You are on page 1of 6

PSY 1101-Section D Spring 2017

General Psychology

Class Meetings: MWF 10:05-10:55, Weber SST III 2

Prerequisite: None

Instructor: Paul Verhaeghen, Ph.D.

Office: 126 Coon Building
E-mail: (email is my preferred mode of communication)
Office hours: 1-2 pm Monday, or by appointment (make your appointment
preferably by email)

Teaching Assistant: Emily Lustig

Office: G-17 Coon
Office hours: 12-1 pn Tuesday, or by appointment

Textbook (not required):

Schacter, D., Gilbert, D. T., Wegner, D. M., & Nock. M. K. (2014). Psychology
(3rd ed.). Macmillan.

Note on the textbook:

Textbooks for General Psych including this one -- are bloated affairs. Its impossible to
cover all that is in the textbook and, paradoxically, textbooks also dont necessarily cover
everything an instructor might want to teach. Time permitting, there will likely be
excursions into topics not covered in the book (e.g., eyewitness testimony, subliminal
perception, free will). I consider the textbook a guideline for my teaching. For the tests,
only the material covered in class (at the level of detail it is covered in the class) is
A pared-down version of the PowerPoint presentations will be posted on T-Square, topic
by topic as we finish it. Do note that you learn better if you extract the information
yourself taking notes in class may be a worthwhile endeavor.

The class will be internet-enabled (T-Square). T-Square will be used for announcements,
uploads, but most importantly for its Forum, in which you will post your biweekly class
diaries (see below).
Dont forget that whatever you post on the discussion board can be seen by everyone else
in the class, not just by the instructor If you want to contact me personally, contact me
by email.

Course description:
This course is meant to provide a survey of concepts, theories and research in psychology
the science that studies human behavior. We will cover a broad range of topics:
methodology, biological bases of behavior, learning, memory, thinking, intelligence,
development, decision making, personality, and social cognition. I try to adapt the pace

of the class to the students; we might cover fewer topics than advertised, or we might go
off on (hopefully interesting) tangents.

Course requirements and organization:

Evaluation of course performance is based on (a-b-c) three examinations, (d) one term
paper, and (e) a set of class diaries. The examinations count for 25% of the grade each,
the term paper for 13%, the class diaries for 12%.

Exams cover the readings and the topics discussed in class up from the previous exam on
(or from the start of the class, for Exam 1). Exams are not cumulative. The exam is
constructed such that anyone who goes to class and takes notes should be able to do well.
The level at which you should study is the level at which we covered the materials in

Exams will consist of 35 multiple-choice questions (17.5 percentage points total) as well
as one short take-home essay question (7.5 percentage points). The essay question will be
distributed in the class immediately preceding the exam, and it will also be posted on T-
Square the day before the exam. You can hand in your answer to the essay question at the
end of the exam or you can email them to me before that time. Handing in/emailing the
answer to the essay question late, but on the day of the exam, will automatically result in
a deduction of 2.5 points. No answers to essay question will be accepted after the day of
the exam. The last exam is not a final exam, that is, it is not cumulative its just the
third exam.
You can bring a letter-size (8 in 11 in) crib sheet to the exam. It can be printed or
handwritten or photocopied, but its total surface area should not exceed that of both sides
of a letter-size sheet of paper (e.g., no folding flaps and other such ingenuities). You will
hand in the crib sheet at the end of the exam. The purpose of the crib sheet is (a) to take
away some of the anxiety associated with testing, and (b) to help you study for the exam
(often the act of making the crib sheet makes the crib sheet itself superfluous).

The term paper is intended to give you the opportunity to reflect critically on existing
research, given the knowledge about research methods and psychological theories you
have acquired in class. Your summary will be about 1000-1500 words. It will consist of
an integrative summary of two (or more) research articles in the field of psychology not
covered in class. Acceptable research articles are articles published in research journals
(e.g., Psychological Science, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology,
etc.; review articles and articles in popular magazines, such as Scientific American or
Psychology Today are not acceptable), using the experimental or the correlational
method, and investigating the behavior of a number of research subjects. If you have any
doubts as to whether the articles you want to use are acceptable, please talk to me as soon
as possible. The articles should be published in the last five years, that is, between 2012
and 2017.
Four types of summaries are acceptable: 1. An update paper, in which you present
some of the recent literature on a topic covered in the textbook or one of the additional
readings. For instance: What is the latest on the intelligence debate? Any new insights on
models of consciousness? 2. An application paper, in which you present an application
of a topic covered in class. How does the study of attention relate to performance of

