Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 5
Hours: 5 lecture per week (60 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in PSYC 1H.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area IV: Social & Behavioral Sciences
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • A successful student will be able to identify the reasons why psychology is a science.
  • A successful student will be able to identify the major theoretical perspectives in psychology.


An exploration of the major perspectives, concepts, and theories in psychology and the factors that influence human behavior. Topics include: research methodology, biological psychology, perception, sleep and dreaming, learning, cognitive processes, developmental psychology, motivation and emotion, sexuality and gender, stress and health, social psychology, theories of personality, psychological disorders and psychological therapies.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. explain why psychology is a science and identify research methods used in psychology
B. summarize how data is collected and analyzed in the field of psychology
C. summarize the modern perspectives in psychology
D. identify careers in psychology
E. understand the content, theories, and empirical research findings in the follow areas: modern perspectives and research methods, the biological perspective, sensation and perception, consciousness and sleep, learning, memory, cognition, development across the life span, motivation and emotion, sexuality and gender, stress and health, social psychology, theories of personality, psychological disorders, and psychological therapies
F. identify the anatomy of the brain and nervous system and explain how biology can influence behavior
G. summarize the historical perspectives in psychology
H. compare and contrast different psychological theories, such as cognitive learning theories and behaviorist learning theories, or trait personality assessments and psychoanalytical personality assessments
I. apply psychological theories to explain their own and others' behavior and mental processes
J. demonstrate critical thinking skills with respect to analyzing the validity and quality of research findings
K. demonstrate an ability to use the scientific method to answer questions about human behavior
L. demonstrate personal development by developing insight into their own and others' behavior and mental processes

