Psychology (PSY)

Academic Catalog 2010–2011

  • Jennifer Ackil, Chairperson
  • Kyle Chambers
  • Lauren Hecht
  • Mark Kruger
  • Richard Martin
  • Timothy Robinson
  • Barbara Simpson (On leave, Spring 2011)
  • Marie Walker
  • Janine Wotton (On leave, 2010–2011)


  • Kristine Campana
  • Sarah Hankerson
  • Jeffrey Haun

The study of psychology challenges generalizations, encourages objectivity, and provides a methodology that can be used to analyze and synthesize propositions about behavior. The Psychology major program is intended to introduce students to the factual base that constitutes what is known about behavior in humans and other organisms and to the theoretical approaches used to organize and explain these observations.


A minimum of eleven courses in Psychology. Students must have at least a C average (2.0) for these eleven courses.

  1. PSY-100, General Psychology; PSY-224 and PSY-225, Statistics and Research Methods I and II.
  2. Five courses which introduce major sub-fields within the discipline of psychology: PSY-230, Cognitive; PSY-232, Social; PSY-234, Developmental; PSY-236, Personality; and either PSY-238, Brain and Behavior or PSY-260, Intro to Neuroscience.
  3. One course in PSY-344, Topics in Psychology or PSY-345, Neuroscience Seminar.
  4. Two additional electives (e.g., PSY-200, Industrial/Organizational; PSY-241, Abnormal; PSY-242, Forensic; PSY-334, Adult; PSY-336, Humanistic; or PSY-244, 344 or 345).
  5. Completion of the Major Field Test in Psychology typically administered by the department during the spring semester of the students’ senior year.

January Interim courses offered by the Department of Psychology may not be used to meet major requirements. The only exception is PSY-242, Forensic Psychology. Clinical practicum, internship, directed research and independent study courses will not count toward the eleven-course minimum. Clinical practicum will count toward the institutional four-course limit on internship experiences which can be counted toward graduation. Students are encouraged to gain research experience and/or to participate in internship or clinical practicum.

Students interested in majoring in Psychology should contact the department offices to apply to major. Majors will be assigned to a department faculty member who will advise them concerning the courses which best fit their individual needs.

Psychology majors are encouraged to plan an international study experience as part of their liberal arts education at Gustavus. Department faculty should be consulted regarding the possibility of transferring coursework from the study abroad program into the major. Most students who study abroad, however, can complete the department’s requirements without using coursework from the study abroad program.

Neuroscience Minor:

See Neuroscience section of the catalog.

Departmental Honors in Psychology

The Honors Program is designed to provide the highly motivated student with a unique opportunity to research a particular psychological topic in depth.

Eligibility: To participate in the Psychology Honors Program students must have a minimum overall grade point average of 3.70 and be recommended by a member of the Psychology faculty. Students eligible to participate in the Psychology Honors program will be issued an invitation from the Psychology Department chairperson, typically in the spring of their sophomore year. Students choosing to accept this invitation should declare their intention to do so by 1) talking to a Psychology faculty member, 2) registering for PSY-290, and 3) registering for the Honors program with the departmental administrative assistant.

Honors Major:

Completion of the eleven courses required of all Psychology majors.

  1. Two semesters of research apprenticeship (PSY-290) to be completed no later than the spring of the junior year.
  2. Two consecutive semesters of Honors Research Project (PSY-390) typically completed in the senior year.
  3. Successful completion of honors thesis and an oral presentation of this work at the annual Gustavus Psychology Symposium. Students are also encouraged to share the results of their work at other conferences (e.g., Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Sigma Xi Research Symposium, Celebration of Creative Inquiry, Midbrains). Successful completion of the Honors program in Psychology is noted on the student’s academic transcript.

100General Psychology(1 course) A general survey of the basic facts and principles of behavior. The course is designed as an introduction to the field of psychology. It includes assigned readings, lectures, class demonstrations, and activities. This course or its equivalent is the prerequisite to all other courses in the department unless indicated. SOSCI, Fall and Spring semesters.

200Industrial/Organizational Psychology(1 course) Industrial/organizational psychology applies the science of behavior to the realm of work. This class will provide an overview of I/O techniques used in the employment process, including selection, training, and performance evaluations. Additional topics will include motivation, employee satisfaction, leadership, and group dynamics. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Spring semester.

