These forty-eight lectures examine the conceptual and historical foundations, the methods, the major findings, and the dominant perspectives in psychology. The subject is vast. The lectures are designed to achieve balance between basic processes and real-life issues; between the “hard science” and “soft science” of psychology; between the personal and the social; between the normal and the deviant.
In addition to a critical review of major findings and theories, the lectures examine several controversial issues arising from or illuminated by psychological research and theory. Included among these are the issue of “nature” versus “nurture”; theories of genetic or behavioristic or biological determinism; theories of moral relativism and absolutism; sex “roles” and gender stereotyping; the place of psychology within the legal system (e.g., in predicting violence, establishing competence, or determining whether or not a defendant is sane).
Although psycholog}- and kindred disciplines help to clarity’ such issues, the lectures will point to the limitations imposed on any purely scientific or empirical approach to matters of this sort.
The student will be able to:
1. Identify the broad historical and conceptual foundations of psvcholog}’ from its origins in classical philosophy to the present;
2. Identify the major research methods and findings that characterize contemporary psvchology;
3. Explain the principal claims and the main points of contention between and among the major schools and systems of psychology, including the behavioristic, the psychoanalytic, the neurocognitive, and social constructionist;
4. Explain the dependence of these issues on the larger framework bequeathed by the history of ideas.