aircraft pilots? Are engineers good decision makers? 3. An oversight paper, in which
you cover material that you thought could or should be part of the course, but was
neglected. Is extra-sensory perception a possibility? Is there a psychology of humor? 4. A
look-back-in-anger paper, in which you reflect on some topic or research finding that
caught your critical eye. Maybe you disagree with my view on brainstorming. Or maybe
you think consciousness is more than an epiphenomenon. Or maybe you think the risks of
driving and talking on the phone are overrated.
One way to proceed is to search the PsycInfo database on the Web through the library for
any topic you wish to explore. Find two abstracts that interest you and retrieve the
articles. Another way is to browse the indexes of some of the major journals in the field
(e.g., Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, Psychological Science...), and find two articles that interest you. The articles
you choose can obviously be related to each other. For instance, results from the first may
have spurred the research reported in the second, or they may be from a series of studies
run from the same research lab. Many journals require multiple experiments per article.
In that case, pick the most important of those experiments (usually either the first or the
last) for inclusion in your paper.
In your paper, briefly summarize each of the studies separately according to this schema:
introduction to the topic, rationale for the study, methods, results, conclusions, and
implications. In the introduction, rationale and implications sections, briefly refer to
relevant text and class materials. Discuss the similarities and differences between the
findings or conclusions of the studies or conflicts with what was covered in class in a
general conclusion. Aim your paper at a hypothetical classmate, that is, someone who
knows the basics of psychology, but has probably not read these articles. Be careful in
your wording and in the presentation of ideas - sloppy packaging can kill good products.
Therefore, you will not only be judged on integrative qualities, but also on clarity of
presentation. It goes without saying that your paper has to be original. If you use
somebody elses thoughts, cite that person. Not doing so is to commit plagiarism.
The paper is due on the final day of classes, April 25. Earlier is fine too.

You are also expected to write a biweekly class diary and post it on T-Square (under the
Forums tab). A diary entry is 100 words or so (more is always welcome), and it consists
of any kind of comment or questions you might have about that week or the upcoming
weeks class, something you read or heard that is pertinent, etc. (you can attach files or
snippets). Weeks are counted from Sunday, midnight to Sunday, midnight. Late entries
will not be accepted as counting for the previous week. I will accept a maximum of 7
entries (i.e., you can give yourself a week or two off). (Multiple entries within one week,
though welcome, will count as one.)
If your GTID# ends in an odd number, post during an odd-numbered week (week 1, week
3, and so on); if it ends in an even number, post during an even-numbered week (week 2,
week 4, and so on).
People make mistakes. Once you have posted, you can still edit or delete your post. Do
consider that all other class members can read your posts. Be civil. (And be smart. And
have fun.)
Be aware that the T-Square software isnt the most ergonomic around; what looks like a
send or save button isnt always that and replies can be tricky. Ctrl-C or command-C your
entry before you hit those buttons.

Each of your diary entries will be scored on a total of 2 percentage points for your final
grade; I will accept up to 7 entries, thus yielding a total maximum of 14 points (out of 12
2 free points!). Typically, I just count (2 points for each valid diary entry), but I reserve
the right to give a preparation a lower score if it is not up to snuff; in that case, the TA or
I will email you.
The goal of the diary is not to keep you busy, but to help the class. That is, it helps to
move things along more smoothly if I have some idea of where you have problems or
what criticisms you have. It helps prepare you for discussions, and maybe you can find
something useful in other peoples comments.

