AP Psychology Online Single Semester

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AP® Psychology provides an overview of current psychological research methods and theories. Students will explore the therapies used by professional counselors and clinical psychologists and examine the reasons for normal human reactions: how people learn and think, the process of human development and human aggression, altruism, intimacy, and self-reflection. They will study core psychological concepts, such as the brain and sense functions, and learn to gauge human reactions, gather information, and form meaningful syntheses. The course exposes students to facts, research, appropriate terminology, and major figures in the world of psychology. The equivalent of a 100-level college survey course, AP Psychology prepares students for the AP Exam and for further studies in psychology and life sciences. The content aligns to the College Board Course and Exam Description for Psychology.

1: The Science of Mind: The Discipline of Psychology

·         Identify the five in-depth perspectives of psychology and explain how integrating these perspectives leads to a more comprehensive and accurate view of behavior and mental processes.

·         Explain why issues of diversity and ethics are important to explore across all topics in psychology.

·         Analyze the contributions of philosophy and the natural sciences to modern psychology.

·         Describe how early movements in psychology are significant for modern psychology.

·         Discuss the importance of the scientific method as a foundation for psychology.

·         Explain why psychology’s role as a hub science supports applications in many academic fields, contributes to the solutions of critical contemporary problems, and informs the development of public policies.

2: The Measure of Mind: Methods of Psychology

·         Distinguish scientific reasoning from common sense.

·         Assess the use of case studies, naturalistic observations, and surveys to describe behavior.

·         Analyze the key features, strengths, and limitations of correlational and experimental methods.

·         Distinguish between reliability and validity.

·         Differentiate descriptive and inferential statistics.

·         Critique the ethical guidelines for using human and animal participants in research.

3: The Evolving Mind: Nature and Nurture Intertwined

·         Analyze the role of genes as the building blocks of human nature.

·         Appraise the importance of heritability estimates, twin studies, adoption studies, and epigenetic analyses in the field of behavioral genetics.

·         Compare the roles played by mutation, natural selection, migration, and genetic drift as mechanisms of evolution.

·         Discuss how the human brain might represent an adaptation for coping with complex social behavior.

·         Explain the mechanisms by which intrasexual and intersexual selection might influence the evolution of human behavior.

·         Identify the cultural mechanisms by which nature and nurture can interact to influence human behavior.

4: The Biological Mind: The Physical Basis of Behavior

·         Identify the relevance of brain structures and processes for understanding mind and behavior.

·         Differentiate the major branches of the nervous system, explaining the core biological function of each branch.

·         Associate key structures in, and regions of, the brain and peripheral nervous system with important aspects of physical and psychological functioning.

·         Explain the process by which hormones influence psychological experience and behavior.

·         Describe the process by which neurons communicate with one another, allowing the nervous system to integrate complex information.

·         Differentiate the roles played by major neurotransmitters in supporting physical functioning and psychological experience.

5: The Perceiving Mind: Sensation and Perception

·         Explain the basic concepts of sensation and perception, including transduction of stimuli into neural signals, distinctions between bottom-up and top-down perceptual processing, thresholds, and measurement.

·         Identify the process by which the physical structures of the eye transduce light waves into neural signals, producing the sense of vision.

·         Summarize the processes responsible for color vision, object recognition, and depth perception.

·         Describe the process by which physical structures of the ear transduce sound waves into neural signals, producing perception of pitch, loudness, and spatial location in hearing.

·         Explain the mechanisms by which the somatosensory and chemical sense systems produce perception of body position, touch, skin temperature, pain, smell, and taste.

·         Analyze the causes of various individual differences in perception, including development and culture, in terms of biology, experience, and their interaction.

6: The Aware Mind: Elements of Consciousness

·         Analyze the different meanings of consciousness.

·         Describe the effects of different stages of waking and sleep on consciousness, electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns, autonomic nervous system function, and muscle activity.

·         Differentiate several sleep—wake disorders in terms of their symptoms and the type of sleep disturbed.

·         Explain disorders of consciousness in terms of damage or dysfunction of the brain.

·         Categorize the neurochemical mechanisms and effects on consciousness of major types of psychoactive drugs.

·         Describe the use of hypnosis, meditation, and other nondrug methods for altering consciousness.

7: The Feeling Mind: Emotion and Motivation

·         Distinguish between emotion and motivation.

·         Differentiate the features and predictions of major theories of emotion.

·         Explain the biological, social, and cognitive correlates of emotional expression and assessment.

·         Analyze the physiological and environmental factors that influence hunger and sexual behavior.

·         Describe motivations of affiliation and achievement in light of systems explaining the prioritization of motives.

8: The Adaptive Mind: Learning

·         Compare and contrast reflexes, instincts, and learned behaviors.

·         Identify the components of a classical conditioning experiment and discuss major phenomena and applications related to classical conditioning.

