Introduction to Psychology
MWF 10:20 - 11:10
Minda Oriña (Or-ee-nya)
Phone number: 845-2589
Office: Bizzell Hall West, Rm 252
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 9-10 am and Wednesdays 1-2 (Also available
Course Objectives and Expectations
Psyc 107 provides a comprehensive introduction to the scientific study of behavior and
mental experience. It is a prerequisite for all advanced psychology courses as well as a
requirement for many other majors. I intend to cover this diverse field through a variety
of teaching methods and perspectives.
I will make every effort to help you to learn and understand the material. Additionally, I
will do my best to make this class fun and interesting. In the past, I have found that I’ve
gained greater understanding of the material by discussing it in class and being exposed
to other perspectives. To this end, I would like to invite everyone to voice his or her
opinions and I hope to encourage an interactive classroom.
If you have any concerns about the course format, or if you have suggestions to improve
the class, please speak to me as soon as possible. You can also leave an anonymous
note in my mailbox in the psychology building (located by Rm 335, look for my last
name) or under my office door.
Myers, David G. (2001). Psychology: Myers in modules (6th edition). New York:
This book provides an excellent introduction to psychology and covers quite a bit
of information in relatively few pages. I like this book because it breaks up
traditional chapters into shorter modules – this should make it easier for you to
keep up with the material we will discuss in class.
Straub, Richard. Study guide.
This study guide accompanies the textbook and may be a valuable resource to
help you study. It is not a required text, but I do encourage you to use it.
You will have 4 equally weighted exams, each covering approximately one-fourth of the
course. The material from the exams will come from lecture and the Myers text. Each
test will be worth 25% of your final grade.
There is an optional CUMULATIVE final. If you are unhappy about one of your test grades,
you can choose to take the cumulative final. I will take the 4 best grades from the 5
exams and use those to calculate your final grade. If you choose to take this option,
remember that this exam will cover material spanning the entire semester. You will not
be allowed to retake an exam or take only a portion of the final.
Material for the exams will come from both the lecture and the text (even if I don’t cover
it in class). I will lecture primarily on information that I think is important for you to know.
These priorities will be reflected in the exams. The questions will test your understanding
of the material and most of the questions will ask you to apply psychological theories to
Make-up exams will be given ONLY if you have a University Authorized Excuse. If possible,
let me know you will miss an exam before the exam.
Students in every section of Psychology 107 are required to gain experience in
psychological research as part of this course. You have two options:
1) Participate in 5 experiments being conducted in the Texas A&M Psychology
2) Write 5 brief papers (1-2 typed, double-spaced pages) summarizing research
articles in professional journals.
You will find additional details on both of these options on separate handouts distributed
in class and on the course web page. Please note: to get a grade in this class, you must
fulfill this requirement, either with option 1, option 2, or some combination of the two.
Even if you have earned an “A,” you will be given an incomplete (I) until you fulfill this
Your grade will be determined using the following weights:
A: 360 – 400 total points ( 90-100
Exam 1 25% average)
Exam 2 25% B: 320 – 359 total points (80-89 average)
C: 280 – 319 total points (70-79 average)
Exam 3 25% D: 240 – 279 total points (60-69 average)
Exam 4 25% F: 0 – 239 total points (0-59 average)
The cut-off points determining your letter grades are non-negotiable. Because you will have the
opportunity to earn extra credit points throughout the course of the entire semester, I will not
round up grades.
You will be able to earn extra credit throughout the course of the semester. The assignments
listed on this syllabus will be the ONLY opportunities for you to earn extra credit for the class. You
must turn in your assignments on or before the due date to count towards extra credit, no
exceptions will be allowed. These opportunities are for your benefit and you will not loose any
The extra credit will take the form of journal entries. They must be typed and turned in before
the due date. I am looking for thoughtful completion of these journal entries (and they must be
done individually! No group projects here!). Think of these as a way to personally explore the
world of psychology. Merely turning a journal entry in does not guarantee that you will receive
full credit. The point totals listed refer to the maximum number of points that you could receive.
