Psychological Science (PSY)Academic Catalog: 2019–2020

  • Kyle Chambers, Chairperson
  • Jennifer Ackil
  • Kayla De Lorme
  • Michael Ferragamo (On leave, Fall 2019 and January 2020)
  • Madeline Harms (Visiting, 2019–2020)
  • Patrick Heath
  • Lauren Hecht
  • Lucie Holmgreen
  • Mark Kruger
  • Marie Walker (On leave, Spring 2020)
  • Janine Wotton (On leave, 2019-2020)

Psychological science challenges generalizations, encourages objectivity, and provides a methodology that can be used to analyze and synthesize propositions about behavior. The psychological science major 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 10 courses in Psychological Science. Ideally, these courses will constitute a sequence carefully planned with the student’s faculty advisor to achieve breadth and depth that is appropriate for the student’s goals. Majors will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the breadth of Psychological Science by successful completion of PSY-100. Students must achieve at least a C- in PSY-100 before taking upper-division (Level II & III) Psychological Science courses. All other courses in the major require PSY-100 as a prerequisite.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge in research methods and statistics by successful completion of PSY-224 and PSY-225 at Gustavus, preferably completing both by the end of the sophomore year.
  3. Complete two upper-division courses that emphasize basic processes as indicated in the course description (e.g., PSY-230, PSY-238, PSY-240 and PSY-260.
  4. Develop a deeper understanding of topic areas by successful completion of an additional five upper-division (Level II & III) courses in Psychological Science. One upper-division course must be Level III.
  5. Complete the Major Field Test in Psychology typically administered by the department during the spring semester of the students’ senior year.

An average GPA of a C or higher is required for the Psychological Science courses used to satisfy the requirements for the major. January Interim courses offered by the Department of Psychological Science may not be used to meet major requirements, with one exception: Forensic Psychology (PSY-242). Additionally, the following courses will not count toward the 10-course requirement: Internships (PSY-268/368), Research Apprenticeship (PSY-290), Neuroscience Capstone (PSY-385), Directed Research (PSY-389, PSY-390), and Independent Study (PSY291/391). Students are encouraged to gain research experience and/or to participate in internship.

Students interested in majoring in Psychological Science should contact the department’s administrative assistant to apply to the major. Majors will be assigned to a department faculty member who will advise them concerning the courses which best fit their individual needs.

Psychological Science majors are encouraged to plan an international study experience as part of their liberal arts education at Gustavus. Most students who study abroad, can complete the department’s requirements without using coursework from the study abroad program, but departmental faculty can be consulted about the possibility of transferring coursework.

Departmental Honors in Psychological Science:

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

To participate in the Psychological Science Honors Major, students should: have senior status, identify a potential research question, receive endorsement from a Psychological Science faculty member who will serve as the primary project advisor, and have completed PSY-225 and at least one semester of PSY-290.

In addition to completing ten courses required of all Psychological Science majors, Honors majors must:

  1. Complete PSY-389 and PSY-390.
  2. Receive approval from the primary project advisor and the department before they declare as a Psychological Science Honors major.
  3. Complete a written Honors thesis and an oral presentation of this work. Students are also encouraged to share the results of their work at other conferences (e.g., Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Spring Science Research Symposium, Celebration of Creative Inquiry, Midbrains).
  4. Successfully defend this work in front of a committee of faculty including the primary project advisor.

Neuroscience Minor:

The study of brain processes is an integral part of Psychological Science. The Neuroscience minor affords the opportunity to take an interdisciplinary approach to studying the brain in greater depth. See Neuroscience section of the catalog for details.

Psychological Science Courses

100 General 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 Psychological Science. 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. Students must achieve at least C- in PSY-100 before taking upper-division (Level II & III) Psychological Science courses. SOSCI, Fall and Spring semesters.

