PSY 320: Learning and Motivation

Learning is one of the core courses for undergraduate psychology students. We believe that some behaviors (e.g., reflexes) are innate while others emerge as a function of development or are learned through experience. In this class, we will learn about the traditional theories of Classical and Operant Conditioning. In addition, we will explore how learning crosses the areas of psychology; the topics that we will address are social modeling, choice behavior and self-control, and motor skill acquisition.

I believe that this course is also about how to learn, and so we will incorporate the things we learn in class into improving our study skills and creating desired behavior change in ourselves. I designed the class to take advantage of students’ strengths, so we will combine lecture with both small and large group discussions, and we will draw on student experiences to make up examples of the concepts that we are learning.

PSY 498: Dynamics in Psychology (Undergraduate)

Why is the whole different from the sum of its parts? Why does context matter? How can a small change in one direction or the other create such a large effect? Those are questions that we typically ask of psychological phenomena but the way in which we study our problems – with methods that isolate variables and linear statistical tools – doesn’t allow us to capture the nonlinear trends that interest us. Dynamics is a powerful analytical tool that captures qualitative change in phenomena that tend to be composed of very many, interconnected parts (like the human body!). This class is meant as an introduction for the typical psychology student. During the semester, we will discuss the main concepts in dynamical and complex systems and apply them to phenomena that we are concerned about in psychology.

Because the concepts in this class tend to be very new to students, the format of this class is a combination of lectures, in which I introduce concepts and terminology, and class discussions in which students explore the topics in their own way.

PSY 576: Dynamics in Psychology (Graduate)

This course is the graduate version of PSY 498. We will learn all of the concepts taught in PSY 498 as well as all of the major modeling techniques that are available in the literature . The newcomer to dynamics will come away with an appreciation for why this field of study is needed in the social sciences. The more experienced student will learn how to select from amongst the different dynamical modeling techniques to best capture patterns in observed data.

Students from all disciplines are welcome in this class. Greater diversity in this class always results in a better experience for all of us.

598: Dynamics of Perception, Action, and Cognition (DPAC)

DPAC is an ongoing weekly meeting (offered every semester) for anyone interested in exploring the application to psychology of dynamics, complexity, and self-organization. DPAC provides a peer atmosphere for faculty and students across departments and campuses at Arizona State University and hosts external visitors to foster ties with the greater scientific community. Our normal activities are ongoing and lively discussions of the literature, including both recently released texts such as Chemero’s Radical Embodied Cognitive Science (2009) and classics such as William James’ Principles of Psychology (1890). Additional activities can include faculty and student lectures on theory or research; grant-writing and budget seminars; student-run tutorials on experimental and analytic methods; and group-based reviews of scholarship and grants. These activities are designed to foster research collaboration and a team-based approach to student mentoring. If you are interested in a spirited exchange of ideas, then please join us.

Favorite Readings:

Dynamical Systems:
A Dynamics Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action (Thelen & Smith, 1995)
Coordination Dynamics (Jirsa & Kelso, 2004)
The continuity of mind (Spivey, 2007)

Self-organization and complexity:
How Nature Works: The science of self-organized criticality (Bak, 1996)
Signs of Life (Solé and Goodwin, 2000)
Self-organization in biological systems (Camazine et al., 2001)
At Home in the Universe: The search for the laws of self-organization and complexity (Kauffman, 1995).

Principles of Psychology, Vol. I and II (James, 1890)
Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System (Juarrero, 1999)

Favorite Pairings
Nature – Nurture:
       The Selfish Gene (Dawkins, 1976)
        The Dependent Gene (Moore, 2001)
Representationalism – Realism:
       Radical Embodied Cognitive Science (Chemero, 2009)
       The Language of Thought (Fodor, 1975)