There is an excellent companion website for the book to help you study for the class. This web
site offers overviews that highlight important concepts of each module, critical thinking
exercises, simulations, demonstrations, and online quizzes. I highly suggest that you use this
resource as an additional supplement for the class.
This address is: www.worthpublishers.com/myers.
I have designed a web page for this class. On this page, you will find the schedule of lecture
topics, reading and writing assignments, exams, and other online resources that will help you out
and important dates. You will also find outlines for the lectures. I encourage you to print these
out to help you organize your lecture notes.
The web-site address for the web page is: http://people.tamu.edu/~mmo1466/index.htm.
Please click on the link for Psyc 107.
ADA Policy Statement
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides
comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this
legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that
provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability
requiring an accommodation, please contact the Office of Support Services with Disabilities in
Room 126 of the Student Services Building. The phone number is 845-1637. In addition, I urge
you to speak with me and let me know how I can help to further your success in the course.
Extra Credit Journal Entries and Due Dates
1) Thinking about function (due date: 1/23, max point total: 2.5)
Think about the functionalist perspective in psychology. As described in the text, the
functionalists were interested in discovering the functions of behavior and mental processes.
Unlike the structuralists, who focuses on the question “What makes up conscious experience?’
the functionalists were more likely to ask the question “What are the functions of consciousness?
Why does it work in the way that it does?”
Below is a list of emotions, behaviors, and processes. Think about them from the perspective
of a functionalist. Of what good are these? How do they help us adapt to daily life?
Pain Shyness Love Anger Fear Hunger
2) Newspaper Article Critique (due date: 1/28, max point total: 2.5)
We are constantly bombarded by research results on the evening news, in magazines, and
in newspapers. It’s important to evaluate these results with a critical eye. For this assignment, go
through a newspaper and find an article that reports the results of some research study
(everyday, there’s almost certain to be at least one), and answer the following questions about
it: 1) What type of study was it – a survey, case study, correlational study or experiment? 2)
What variables did the researchers manipulate and/or measure? 3) What did the researchers
find? What did they conclude? 4) Are there any problems with their conclusions?
Be sure to include the article with your journal entry.
3) I’d Hate to Lose My …. (due date: 2/4, max point total: 3.5)
Clearly, the brain is a vital part of the body. But suppose you were the subject of a
diabolical experiment looking at the functions of the various brain areas. A mad scientist wants
to do “removal studies” in order to isolate these functions. The mad scientist does have a heart,
though – he lets his subjects decide which brain structures they’d like to give up. If you were a
subject in this heinous (and thankfully fictional) experiment, which three brain structures would
you be willing to give up? Why these three?
4) TV Characters and Erikson’s stages (due date: 2/18, max point total: 2.5)
In this exercise, it’s your assignment to watch TV! Look over Erikson’s stages and the
“psychosocial conflicts” that he claims are encountered by people entering various stages of
Television shows are filled with people in different stages of life (although you will find more
TV shows focusing on the 20-50 set than on any other). Pick out four characters (or real people,
in the case of talk shows) from TV shows that differ substantially in age, covering different parts of
the lifespan. These characters might be in four different shows, or might all be in the same show.
What are the everyday trials and tribulations experienced by these characters? What are their
main concerns or worries? Do they fit in with Erikson’s stages of development? Explain.
5) Depth Cues (due date: 2/27, max point total: 2.5)
Your text mentions a number of monocular and binocular cues that help us to perceive
depth. Monocular cues are aspects of the visual s scene, and are readily observable. This
exercise will require you to notice how important these cues are.
Get yourself some type of magazine (a nature magazine (a nature magazine would work
best), and look at the pictures – try to find as many depth cues in these pictures as you can
(there are likely to be multiple depth cues in a single picture). For each depth cue you mention,
give a brief description of it. Be sure to turn in the pictures with your journal entry.
