Psychology 490-03 CRN 30405
Spring, 2014   - Dr. Karen Hartlep
8:00 - 9:23 AM, MWF,   Room: DDH/101 K

Office: DDH/D115 Office Hours: 2:00-3:30 PM, MWF
Phone: 654-2371 e-mail:

Text: Brent Slife (2013). Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Psychological Issues (expanded 17 ed.) Dubuque, Iowa; McGraw-Hill/ Dushkin. (ISBN 978-0-07-805051-0) 

Purpose of the Course:
l. For any of the majors offered at CSUB, the Senior Seminar is designed as a "capstone experience" in the major. There is no specific definition of what a "capstone" might be for psychology, so we are free to define it for ourselves. Ideally, this course should:

2. We spend several years teaching students about various topic areas within the field of psychology. You have taken separate courses in Developmental, Social, Personality, etc. Now it is time to try to put it back together, and recognize that "Psychology is one."

3. Finally, this course, unlike most you have taken, is a Seminar. This is the most common course format for graduate courses, and gives you a taste for what may come should you decide to go on. In a Seminar:

Psychology Department Outcomes for this course:

Outcome 1.3:  Use the concepts, language, and major theories of the discipline to account for psychological phenomena.

Outcome 2.3:  Evaluate the appropriateness of conclusions derived from psychological research.

Outcome 3.3:  Use reasoning to recognize, develop, defend, and criticize arguments and other persuasive appeals.

Outcome 4.4:  Apply psychological concepts, theories, and research findings as these relate to everyday life.

Outcome 5.2:  Demonstrate reasonable skepticism and intellectual curiosity by asking questions about causes of behavior.


Course Assignments:

1. Three Issues Papers. The Slife book has 20 Issues, with a "yes" and a "no" side to each one. You will be responsible for either the "yes" or the "no" side of three of these issues. You must research your side of these issues, using the CSUB library, and must write a paper on what you find for each one. Further instructions for these papers are included in the handout attached to this syllabus. Each of these papers must be typed, double-spaced, and at least 10 pages of text in length, using APA style. Each will be worth 18% of your final grade. Each is due the day the class is scheduled to discuss that issue. Late papers will not be accepted. The discussion in class is also part of this assignment. You will be a discussion leader on each of your three issues. Failure to show up for the discussion will cost you a letter grade on that issue.

3. A Personal Perspective Paper. This is designed to get you to think about your own place in the field of psychology. I want you to think about your own stand on each of the 20 issues discussed in class and relate the "data" to a theory or perspective. What schools of thought are you closest to? Are your ideas consistent with one another, with a particular theory, etc.? A class hand-out attached to this syllabus describes this further. The perspective must be at least 10 pages in length, typed, and double-spaced. It is due on the last day of class and will count 20% of your final grade. Late papers will not be accepted.

4. Class Discussion (Participation). Each of the 20 issues will be discussed in class. Those individuals who are doing papers on the "pro" or "con" sides of the issue will be the discussion leaders, but everyone is expected to participate. Class participation will count 15% of your final grade.

5. Issues Quiz. At the beginning of each class I will ask you a question or two on each side of the issue assigned for that day. You will write out an answer to each question and turn them in for a grade. This is to make sure you understand both sides of the issue before trying to discuss it. The quizzes will add up to 11% of the final grade. There will be no "make-ups" for quizzes that are missed.

To summarize the assignments and their respective weights:
Issue Papers (3) 54%
Class Participation 15%
Personal Perspective 20%
Issues Quizzes 11%
100% Final Grade

Final letter grades will be awarded using the following scale:
A = 93-100% C = 73-77%
A- = 90-92% C- = 70-72%
B+ = 88-89% D+ = 68-69%
B = 83-87% D = 63-67%
B- = 80-82% D- = 60-62%
C+ = 78-79% F = 59% and below

Policy on Incompletes: Incompletes will be given for written work, such as issues papers or for the personal perspective paper, if the reasons for the request are both serious and compelling. Class Participation and Issues Quizzes, however, cannot be made up. To request an incomplete, you must go to the CSUB Records Office for the necessary form. Bring it to me for permission and signature prior to the end of the quarter. I must turn in a form for you when I turn in final grades at the end of the quarter.

Policy on Academic Dishonesty: Any student caught in an act of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, will receive an "F" for the course, and their action will be reported in a letter to the Dean of Arts and Sciences. Please refer to the CSUB Catalog for the full details and definitions of what actions qualify under this policy.

Schedule of Events, Issues Papers, and Discussions:

April 2      Issue Assignments

April 4-11    Lecture

April 14    Issue #1.  Is Addiction a Brain Disease? 

April 16    Issue #2.   Is Homosexuality Biologically Based?

April 18    Issue #3.   Is Evolution a Good Explanation for Psychological Concepts?

