Syllabus for Psychology 100

Syllabus for PSYCH 100: Introductory Psychology

Dr. John A. Johnson

Fall Semester, 2013 Section 001

Office: 172 Smeal, 375-4774

T&Th 11:00-12:00 & by appointment

Hiller Building Auditorium (Room 007) 
Tuesday & Thursday, 3:05-4:20




Course Description:

This course is a broad survey or overview of the discipline of Psychology. The content of the course is arranged as follows. The first quarter of the course introduces general issues in the discipline such as historical development of the different fields, basic and applied research, scientific reasoning, and psychological methods and statistics. This introduction is followed by discussions of theories and findings in different fields of psychology, including Developmental Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Social Psychology, Neuropsychology, Perception, Cognition, Learning, Personality, and Abnormal Psychology. Students interested in pursuing any of the above areas in greater detail and depth will find that the Psychology Department offers courses that are devoted entirely to a single field.


Textbook and Class Attendance:


There is no textbook for the course. In the past I have made Psychological Science (3rd Edition, published 2010 by Norton) an optional book for students who wanted a textbook. But feedback confirmed what I suspected for years: students who read the textbook had no special advantage over students who did not. If you really, really would like to have a textbook, you can find new copies of the 3rd edition of Psychological Science on line for around $21, or used copies for about $6 (including shipping).


But, it is a fact that all exam questions come from material we cover in class, and many ideas that I present in class are not covered in any book. This means that it is absolutely vital that you attend every class, pay close attention, and take good notes. There are PowerPoint slides that go with my lectures for every class, but I guarantee that passing the course would be very unlikely if you only studied these slides alone without attending class. Since we meet only Tuesday and Thursday each week, missing one class is equivalent to missing half a week of the course. Once again, I strongly suggest that you attend every class if you want to earn a good grade in the course.


If you are very ill, however, I encourage you to stay home and get better before you return so that you do not infect others. It might be useful for you to get to know one or more students in the course so that you can share notes and get each other caught up in the event that one of you misses a class.

Course Objectives:

The broad objective of the course is the same as the goal of psychology itself: to help you understand how the mind works and to understand why we behave the way we do.

I also hope to accomplish three more specific goals related to the process of understanding the mind and behavior:

1. I want to enable you to critically evaluate claims about the mind and behavior, no matter who is making the claim: someone off the street, the author of print or electronic media, or even a professional psychologist. I'd like you to be able to imagine, "What kinds of questions do I need to answer to decide whether a psychological claim is true?" I'd also like you to be able to tell the difference between what is true and what people wish was true about human nature.

2. I hope that you will become familiar with some of the important psychological theories and findings that have been offered to explain how the mind works and why we behave as we do.

3. The information in this course is about people in general, but hopefully it will increase your own self-understanding and be useful to some of your personal concerns and interests.

How Assignments Help to Meet Course Objectives:

We will focus on the first goal during the first unit of the course (Nature of Psychology). In this unit I explain what goes on inside the heads of different types of psychologists--what interests them, how they think, and how they argue about what is true and what isn't true. This unit might be called "The Psychology of Psychologists."

During the remainder of the course I present ideas within specific areas of psychology, mostly through lectures. I also show several videos and demonstrate certain psychological principles with "mini-experiments" in class. The large class size discourages discussion, but I welcome comments and questions at any point. Don't be afraid to raise your hand if you have something to say.

The third goal is actually a life-long project. What psychologists do and say influences how we raise our children, how we run our educational system, how employers treat employees, and how we evaluate our well being, among other things. I like to encourage an awareness of the impact of today's psychologists by bringing in news clippings and magazine articles or mentioning TV shows, movies, and web sites with a psychological slant. Please feel free to do the same. I will be glad to discuss any information you come across.

Very Specific Course Objectives

To see a list of very specific things you need to know for each exam, browse to the ANGEL page for this course, , and follow the Study Guide links.