6) Applying Dream Theories (due date: 3/1, max point total: 3.5)
In this exercise, you’ll be attempting to analyze your dreams. Over the next few nights, keep
a pen/pencil near your bed, and make some note of your dreams when you wake up during
the night (perhaps rehearse them to yourself), or as soon as you get up in the morning. Answer
the following questions.
a. Did you dream more than once? If so, how many times?
b. At what point in the night did your dream(s) occur?
c. Who were the people in your dream?
d. What types of events were part of your dream? How bizarre was it?
e. Have you had this type of dream before?
f. Do you see any purpose or reason behind this dream?
g. Which of the dream theories seems to give the best account of your dreams?
Be sure to report your answers to questions a-g. Which of the dream interpretation theories
seems the most valid to you, based on what you’ve read about them, and on your personal
dream log? Do they seem to relate to wish fulfillment or problem solving? Do they seem to
serve no real purpose, perhaps the result of random neural activation? Explain.
7) Habituation (due date: 3/8, max point total: 2)
Throughout the day, you sense a multitude of stimuli – sights, sounds, skin sensations, tastes,
and smells – that you don’t really notice or “think twice” about, due to processes involved in
habituation, as discussed in your text. Habituation allows you to ignore many of the relatively
unimportant stimulus events that occur constantly in your daily life.
For part of a day, try and notice the things you typically wouldn’t notice, and record them.
Imagine what life would be like if you noticed and reacted to these stimuli. What problems
would result? How does habituation solve these problems?
8) Analyze a TV Commercial Using Classical Conditioning (due date: 3/8, max point total: 2)
Pavlov showed that dogs would react to a bell in a manner similar to how they react to
food. Advertisers are doing much the same thing when they try to sell you a product – they try
to get you to associate some positive image with their product, in hopes that you will have a
positive reaction to the product. Watch a TV commercial, and attempt to analyze it in classical
conditioning terms. What could be considered the UCS? The CS? The UCR? The CR?
9) Elaborative Strategies in Studying (due date: 3/22, max point total: 2)
In the text, the author outlines several factors that increase the memorability of encoded
material. These factors include elaboration and imagery. Take a moment and write down the
methods that you use to study. Analyze these methods in terms of how they provide for
elaboration, distinctiveness, and or the use of imagery. Based on the material in these modules,
how might you change your personal study habits to take better advantage of the factors that
lead to good memory?
10) Memory Techniques in Advertising (due date: 3/25, max point total: 3)
Quick! Think of three television commercials. What three did you think of? The goal of
advertising is to get you to think about and remember the product. Often, the reasons for
remembering a given advertisement can be related directly to the factors that produce good
long-term remembering. Look back at the commercials that you remembered. What was it
about these commercials that made them so memorable? Try to relate these reasons to your
text’s discussion of elaboration, distinctiveness, and mental imagery.
The goal of ads is for you to remember them. Advertisers see to make their ads
memorable by invoking some of the principles described in the text chapter on remembering.
Find 3 advertisements from magazines or newspapers that you find particularly good – in other
words, memorable. How do they use the techniques known to lead to good memory to their
11) Everyday Motivation (due date: 3/27, max point total: 2.5)
What makes you “do the things you do?” Make a list of a) your 5 favorite things to do, and
b) the major things you did today. Along with each of the activities you list under a and b, give
possible reasons for engaging in the behavior – in other words, what motivates you to
participate in these behaviors?
Look at the list of “motivators” you’ve generated. What are some of the more prominent
ones? Do you see any differences between the motivators in you’re a and b lists? If so, what do
you think explains the difference? What approach to motivation best explains your results?