·         Describe the major components of operant conditioning and distinguish operant conditioning from classical conditioning.

·         Analyze the processes that result in observational learning.

·         Discuss the interactions between learned processes and animals’ preparation to learn in species-specific ways.

·         Apply learning principles and terminology to everyday situations and problems.

9: The Knowing Mind: Memory

·         Apply the concepts of encoding, storage, and retrieval of memory to relevant examples.

·         Differentiate among sensory memory, short-term or working memory, and long-term memory, as well as the subtypes of long-term memory.

·         Explain the models describing the organization of long-term memories.

·         Analyze the variables influencing retrieval from short- and long-term memory.

·         Explain forgetting, decay, interference, motivated forgetting, and confabulation.

·         Identify the biological correlates of memory.

10: The Thinking Mind: Thinking, Language, and Intelligence

·         Explain the role of mental representations in thinking, and compare and contrast models of concept formation.

·         Summarize the four steps of problem solving, incorporating existing research on how to approach each step successfully, and apply to a problem.

·         Analyze the building blocks and biological correlates of language.

·         Define general intelligence, and evaluate the evidence for multiple intelligence subtypes.

·         Analyze the interactions between nature and nurture in explaining individual differences in intelligence.

11: The Developing Mind: Life Span Development

·         Evaluate the evidence for sensory capacities, preferences, and reflexes in newborn infants.

·         Identify major physical, cognitive, and social/emotional differences among the prenatal period, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and give examples of ways in which these three trajectories influence one another.

·         Differentiate Jean Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational), and critique Piaget’s theory, using research from alternate approaches.

·         Debate the adaptive function of infant attachment, and analyze the roles of temperament, culture, and parenting in driving individual attachment styles.

·         Identify epigenetic processes, critical or sensitive periods, and the impact of experience on biological development.

·         Debate the research evidence for continuity versus discontinuity in the trajectories of physical, cognitive, and social/emotional development.

12: The Individual Mind: Personality and the Self

·         Compare and contrast the psychodynamic, humanistic, trait or Big Five, and social–cognitive theories of personality.

·         Debate the validity of self-report inventories versus projective tests as measures of personality.

·         Differentiate and illustrate several distinct aspects of self (self-concept, self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-regulation) in terms of their content, sources, and implications.

·         Analyze evidence for the biological bases of personality and the self.

·         Distinguish between the personal and interpersonal self, and relate these to cultural differences in individualistic versus collectivistic aspects of self-concept.

13: The Connected Mind: Social Psychology

·         Discuss person perception, including first impressions, our use of dispositional and situational attributions, and the types of attributional biases that can occur.

·         Define attitude, and discuss the origins of attitudes and their susceptibility to change.

·         Differentiate prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination.

·         Evaluate social influence by distinguishing among conformity, compliance, and obedience.

·         Identify types of group influence, including social facilitation, social loafing, deindividuation, group polarization, and groupthink.

·         Summarize research on the mechanisms of attraction, cooperation and competition, and aggression.

14: The Troubled Mind: Psychological Disorders

·         Analyze the general definition of psychological disorder and discuss its application in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

·         Debate the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), considering ways to distinguish symptoms of these disorders from normal childhood behavior.

·         Summarize the symptoms of schizophrenia and their biological and environmental correlates.

·         Discuss the role of bipolar disorder as a bridge between schizophrenia and major depressive disorder.

·         Identify common and differentiating symptoms of the anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and dissociative and somatic symptom disorders.

·         Assess the psychological mechanisms that may support behavioral symptoms of antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

15: Healing the Troubled Mind: Therapy

·         Summarize the core principles of evidence-based practice in psychotherapy.

·         Differentiate the training and licensure required for, and the types of care offered by, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counselors, hypnotherapists, and life coaches.

·         Analyze the key principles of psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive psychotherapy techniques.

·         Explain the biological mechanisms by which medication, electroconvulsive therapy, psychosurgery, deep brain and magnetic stimulation, and neurofeedback are thought to alleviate symptoms of disorder.

·         Integrate biological and psychotherapeutic approaches to treating neurodevelopmental disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality disorders.

16: The Healthy Mind: Stress and Coping, Health Psychology, and Positive Psychology

·         Define stress, identifying key neural and hormonal aspects of Hans Selye’s general adaptation syndrome (GAS).

·         Distinguish among adaptive elements of the short-term stress response and health problems linked to chronic stress.

·         Compare and contrast strategies for coping with stress, including problem-, emotion-, and relationship-focused strategies.

·         Summarize the psychosocial factors associated with smoking, nutrition, alcohol use, and lack of exercise, and propose behavioral interventions for these problems.

·         Differentiate the aims and principles of positive psychology from those of other major movements in psychology, as described in Chapter 1.

·         Distinguish among meanings of happiness (pleasant, good, and meaningful lives), and analyze the research evidence on what makes people happy.

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