Foundations of Psychological Science

15 points



Approaches to understanding the nature of human thought and behaviour have permeated societies and cultures throughout history. Psychology as a scientific discipline, however, emerged just in the last 200 years or so. Over this relatively short time period, psychologists have gained substantial insight into what drives our mental lives and shapes our social interactions, and have made possible vast improvements in the quality of life of millions of people. This course delves into the ideas and methods that have allowed all of this to happen. We’ll take a holistic and critical look at the science of psychology itself: its questions, methods, evidence, and unique challenges; as well as its place within modern Aotearoa New Zealand society. You’ll learn how psychologists measure a world of unobservable mental traits, devise experiments that reveal the underlying organisation and mechanisms of the mind, and convert raw data into real world conclusions that have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. You’ll build the critical thinking skills to distinguish good psychological science from bad, genuine breakthroughs from glorified clickbait, and evidence-based interventions from scams and grifts. Upon these foundations you’ll be able to build with confidence the pathway of your choosing through the psychological sciences (and beyond).