April 21   Issue #4.     Is American Psychological Research Generalizable to Other Cultures?

            Last day to withdraw from class without a "W" being recorded.   

April 23    Issue #5     Are Traditional Empirical Methods Sufficient to Provide Evidence for

                        Psychological Practice? 

April 25     Issue #6.  Does Teaching Scientific Determinism Lead to Bad Behavior? 

April 28     Issue #7. Are Today's Youth More Self-centered Than Previous Generations? 

April 30    Lecture

May 2    Issue #8.   Do Online Friendships Hurt Adolescent Development?

May 5     Issue #9.  Can Positive Psychology Make Us Happier?February

May 7    Issue #10.   Is Emotional Intelligence Valid?

May 9     Issue #11.   Does an Elective Abortion Lead to Negative Psychological Effects?

May 12    Lecture

May 14   Issue #12.  Is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a Real Disorder?

May 16   Issue #13.  Does Facebook Have Generally Positive Psychological Effects? 

May 19   Issue #14.  Are All Psychotherapies Equally Effective? 

            Last day to withdraw from classes for a "serious and compelling reason".  See the CSUB Catalog for a definition  of serious and compelling". 

May 21   Issue #15.  Should Therapists Be Eclectic? 

May  23     Issue #16.    Should Psychologists Abstain from Involvement in Coercive Interrogations?

May 26     Memorial Day Holiday - No Class 

May  28    Lecture

May 30     Issue #17.     Does the Evidence Support Evolutionary Accounts of Female Mating 


June 2    Issue #18   Can Sex Be Addictive? 

June  4    Issue #19   Does Birth Order Predict Intelligence?   

June  6   Issue #20   Is the Need for Social Enhancement Universal Across Cultures? 

June  9   Last Day of Class.  Personal Perspective Papers are due.    

Instructions for
Issues Papers

You are responsible for three separate Issues from Slife. You will discuss one side of each of these issues in class. In order to prepare for in-class discussion, you are to become an "expert" on the issue by reading as much as you can on the topic before class, creating a bibliography of at least two pages, and writing a summary paper of at least l0, double-spaced, typed pages, in APA style.

I. Create a Bibliography.

l. Start with the Slife articles. Each article, pro or con, should have some references at the end. List what sounds relevant from these references.

2. Look in standard reference works for magazine and journal articles on the Issue, and list what, on the surface, seems relevant. Suggested reference sources include:

There are, no doubt, other reference works that may help. Ask the Reference Librarian. Instructions on how to use each of these sources. If you have trouble the Reference Librarian can help you.

For each of the articles you find in this way, write out the author's name, the title of the article, the name of the journal in which it appears, the date of publication, the journal's volume number, and the page numbers, in APA style.

Avoid on-line references from personal Webpages, that are only to be found on the Web. Such sources change too rapidly to be reliable documentation.

4. Finally, list all of your references from steps l & 2 in alphabetical order, and type them up in a bibliography. This should be, at a minimum, at least two full pages in length, APA style.

II. Prepare an Issue Paper of at least l0 pages of text.

l. I assume that your Bibliography will include everything relevant to your topic and will be very extensive. It should be so extensive that you could not reasonably be expected to read all of the works listed therein. Therefore, in preparing your paper, you must read what you consider will be your "best bets". Remember, this is a preparation for a class discussion.

2. Use what you have read to prepare your side of the class discussion. 3. Your paper should resemble an argument in a way... One side of an argument. Pretend you are telling someone what is what... Someone who disagrees with you, but cannot talk back.

4. Avoid stringing together direct quotes. Especially avoid long quotes that must be indented. Instead, put the information in your own words and cite the source by author's last name and date of publication, APA style.

5. At the end of your paper, include a list of the references you actually used for writing the paper. What, out of all of your Bibliography did you cite or refer to in your paper? That you actually read?

6. This paper with references should be typed and handed in, with your Bibliography attached to the end. It is due on the day you are scheduled to discuss the Issue in class. 

Instructions for the
Personal Perspective Paper

The issues from Slife are popular topics of debate within the field of Psychology. They have roots in the history of the discipline and reflect basic concerns and matters of theory. By examining how you stand on these issues, this paper should help you see where you stand with others in the field of Psychology. We will try to find your psychological "roots" and match you with famous names in the field who thought as you do.   This paper must also be in APA style.

Part I: First you must look at your stand on each of the issues from Slife.

(Part I should take 5-8 pages, more if you are longer-winded)

Part II: Try to relate each issue to what you have learned in your Psychology courses.

(Part II should take 2-3 pages)

Part III: Compare your view in Part I with what you think might be the Psychologist's view in Part II.

(Part III should take 2-3 pages)

This Perspective is due on the last day of class.