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AP Psychology Syllabus

Nature of the Subject

The purpose of AP Psychology is designed to introduce students to the systematic and
scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals.
Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles and phenomena associated
with each of the major sub fields within psychology.

Resources and Course Materials

Due to the nature of this course students are expected to read extensively throughout the
year. Students will be assigned a textbook and will be given readings from a variety of
other sources. The primary resources starting with the student issued text are as follows
Psychology 7E by David G. Myers
The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sachs
A Million Little Pieces by James Frye
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Student Materials
Students are required to have a 3 ring binder. The binder should be of either 1 ½” or 2”
variety. Organizers or dividers are recommended to separate materials by unit but are not
required. Students will also need at least several packs of note cards. These will be used
with each unit as study guides. Furthermore it is highly suggested that students purchase
one of the many AP Review books on the market. Lastly students may take notes with
whatever writing instrument they choose, but all work to be turned in should be written in

Students will be evaluated using a total points system. Each assignment will be given a
point value based on how much work is involved and how difficult the assignment. On
average Quizzes, Tests and Essays will count for 70% of your grade, while homework,
class work, class participation, notebook and project grades account for between
approximately 30% of the total points. Makeup work will be arranged between the
teacher and the student. Make-up tests may be in the form of an essay at the teacher’s
1. All test are created to be Mock-AP tests.
2. Each test will be timed. Modifications in line with IEP’s and 504’s will be
3. Each Unit will have note cards for the vocabulary and a vocabulary quiz
4. Pop reading quizzes will be given at least once per unit

The grading scale will be the standard 10 point scale.

90 – 100 = A 80 – 89 = B 70 – 79 = C
60 – 69 = D 59 – below = F
Contacting the teacher and office hours
You may contact me any day at home PRIOR TO 8:30 PM. My phone number
is . Please leave your voice mail message on my home phone and I
will return your call promptly. You may also email me with questions. I try and answer
my mail each and every day around 8:00 PM. My email address is . My
office hours are before school from 6:15 AM until school starts. I am also available
during periods 1 and 7. For students who need to see me after school, I am available by
appointment only.

I. History Approaches and Research Methods: (Combined 8-12% of the test)

1. History Historical and Philosophical Development of
psychology including functionalism and structuralism
B. Modern Perspectives on Psychology: Behavioral/Learning, Neuroscience,
Cognitive; Psychodynamic, Humanistic, and Evolutionary
C. Scientific Methodology:
1) Research methods including introspection, naturalistic observation,
case study survey, controlled experiments
2) Strengths and weaknesses of each method and generalizability
3) Research ethics including the use of animals and human participants
D. Statistics: Descriptive Statistics including measures of central tendency, and
variance. Inferential statistics and correlation

I. Learning: (7 – 9 % of the test)

A. Historical Origins of the Behavioral movement
B. Classical Conditioning
1) Basic Concepts
a) Acquisition
b) Extinction and spontaneous recovery
c) Generalization and discrimination
d) Key studies including Pavlov and Watson
2) Applications including emotional learning, taste aversions, learned
3) Critiques – Cognitive and Biological Limitations
C. Operant Conditioning
1) Thorndike – The Law of Effect
2) BF Skinner
a) Concepts such as schedules of reinforcement
b) Walden Two
3) Critiques Cognitive and Biological Limitations
D. Observational Learning – Albert Bandura and modeling.
II. The Biological Bases of Behavior (8 – 10% of the test)
A. The Neuron
1) Neural Structure and Firing
2) Neurotransmitters
B. The Nervous System
1) Central Nervous System
2) Peripheral Nervous System
C. The Brain
1) Research Techniques
2) Brain structures
3) Hemispheric specialization
D. The Endocrine system
E. Behavioral Genetics and heritability

III. Sensation and Perception: (7 – 9% of the test)

A. Psychophysics Thresholds – Absolute and Difference Thresholds, Weber’s
Law and Signal Detection Theory
B. Sensation
1) Vision – structure of the eye, color vision and feature detection
2) Audition – structure of the ear, hearing pitch, and echolocation
3) Other senses – olfactory, taste, proprioception
C. Perception
1) Attention
2) Perceptual Organization including Gestalt principals, depth perception and
motion perception
3) Cultural and other factors contributing to our perception

