PSYC 334
Magic, Superstition, and Belief Fall 2014
Division II Writing Skills
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Class Details

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama played a ritual game of basketball that he hoped would ensure good results while his opponent, John McCain kept a lucky penny in his pocket throughout the election season. These are but two striking examples of the millions of people who regularly engage in ritualistic or superstitious behavior. But why? How did the mind evolve to support both logical reasoning and magical thinking? In this tutorial, we explore that question by examining how beliefs, emotions, and imagination have interlocked in the course of human development. We will discuss and debate how the capacity to imagine facilitates problem solving, why magical thinking continues in to adulthood, and how our beliefs in both natural and supernatural phenomena are related to the evolutionary forces that shaped the human mind. Students will design and conduct an empirical research project as part of the tutorial.
The Class: Format: tutorial with laboratory; students will meet in pairs with the instructor for one hour each week and be fully prepared to discuss the material
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1668
Grading: OPG
Requirements/Evaluation: each week, one member of each pair will either write a 5- to 7-page paper (five papers in total), or respond in writing (one page) to the partner's paper; emphasis will be placed on constructing critical written and oral arguments
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: PSYC 201 (or currently taking) and 232 or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Psychology majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: PSYC Area 3 - Developmental Psychology
PSYC Empirical Lab Course

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