Introduction to Psychology

109927 PSYC 401H 01 Honors/Intro to Psychology

"Psychology as a behavioral science; its theoretical and applied aspects. Coverage of basic topics in the field, including developmental, learning, personality, abnormal, social, perceptual/sensory, and physiological psychology. To experience actively the nature of psychological research, students have an opportunity to participate in a variety of studies as part of a laboratory experience. 4 cr."

instructor information

John Limber, 108 Conant Hall, office 862-3175 (don’t leave message); home 868-7320 (before 8pm.); email:

internet information

Information for this class, including my notes and Gleitman’s book page, is available at: (click or arrow on Psychology 401).


Gleitman, H. (1995). Psychology (Fourth ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. (Available only at the Durham Book Exchange, Main Street.)

Text structure

Take time to look at the organization of this book — its sections and chapters. Note the following structure in each chapter (1) Main topics given on first page, (2) Gleitman’s perspective in "taking stock" at the end of each, and finally and most important (4) the chapter summary with concepts in italics. There is also a glossary at the end of the book.

requirements and grading


Each week you will be expected to read several chapters including reviewing previous chapters and skimming upcoming ones. Personally I would NOT underline my text, but would first read (1), skim the text quickly, (4), (2), and now reread the text, looking at figures carefully, using glossary when needed. To review, I start with summary and any notes I made in margins or notebook. (I might actually read the summary first!)

attendance and class contribution

You are expected to attend all classes; no makeup quizzes will be given without a medical excuse or similarly serious reason.

Each week you will be asked to contribute one written question about recent topics — a question you have that you would like answered.

quizzes 40 % **

Quizzes(*) will have short essays as well as multiple choice questions. The concepts in the summary as well as those illustrated in figures and graphics are especially important. There will at least 5 quizzes.

final exam 20 %

This will be a cumulative exam covering all material and based largely on quiz materials.

written assignments and class contribution 35 %

This includes your questions, class and email discussion, and specific short written assignments.

research requirement 05 %

Students are required to participate in 4 hours of research or a comparable experience. See the attached information.

**(The % given above are only approximate and may be revised somewhat).

Class email list

All of you will be registered on this list; sending a message to the list [] will go to everyone. To send a message just to the instructor, send to

Calendar: assignments and topics, etc.

week 1-2 "ACTION"


A Science of Many Faces.....5

Dreams as Mental Experiences.....Dreams as Behavior.....Dreams as Cognition.....Dreams and Social Behavior.....Dreams and Human Development.....Dreams and Individual Differences.....Perspectives on Psychology

2. Biological Bases of Behavior

3. Motivation

4. Learning

Read for Friday: Preface, epilogue, ch.1


What's an "Introduction to Psychology?"


Written assignment due Friday, 9/04: Write a one or two paragraph introduction to your self. Tell me why you are taking this course, and after looking over the text, list the 3 or more topics you might be most interested in at this point. (1-2 pages typed pages or email). Say whether you have taken a previous psychology course.

essay question for quiz 1 (in about 2 weeks)

I will ask you to write on this topic. Prepare to do it in advance.

1. Is the organism a machine? Why and/or why not?

Since the time of Descartes, humans have tried to explain our own behavior as machine-like -- we are clever adaptable automatons. While Descartes himself believed there were limits on explaining human (but not animal) behavior completely in this way, psychologists today (e.g. Gleitman, p. 62) routinely accept this idea even for humans. a) Give one example behavior and its explanation in machine-like terms that Glietman suggests governs or regulates our behavior. b) What might be some of the limitations on this perspective --humans as machines?