Psychology

David Njus (department head)

Psychology is the science that studies behavior and mental processes. The course of study offered in psychology is designed to give the student not only knowledge of behavior and mental processes, but also an understanding of how this knowledge is scientifically acquired and applied. The basic psychological processes—learning, memory, motivation, emotions, perception, thinking—in both humans and animals are emphasized. Attention is directed both to the biological basis of behavior and to the interpersonal and social context in which it occurs.

To be a psychologist normally requires graduate education. Professional psychologists work as counselors in schools, institutions, and industry; engage in clinical work in mental health centers, state and V.A. hospitals; teach; conduct research; and engage in many other activities. Students who plan to attend graduate school should discuss this with an advisor and should take statistics early to prepare for the additional research experience necessary for success in psychology graduate programs. Students frequently pursue graduate degrees in related fields as well, such as medicine, law, and theology, and should be aware of specific admission requirements for such programs. Graduates with psychology majors or minors readily find a wide range of immediate employment opportunities in human resources, business, and social services. Such graduates are encouraged to work with their advisors to choose electives that broaden the applicability of their degree.

Requirements for a major: The following psychology courses are required for a major: PSYC 130, two 200 level courses, PSYC 349, 350, two courses numbered between PSYC 351 and PSYC 359, one 400 level course and one 4-credit elective (the elective is chosen from: courses numbering between PSYC 239 and 270; between PSYC 352 and 358; PSYC 381; or between PSYC 461 and 468). If a statistics course judged comparable to PSYC 350 is taken in another department, substitute an additional 4-credit elective course in psychology for PSYC 350.

These psychology courses must be supported by MATH 140 (or above), two Natural World lab courses chosen from: BIO 115, BIO 116, BIO 125, BIO 151 (or above), PHYS 151 (or above), CHEM 141 (or above), ENVS 133 (or above), or SCI 121 (or above). Finally, majors must take either an additional Natural World course (outside of psychology) OR an additional Human Behavior course (outside of psychology). Writing requirement completed with PSYC 352, 353, 354, 356, or PSYC 358.

Students who are interested in completing a class at another institution with the idea of transferring the credits to Luther to satisfy psychology major or minor requirements must have that course approved by the psychology department head before the course is taken.

Psychology majors must have a minimum GPA of 2.00 in all Luther psychology courses (this GPA requirement does not include the non-psychology supporting courses).

Required for a minor: The following psychology courses are required for a minor: PSYC 130, 349, 350; one course numbered between PSYC 351 and PSYC 359, and two 4-credit psychology electives (see listing under requirements for the major). If a statistics course judged comparable to PSYC 350 is taken in another department, substitute an additional 4-credit elective course in psychology for PSYC 350.

Required for a second teaching area: See Education department for specific requirements. The second teaching area license is offered only in the state of Iowa.

Psychology Courses

PSYC 130 General Psychology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods

An introduction to the field of psychology intended for both majors and non-majors. Topics covered include social processes, personality, emotional disorders, development, thinking, testing, learning, motivation, perception, psychobiology, and animal behavior. This course is prerequisite to all other psychology courses.

PSYC 240 Developmental Psychology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130

Developmental psychology is the branch of psychology that studies how people change as they age. This course focuses on the description, prediction, and explanation of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of age-related change, from conception to old age.

PSYC 241 Psychology of Health and Illness

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130.

This course deals with the scientific and professional contributions of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health; the prevention and treatment of illness; and the identification of etiologic and diagnostic correlates of health, illness, and related dysfunctions.

PSYC 242 Evolutionary Psychology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130

Evolutionary psychology applies the principles of Darwinian natural and sexual selection to the study of the human mind and behavior. The central assumption of the field is that the mind evolved to solve recurrent survival and reproduction problems in the ancestral environment. Selected topics within evolutionary psychology will be examined and critically evaluated.

PSYC 243 Personality and Individual Differences

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130.

An examination of the major psychological approaches to personality and topics such as cognitive ability, attitudes, and other latent structures underlying consistencies in behavior. Special attention will be given to certain selected theorists and their contrasting views of personal change/consistency, human nature, and psychological investigation.

PSYC 244 Animal Cognition

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Nonlab
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130.

This course is an introduction to the study of cognition in animals, including how animals perceive, think, learn, remember, and communicate. We will explore these issues within both psychological and biological frameworks, and will include topics such as evolution of intelligence, cognition as adaptation, animal consciousness, and language in apes. An emphasis on comparing animal cognitive processes to human cognition will be part of the course.

PSYC 248 Pyschology of Religion

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130.

The psychology of religion is the empirical study of human behavior, cognition, and motivation as it relates to religious phenomena. Both classic and contemporary psychological approaches to religion will be discussed in this course, and research on topics such as religious development, morality, spirituality, and the relationship with God will be covered.

