Reed College Catalog


Courses in psychology focus on problems in the understanding of both human and animal behavior. The department adopts an empirical point of view, believing it is through research that we best gain the information necessary to address a broad range of psychological questions. Psychological, biological, and social factors are considered in the context of research findings and current theories of motivation, learning, thinking, language, perception, and human development. Students are encouraged to develop objective and analytic attitudes toward psychological phenomena.

The focus on empirical research begins in the introductory course (Psychology 121 and 122), which includes opportunities for students to discuss psychological research in conferences and to participate in structured research projects. These introductory experiences represent several disciplinary areas within psychology. The 200-level courses provide further exposure to selected research areas within psychology, with few or no prerequisites. Students majoring in psychology gain breadth in the field by completing four of seven “core” courses and by writing the research proposal based on selected readings required to pass the junior qualifying exam. It is not uncommon for psychology students to publish the results of their research in professional journals jointly with faculty members.

In addition to the laboratory and computer facilities in the department, there are opportunities for students to conduct research or to work as participant observers in a number of community settings, including day care centers, local schools, crisis centers, and juvenile detention centers. Students also have access to research programs at the Oregon Health & Science University, the Oregon National Primate Center, and the Oregon Zoo.

A major in psychology frequently leads to professional or graduate study in psychology. Those who intend to do graduate work in psychology should broaden their preparation in mathematics, the natural sciences, philosophy, linguistics, or the social sciences, rather than concentrating solely on psychology. Some students combine a major in psychology with preparation for medical school, law school, or other advanced professional training. Recent psychology majors have also entered careers in such diverse areas as computer science, banking, and politics.

Requirements for the Major
1. At least 11 units in psychology, including:
a) Psychology 121 and 122.
b) Four of the following seven courses: Psychology 322 (Social Psychology), 333 (Behavioral Neuroscience), 351 (Psychopathology), 361 (Developmental Psychology), 366 (Cognitive Processes), 373 (Learning), 393 (Psycholinguistics).
c) Psychology 348 (Research Design and Data Analysis).
d) Thesis (Psychology 470).
2. Six units in an allied field selected from the fields below, approved by the adviser when the student declares the major. Cross-listed courses taught by psychology faculty may not be used to meet the requirements of an allied field.
a) Arts and Literature—six units in the following allied disciplines, to include no more than four studio courses: art, creative writing, dance, music, literature, theatre.
b) Biological, Physical, and Computational Sciences—six units in the following disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, economics.
c) Cognitive Science—six units in the following disciplines, to include at least two units from each of two separate disciplines: philosophy, linguistics, biology, anthropology, computer science courses in mathematics.
d) Cross-cultural Studies—six units to include a foreign language at the 200 level plus four additional units. Students must complete six units even if the 200-level language requirement is met by placement exam. Students should select from courses focusing on ethnic or international history or social sciences, 300-level courses with ethnic or international focus in literature and languages, Humanities 230, religion, a second foreign language at the 200 level (cannot be met by placement exam).
e) History and Social Sciences—six units in the following disciplines, to include at least two units from each of two separate disciplines: anthropology, economics, history, political science, religion, sociology.

Psychology 121 - Introduction to Psychology I

Full course for one semester, taught by several faculty members. Topics such as visual perception, memory, thinking, and language will be considered from different perspectives within psychology. Illumination from neighboring disciplines such as biology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and linguistics will be provided when appropriate. Conferences and laboratories supplement the lectures and readings. Lecture-laboratory-conference.

Psychology 122 - Introduction to Psychology II

Full course for one semester, taught by several faculty members. This course provides an overview of selected topics in experimental, clinical, and applied psychology. Topics include learning, motivation, human development, social behavior, personality, and psychopathology. Conferences and laboratories supplement the lectures and readings. Lecture-laboratory-conference.

Psychology 232 - Socialization of the Child

Full course for one semester. This course will focus on the socialization process—the ways in which children’s personalities are shaped by their relationships to parents, peers, and the larger cultural context. Specific topics will include theory and research on emotional attachment to parents, the origins of friendship and prosocial behavior, aggression and bullying, the development of morality, the socialization of self-control, and the role of teachers and schools. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.