12) Identify Defense Mechanisms (due date: 4/8, max point total: 2.5)
According to Freud’s theory of personality, we use defense mechanisms to fend off
anxiety caused by conflict between the id, ego, and superego. Defense mechanisms are
"“weapons” that the ego uses to ward off anxiety. Many of these defense mechanisms boil
down to denying or avoiding problems and making excuses for behavior – they are forms of self-
deception. Pick three of the defense mechanisms mentioned in your text, and describe how
you have used them to minimize the anxiety you feel over some unresolved issue.
13) Detecting Persuasion in Advertisements (due date: 4/17, max point total: 3.5)
Persuasion involves attempts to change attitudes, and no doubt, you’ve been the subject of
persuasive methods more than you realize. Any advertisement (political, commercial, etc.) is an
attempt to change your attitude. In class, we’ve discussed different routes to persuasion. The
central route to persuasion involves situations when people are motivated and listening, paying
close attention to the message. The peripheral route is operating when we are unable or
unmotivated to pay close attention to the message, and we tend to be influenced by
Flip through a magazine and find some advertisements, and try to classify them as taking the
central route or the peripheral route. Also, pay attention to TV commercials and do the same.
Summarize the differences between the central and peripheral routes to persuasion. Did the
ads that you found fit the characteristics? How did the advertisements taking the central and
peripheral routes differ? Which of the advertisements were particularly effective and why? Was
there a difference in what was being advertised between the ads taking the central route and
those taking the peripheral route?
14) The Causes of Abnormality (due date: 4/22, max point total: 3.5)
The text discusses a number of factors that have been used to understand the nature of
psychological disorders (biological, cognitive, and environmental). Try this rather outlandish
thought exercise. Suppose that the government said it had to cut down its funding of research
severely, and had to eliminate all research having to do with two of these areas – only one can
be supported. You have to decide which area to fund! Which perspective do you believe has
the most to say regarding the roots of psychological disorders? Which ones would you
eliminate, and why?
15) Which Type of Therapist… (due date: 4/29, max point total: 2)
Suppose you wanted to become a psychotherapist (perhaps you do). Which of the
approaches to therapy would you follow? Why? What do you see as the strengths of this
approach? Which approach do you think you definitely would not take? Why not?
These dates are tentative and may be changed!! Please check the class
website for any changes.
Date Lecture Topics Modules
1/16 History 1
1/18 Research Strategies 2
1/21 Holiday – MLK Day
1/23 Research Strategies 2
1/25 Biological Processes 3
1/28 Biological Processes 3&4
1/30 Biological Processes 4
2/1 Walk (I’m at a conference)
2/4 The Nature of Behavior 5
2/6 The Effects of Nurture on Behavior 6
2/8 EXAM 1 1-6
2/11 Developmental Processes 7&8
2/13 Developmental Processes 9 & 10
2/15 Developmental Processes and 10 & 11
Sensation & Perception
2/18 Sensation & Perception 12
2/20 Sensation & Perception 13 & 14
2/22 Sensation & Perception 15 & 16
2/25 Consciousness 17
2/27 Consciousness 18 & 19
3/1 EXAM 2 7- 19
3/4 Learning 20
3/6 Learning 21 & 22
3/8 Learning 21 & 22
3/11-3/15 SPRING BREAK!!!
3/18 Memory 23-25
3/20 Memory 25-27
3/22 Motivation 33 – 35
3/25 Motivation & Emotion 36 – 38
3/27 Emotion 38
3/29 Reading Day – no class
4/1 EXAM 3 20-27, 33-38
4/3 Personality 39 & 40
4/5 Personality 41 & 42
4/8 Social Psychology 53
4/10 Social Psychology 54
4/12 Social Psychology 55
4/15 Psychological Disorders 43 & 44
4/17 Psychological Disorders 45 & 46
4/19 Psychological Disorders 46 & 47
4/22 Therapy 48 & 49
4/24 Therapy 49 & 50
4/29 EXAM 4 39-50, 53-55
5/7 OPTIONAL CUMULATIVE FINAL All modules
Tuesday, 8-10am covered