224 Statistics and Research Methods I (1 course) This course introduces the methods of experimentation and data analysis used most frequently In Psychological Science. Elements of experimental design, descriptive statistics, data presentation, hypothesis testing, and correlational statistical techniques will be presented. Emphasis will be placed on the application of statistical techniques to problems frequently encountered by psychologists. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Fall and Spring semester.

225 Statistics and Research Methods II (1 course) In this course the fundamentals of research are introduced to students who intend to major in Psychological Science. 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-224. WRITD, Fall and Spring semesters.

230 Cognitive Psychology (1 course) Cognitive psychology is an exploration of human mental processes and mental representations using scientific methods of research. This Basic Processes 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. Offered annually.

232 Social 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. Offered annually.

234 Child Development (1 course) Child Development is an exploration of the changes that occur in humans from conception to adolescence using developmental science research methods and theories. This course will emphasize research findings that contribute to our understanding of a variety of developmental changes, including perception, cognition, social knowledge, and moral development. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Offered annually.

235 Adult Development (1 course) This course is a continuation of the study of child 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 and PSY-234. Offered annually.

236 Personality 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. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Offered annually.

238 Brain and Behavior (1 course) This Basic Processes 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. This course is an alternative to PSY-260. If it is taken after PSY-260, it will not count towards the major. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Offered annually.

240 Sensation and Perception (1 course) This Basic Processes course addresses how humans sense the world and perceive, or interpret, those sensations by understanding how sensory systems function - the energy to which they are sensitive, transduction at the sensory organ, and the brain’s interpretation of the information carried in the signal after transduction. This course examines research and methodology addressing a variety of sensory systems, including vision, audition, olfaction, taste, and touch. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Offered annually.

241 Abnormal Psychology (1 course) A survey of the nature and characteristics of abnormal behavior, with attention to theories and research concerning classification, clinical presentation, causes, and effective treatments for disorders involving depression, anxiety, psychosis (e.g., schizophrenia), post-traumatic stress, and personality. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Offered annually.

244 Topics in Psychological Science (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 psychological science 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.

257 Psychology of Diversity (1 course) This course will examine psychological theories and research relevant to understanding and living in a diverse world. We will look at diversity in a multicultural context while examining the role of identity development tin influencing our world view. We will examine research on categorization and implicit stereotypes, prejudice and defending one’s identity, racism, sexism, and the effects of stigmatization. Applications of these findings for the legal and educational system will also be explored. We will finish the course by examining mechanisms of stereotype change and prejudice reduction. Prerequisite: PSY-100. Offered annually.

260 Introduction to Neuroscience (1 course) The nervous system integrates information about the world and the state of the individual to ensure appropriate behavioral responses. This Basic Processes 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.

290 Research 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 which can be useful in various ways including preparing the student to conduct subsequent independent research. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor. Grading is pass/fail. Fall and Spring semesters.

344 Advanced Topics in Psychological Science (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 Psychological Science. 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 psychological scientists. Prerequisite: PSY-225, or permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

345 Neuroscience 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 semester.

268, 368 Career Exploration, Internship (.5 - 1 course) Off-campus employment experience related to the student’s major. Students should seek approval from a Psychological Science 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.

385 Neuroscience 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 Psychological Science elective requirement. Prerequisites: all other courses in the Neuroscience minor or permission of instructor. Spring semester.

389 Directed Research Project I (.5 course) This course is for Psychological Science majors who are interested in completing an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member in the Psychological Science department. Students will be required to propose and carry out a research project, produce an appropriate written report and make a public presentation of their research. Prerequisites: PSY-225, PSY-290, and permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring semesters.

390 Directed Research Project II (.5 course) This course is the continuation of PSY-389, appropriate for students completing year-long research projects. Students will be required to report findings of their work in a formal written report and deliver a public presentation of the results of their work. Prerequisites: PSY-225, PSY-290, PSY-389, senior status, and permission of the instructor. WRITD, Fall and Spring semesters.

291, 391 Independent Study (.25 - 1 course) Selected areas or problems for individual and/or group study. Offered Fall and Spring semesters, January Interim, and Summer.