Psychology 272 - Evolutionary Psychology

Full course for one semester. This course will examine psychological mechanisms, particularly those common to all humans, in the context of evolutionary theory. We will begin with foundations of evolutionary theory and then move on to discuss specific adaptive problems, including problems of survival, long-term mating, sexuality, parenting, cooperation, aggression and warfare, conflict between the sexes, and prestige. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 281 - Sensation and Perception

Full course for one semester. In this course students will investigate how the nervous system detects, analyzes, and creates meaning from environmental stimuli. The course explores the anatomy, physiology, and function of the sensory cells and the brain nuclei involved in various sensory modalities including vision, audition, olfaction, and touch. It investigates how these cells work in concert to produce a seamless perception of colors, textures, flavors, sounds, and smells. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 296 - Psychology of Language Acquisition

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the processes by which children acquire language (such as word meanings, morphology, and syntactic structure). We will try to explain the “language paradox” of how all normal children acquire this vast and complex knowledge from a limited input and in spite of linguistic variation. We will study the specific issues of bilingualism, the relation between language and thought, and language in special populations. Theories of learning and mental representation will be discussed in this context. Lecture-conference. Cross-listed as Linguistics 296.

Linguistics 296 Description

Psychology 315 - Positive Psychology

Full course for one semester. While there is no shortage of lay theories that offer advice on how to achieve “the good life,” this course will examine the nature of happiness and positive emotions from the viewpoint of experimental social psychology. Recent empirical research will be reviewed, and you will apply the information in written assignments and in class discussion. In addition, you will carry out a semester-long research project on a topic of interest. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Psychology 319 - Psychology of Addictions

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the psychology of addiction to substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, and narcotics, and to behaviors, such as gambling, eating, and seeking pornography. We will explore historical and cultural attitudes toward addictions, theories of addiction along with related empirical findings, physical and psychosocial consequences of addictions, and prevention and treatment models. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 322 - Social Psychology

Full course for one semester. An examination of psychological theory and research concerning the ways in which people think, feel, and act in social situations. Conferences will focus on areas of basic social psychological research and theory, including social cognition, attribution, impression formation, social interaction, intergroup and interpersonal relationships, and social influence. Special issues addressed in the course are stereotyping and prejudice, the self within the social context, and applications of social psychology to social problems. Opportunities for students to plan and conduct empirical research are available. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Psychology 323 - Motivation in Educational Contexts

Full course for one semester. An overview of theory and research on motivation as it applies to educational contexts, focusing primarily on school-aged children. Why do some students focus on learning while others only care about getting the grade?  How do rewards affect motivation? Why does failure sometimes debilitate and other times invigorate? How do we perceive our own academic abilities and how does this affect our self-worth?  Where do these motivational processes come from and how do they develop? This course will draw on social, developmental, educational, and cognitive psychology as we address questions about achievement motivation. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Conference.

Psychology 324 - Health Psychology

Full course for one semester. This course will examine how psychological principles can be employed to promote health, prevent illness, and encourage adherence to disease treatment regimens. The course will incorporate a biopsychosocial framework to address interactions between mental and physical health issues. We will analyze factors that influence risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic pain, and sexually transmitted diseases, among other conditions. For the associated lab, students will engage in a self-directed project aimed at increasing the frequency of a healthy behavior (such as exercising) or decreasing the frequency of an unhealthy behavior (such as smoking). Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Conference.

Psychology 325 - Stereotyping and Prejudice

Full course for one semester. An analysis of psychological theory and empirical research on stereotyping and prejudice. The course will explore a number of themes: the development and causes of intergroup perceptions and antagonism, reasons for the persistence and prevalence of stereotypes and prejudice, ways in which feelings and beliefs about groups influence social perception and interaction, and possible ways to change group stereotypes or reduce prejudice. In examining these issues, conferences will consider both the ways in which individuals perceive themselves as members of groups and the ways that they perceive other groups. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 330 - Comparative Cognition

Full course for one semester.  An overview of current research and theory in comparative cognition—the scientific study of cognitive functioning from an evolutionary perspective.  The course will emphasize continuities and discontinuities between humans and other animals in basic psychological process, including decision making, problem solving, remembering, symbolic and relational learning, awareness, and communication.  We will read and discuss the primary literature, with special emphasis on experimental issues and comparative methods.  Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Psychology 333 - Behavioral Neuroscience

Full course for one semester. An examination of the basic concepts and methods of neuroanatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and neural modeling as they relate to the study of behavior, perception, and cognition. The physiological bases of such phenomena as sensory perception, motor function, motivation, sexual behavior, biological rhythms, reward, emotional behavior and stress, learning and memory, and psychopathology are topics to be considered in detail. The laboratory portion of the course includes mammalian brain dissection, neurohistology, and experimentation using animal models. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Lecture-laboratory-conference.

