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Course Learning Outcomes

When you successfully complete this course, you should be able to

  1. Describe and differentiate among the variety of perspectives on human nature.
  2. Critically analyze and evaluate the assumptions underlying various approaches to personality theory.
  3. Explain the impact of beliefs about human nature on all aspects of human activity.
  4. Recognize and articulate your own assumptions and perspectives on human nature.
  5. Understand and explore all this in the context of the restored gospel.

Department of Psychology Expected Student Learning Outcomes

The objectives of the department’s undergraduate curriculum are closely matched to those advocated by the American Psychological Association, the discipline’s primary professional body. Graduates with a BS degree in psychology will be able to

  1. Demonstrate that they understand and can apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation of results in light of previous findings.
  2. Use computers and other research-related technology to competently collect, access, and manage information, communication, and other purposes.
  3. Express realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological understanding, skills, and values in occupational and family-related pursuits in a variety of settings.
  4. Critically reflect on the content of psychology as well as on disciplinary values in light of their knowledge of and commitment to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to sustain personal values that are true to the gospel while maintaining their serious study of psychology.

Course Materials

You will need these materials to complete the course.

Note: All links to the texts and readings will be provided for you in teh course materials. You are not required to purchase additional reading material for this course. Keep reading for more details.

Notes for Your Reading

While your e-text is a good overall guide, like all textbooks, it necessarily treats a wide variety of subjects sometimes with a little less detail than would be ideal. Hence…

In some lessons, I will provide notes on your e-text. Sometimes the commentary on Boeree’s material will be directly in the discussion; at other times you may find a note in your assigned reading that says “this chapter may be skimmed” for example. (A note to “skim” a chapter suggests test/quiz questions will not be drawn directly from this material, but the overall background will prove helpful for our discussion and for your studies in psychology more broadly.)

All three sources for this class are excellent sources of learning, and it is unlikely that a conflict will arise, but in case one does, use this pecking order.

You are, of course, also welcome to contact me at any time with additional questions and thoughts about the theories and materials we are covering and their treatment in any of the materials. It is a great subject—and one of my passions—and I would welcome any additional dialogue beyond the text.

Occasionally, I’ll make other notes either on the theorists or on the course (e.g., about how long the readings are or how difficult I think a particular theorist is to read). These notes are not testable material either and will be set off from the rest of the discussion material. When it pertains to psychological theorizing, you may simply consider these helpful context and supplemental learning.

For many lessons, I have made additional supplemental readings available to you if you are interested in further pursuing your learning about a particular topic(again, topics from the supplemental material are not fair game for learning assessments, but I do recommend them for your own personal educational development).

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Course Structure

While one of the conveniences of this course is being able to taken the lessons largely at your own pace, in your own preferred order, I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you specifically attend to the readings and material in lesson 1 before proceeding to any of the other lessons. Lesson 1 contains an overview of the entire course as well as some terminology that we will rely on as a framework for understanding all the other theorists. The rest of the course is loosely sequential, progressing somewhat chronologically and conceptually in the order given.

Lesson Topic Boeree Readings Theorist Readings
1 Intro Rychlak
2 Freud Sigmund Freud Freud
3 Adler Alfred Adler Adler
4 Jung Carl Jung Jung
5 Behaviorism B. F. Skinner Skinner
6                Trait/Type Theories 1, Allport Gordon Allport Allport
7 Trait/Type Theories 2, Eysenck Hans Eysenck and others, {Jung} Eysenck
8 Developmental Perspectives Jean Piaget, {Erikson} Kolhberg
9 Cognitive-Behavioral Albert Ellis, Albert Bandura Bandura
10 Kelly “Cognitive Humanist” George Kelly Kelly
11 Humanistic (Rogers, Maslow) Carl Rogers, {Abraham Maslow} Rogers
12 Existential (May) Rollo May, Ludwig Binswanger, {Medard Boss}, {Viktor Frankl} Yalom and May
13 Theistic Approaches Richards and Bergin, Slife
14 Buddhism
& Post Modern
Buddhist Psychology WesternPsy

Approach to Teaching

I believe that the best education is one that makes “a sustained, substantial, and positive influence on how students think, act, and feel” (Bain, 1995).

The goal in this course will be to give you an education worth your tuition—one that will challenge you by helping you grow personally and intellectually.

General Note

While PSYCH 341 is an advanced upper-division course, it cannot comprehensively exhaust the topic of personality—the theorists we are covering typically spent a lifetime developing the theories we will be spending one lesson (or less!) on each! While we will not cover every aspect of personality in class, if a particular subject interests you, I would welcome an opportunity to discuss it with you outside of class.

Faith and Intellectual Rigor

As one of the aims of BYU is to “increase faith in God and the Restored Gospel,” students are encouraged to bring spiritual, theological, and religious insights to bear on the subject matter. Apparent conflicts between religious perspectives and scientific understandings will be an important component of critical thinking. Our lesson discussions may explicitly make mention of LDS perspectives on the issues. Alternative perspectives are welcome (including those from other faith traditions).

You are encouraged to challenge the ideas of the text, your professor, and your past self. Alternative views provide balanced perspective, help refine our own ideas, and can even lead to radical and surprising changes in our understandings (some would call this process “learning”).

Consistent with the scripture, “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14), I strove to prepare these lessons with God’s influence and the presence of the Spirit. I ask that you take this course similarly prepared; “He that receiveth the word of truth doth . . . receive it by the Spirit. . . Wherefore, he that [teacheth] and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (D&C 50:19–22).


Application Assignments

These two-part assignments give you a chance to show that you can apply what you are learning.

Note: Some of the lessons have application paragraphs that require a little bit more doing then just sitting and thinking. I suggest that you preview the application paragraph prompt at the start of the lessons so that you can have sufficient time to do those activities before the write up.

Lesson Quizzes

These quizzes consist of multiple-choice questions that cover the material in the lesson.

Final Paper

Integrate the perspectives examined in this course into your own theory of personality. Describe your opinion on the answers to the fundamental questions of personality in 5–6 double-spaced pages. You may choose to frame your points in agreement or in contrast to other personality theorists, although this is not technically required. However, you must comprehensively explore your assumptions and perspective on human nature. Additional points to consider may include thoughts on development, abnormality, change or treatment, and research issues.

Note: See the Final Paper Instructions page for more details.

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The midcourse exam consists of about 75 multiple-choice questions covering the material in the first half of the course (lessons 1–7). The final exam is not comprehensive; it consists of about 75 multiple-choice questions covering the material in the second half of the course (lessons 8-14).

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Grading and Assessment

These activities, assignments, and exams will make up your grade.

Lesson Quizzes 28% (2% each)
Application Assignments 28% (2% each)
Final Paper 15%
Midcourse Exam 14%
Final Exam 15%

Grade Breakdown

The letter grades for your course assignments and exams, along with your overall course grade, will be determined using these percentages:

A 100–93%
A− 92–90%
B+ 89–87%
B 86–83%
B− 82–80%
C+ 79–77%
C 76–73%
C− 72–70%
D+ 69–67%
D 66–63%
D− 62–60%
E (fail) 59–0%

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Instructor Infallibility

Neither BYU nor its sponsoring organization has a doctrine of infallibility for anyone but God. Therefore, your instructor may be wrong on occasion. If you are aware of an error, especially one affecting grading and evaluation, please bring it to my attention promptly.

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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