Psychology: Psychology of Decision Making

PSYC 111 OL1 (CRN: 60813)

3 Credit Hours

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About PSYC 111 OL1

Introduction to the study of individual and group decisions. Focus on "how," "how best," and "how reasonably" to decide. Attention to tricks and traps in the process. Prerequisite: PSYC 001. Summer only.


Susan Richardson ()


Dates: May 19 - June 27, 2014

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Section Description

This course is designed to be a survey of modern ideas in judgment and decision making. Decision making is a behavior that is so ubiquitous to our human experience that many disciplines study some aspect of it. The psychology of decision making focuses on how best to make decisions (i.e., normative decision making) and contrast this with how decisions are actually made (i.e., descriptive or behavioral decision making) so that we can better understand, predict (and to some extent, control) behaviors related to decisions and judgments. This particular course will focus on the contributions of cognitive and social psychology to the field of judgment and decision making (JDM). We will focus on the tricks and short cuts we take to make decisions, how these shortcuts can help us and how they can hurt us, and the consequences of our decision making practices in terms of decision outcomes and our satisfaction with those outcomes.


Your processing and mastery of the course materials will be assessed in six ways: 1. Concept Checks (15%) ? Think of concept checks as my way of virtually assessing your head nodding. In a face-to-face class, I might stop and ask, ?Does everyone understand?? before moving on. I might give you a problem to work through in class and then have you report your answers to see if everyone ?gets it.? Since I can?t see your bobbing head in this online format, I?ve created a series of checks after each topic. They are short (maybe 4 to 6 questions) assessments of your ability to recall new concepts (think: definitions) and apply the concept to a novel situation (think: word problems). For time considerations, they will often be multiple choice questions. They will cover instructor notes and readings. These will also give you insight into the structure for the final exam. 2. Discussion Forum Participation (25%) ? The joy of this class lies in the discussion. We?ll discuss some of the broader applications of what we learn, think about the course topics in a new context, and compare and contrast our experiences. Since we all make decisions and judgments, this is an easy way for you to see the importance of the area of study and to get to know a little bit about each other. I?ll provide discussion prompts, or topics, for you to comment on. You will also be expected to comment on your classmates? postings. Occasionally, I will give your discussion group a unique problem to solve, and you?ll use the forum as a way to work through the exercise. The purpose of the forum is to engage with and learn from your peers, and give you a way to analyze your own experiences. 3. Blog Entries (25%) ? The blog entries will allow you to work through your own decision problem using a particular method called the PrOACT method. 4. Weekly Homework Assignments (20%) ? These assignments will give you hands-on application experience of what we are learning in class. You may be asked to work through a decision problem using theories/formulas learned in class. You may be asked to scrutinize a decision of yours or someone else that week. The purpose of these assignments is to hone the skills you learn in the content module beyond the concept check. 5. Contemporary Research Assignment (15%) ? Throughout the course there will be contemporary readings on JDM in psychological science. To add to your in depth reading, you will choose one article from a list provided by the instructor. The assignment has two parts: (1) you will annotate an article using your preferred .pdf reader by identifying important concepts in each section of the article, links to theories and concepts we learn in class, and your own personal thoughts and comments; (2) you will write a short review paper/essay of the article, providing a one paragraph summary of the background theory, research design, and major finding, with additional compliments and critiques of the study design and application of the findings. There will be a course wiki where you can choose one of the research articles and signal your choice to the class. If you choose an article that no one else has chosen and complete your assignment using that article, you will receive a bonus. You will not be allowed to change your article after your choice is made without a penalty. 6. Final Exam (20%): The final exam will be a cumulative exam covering the entire content of the course. It will consist mainly of multiple choice questions (similar to the concept checks) as well as two short answer questions. The exam will be open book, open source (i.e. use any course materials or the internet) but will not be collaborative (please do not work together, either through the forums or any other means, to complete the exam).


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