PSYC 249 Brain and Behavior

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Nonlab, Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130

This course will explore the biological basis of behavior through the fields of behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. The focus is on how the brain regulates human behavior, with emphasis on particular psychological topics such as developmental processes, perceptual processes, learning and memory, motivation and emotion, thinking, and disorders; as well as biological topics such as neural communication, neuroanatomy, and neurophysiology. Recent research is discussed in terms of its applications to understanding human behavior and brain disorders.

PSYC 270 Psychology and Aging

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130

This course is designed to examine psychological aspects of growing older in the 21st century. Students will be introduced to the current methodologies used to study aging as we explore the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial changes in individuals over the age of 60. The lecture, readings and assignments will address a range of topics that include expected versus abnormal changes in memory, creativity, the shifting roles of the elderly in family and society, and coping with illness and loss. In light of the fact that individuals over the age of 85 are the fastest-growing segment of the global population, and that the majority are women (approximately 2:1), we will also study changes associated with gender roles and sexuality during our later years. A major goal for this course is to foster a clearer understanding of the processes associated with normal aging and to dispel a number of the stereotypes that surround this time of life. (Same as WGST 270)

PSYC 349 Research Methods in Psychology

  • 2 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130.

This course provides an introduction to the ways in which the scientific method is applied to psychology. Attention is given to the methods used by psychologists to describe, predict, and explain psychological phenomena. Students will learn the nature of observational, quasti-experimental, and experimental methods, with a specific focus on issues of reliability and validity.

PSYC 350 Behavioral Statistics

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130; MATH 110 or MATH 115 or MATH 140 (preferred) orabove.

A first course in statistics which introduces descriptive and inferential statistical tools as they apply to organization and analysis of data in the behavioral sciences.

PSYC 352 Cognitive Processes

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 349 and 350

A study of the mental processes involved in the acquisition, organization, representation, and retrieval of information by humans. Topics to be covered include attention, recognition memory, short-term and long-term memory, concept formation, problem solving, and creativity. Lecture, discussion, and weekly laboratories. Students conduct original research.

PSYC 353 Social Psychology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 349, 350.

Social psychology is the scientific study or how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. Some major topic areas include attitude formation and change, aggression, attraction, conformity, person perception and group processes. Lectures, discussions, and weekly laboratories will be held. Students will be involved in original research.

PSYC 354 Learning and Behavior

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 349, 350

A study of the basic theories, methodology, and findings in the areas of classical and operant conditioning and learning for both humans and animals. Applications, including behavioral modification, will be emphasized throughout the course. Lecture, discussion, and weekly laboratories.

PSYC 356 Stress, Coping, and Well-Being

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 349, 350.

This course focuses on psychological, biological, and social factors involved in stress, coping, and well-being. Correlates, causes, and consequences of stress will be examined, as well as the role of appraisal and coping as mediating/moderating influences. Students will conduct and present original research on stress, coping and well-being. Topics to be covered include: models of stress, measurement, stressful events, appraisals, coping, adaptation, and treatment.

PSYC 358 Psychology of the Workplace

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 349, and 350.

This course focuses on the major research areas involved in the field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology, the scientific study of people at work. Some major topic areas include job analysis, employee selection, work stress, job attitudes, motivation, and work-life balance. Lectures, discussions, and weekly laboratories will be held. Students will be involved in original research.

PSYC 430 Applied Psychology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130.

This course provides an overview of the application of psychological theories and research to practical problems in several occupational disciplines (e.g., education, law, sports, consumer behavior, ergonomics, environmental sustainability). Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and career opportunities for those with undergraduate and graduate degrees in the various sub-fields of psychology. Emphasis will be placed on exploring the relevance of psychological concepts to students' everyday lives and career interests.

PSYC 465 Abnormal Psychology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, a 200-level psych course, and junior status

An examination of the major psychological disorders including depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, psychosomatic disorders, organic disorders, and the disorders of childhood. Emphasis is placed on the description and classification of psychopathology and on the research relating to etiology and treatment.

PSYC 466 Psychological Tests and Measurement

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 350.

This course is designed to acquaint the student with psychological measurement, in general, and psychological tests, in particular. The course will survey the measurement of aptitude, personality, interest, and adjustment using objective tests, projective tests, rating scales, and interviews. The validity, reliability, and application of these measurement techniques will be emphasized.

PSYC 468 Intro to Counseling

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: PSYC 130, 465.

An introduction to models of counseling with emphasis on selected processes and skills necessary to apply the models in a variety of settings. One class meeting per week is devoted to practice of skills. Other topics include professional ethics and the efficacy of major models of counseling.

PSYC 490 Senior Project

  • 1, 2, or 4 hours