Fall 2018 Syllabus


Why are people superstitious? Why do people blush when they are embarrassed? What is intelligence (and are IQ tests a good way to measure it)? Why don't psychopaths feel guilty when they harm others? How reliable are childhood memories? Why do we laugh? Do violent video games make people act violently? What do some people seem instantly trustworthy and others seem “creepy”? How do we choose whom to sleep with, date, or marry? How does stress affect our body? While questions like these have been asked for centuries, psychology has begun to provide answers to these--and other questions about the human mind--by applying the tools of scientific investigation. 

In this course you will receive a broad introduction to the science of psychology: from the history of the field and its major advances, to the latest research on topics such as perception, memory, intelligence, morality, sexuality, mental illness, religion, language, and creativity. You will also learn about the tools and methods psychologists use to investigate the mind, such as observing how the mind of a child changes and develops over time, looking at people across cultures, measuring brain activity, and experimentally manipulating everything from the shape of a figure presented on a computer screen, to the smell of a room, or the attractiveness of the experimenter.



M/W/F, 10:10AM - 11:00AM, Bailey Hall 101



Schachter, D.L., Gilbert, D.T, Wegner, D.M., & Nock, M.K. (2016) Psychology (4th edition). [E-book available on the Blackboard course website]. 



Lecture slides will be made available online for download on the course website in PDF format AFTER class (usually within 24 hours). Please be aware that the lecture slides will often make no sense if you do not attend the lecture itself, and they are a very poor replacement for attending class. If you must miss class, I suggest that you make arrangements to get notes from someone who attended if possible. (I make the slides available as a courtesy to students, but I cannot grant requests to make the slides available in different formats, fonts, file sizes, languages, colors, etc.)




  • There will be  two in-class prelim exams (in Bailey Hall, during regularly scheduled class time) and one final exam (during finals week); The first two exams are each worth 30% of your grade, and the final exam is worth 40%. 
  • Exams will be in multiple-choice format and completed on Scantron sheets (which we will provide). Exam questions will be based on the content presented in lectures as well as on the assigned readings (with the goal of a roughly 50/50 split of questions taken from the textbook and from the lectures). Anything in the readings may make an appearance on the exam, whether or not it was discussed during the lecture. (Lectures are not intended to be reviews of the textbook chapters, so they will often contain a great deal of information not present in the textbook). 
  • The prelim exams will be non-cumulative (they will only be based on the material presented/readings assigned since the last exam). The final exam is cumulative.  
  • Please make a note of the exam dates so as to avoid any potential conflicts:
  • Exam 1: September 24
  • Exam 2: October 29
  • Final Exam: Date announced when the exam schedule is released herehttps://registrar.cornell.edu/Sched/exams.html
  • Make-up Exams: Make-up exams will only be given for extenuating circumstances and will almost always require documentation. If you wish to request a make-up exam before or after the exam please read over the make-up exam policy here [cornellpsych.net/make-up] and submit the requested information. You must use this form--if you email the instructor or TAs directly with a request for a make-up exam, it will not get processed. 
  • Grading Scale: 
  • A+: 100 and above A: 94 A-: 90 
  • B+: 87 B: 83 B-: 80 
  • C+: 77  C: 73 C-: 70  
  • D+: 67 D: 63   D-: 60 
  • Extra Credit: There will be opportunities to participate in psychology experiments for extra credit. You will be able to receive up to 7 points of extra credit (1 point is equivalent to 1/2 hour of time in an experiment). If you complete all 7 points, this will translate into 5% directly added to your final grade (if you complete fewer than 7, the appropriate percentage is calculated and applied to your final grade). Extra credit is managed through SONA, the psychology online experiment portal. Information on how to sign up and use the SONA system can be found by clicking on the "Extra Credit" menu tab above (www.cornellpsych.net/extracredit). 
  • Please direct all questions regarding the Sona system directly to the Sona administrator at sona-admin@cornell.edu.
  • Attendance: Attendance is not required, but attending lectures tends to have a big impact on how well you learn the material and performance on exams. 
  • Students with Disabilities: Please provide your Student Disability Services (SDS) accommodation letter early in the semester to the instructor or to Lisa Proper (lap5@cornell.edu) in the Psychology department (in the 2nd floor of Uris Hall), so that we have adequate time to arrange your approved academic modifications. If you would like to discuss your arrangements confidentially and privately, please make an appointment to meet with me during my office hours. If you need an accommodation for equal access, please speak with me after class or send an email message to me and/or SDS at sds_cu@cornell.edu. If the need arises for additional accommodations during the semester, please contact SDS. 
  • Twitter: The @cornellpsych twitter account is automatically updated with the course announcements and links to lecture slides that are posted on the website. Students are encouraged to tweet to @cornellpsych (course announcements and links to lecture slides are automatically tweeted to this account) with a question, insight, poem, or funny observation based on the most recent lecture. I will regularly check the course twitter account and may occasionally post one of your tweets on the lecture slides. Please keep it PG-13!



Please familiarize yourself (if you haven't already) with Cornell's code of academic integrity here: http://cuinfo.cornell.edu/Academic/AIC.html. I ask that you respect your fellow students, TAs, and instructor by adhering to these ethical standards in your work. If you have any questions about whether something might constitute a breach of academic integrity, please do not hesitate to ask one of the TAs or your instructor.



An updated version of the course reading schedule and lecture schedule will be maintained here.



If you have a question regarding the course, please do ensure that you have gone through all of the information on the syllabus and website. If you cannot find an answer to your question, we have a number of undergraduate tutors who know a great deal about the course and who are eager to hear from you. One of the tutors will be assigned to you specifically, and within the first few weeks of the course you will receive an email with their name and contact information. If you still have a question that is not addressed by the website or the tutor, email the instructor at prof@cornellpsych.net (using this address this helps ensure that your email will be seen and responded to). In a course this size please remember that keeping up with email can be quite challenging, and sometimes your best bet is to sign up for one of the weekly slots for office hours!