Psychology 336 - Neuropsychology

Full course for one semester. We will explore models of normal higher cognitive functions based on evidence obtained from brain-damaged individuals. We will review functional neuroanatomy as it relates to these functions, as well as methods and techniques used in the field. Whenever possible, one or more visits to clinical settings will be arranged. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor. Lecture-conference.

Psychology 338 - Psychopharmacology

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the basic principles of behavioral pharmacology with an emphasis on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics including the mechanisms underlying drug metabolism, tolerance, and sensitization. Following an overview of cell biology, synaptic transmission, and receptor function, we will focus on the molecular, biochemical, and behavioral characterization of psychotropic drugs. These drugs include central nervous system stimulants, sedative-hypnotics, anxiolytics, alcohol, hallucinogens, and opiates. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Psychology 333 recommended. Conference-lecture.

Psychology 344 - Thinking

Full course for one semester. We will survey classic and current research on thinking. How (and how well) do we think and reason? How do we solve problems or make decisions? Can the productivity or creativity of our thinking be improved? This course will examine cognitive psychology’s answers to these questions. We will also consider the relation between decision-making and rationality, and the prospects for rational thinking (or thinking of any sort) in computers. Prerequisites: Psychology 121, 122, and 366 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Psychology 348 - Research Design and Data Analysis

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to introduce the basic concepts, logic, and methods of research design and data analysis used in psychological research. Central questions include how to select, perform, and interpret statistical techniques while emphasizing the application of these techniques to students’ own research projects. Topics include descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, t-tests, one-way and two-way analysis of variance, and correlational techniques. Lecture-laboratory.

Psychology 350 - Psychology and Law

Full course for one semester. This course is an examination of how psychological research can inform and be informed by many aspects of the legal process. Topics covered include forensic profiling, eyewitness testimony, identification procedures, lie detection, jury bias, jury decision-making, and the insanity defense. Prerequisites: Psychology 121, 122, and 366. Conference.

Psychology 351 - Psychopathology

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on description, conceptualization, etiology, development, and prognosis of abnormal functioning. We examine theories and research about the origin and development of specific mental health disorders, including experimental, correlational, and cross-cultural research, and case studies. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.

Psychology 353 - Personality Theory

Full course for one semester. In this course, students will consider a variety of theoretical perspectives on individual differences, including psychoanalytic, biological, social-cognitive, and humanistic approaches. Methods of personality assessment will also be discussed, and recent research in personality psychology will be reviewed. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Psychology 355 - Interpersonal Perception

Full course for one semester. This course offers an analysis of interpersonal relations focusing on the dynamic relationship between perception and social interaction. The course will examine classic and current research on the complex interplay of interpersonal perception, social cognition, and behavior as everyday relations unfold. Conferences will focus on the ways in which individuals attempt to make sense of themselves, other people, and groups, and their social environment. The course is a seminar with readings in original source materials and an opportunity to plan and conduct empirical research. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, or consent of the instructor. Psychology 322 recommended but not required. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.

Psychology 361 - Developmental Psychology

Full course for one semester. An examination of theory and research on psychological development through the lifespan, focusing primarily on cognitive and social growth in the childhood years. This course begins with an overview of theoretical frameworks and research methods specific to the study of development.  We then explore chronologically the development of the individual through five major periods of life:  infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Students conduct original observational research and participate in fieldwork in local schools or other sites that serve children. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Conference.

