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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Psychology View this department's website

The unifying theme and goal of psychology is the understanding of individual human behavior in the context of our social, cultural and physical environment. Thus, the subject matter of psychology is central to the goals of a liberal arts education.

With its historical roots in philosophy and physiology, psychology continues to be an inherently interdisciplinary field. Psychology includes the study of brain-behavior relationships and adheres to the scientific method in its emphasis on empirical research; thus, in both content and methodology, psychology is viewed as one of the natural sciences. Psychologists explore fundamental questions concerning human motivation and values and, in so doing, also have strong ties with the humanities. As social scientists, our investigations include but are not limited to the laboratory study of humans and other animals; systematic study of human behavior and interaction often occurs in the community, workplace and clinical settings.

Our curriculum includes courses that provide grounding in the basic theoretical approaches and research methodology of psychology as well as a variety of courses and seminars designed to meet more focused interests, especially in areas of applied psychology. Often cited as the most distinctive strength of our department is the "real life laboratory" available to students who wish to complete field research, gain practical experience and engage in internship programs at the Oregon State Hospital, Services for Children and Families, Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility and many other human service agencies located in Salem. Comparable practicum and internship programs typically are available only at the graduate level of study. The department also has a newly renovated Biopsychology/Human Experimental Laboratory, including networked computers, for use in individual research projects.

The majority of psychology majors ultimately pursue advanced degrees in psychology or in professional schools (e.g., business, education, law, medicine, social work, and theology). Some graduates choose to work in entry-level positions in psychology and other human service fields before applying to graduate programs. Students who have successfully completed internships clearly improve their prospects for being hired in such positions. Students who have, in addition, gained experience in conducting research, either in conjunction with an internship or by writing a data-based thesis, have a considerable advantage when applying for Ph.D. programs in psychology.

Students interested in pursuing a major or minor in Psychology must complete PSYC 210, Introduction to Psychology, as their entry level course. PSYC 105 and 130 are intended as general education MOI courses only and do not count toward a Psychology major. These courses are deliberately geared to non-majors.

Requirements for the Psychology Major (10.25 Credits)

Required courses for Psychology (3.25)

  • PSYC 210 (AR) Introduction to Psychology (1)
  • PSYC 252 (W; QA) Research Methods and Analysis I (1)
  • PSYC 253 (QA*) Research Methods and Analysis II (1)
  • PSYC 300 Orientation to Major Program Internship (.25)

One course in Biological and Psychophysical Processes (1)

One course in Learning and Cognitive Processes (1)

One course in Developmental and Personality/Social Psychology (1)

  • PSYC 330 Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood
  • PSYC 331 Developmental Psychology: Adolescence
  • PSYC 332 Personality Psychology
  • PSYC 336 Social Psychology

One course in Clinical and Applied Psychology (1)

  • PSYC 335 Abnormal Psychology: Adult
  • PSYC 337 Abnormal Psychology: Child/Adolescent
  • PSYC 338 (W) Techniques of Counseling
  • PSYC 341 Personnel and Industrial Psychology
  • PSYC 343 (AR; QA) Judgment and Decision Making
  • PSYC 348 Stress and Health
  • PSYC 354 (US) Psychology of Women and Gender

One course or seminar at the 400 level (1)

  • PSYC 430 Topical Seminar in Psychology
  • PSYC 431 (W) Topical Seminar in Psychology

One lab-based course in one of the following (1)

Note: Only courses in these areas that satisfy the Natural World Mode of Inquiry in the General Education Program will satisfy this requirement.

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Science
  • Physics
  • IDS 220 (AR/NW) The Body in Science and Society

Senior year experience (1)

  • PSYC 394 Major Program Internship I (.5) and
  • PSYC 395 Major Program Internship II (.5)

Requirements for the Psychology Minor (5 Credits)

  • PSYC 210 (AR) Introduction to Psychology (1)
  • PSYC 252 (W; QA) Research Methods and Analysis I (1)
  • Three additional Psychology courses, selected in consultation with a faculty advisor in the Department of Psychology (3)

Faculty

  • Susan M. Koger, Professor of Psychology, Chair
  • James R. Friedrich, Professor of Psychology
  • Meredyth Goldberg Edelson, Professor of Psychology
  • Anthony D. Hermann, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Deborah Loers, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Counseling
  • Loren K. McBride, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Jeremy Miller, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Amy Ramos , Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Staci Simmelink-Johnson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Mark T. Stewart, Associate Professor of Psychology

Course Listings

PSYC 105 (US) Ecological Psychology (1)

This course for non-majors focuses on how psychological research and theory may be applied to environmental issues, and will include an overview of many theories in psychology. Will study global ecological problems and explore possible solutions based on behavioral interventions. Freshmen and Sophomores only. This course does not count toward a Psychology major or minor.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society; Environmental Cluster

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Koger

PSYC 130 (NW) Evolutionary Psychology (1)

Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology in which concepts from evolutionary biology are utilized to study and understand behavior. Specifically, the brain, like other organs, evolved through natural selection, leading to behavioral mechanisms that promote the individual's ability to adapt to his/her environment, survive and reproduce. Because evolutionary theory represents a way of thinking, virtually any area within psychology would be appropriate for inclusion with specific content used to illustrate evolution as a Mode of Inquiry into behavioral processes. The topical focus may include (but is not limited to) comparative analyses of emotional expression, communication and social relations within and between species from a behavior analytic and biopsychosocial framework. Laboratory. Freshmen and Sohpomores only. This course does not count toward a Psychology major or minor.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Koger

PSYC 210 (AR) Introduction to Psychology (1)

Systematic exploration of traditional fields of psychology, including biopsychology, sensation and perception, cognitive, learning, developmental, social, personality, and clinical areas. Special attention will be given to the nature of evidence and its interpretation in behavioral science, as well as to ethical considerations and controversies arising in connection with the conduct and application of psychological research.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PSYC 252 (W; QA) Research Methods and Analysis I (1)

An examination of the scientific method as applied to psychological research. This course will address issues in theory testing, measurement, experimental and correlational designs and research ethics. The course will also cover descriptive statistics and exploratory data analysis, including graphical and computer-based statistical analysis. Extensive laboratory and writing experience required, with coverage of library search methods and APA style.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered; Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PSYC 253 (QA*) Research Methods and Analysis II (1)

This course is a continuation of PSYC 252. The course will cover basic and intermediate topics in inferential statistics, including coverage of correlation/regression analysis, ANOVA, effect size and power analysis. The course will emphasize the use of statistical software in the analysis of behavioral science data and will require the students to engage in technical writing of statistical reports.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning (*)

Prerequisite: PSYC 252 with a C- or better or consent of instructor. Writing Center and Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning proficiency in PSYC 252 must be demonstrated prior to enrolling in this course.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PSYC 300 Orientation to Major Program Internship (.25)

This course is designed to assist students in planning their Senior Year Experience. Professionals from various community agencies will be invited to discuss potential internship projects and field trips will be scheduled to selected agencies. By the end of the course, the student is expected to have negotiated an internship contract with the instructor and an off-campus supervisor, or a thesis proposal with a faculty member in the Psychology Department.

Prerequisite: PSYC 252 and Junior standing with a declared major in Psychology

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

PSYC 330 Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood (1)

Behavioral development of normal children prior to adolescence, emphasizing a topical organization rather than an ages and stages approach. Course is divided into two major areas: socialization processes (development of social behavior in infancy, the family, effects of peers, moral development and other topics) and cognitive development (learning and motivation and the influence of Piaget).

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: McBride

PSYC 331 Development Psychology: Adolescence (1)

Developmentalists regard adolescence as a qualitatively special period/state of life which is different than prior childhood or future adult maturity. In contrast, some social historians see adolescence as a recent phenomenon shaped by industrialization and extended formal education which may be more apparent than real. Our interest is concerned with what adolescence means for our times. We will look at how general psychological theories interpret adolescence. We will also consider general issues young people deal with (family, school, employment, etc.), as well as special problems that some adolescents face (ethnic status, gender perspectives, and poverty).

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: McBride

PSYC 332 Personality Psychology (1)

An introduction to the major approaches to studying human personality (e.g., psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive) with emphasis on how traditional personality theories relate to existing and modern research. Assignments will offer opportunities for both self-reflection and analysis of course content.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Hermann

PSYC 335 Abnormal Psychology: Adult (1)

This course will explore psychological disorders of adults. Utilizing the current diagnostic framework, symptoms of major mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia will be reviewed. Additionally, issues regarding etiology, assessment, and diagnosis will be discussed. The primary focus will be on the understanding of the nature of the disorders; only minor emphasis will be given to the treatment of the disorders.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Edelson, Staff

PSYC 336 Social Psychology (1)

The study of individual thought and behavior in social contexts. Major content areas include the perception of oneself and others, social judgment and inference processes, attitude formation and change, conformity, altruism, aggression, prejudice and interpersonal attraction. The course emphasizes theory and findings from experimental laboratory research.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Friedrich

PSYC 337 Abnormal Psychology: Child/Adolescent (1)

This course will explore psychological disorders of childhood and adolescence. Utilizing the current diagnostic framework, symptoms of major mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, conduct and oppositional disorders, and developmental disorders will be reviewed. Additionally, issues regarding etiology, assessment, and diagnosis will be discussed. The primary focus will be on the understanding of the nature of the disorders; only minor emphasis will be given to the treatment of the disorders.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Edelson

PSYC 338 (W) Techniques of Counseling (1)

Introduction to counseling approaches with primary focus on experiential learning of communication skills used in counseling individuals.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-Centered

Prerequisite: PSYC 332, PSYC 335 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Loers

PSYC 340 Psychology of Learning (1)

A systematic introduction to the nature of the learning process emphasizing a topical/theoretical orientation. Major topics covered include the historical legacy of neobehaviorism, classic and contemporary Pavlovian conditioning, techniques of instrumental learning, the nature of reinforcement, aversive learning, generalization and discrimination and recent developments in the economy of learning. Attention will be given to interactions between learning and motivation.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: McBride

PSYC 341 Personnel and Industrial Psychology (1)