By policy of the Department, you are required to participate in 4 hours of Psychology

experiments. The idea is that exposure to research is essential to gaining a better
understanding of how the study of human behavior is actually done. To participate in
experiments, you will need to sign up on the Web-based Psychology Subject Pool
Manager (through the SONA website: More
instructions are in the pdf in the Resources tab on T-Square. Find a study that suits your
interests and your time schedule. Sign up for the experiment, and make a note of the
date, time, and location of the experiment. If you fail to show up for a study or show up
late, you will not receive credit. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance. If the
experimenter fails to show let me know. After your participation, the experimenter will
assign you credit. However, it is your responsibility to log on to the web before the cutoff
date at the end of classes and assign your credits to this class. The system is set up to
allow the possibility of multiple Psychology classes eligible for extra credit; you must
formally assign your extra credits to this course.
Faculty and students of the School of Psychology perform all of the experiments. Each
experiment is approved by the Institutional Review Board and thus meets strict ethical
guidelines for the testing of human subjects. At the beginning of the experiment, the
experimenter will describe the experiment. You have the option of withdrawing from any
experiment that makes you uncomfortable at any time during the experiment.
Note that by policy of the Department, after two unexcused missed appointments during
the semester, you will no longer be able to sign up for studies. Showing up late may
constitute a missed appointment if the researcher is not able to accommodate you in the
remaining time.
Unsuccessful completion of all research credits will result in up to a letter grade reduction
toward the final grade in the course, proportional to the total number of required credits
(i.e., a 10 percentage point cut). For instance, successfully completing 3 out of 4 required
credits will result in a loss of 1/4 of your total letter grade.
Alternatively, you can submit (email is fine) a reading report, one for each hour of
experiment participation credit. Log on to the library and find an article from 2011-2016
from one of the journals listed at the end of the syllabus. The article may be on any topic
of psychology that interests you. The article must be a report on a research study (i.e.,
not a review article). Read the article and complete a one-page, single-spaced report (12-
point font) that contains the following information:
Complete reference authors, year, article title, journal, volume, page numbers
Purpose of the article the nature of the problem being studied
Overview of methodology used how the problem was investigated
Report of general results and conclusions what the author(s) found

Attach the original article to your report. The deadline for this is the last day of classes,
April 25.

It is my intention to make the class quite interactive. I do have a tendency to lecture,

though, so you might have to just stop me and jump in.

Important note: There are no stupid questions/comments. If you do not understand

something, or have no idea why we are talking about it, chances are somebody else has
the same problem. Things that are not clear are always the fault of the instructor, except
at exam time, so please ask any questions about the materials before the exams.

In compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) Georgia Tech is committed to ensure that no otherwise qualified
individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of disability, be excluded from
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any
program or activity. If you feel that you may need academic accommodations due to a
disability, then you should immediately register with the ADAPTS program

Make-up exams are given only in case of proven emergency and at the discretion of the
instructor. Please remember that being granted a make-up exam is a privilege, not a right.
If a foreseeable conflict arises, please notify the instructor before test time. If an
emergency arises, provide documentation of the emergency.

The university has a clear policy on academic dishonesty. Students caught cheating on
exams or projects (and this includes plagiarism) will be subject to the universitys policy.
The policy is viewable online at If you
cheat on an exam or project (make careful note of what constitutes plagiarism!), you will
get a score of zero for that exam or project.

Please familiarize yourself with Tech policies regarding final examinations,, and contact me if you have a

The traditional dividing line of 90/80/70/60 for the A/B/C/D range of grades will be used.
The instructor reserves the right to alter criteria if necessary (popularly known as
grading on the curve), with the restriction that alterations will always be to the
advantage of the students. All grades are final. If you are one point short of a particular
grade, you are one point short of that particular grade. PLEASE DONT CONTACT ME

Postings of results of the exams:

Results will be posted on T-Square, as soon as I have them. For security and privacy
reasons, results are not sent out through email or by telephone.


The schedule has to be taken as very tentative; it is quite possible that deviations and
changes of pace are necessary to accommodate the needs of the class. (It is almost certain
that in the beginning we will go slower than advertised; we may have to skip some parts.)

Week Topic Notes

1 Jan 9 Hellos, and Introduction to Intro Psych/Methods
2 Jan 16 Brain & CNS No class Monday
3 Jan 23 Sensation and Perception
4 Jan 30 Sensation and Perception, Attention & Consciousness
5 Feb 6 Learning Exam Friday (Feb 3)
6 Feb 13 Memory
7 Feb 20 Memory
8 Feb 27 Emotion and Motivation
9 Mar 6 Intelligence
10 Mar 13 Development Exam Friday (Mar 17)
11 Mar 20 No class -- Spring Break No classes
12 Mar 27 Decision Making
13 April 3 Personality
14 April 10 Social Psychology
15 April 17 Social Psychology
16 April 24 Psychological Disorders
May 3, 11:30 Third exam