Course Content

A. The Science of Psychology
1. Definition of psychology
2. Psychology’s goals
3. The history of psychology
a. Structuralism
b. Functionalism
c. Gestalt
d. Psychoanalysis
4. Modern perspectives
a. Psychodynamic perspective
b. Behavioral perspective
c. Humanistic perspective
d. Cognitive perspective
e. Sociocultural perspective
f. Biopsychosocial perspective
g. Evoluationary perspective
5. Research methods in psychology
a. Observational research
b. Case study
c. Survey research
d. Correlational research
e. Experimental methods
f. Statistics in psychology
B. The Biological Perspective
1. Anatomy of the neurons
2. Aspects of neural communication
3. The nervous system
a. Central nervous system
1) Brain
2) Spinal cord
b. Peripheral nervous system
1) Autonomic nervous system
2) Sympathetic nervous system
3) Parasympathetic nervous system
4) Somatic nervous system
4. Endocrine system
5. Anatomy and functioning of the brain
a. Hindbrain
b. Limbic system
c. Cerebrum and the cortex
6. Genetics
a. Epigenetics
C. Sensation and Perception
1. Definition of sensation
2. The science of seeing and how the eye works
3. The science of hearing and how the ear works
4. Chemical senses: how olfaction and gustatory senses work
5. Somesthetic senses: how the sensation of touch works
6. Explanation of perception
a. Constancies: size, shape, and brightness
b. Gestalt princicples
c. Perceptual illusions
D. Consciousness: Sleeping, Dreaming, Hypnosis and Drugs
1. Definition of consciousness
2. States of consciousness
3. Sleep
a. The biology of sleep
b. The stages of sleep
c. REM sleep
d. Sleep disorders
4. Dreams and theories of dreams
a. Psychoanalytic theories
b. Biological theories
5. Altered states of consciousness
6. Influence of psychoactive drugs
a. Psychological and physical dependence
b. Stimulants
c. Depressants
d. Narcotics
e. Hallucinogens
f. Marijuana
E. Learning
1. Definition of learning
2. Behaviorist learning theories
a. Classical conditioning
b. Operant conditioning
3. Cognitive learning theories
a. Latent learning
b. Insight learning
c. Learned helplessness
d. Observational learning theory/social learning theory
F. Memory
1. The processes of memory
a. Encoding
b. Storage
c. Retrieval
2. Models of memory
a. Information processing model
b. Levels-of-processing model
3. Types of memory
a. Sensory memory
b. Short-term memory
c. Working memory
d. Long-term memory
1) Episodic/autobiographical
2) Semantic memories
3) Procedural memories
4. Retrieval processes
a. Retrieval cues
b. Recall and recognition
c. Flashbulb memories
5. False memories
6. Forgetting
a. The engram
b. Memory trace decay theory
7. Neuroscience of memory
G. Cognition
1. How people think
a. Mental imagery
b. Concepts
c. Problem solving and decision making
d. Creativity
2. Intelligence
a. Definition
b. Theories of intelligence
c. Measuring intelligence
3. Language
a. Theories of language and the relationship between language and thought
H. Development Across the Life Span
1. Biological development
a. Genes and DNA
b. Chromosome problems
2. Prenatal development
3. Infancy and childhood development
a. Physiological development
b. Psychosocial development
c. Cognitive development
4. Adolescence
a. Physical development
b. Cognitive development
c. Psychosocial development
5. Adulthood
a. Physical development
b. Cognitive development
c. Psychosocial development
I. Motivation and Emotion
1. Theories and approaches to understanding motivation
a. Instinct approaches
b. Drive-reduction approaches
c. Arousal approaches
d. Incentive approaches
e. Humanistic approaches
2. Hunger
a. Physiological approaches to hunger
b. Social components of hunger
3. Emotion
a. Elements of emotion
b. Theories of emotion
J. Sexuality and Gender
1. The physical side of human sexuality
a. Primary sex characteristics
b. Secondary sex characteristics
2. Gender
a. Gender roles
b. Gender identity
c. Sex differences in the brain
d. Theories of gender development
e. Gender stereotyping
f. Gender behavioral and cognitive differences
3. Human sexual behavior
a. Master’s and Johnson’s research and the sexual response cycles
b. Kinsey’s work and sexual behavior
c. Sexual orientation
4. Sexual dysfunctions and problems
5. Sexually transmitted infections
K. Stress and Health
1. Definition of stress and explanation of stressors
2. Physiological factors of stress
a. General adaptation syndrome
b. Immune system and stress
3. Influence of stress on cognition, personality and sleep
4. Coping with stress
a. Theories and practices of coping with stress
L. Social Psychology
1. Definition of social psychology
2. Social influence
a. Conformity
b. Compliance
c. Obedience
d. Group behavior
3. Social cognition
a. Attitudes, attitude formation, attitude change and persuasion
b. Cognitive dissonance
c. Impression formation
d. Social categorization
e. Attribution theories
4. Social interactions
a. Theories of prejudice
b. Theories of romance
5. Aggression and prosocial behavior
M. Theories of Personality
1. Definition of personality and the perspectives of personality
2. Psychodynamic perspective
a. Freud’s theory
b. Other neo-Freudian theorists
3. Behaviorists and social cognitive theories
a. Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy and reciprocal determinism
b. Rotter’s theory of expectancies
4. Humanistic theories
a. Roder’s theory of the self-concept of the real and ideal selves
5. Trait theories
a. Allport
b. Cattell and 16PF
c. The big five: OCEAN
6. Biological perspectives
a. Influence of genes, heredity and twin studies
7. Assessment of personality
a. Interviews
b. Projective tests
c. Behavioral assessments
d. Personality inventories
N. Psychological Disorders
1. Definition and characteristics of abnormal behavior
2. History of the views of abnormal behavior
3. Models of abnormality
a. Biological models
b. Psychological models
c. Biopsychosocial models
4. The DSM
5. Anxiety disorders
6. Mood disorders
7. Eating disorders
8. Dissociative disorders
9. Schizophrenia
10. Personality disorders
O. Psychological Therapies
1. Categories of therapy
2. History of psychological therapies
3. Psychotherapy
a. Psychoanalysis
b. Dream interpretation
c. Free association
d. Interpersonal psychotherapy
4. Humanistic therapy
a. Rodger’s person-centered therapy
b. Gestalt therapy
c. Other theories
5. Behavioral therapy
a. Therapies based on classical conditioning
b. Therapies based on operant conditioning
6. Cognitive therapy
a. Theories of cognitive and cognitive behavioral therapy
7. Group Therapy
a. Group therapy theories
b. Advantages and disadvantages of group therapy
8. Biomedical therapy

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

When taught as an online distance learning section, students and faculty need ongoing and continuous internet and email access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of evaluation may include, but are not limited to:
A. Multiple choice quizzes
B. Essay exams
C. Research papers
D. Summaries and analysis of primary source research articles
E. Personal reaction papers
F. Problem-solving exercises
G. Midterms
H. Final exams

Method(s) of Instruction

A. Lectures
B. In-class readings
C. Videos
D. Class discussion
E. Active learning and group activities

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Ciccarelli, Saundra, and Noland White. Psychology. 5th ed. Pearson, 2016.

Myers, David. Psychology. 11th ed. Worth Publishers, 2015.

Hockenbury, Don, and Sandra Hockenbury. Discovering Psychology. 7th ed. Worth Publishers, 2016.


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Reading and studying of textbook

B. Reading and critically analyzing primary source research articles

C. Reading current event articles that relate to prejudice and discrimination

D. Writing research papers

E. Writing essay exam questions

F. Writing personal reaction papers