Course Outline:



Class Meeting 






1 T Aug 27

2 Th Aug 29 

The what, when, how, and why questions in psychology


Historical origins of experimental and measurement psychology


3 T Sept 3


4 Th Sept 5 

20th century psychology – online  lecture on ANGEL


Perspectives in psychology


5 T Sept 10


6 Th Sept 12 

Nonexperimental methods in psychology


Experimental method in psychology


7 T Sept 17


8 Th Sept 19 

Recording and analyzing data in psychology







9 T Sept 24


10 Th Sept 26 

Genes and behavior genetics


Nature and nurture


11 T Oct 1


12 Th Oct 3 



Human evolution


13 T Oct 8


14 Th Oct 10 



Human ethology; Motivation & emotion


15 T Oct 15


16 Th Oct 17 

Mating and parenting








17 T Oct 22

18 Th Oct 24 

Structure and operation of the nervous system

Structure of the brain


19 T Oct 29

20 Th Oct 31 

Hormones and pheromones



21 T Nov 5


22 Th Nov 7 





23 T Nov 12 



24 Th Nov 14 




Personality theory


25 T Nov 19


26 Th Nov 21

Personality assessment


Perspectives on psychological abnormality


[T Nov 26]

[Th Nov 28]

NO CLASS! Thanksgiving vacation

NO CLASS! Thanksgiving vacation


27 T Dec 3



28 Th Dec 5 

Anxiety, Somatoform, Dissociative, Sexual, & Personality Disorders


Treating Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia


29 T Dec 10


30 Th Dec 12 

Treating Autism and Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders


Knowing ourselves



Dec 16





The grade you earn will be determined by your performance on four multiple-choice exams. Details are presented below.



All four exams contain 40 questions that cover only the material in the most recent quarter of the course. All questions will be multiple choice, and you will mark your answers on computer-scored answer sheets. You may bring one sheet of 8.5 x 11" paper with notes (on both sides) to the exam. Strategies for creating a useful study sheet will be presented in class. Please bring two number 2 pencils to each exam. Also, please bring your student ID card so that you can code your student number correctly on the answer sheet.


Sample multiple choice questions can be found on ANGEL. You are encouraged to study these questions and talk with other students about the answers. But on the day of the examination you must take the test on your own, without help from other students, books, and notes. Each of the four exams is worth 40 points.


Computation of Letter Grade


Grades will be based on the total points earned out of 160 possible points. See the table below.


Point Total

Letter Grade

148-160 points


144-147 points


141-143 points


132-140 points


128-131 points


125-127 points


112-124 points


96-111 points


< 96 points



Other Factors that May Affect Final Grades:

Note to Students with Disabilities:

Penn State DuBois welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs.  If you have a disability-related need for modifications and/or reasonable accommodations in this course, please contact The Office for Disability Services, Diana Kreydt, 142 Smeal Building, at 372-3037 or


For further information regarding the Office of Disability Services, visit their web site at .  Instructors should be notified as early in the semester as possible regarding the need for modification and/or reasonable accommodations.


Attendance is Good—Unless You Have the Flu


Attending class is essential to doing well in the course. When you attend class, you have an opportunity to learn from both the instructor and from other students. If you often miss class, you will miss information, and your participation rating from members of your group will suffer. However, if you are ill, especially if you have flu-like symptoms, please send me an email describing your illness as soon as possible and do not come to class. Public health considerations are more important than missed work, which can be made up.


Statement of Academic Integrity:

All students are expected to act with civility, personal integrity; to respect other students' dignity, rights and property; and to help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their own efforts. An environment of academic integrity is requisite to respect for self and others and a civil community.

Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Violation of academic integrity includes (but is not limited to) all of the following:


Students charged with a breach of academic integrity will receive due process and, if the charge is judged to be valid, academic sanctions may range, depending on the severity of the offense, from no credit for the assignment to an F for the course. More detailed information can be found in University Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, Academic Administrative Policies and Procedure G9, Academic Integrity, and the Sanctioning Guidelines for Academic Integrity Violations.