Moral Reasoning

(Fall Semester)
Psych 4300/6300
Course Website

Course Description:

Morality seems to be a universal feature of human thinking. People across time, place, and culture have a strong sense of right and wrong.  Where does this moral sense come from? Is it innate? Is it a product of socialization? Why do some people disagree so strongly about what is right and wrong?  Are there any universally agreed upon moral rules? Although morality was once of primary interest to psychologists, interest in the topic saw a sharp decline in the last few decades.  In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in the science of morality. Recently, scientists across a wide range of disciplines have made discoveries that bear on the question of how and why humans have a sense of morality.

The goals of this course are to offer an introduction to the science behind our moral sense. In order to achieve this goal, we will read articles on religion, philosophy, and almost every area of scientific psychology (social psychology, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology). By the end of the course you should be well versed in the primary issues and debates involved in the scientific study of morality.


The Psychology of Emotions

(Spring Semester)
Psych 3850

We’ve all been mad, sad, happy, and disgusted.  Some of us get nostalgic at times, and some of us are easily embarrassed. We’ve been feeling these emotions nearly our whole lives, and this makes us all emotion experts of a sort.  Nonetheless, these feelings can be mysterious.  Where do they come from? Do people across all cultures experience similar emotions? How can we regulate our emotions? Do emotions make us less rational? Do they make us smarter? What triggers  certain emotions? Are there gender differences in emotions?

The science of emotion is fairly young, but there has been an enormous amount of progress in understanding emotional phenomena in the last few decades.  In this course, we will tackle the aforementioned questions and more. By the end of the course you should be familiar with the most influential theories of emotion--from the evolutionary explanations of emotion to the developmental and social factors involved in making us emotional creatures.  So while we are all intuitive experts on emotion, by the end of the course you will have a different kind of expertise--one grounded in the most recent scientific discoveries in this exciting field.