PSY-131: Introductory Psychology

Liberal Arts
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Introductory Psychology
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
ENG-081 eligible
Catalog Course Description

Introduces elementary concepts and principles related to the scientific study of behavior and of the mental processes of cognition and affective states. Variables examined include the history of psychology, the scientific method, theory, biological foundations, psychological processes related to cognition and affective states, developmental changes over time, and applications related to healthy and unhealthy personalities.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement

The initial goal of the course is to provide structure and teaching for the acquisition of a hierarchical organization of facts and concepts constituting elementary knowledge of the science of behavior and mental processes.  Since the goals of this science are to enhance each student’s ability to describe, understand, predict and influence human behavior, thinking critically about themselves and others is a second and more important course goal.

Core Course Topics
  1. History of psychology and its research methods
  2. The biological foundations of psychology
  3. Perception and sensation
  4. States of consciousness
  5. Learning theories
  6. Memory
  7. Cognition, language and intelligence
  8. Motivation and emotion
  9. Personality—Theories and measurement
  10. Human sexuality
  11. Health psychology
  12. Abnormal behavior and personality disorders
  13. Therapeutic strategies
  14. Social psychology
  15. Developmental psychology
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)
  1. Compare and contrast five theoretical approaches to psychology.
  2. Describe experimental, survey, case study, naturalistic and participant research methods.
  3. Explain the difference between independent/dependent variables, single/double blind and experimental/control groups.
  4. Describe the parts and functions of a neuron and differentiate different neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
  5. Describe the four lobes, limbic system and other major areas of the brain and their functions.
  6. Explain the endocrine system including fight or flight.
  7. Identify different sense structures and their functions.
  8. Compare and contrast perceptual organizational techniques and depth perception cues.
  9. Differentiate between the different states of consciousness.
  10. Differentiate paradoxical sleep from quiet sleep (REM and NREM).
  11. Explain how illicit and prescribed drugs alter consciousness.
  12. Describe operant, classical, and cognitive conditioning.
  13. Describe the differences between positive, negative reinforcement and punishment.
  14. Describe three models of memory (Atkinson-Shiffrin, Levels of Processing and Memory Trace).
  15. Describe five theories of why we forget. 
  16. Compare and contrast at least two intelligence tests (Binet, Weschler).
  17. Explain how language develops in humans and chimpanzees.
  18. Differentiate between productive and reproductive thinking and describe the relationship between language and thinking.
  19. Compare and contrast biological to social motives.
  20. Describe theories of emotion (James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, and Cognitive).
  21. Compare and contrast physical, cognitive and personality development of children, adolescents and adults. 
  22. Explain Freuds theory of personality and his developmental stages.
  23. Describe personality and projective tests (MMPI, Rorschach, TAT).
  24. Explain atypical sexual behavior and sexual dysfunctional patterns.
  25. Compare and contrast sexually transmitted diseases.
  26. Describe four ways to improve one’s health.
  27. Explain different sources of stress and coping skills.
  28. Explain defense mechanisms.
  29. Compare and contrast the symptoms of mood disorders.
  30. Explain the five major anxiety disorders.
  31. Describe the types and symptoms of Schizophrenia.
  32. Describe the types and symptoms of Personality Disorders.
  33. Compare and contrast psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, and medical therapies.
  34. Identify which psychotropic medications could be used for different disorders.
  35. Describe the major concepts of social psychology including attraction, altruism, obedience, conformity, persuasion and others.
  36. Explain how attitudes are formulated and are the process of cognitive dissonance.
  37. Compare and contrast physical, cognitive and personality development of children, adolescents and adults.
  38. Explain Piagets theory of cognitive development.
  39. Describe Eriksons epigenetic development of personality.
  40. Students will analyze their cognitive, affective and behavioral domains using the critical thinking model of Paul and Elder.*

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Each instructor will implement appropriate methods for assessing the achievement of the learning objectives of the course with the following exceptions:

  • Each student will be required to write a 2-4 page reflective paper analyzing their cognitive, affective and behavioral domains of learning.* 
  • A comprehensive final examination of 100 multiple-choice questions requiring identification of facts, concepts, or applications will be given to all students enrolled in Psychology 131.
  • Credit for Prior College-Level Learning

    Options for Credit for Prior College-Level Learning
    Other Details

    Determined by department

    Approval Dates

    Effective Term
    Fall 2014
    ILT Approval Date
    AALC Approval Date
    Curriculum Committee Approval Date