Psychology 362 - Children's Media Laboratory

Full course for one semester. This course will explore the creation of compelling, educationally beneficial media for young children. Conference discussion will focus on understanding both how children perceive media and how it influences their cognitive development. These discussions will then inform substantial studio projects that students will develop over the course of the semester. Such projects might include a short pilot for a new children's television or film concept, an interactive website, or something more experimental. All projects will be aimed at a particular policy or educational objective, and emphasis will be placed on using both classic artistic principles (e.g., of cinematography or narrative) and the primary research literature to make scientifically sound creative decisions. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Studio-conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 364 - Cognitive Development

Full course for one semester. An examination of cognitive development during infancy and early childhood. The course will be structured around readings drawn from the primary research literature—including both current and classic studies—with an emphasis on formulating a broad understanding of how perception, domain-specific and domain-general learning mechanisms, and the environment interact during development. Topics include perceptual and motor development, object concepts, core knowledge and physical understanding, social cognition, imitation and social learning, concepts and kinds, and language. In addition to mastering the theoretical tools of the discipline, emphasis will be placed on understanding the research methodologies that are used to measure infants’ and children’s understanding of the world around them. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122. Psychology 361 or 366 recommended. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 365 - Computational Cognitive Science

Full course for one semester. A survey of current theory and practice in computational cognitive science, this course will provide students with a broad introduction to topics including artificial intelligence, autonomous agents, connectionist modeling (including neural networks), and behavioral robotics. These subjects will be explored through both conference discussion and significant hands-on programming projects throughout the semester. Prior experience with object-oriented programming languages (particularly Java) will be helpful, but not assumed. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor; Mathematics 111 or equivalent useful but not required. Conference-laboratory. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 366 - Cognitive Processes

Full course for one semester. We will examine how humans acquire, store, and use knowledge. The course will center on memory and knowledge representation, but to understand these we will also need to consider the processes of perceiving, categorizing, and attending. Our emphasis will be on contemporary experimental approaches, and we will discuss the methodological arguments underlying these approaches. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of the instructor. Conference-lecture.

Psychology 367 - Research in Infant Social Cognition

Full course for one semester. In this course, students will get hands-on research experience in the domain of infants’ social cognition, that is, their understanding of other people. Adults make sense of people’s behavior in terms of beliefs, desires, and other mental states; when and how do children develop these skills? Students will engage in all aspects of research, including reading and discussing primary source articles, recruiting and testing infant subjects, coding and analyzing data, and designing new research. Prerequisite: Psychology 361 or Psychology 364. Conference-lab. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 368 - Primate Cognition

Full course for one semester. An exploration of higher-order cognition in nonhuman primates, with an emphasis on the social cognitive abilities of these species. Conference discussion will be structured around careful reading of the primary literature, with a focus on the complementary questions of evolutionary continuity and discontinuity. In what ways are nonhuman primate minds fundamentally like our own, and in what ways are they different—sometimes startlingly so? Particular attention will be paid to the role that nonhuman primates' social and physical ecology plays in defining the scope of their cognitive abilities. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 373 - Learning

Full course for one semester. We will undertake a systematic examination of the factors governing learned behavior, with emphasis on the relationship of animal to human behavior. Topics include learning through associations, selection by consequences, and modeling; drug addiction; discrimination and concept formation; choice and self-control; voluntary action and free will; and verbal behavior. Experimental methods and analyses are emphasized. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, or Biology 101 and 102, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference-laboratory.

Psychology 374 - Functional Variability

Full course for one semester.  Much of psychology involves a search for predictable relationships, i.e.,  for deterministic laws.   But variable and unpredictable behavior is often functional.  Creativity, problem solving, exploration, scientific discovery, learning, voluntary (or free-willed) actions, self-control, mindfulness, and many other competencies may depend in part upon ability to vary thoughts and behaviors.  This course is grounded in behavioral studies on variability but brings together research and discussions from different perspectives on the study of functional variability.  We will explore how behavioral variability arises (its elicitation, motivation, and reinforcement);  how it is explained (including chaotic and stochastic theories);  and influences on it (including neurological injury, psychopathologies, drug states, age, and states of consciousness).  Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 plus at least one 300-level psychology course; or junior or senior standing in biology, physics, or philosophy; or consent of instructor. Conference-lecture.

