Undergraduate Courses

PSYC 351 Social and Emotional Development

PSYC 351 Syllabus (PDF, 318 KB)

Emotions organize our behaviour and are central to our social interactions. Much of child development is directed by this reciprocal relationship between emotional and social processes. For example, infants are born equipped to express emotions that influence caregiver behaviour, while at the same time caregivers train children to regulate and selectively express emotions. This process continues and becomes more elaborate across expanding social contexts over the course of development. The course is divided into four parts. In the first section we will explore answers to the question “What is emotion?” from several perspectives: historical, evolutionary, biological, cultural, and psychological. The next section focuses on the first 3 years of life when forces of nature and nurture join to establish stable patterns of behaviour. The third section explores the changes that begin in early childhood as the child becomes a social agent interacting with peers and people of all ages. The final section covers adolescence and adult issues of emotion-related disorders and mature emotional functioning.

PSYC 450 Normative Development of Anxiety (new 2020)

PSYC 450 Syllabus (PDF, 22 KB)

Anxiety, in the broadest sense, is perhaps the most central emotional process to child development. It manifests early in temperament with rudimentary attentional biases to threat and novelty, figures prominently in attachment, is one of the earliest challenges to emotion regulation abilities, underlies planning and problem solving, motivates complex safety behaviours such as avoidance, can be a primary or secondary emotion, and the objects of anxiety vary as a function of socialization processes across childhood and adolescence. To varying degrees, everyone experiences anxiety. Our purpose in this course is to understand what anxiety is, how it develops normatively, and what can explain individual differences.

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of our scientific understanding of anxiety has come from a psychiatric or psychopathological perspective. Indeed, anxiety is the most prevalent of all the DSM disorders and is the most frequently comorbid with other disorders. That people suffer from excessive anxiety is a serious problem and it is good that it is accorded significant scientific and clinical attention. Fortunately, psychology has a very successful tool, CBT, for relieving that suffering. In order to achieve our goals of the course, we will have to rely on the deep and thorough details about anxiety derived from this psychopathological perspective, its etiology and treatment. However, at every opportunity, we will draw our attention back to the focal story of normative emotional development, the forms and functions of anxiety, and even challenge some of the tenets of the dominant paradigm.

PSYC 455 Adolescence (no longer offered)

PSYC 455 Syllabus (PDF, 22 KB)

Adolescence is a period of large-scale changes in biological, neural, cognitive, emotional, and social domains. In this course, we will explore the nature of these changes within the context of trying to understand how the timing and magnitude of these changes affect behaviour and developmental outcomes. The course is organized in several sections that progress from broader to more focused topics. In the first section, we will cover historical and cultural ideas about adolescence as well as theories about development in general and adolescence in particular. We will also discuss the transitional nature of adolescence and the nature of transitions – a theme that we will return to throughout the course. The second section will cover domains of transitions that occur “within” the individual (biological, neural, cognitive, and emotional). In the third section, we will consider the transitions that occur within specific contexts: family, school and peers. In the last section, we will explore how certain behavioural (e.g., delinquency) and emotional (e.g., depression) disorders emerge during this transitional period.

Graduate Courses

PSYC 802 Multivariate Statistics

PSYC 802 Syllabus (PDF, 26 KB)

In this course, we will cover the concepts, procedures, and interpretations of several multivariate methods. I assume you already have a good grasp of univariate methods and issues so that we may delve into the issues that arise when you need to analyze two or more dependent and/or independent variables. After covering the basics of data cleaning, reliability, and the computational language of matrix algebra, we will cover each of the three major multivariate methods: factor analysis, MANOVA, and regression. These three are mathematically related to each other and most other techniques can be understood as variations of these three. Weekly labs will focus on SPSS procedures as well as clarify issues from lecture and the homeworks.

Although statistics are based on mathematical formulas that represent the relationships among variables, the intent of this course is to focus on statistics as a means of principled argument (Abelson, 1995). We use statistics to make inferences about the true nature of the world, to answer research questions, to test theories. Hence, the goals of the course are to make sure that you walk away understanding the conceptual underpinnings of each technique, the SPSS procedures necessary to conduct these analyses, and the skills to be able to critically interpret your own results and the claims of the research you encounter throughout your careers.

PSYC 843 Theories of Socioemotional Development

PSYC 843 Syllabus (PDF, 156 KB)

This course is designed to help you answer the question, “what is development?” The study of development is not simply the observation of things that children do or think or feel, which may or may not be different from what adults do. Development is a process not a state, a verb not a noun, a movie not a picture. The goal of developmental science is to explain how this works.

In this course, we will tackle these big ideas by reading classic and challenging models of development. We will begin by considering the fundamental duality of development: stability and change. Next, we will critical evaluate two classic theoretical models: Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model and Lerner’s developmental contextualism. Going deeper, we will next consider dynamic systems approaches. In the fourth section, we consider two attempts to bring all of this together into a grand unified theory. Finally, we will consider how development may go awry with a more applied developmental psychopathology perspective.

PSYC 856 Socioemotional Development

PSYC 856 Syllabus (PDF, 23 KB)

This course might more aptly be called "Emotional Development in the Social Context". It is roughly chronological and will focus on the major constructs of temperament, attachment, and emotion regulation as the mechanisms of social competence and relationships. We will conclude with discussions pertaining to cross-cultural issues and the understanding of socioemotional behaviour from life-span development and evolutionary perspectives.