Psychology and Life

(Introduction to Psychology)

 (Subject to change)



This syllabus is intended to help you clearly understand the course goals, expectation, testing methods and topics we will go through in this semester, so you may optimize your learning experience and maximize your performance. Please take you time to read it carefully before making the decision to choose this course.


Course Description

Psychology and Life is a course offered to undergraduate students who are interested in learning more about the science of psychology and applying their learning into their daily lives. The course embraces the vision of American Psychological Association (APA), “to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives” ( Therefore, students are encouraged to apply what they have learned in the classroom, in an active and critical way, to enhance the quality of their lives as well as the lives of others around them.


The aim of the course is to provide a general introduction to major fields of psychology, i.e. the methodology and the basis of psychological reasoning, the classical concepts and theories as well as the latest research outcomes and new progresses made in this science to promote the understanding and changes in individuals, families and societies. The curriculum design of the course strives to adhere to the five learning goals proposed by APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major-version 2.0 (APA, 2013) on the foundation level (for those students who only take lower level courses, such as this course, to have a general understanding as well as application of psychology, but do not necessarily intend to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology). The five goals are: knowledge base in psychology, scientific inquiry and critical thinking, ethical and social responsibility in a diverse world, communication and professional development. The detailed descriptions of these goals relevant to this course will be listed in the section of Learning Objectives in this syllabus.


As an introductory course, different topics will be given for each week to cover the whole scope of psychology, including: the biological and evolutionary basis of human behaviors, sensation and perception, consciousness, learning, memory, intelligence, human development, motivation and emotion, stress and health psychology, personality psychology, social psychology, abnormal psychology and psychological counseling & psychotherapy. Besides lecturing, the course uses small & big group discussion, group work, extracurricular readings, and the participation of psychological researches to facilitate the learning process. Extracurricular reading materials for each topic are to be emailed to students and it is expected that students will choose at least one paper to read. In order to get full credits of the course, students are asked to complete one individual homework report, one group project and two participations in psychological studies (several opportunities will be offered during the semester and students can choose which to participate in; if students are not willing to participate for any reasons, extra homework assignment will be offered to get the credit). The final exam is a 100-item close-book format multiple choice test. Students who are open-minded, curious and confident in English are warmly welcomed to embark on this journey.


Text Book  

Richard J.Gerrig & Philip G.Zimbardo. Psychology and Life (18th edition), 人民邮电出版社,2011年第1版 (English Edition)


Reference Books & Learning Resources

  • Phillp G. Zimbardo,Robert L. Johnson,Ann L. Weber. 津巴多普通心理学(第五版). 中国人民大学出版社,2008年7月第一版. (中文版)
  • Benjamin B. Lahey著,吴庆麟 等译. 心理学导论(第九版). 上海人民出版社,2010年第一版. (中文版)
  • Roger R. Hock. Forty Studies that Changed Psychology (5th edition). Post & Telecom Press, 2010. (English edition) [中文名称:罗杰·霍克. 改变心理学的40项研究(第五版). 人民邮电出版社,2010年1月第一版. 此书信息为英文版,也有相应中文翻译版]
  • The website of American Psychological Association.


Reading Materials 

  • You are required to read one or two pieces of reading materials every week and they will be sent vie emails to your email box. You need to register your email address with the help of TA at the beginning of the semester.
  • Extra (and more difficult) reading materials are also available every week. Reading materials of this level are research papers of classical studies or new development related to the topic of the week in psychology. Those who are motivated to read more can download them from the e-learning platform in the URP system.


Learning Objectives    

As an introductory course, the main purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the modern psychology as a science and to disseminate psychological knowledge through educational activities. It is expected that through lectures, readings, assignments and other active learning behaviors such participating in course discussions and psychological experiments, students will be able to achieve five learning goals advocated by APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major-version 2.0 (APA, 2013) at the end of this course (see detailed description of the learning goals as well as the potential ways to achieve & access them in the following table. The contents are revised based on the APA guidelines):

  • Knowledge base in psychology: Students are expected demonstrate fundamental knowledge and comprehension of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, historical trends, and empirical findings to discuss how psychological principles apply to behavioral phenomena.
  • Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking: Students are expected to learn some basic skills and concepts in interpreting behavior, studying research, and applying research design principles to drawing conclusions about psychological phenomena
  • Ethical and Social Responsibility in a Diverse World: Students are expected to become familiar with the formal regulations that govern professional ethics in psychology and begin to embrace the values that will contribute to positive outcomes in work settings and in building a society responsive to multicultural and global concerns
  • Communication: Students are expected to be able to write a cogent scientific argument, present information using a scientific approach, engage in discussion of psychological concepts, explain the ideas of others, and express their own ideas with clarity
  • Professional Development: Students are expected to apply psychology-specific content and skills, effective self-reflection, project-management skills, teamwork skills, and career preparation to develop work habits and ethics to succeed in academic settings


Course requirements

Assignments – the basic assignments include one homework report, a mid-term paper based on a group project and two participations of psychological experiments. The homework can be either an essay or any other format (such as a drawing) that summarizes students’ learning from the course, esp. how they apply the knowledge from the classroom to their daily lives. The mid-term paper is based on a team work and the size of the team is from 3 to 5 students. The team is asked to work out a research plan and the topic can be freely chosen by students as long as it is within the scope of psychology.

Participations in psychological studies- Students are required to participate in two psychological studies to get a real sense of how psychologists are doing their researches. Students will get 5% of the total course credit for each participation. Several opportunities will be offered during the semester and students can choose which to participate in. If students are not willing to participate for any reasons, extra homework will be offered to get the credit.

Exams- The final exam is a close-book format multiple choice test. This 100-item test covers all the topics of the course. An outline of the course is provided to students at the end of the semester, which aims to help students to prepare for the final exam.

Class Behavior – It will be appreciated if students can abide by three basic rules of this course. They are: 1. Please to be punctual at each class and to ask for leave in advance if one cannot show up (you can either send email to me or to the TA). 2. Try to be proactive in learning this course, i.e. try to be alert and stay focused through the course. An open attitude and a sense of curiosity are welcomed. 3. Please show the basic respect to the lecturer, the TA and all fellow students.


Grading Policy

Components Point %
Homework assignment 15%
Mid-term paper (team work) 30%
Experiment participation  (2 times) 5% each
Final Exam (100 items multiple choice ) 45%
Total 100%



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