224Statistics and Research Methods I(1 course) This course introduces the student to the methods of experimentation and data analysis used most frequently by psychologists. Elements of experimental design, descriptive statistics, data presentation, hypothesis testing, and correlational statistical techniques will be presented at a level which does not presume an extensive background in mathematics. Emphasis will be placed on the application of statistical techniques to problems frequently encountered by psychologists. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semesters.

225Statistics and Research Methods II(1 course) In this course the fundamentals of research are introduced to students who intend to major in psychology. Students will become acquainted with computer-based analysis techniques and standard laboratory research. Writing will be emphasized. A journal-format paper describing an original research project will be required. Prerequisites: PSY-100 and PSY-224. WRITD, Fall and Spring semesters.

230Cognitive Psychology(1 course) Cognitive psychology is an exploration of human mental processes and mental representations using scientific methods of research. This course will emphasize research findings that contribute to our understanding of a variety of mental functions including attention, memory, problem-solving, and language. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semesters.

232Social Psychology(1 course) Social psychology is the scientific study of the manner in which the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of individuals influence, and are influenced by, the behavior and characteristics of others. Topics which are examined in this course include attitudes, person perception, social cognition, liking and friendship, altruism, aggression, conformity, social exchange, and the behavior of individuals in groups. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semesters.

234Developmental Psychology(1 course) Developmental psychology is the study of the changes that occur with age as a function of biological, social and psychological influences. This course will cover the period of development from conception through adolescence and focuses on the development of perception, intelligence, attachment, identity formation, and moral development. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semesters.

236Personality Psychology(1 course) Personality psychology focuses on the study of the individual. This course reviews research and theory in personality psychology, develops a language for conceptualizing who a person is and what patterns and qualities each person brings to a situation, and assists the student in constructing a model for predicting personality development, functioning, and diversity. Consideration is given to the assessment of personality and to the issues of conflict, stress, anxiety, defense, sex-role stereotyping, and the development of self-efficacy. Dream analysis and the use of symbolic language for communication are explored. Prerequisite: PSY-100, Fall and Spring semesters.

238Brain and Behavior(1 course) The course will introduce the student to the biological underpinnings of human behavior. After basic training in the fundamentals of brain anatomy and physiology, the role of the brain and basic biological processes in topics such as sensation and perception, food intake, reproductive behavior, learning, emotion, mechanisms of drug effects, and mental disorders will be examined. Methods used to study how the brain works will be introduced in laboratory sessions. This course must be taken before PSY-260 to count toward the major. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semesters.

241Abnormal Psychology(1 course) A survey of the nature and characteristics of abnormal behavior, with attention to theories and research concerning causes, assessment, classification, and effective treatments for disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, chemical dependency, stress disorders, and lifespan problems. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semesters.

244Topics in Psychology(1 course) This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to explore in greater detail a particular area within a sub-field of psychology that was introduced in an intermediate level course. Students will engage in a variety of endeavors to explore the topic of interest. For example, they may read and discuss empirical research, conduct empirical and/or library research, and complete other relevant projects to explore the topic. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall or Spring semesters.

260Introduction to Neuroscience(1 course) The nervous system integrates information about the world and the state of the individual to ensure appropriate behavioral responses. This course combines both biological and psychological approaches to pose the question of how animal brains perceive, process, and display the necessary information. We will use comparative behavioral models that are suitable to introduce fundamental mechanisms of neural and hormonal signaling in both lecture and laboratory. This course is intended for students with an interest in continuing studies in neuroscience. Prerequisite: BIO-101 and either BIO-102 or PSY-100. Spring semester.

290Research Apprenticeship(.25 course) This course is for students interested in collaborating with a faculty member on a research project in the faculty member’s area of research expertise. The purpose of this course is to provide the student with extensive experiences in a particular area of research so the student will be prepared to conduct an independent research project during the senior year. Prerequisites: sophomore or junior status, and permission of the instructor. Grading is pass/fail. Fall and Spring semesters.