This course will explore the field of industrial/organizational psychology in its broadest sense. We will examine the psychology of work behavior from both a management perspective, with its emphasis on efficiency and productivity; and from a worker's point of view, including concerns about career development, job satisfaction and stress. Work-related issues in many types of organizations (e.g., educational institutions, social service agencies, profit-oriented manufacturing companies) will be considered.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Friedrich

PSYC 343 (QA; AR) Judgment and Decision Making (1)

Ethical and descriptive aspects of human judgment and decision making. Rational models based on expected utility, Bayesian statistical inference, falsification logic. "Real life" applications to economics, politics, psychology, risk management and other areas. Special attention to how and why our informal, intuitive strategies deviate from these rational models and to the potential costs and benefits of our heuristic strategies.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and completion of one college level Math course

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Friedrich

PSYC 345 Biopsychology (1)

The biological bases of animal behavior will be examined. Neuroanatomical and psychopharmacological techniques will be applied to processes including sleep, emotion, learning, and memory, as well as neuropsychological disorders.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Koger

PSYC 348 Stress and Health (1)

This course will explore the psychological, biological, and sociological influences that affect individual's abilities to cope with stress and illness and promote health. Topics to be examined include how the body's systems function, the promotion of health-enhancing behaviors and the prevention of health-compromising behaviors, stress and its effects on the individual, coping with stress, coping with pain and chronic illnesses, the interface between stress and cardiovascular disease, and psychoneuroimmunology.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210

  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Edelson

PSYC 350 Cognitive Processes (1)

This course will consider the subjects of attention, concept formation, pattern recognition, language, memory, artificial intelligence, creative thinking, problem solving and other aspects of cognition.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

PSYC 351 Sensation and Perception (1)

An examination will be made of the processes and mechanisms involved in detecting stimuli from the environment and how we interpret information gathered by our senses. Major topics covered include psychophysics, general neurophysiology, architecture of vision in the cortex, form and depth perception, somatosensory sensation (touch) and pain, and the chemical senses (gustation and olfaction).

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Stewart

PSYC 354 (US) Psychology of Women and Gender (1)

[Crosslisted with WGS 354]

An examination of the psychological literature with be conducted with a focus on how our knowledge of human behavior, which was initially developed from the exclusive study of males, evolved to include the study of females. We will explore issues of sexism in psychological research, biological and socialization influences affecting females and males, and the effect of societally-constructed gender roles on human behavior. Specific topics that will be addressed include: cognitive abilities, morality, achievement, interpersonal violence, and mental illness.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Edelson

PSYC 355 Cognitive Neuroscience (1)

Much of our knowledge of cognitive processes is derived from cases in which something has "gone wrong" with normal brain activities, either through brain injury or disease. Students will receive an introduction to neurobiological techniques and their application to the study of cognition. Neurological, neuropsychological and developmental abnormalities will be emphasized.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Koger

PSYC 370 Topics in Psychology (1)

This course allows members of the Psychology Department to offer topical courses, in areas not already part of the curriculum, which can be tailored to meet student and faculty interests. May be repeated for credit.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

Note: This course may count in one of the foundation categories of the Psychology major depending on the topics offered.


PSYC 371 (W) Topics in Psychology (1)

This course allows members of the Psychology Department to offer topical, writing centered courses in areas not already part of the curriculum, which can be tailored to meet student and faculty interests. May be repeated for credit.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: PSYC 210

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

Note: This course may count in one of the foundation categories of the Psychology major depending on the topics offered.


PSYC 390 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

Individual library and field research projects selected in consultation with Psychology faculty. These projects are intended for advanced students who wish to study a topic not normally available in the department curriculum.

Prerequisite: PSYC 210

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PSYC 394 Major Program Internship I (.5)

Practical experience obtained through either a field internship at a community agency engaging in work related to psychology, or through a research internship in which students conduct original research under supervision. This course serves as prerequisite for PSYC 395, and together PSYC 394 and PSYC 395 fulfill the Senior Year Experience requirement for Psychology majors. Internship may not begin prior to successful completion of, or concurrent enrollment with PSYC 253.

Prerequisite: PSYC 252 and PSYC 300 and senior standing

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Hermann, Edelson, Friedrich

PSYC 395 Major Program Internship II (.5)

Continuation of PSYC 394. The focus of this course is on the scholarly paper requirement of the Senior Experience in Psychology. The class meetings address research and writing issues necessary for the successful completion of the paper. Furthermore, the classes serve to link the scholarly paper to the practical experience obtained in PSYC 394.

Prerequisite: PSYC 253 and PSYC 394

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Hermann, Edelson, Friedrich

PSYC 430 Topical Seminar in Psychology (1)

An opportunity to take a specialized advanced-level class from a faculty member or a psychologist working professionally in the Salem community.

Prerequisite: PSYC 252 and junior or senior standing

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Visiting psychologists and staff

PSYC 431 (W) Writing-Centered Topical Seminar in Psychology (1)

An opportunity to take a specialized advanced-level class from a faculty member or a psychologist working professionally in the Salem community.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: PSYC 252 and junior or senior standing

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Visiting psychologists and staff