V. Developmental Psychology (7 – 9% of the test)

A. Methodology in Developmental Psychology: Longitudinal and Cross
Sectional Studies.
B. Key Debates in Developmental Psychology: Nature Vs Nurture, Stability Vs
Change and Stages Vs Continuity
C. Major Theorist
1) Cognitive Development
a. Piaget
b. Vygotsky
2) Psychosexual and Pscyhosocial development
a. Freud
b. Erikson
3) Moral and Gender Role Development
a. Kohlberg
b. Gilligan
D. Major stages of development – infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood
VI. Motivation and Emotion (7 – 9% of the test)
A. Key Concepts in Motivation – Instincts, Drives, Optimal Levels of arousal,
Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs
B. Hunger and Eating Disorders
1) Chemical mechanisms of hunger
2) Brain/body mechanisms of hunger
3) Learning/cultural influences on hunger
C. Sexuality and Sexual Orientation
D. Achievement Motivation
E. Theories of Emotion
1) James-Lange Theory
2) Cannon-Bard
3) Schacter-Singer
F. Psychology and physiology of fear, anger and happiness
G. Expression of Emotion – Darwin and Ekman

VII. Memory, Thinking and Language (8 – 10% of the test)

A. Theories of Memory
1) Traditional (3 Stores) model of memory
2) Working Memory
3) Levels of Processing
4) Procedural versus declarative knowledge
B. Mnemonics, memory construction, misinformation and eyewitness testimony
C. Forgetting
D. Key Cognitive Concepts – thinking, cognition, concept, prototype, serial and
parallel processing
E. Problem Solving
1) Algorithms, Heuristics, and Insight Learning
2) Obstacles to problem solving
F. Language
1) Characteristics of Language
2) Language Acquisition
a. Stages of language development
b. Skinner
c. Chomsky
d. Critical Period Hypothesis
e. Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis

VIII. Individual Differences (Intelligence and Personality combined 11 –15% of the

A. Intelligence
1) Psychological Testing – Methodology, Norms, reliability and validity
2) Intelligence – Factor Analysis, General Intelligence, Multiple Intelligences
3) Implications and issues in intelligence – Nature Vs Nurture the eugenics
movement, Savant Syndrome
B. Personality
1) The Psychodynamic Perspective on Personality – Freud, Jung, Adler
2) Trait Perspective – Allport, Factor Analysis the Big Five, Myers-Briggs
3) Humanistic Perspective – Rogers and Maslow
4) Social-Cognitive Perspective – Bandura and Seligman

IX. Stress and Health/States of Consciousness (2 – 4% of the test)

A. Stress and Health
1) Stress andour bodies including coronary heart disease, Type A & B
personalities, Stress and diseases
2) Selye’s General Adaptation SyndromeSleep Stages
3) Strategies for coping with stress.
B. States of Consciousness
1) Sleep including biological rhythms, and sleep stages
2) Theories on why we sleep and sleep disorders
3) Dreams and theories on why we dream.
4) Hypnosis and theories on hypnosis
C. Drugs and their effects
1) Dependence and addiction
2) Effects of various types of drugs including depressants, stimulants and
3) Biological and Cultural influences on drug use.

X. Disorders and Treatment (combined (12 – 16% of the test)

A. Abnormality – approaches and definitions
1) The Medical Model
2) Biopsychosocial Model
3) Diathesis Stress Model
B. Classifying Disorders – the DSM IV
C. Major Disorders
1) Anxiety Disorders
2) Mood Disorder
3) Dissociative Disorders
4) Schizophrenia
5) Personality Disorders
D. Major Approaches to Psychotherapy – Psychoanalysis, Behavioristic,
Humanistic, Cognitive, Group and Psychopharmacology
E. Assessing the effectiveness of therapy
X. Social Psychology (7 – 9% of the test)
A. Attitudes and Behavior
1. Making and Changing Attitudes
2. Fundamental Attribution Error
3. Cognitive Dissonance
B. Group Influence
1. Conformity
2. Obedience
3. Social Facilitation and Social Loafing
4. Group Think
5. Role Playing – Zimbardo Prison Studies
C. Prejudice and Scapegoating
D. Altruism
E. Aggression


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