334Adult Psychology(1 course) This is a continuation of the study of development in PSY-234. It covers the life span from adolescence to life’s end and focuses on the psychological development of the individual, from the attainment of independence in youth, through growth in capability and responsibility in adulthood, to the changing life patterns of old age. Emphasis will be on the special problems faced at each stage of life as a person completes the cycle of existence. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Spring semester.

336Humanistic Psychology(1 course) Humanistic psychology focuses on human potential for mature, healthy growth. It identifies the conditions that facilitate change; evaluates the role of choice, responsibility, and values in change; looks at the consolidating role of emotion; and, finally, assists the student to develop criteria for making reasoned choices about when and how to effect change in oneself and position oneself as a culturally sensitive person in a global world. Prerequisites: PSY-100 and PSY-236. Spring semester.

344Advanced Topics in Psychology(1 course) These upper-level seminars are designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate expertise in a particular problem area within a sub-field of psychology. Students will be expected to learn to direct their own pursuit of knowledge and gain fluency in the theories, measures, and research methods used to address questions within their selected area. Students will be expected to direct class discussions and produce a paper that reviews theory and research on a problem and/or present the results of a research project. Successful students will also demonstrate their ability to relate the problems within their selected subfield to the broader challenges that face psychologists who participate in the development of psychology as a science. Prerequisite: PSY-100, PSY-224, or permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

345Neuroscience Seminar(1 course) This upper-level seminar is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate expertise in a particular problem area within neuroscience from a psychological perspective. Students will be expected to learn to direct their own pursuit of knowledge and gain fluency in the theories, measures, and research methods used to address questions within their selected area. Students will be expected to direct class discussions and produce a paper that reviews theory and research on a problem and/or present the results of a research project. Prerequisites: PSY-238, PSY-260 or permission of instructor. Fall or Spring semesters.

268, 368Career Exploration, Internship(Course value to be determined) Off-campus employment experience related to the student’s major. Students should seek approval from a Psychology Department faculty member before arranging an internship. Ordinarily, these are limited to one course credit. See description of the Internship Program. Prerequisite: junior or senior status. Offered Fall and Spring semesters, January Interim, and Summer.

385Neuroscience Capstone(1 course) This capstone course provides the opportunity for students to conduct research, to discuss primary literature and to demonstrate evidence of independent work. Students may choose to participate in basic science research related to the nervous system and will be expected to present their research publicly. Alternatively, students may choose to develop a teaching tool about neuroscience for use in the K–12 school system and will be expected to implement their pedagogy. This course may not be used to fulfill the psychology elective requirement. Prerequisites: all other courses in the Neuroscience minor or permission of instructor. Spring semester.

389Directed Research Project(.25–1 course) This course is for Psychology majors who are interested in completing an independent research project. To obtain academic credit for this work, students will be required to produce an appropriate written report to the department faculty member supervising the project and make a public presentation of the results of their collaboration. Prerequisites: PSY-100, PSY-224, PSY-225, and permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

390Honors Research Project(.5 course each semester) This course is for Psychology majors who have completed two semesters of Research Apprenticeship (PSY-290) and are interested in completing an independent research project. To obtain academic credit for this work, students will be required to report findings of their work in a formal written report (honors thesis) submitted to the faculty member supervising the work and deliver a public presentation of the results of their work. Prerequisites: PSY-100, PSY-290, senior status, and permission of the instructor. WRITD, Fall and Spring semesters.

291, 391Independent Study(Course value to be determined) Selected areas or problems for individual and/or group study. Offered Fall and Spring semesters, January Interim and Summer.

396Clinical Practicum(Course value to be determined) Students spend a January Interim or part of a regular semester in a clinical setting. Students may enroll more than one time, but may not exceed four course credits, including any Career Exploration and Internship credits. January Term students normally earn 1 course credit through working an average of forty hours a week for four weeks in a clinical setting. Regular semester students ordinarily will be limited to one course credit per internship. January Interim and regular semester students outline a work program before beginning the practicum, keep a journal of experiences gained, read and/or carry out a research program as appropriate, and are evaluated by the clinical facility supervisor. Registration is by permission of the instructor. Priority is given to juniors and seniors who have background in PSY-236 and PSY-241. Fall and Spring semesters, January Interim, and Summer.