Psychology 385 - Cultural Psychology

Full course for one semester. This course will address the ways that cultural contexts shape mental processes and human behavior. The class will consider aspects of culture such as gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and sociopolitical frameworks. We will examine theories, research, and applied work that pertain to cross-cultural variations and similarities in psychological phenomena. Areas of focus will include development, cognition, emotion, personality, and approaches to health and healing. Aims for the course include gaining an awareness of methodologies in cross-cultural psychology, knowledge of current research topics in the field, and insight into the ways that cultural contexts influence our own everyday life experiences. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Psychology 393 - Psycholinguistics

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to the ways in which the human language-processing system is organized to produce and comprehend language. We will study speech perception, lexical access, and sentence processing in the context of language acquisition, bilingualism, sign language, brain damage, and language in primates. Basic linguistic concepts will be covered. Students are expected to design a research project. Prerequisite: Psychology 121 or Linguistics 311, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference. Cross-listed as Linguistics 393.

Psychology 395 - Advanced Psycholinguistics – Embodied Language

Full course for one semester. This course is an in-depth look into the ways in which actions, perceptions, and the language-processing system are intertwined. We will examine the extent to which spatial and visual representations are activated during language comprehension and how our actions and the physical environment guide our language comprehension. Students are expected to design and conduct a research project. Prerequisite: Psychology 121 or Linguistics 311, or consent of the instructor. Completion of Psychology 393 is also recommended. Lecture-conference. Cross-listed as Linguistics 395. Not offered 2009–10.

Psychology 401 - Junior Seminar

Full course for one semester. This course allows juniors and seniors to consider relations among subfields of psychology by studying a common topic from different perspectives. Conceptual and methodological issues will be emphasized throughout the semester. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, junior or senior standing, and two 300-level psychology courses, or consent of the instructor. Conference-laboratory. Not offered 2009-10.

Psychology 422 - The Social Self

Full course for one semester. This course is an analysis of classic and current theory and research on the self within the social context. We examine the complex interplay of the self with situational factors to affect intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes. Conferences focus on the content, structure, and organization of the self; personal and social identities; implicit and explicit views of the self; motives of the self; self-protection and coping with self-uncertainty; self- regulation; the self within close relationships; and cultural models of the self. Students conduct original empirical research on the social self. Prerequisites: Psychology 121 and 122, and either Psychology 322 or Psychology 355. Conference-laboratory. Not offered 2009-10.

Psychology 433 - Behavioral Neuroscience Research

Full course for one semester. A systematic consideration of the various research methods used by investigators working at the brain-behavior interface. The course will include hands-on laboratory experience in animal neurosurgery, histology, behavioral testing, and structured research projects directed at understanding how brain neurotransmitter and peptidergic systems contribute to the expression of behavior.  Conferences will focus on the examination and critical analysis of primary research materials. Prerequisite: Psychology 333 or consent of the instructor. Conference-laboratory.

Psychology 439 - Psycholinguistic Research: Bilingualism

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on theory, design, and methods of psycholinguistic research specializing in the study of bilingualism. We will consider developmental, neurolinguistic, cognitive, neuroscientific, linguistic, and sociolinguistic theory and data, with an emphasis on psycholinguistic methods applied to the study of bilingualism. Topics include developmental aspects and cognitive consequences of bilingualism; bilingual memory; bilingual brain representation and aphasia; lexical access and language processing in bilinguals; and the notion of a critical period in second-language acquisition. Students will work in small groups to conduct empirical research projects throughout the semester. Prerequisites: Psychology 121, 122, and 393. Conference-laboratory. Cross-listed as Linguistics 439. Not offered 2009-10.

Psychology 442 - Clinical Psychology

Full course for one semester. We will discuss design and methodological issues related to studying the effectiveness and efficacy of psychological interventions. We examine theory and research for various schools of psychotherapy, including psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive-behavioral interventions, with brief coverage of multicultural, family, child, and group approaches. Students participate in fieldwork in off-campus facilities related to mental health. Prerequisites: Psychology 121, 122, and 351. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.

Psychology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year. Theses in psychology will include empirical research—experimental, observational, or data analytical. Under unusual circumstances the requirement for empirical research may be waived by the department.

Psychology 481 - Individual Work in Special Fields

One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, and approval of the instructor and the division.