Psychology 420

PSYC 420: Research in Cognitive Psychology

Prerequisites: PSYC 302, PSYC 320

Credit Hours: (3)

An examination of scientific versus pseudoscientific approaches to knowing, and an emphasis on real-world memory, decision-making, and general cognitive processes.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

1. Science versus pseudoscience

a. Why people believe weird things
b. How thinking goes wrong
c. Examples of pseudoscientific thinking
d. How to think scientifically about psychology

2. Thinking and decision making in the real world

a. Common errors in thinking
b. Heuristics—focus on errors in thinking
c. Heuristics—focus on evolutionary considerations

3. Memory

a. Research methods for studying real-world memory
b. Autobiographical memory
c. Distortions in memory
d. Early childhood memory
e. Trauma and memory
f. Mnemonists


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

1. Lecture: Lecture and multimedia presentations covering topics of course.
2. Lab: Student presentations on topical paper assignment related to science vs. pseudoscience, student presentations of individual original experiment proposals, classroom simulations of classic experiments in cognitive psychology


Goals and Objectives of Course

1. Students will thoroughly learn scientific thinking, and how to apply such thinking to psychology-related areas as well as other areas of knowledge
2. Students will further develop research methodology skills and research report-writing skills
3. Students will expand their knowledge of cognitive psychology, especially as it applies to the real-world cognition
4. Course will fulfill laboratory course requirement for psychology majors


Assessment Measures

Graded assignments may include in-class and/or take-home tests, science vs. pseudoscience topical paper, experiment proposals and/or APA-style experiment paper, class participation, and final examination.


Other Course Information

Students are encouraged to use multimedia methods in their class presentations.