych 448 D: Fear & Anxiety

Meets: MW 9:30-11:20AM
4 credits | SLN: 18941

Instructor: Peter Zambetti

Anxiety disorders cause great distress in many people, and decades of animal and human research have attempted to understand fear and anxiety in order to provide proper treatment. The course will provide an overview of fear and anxiety from an empirical point of view. Topics will include a historical perspective on fear research and theories, animal behavioral and neuronal research, and human clinical research.

PSYCH 448A: Stress, Aging, and the Brain

Meets: MW 8:30-10:20AM
4 credits | SLN: 20683
Instructor: Jeansok Kim

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

Meets: TTH 2:30-4:20
4 credits | SLN: 18894
Instructor: Anne Fairlie

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 448C: Psychology of Health Disparities

Meets: MW 2:30-4:20
4 credits | SLN: 21506
Instructor: Cynthia Levine

In the United States, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographic location, whether one has a disability, and other identities and experiences affect risk for a range of health outcomes throughout the life course. This class will review the psychological research on the sources of these disparities and potential solutions to address them. We will cover topics such as the role of stigma and discrimination in everyday life, interactions with healthcare providers, the buffering role of positive identities and social relationships, and how to change the social context to improve health.

PSYCH 222A: Psychology of Health & Stress

Meets: MTWTH 9:30-10:20
3 credits | SLN: 19359
Instructor: Lauren Graham

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

Meets: MW 12:30-2:20pm
3 credits | SLN: 19426
Instructor: Kevin King

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

Meets: MF 2:30-4:20pm
3 credits | SLN: 19427
Instructor: Yuichi Shoda

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.