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Great Experiments in Psychology

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Are you more likely to obey instructions when you think you're with an authority figure? Is it true that when you are part of a group of people that you will come up with a greater range of ideas, or do your ideas just become more extreme? Is therapy helpful for people with problems such as depression and anxiety or is it no more effective than waiting for these problems to naturally resolve on their own? Have psychologists been able to demonstrate that people possess so-called "psychic" abilities like being able to see the future? These and other questions have been studied by psychologists for decades using creative and sometimes controversial experiments. In this course, you will learn about, discuss, and experience through demonstration some of the most classic studies in psychology, such as Milgram’s study of obedience and Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment. Using these famous (and in some cases, infamous!) classic studies you will learn how psychological researchers answer questions about human behavior, taught by a professor and psychologist who is actively involved in research. By exploring these important studies, you will learn about ethical dilemmas related to experiments in psychology (for example, the use of deception). A secondary goal of this course is to help you strengthen your critical thinking skills when reading or hearing about studies in psychology, especially related to how these studies are presented in popular media. The material reviewed in this course will give you a foundation in learning about how research is conducted in psychology and what psychologists have been able to learn about human behavior.

The main objectives of this course are to: show the creative ways that psychologists study human behavior, using classic studies in psychology as examples; discover specific ways that psychologists have tried to answer questions about human behavior, and ethical dilemmas related to these classic studies in psychology; and to explore how results from psychological experiments are portrayed in the media. Through these objectives, you will learn details about some of the most well-known experiments in psychology, understand pitfalls and ethical problems that can occur in these experiments, and practice thinking critically about results from studies that you see in the media.