Psyc 421/521: History of Psychology (aka dead guys with ideas)

Dr. Matt Rossano
: Mims 219  Office Hrs: MW 2-4; TH 12:30-3:30
: 985-351-3663   email: (note: all email communication should be done using university authorized address)

Text: An Introduction to the History of Psychology by B. R. Hergenhahn and T. B. Henley (2014). Wadsworth Press

Graduate Student Readings:
Medieval Psychology by Simon Kemp (1990) Greenwood Press.
"The inner senses," from Cognitive Psychology in the Middle Ages by Simon Kemp (1996) Greenwood Press.
A hole in the head: More tales in the history of neuroscience by C.G. Gross (2009) MIT Press

Course Overview: History of Psychology (as the title suggests) covers the historical background to the emergence of Psychology as a science, which is generally dated to the late 19th century. We start with the ancient Greeks, then the Roman and Medieval periods, through the Renaissance and finally early 20th century. Most Psychology courses that you take (for example, Developmental, Cognitive, Social, Clinical, etc.), will have an historical component to them, which usually emphasizes the later history of the discipline (18th century onward). Thus, to avoid too much overlap, this class ends where the others usually begin. Thus, we emphasize the early history of Psychology which is generally not discussed that much in other classes. Much of this history involves the philosophical (and sometimes religious) issues and ideas that eventually led to the scientific investigation of human nature. Also, given my expertise and interests, this class tends to put more emphasis on physiological and cognitive aspects of Psychology as opposed to clinical aspects. 

Tests:  There will be four tests given over the course of the semester and a final exam (so five tests in total). Each test will be multiple choice with roughly 50-60 questions on each test. The final will have about 75 questions. All tests, including the final, are non-cumulative. In other words, they will only cover the chapters specified for that period of time (more details on this can be seen in the course outline below). Each test, including the final, covers either two or three chapters. As you will see as you read the text, the text spends a good deal of time discussing the personal lives, beliefs, prejudices, preferences, etc. of important figures in the history of Psychology. All of this is quite interesting, but not of central concern when it comes to testing. For testing purposes concentrate on ideas. The power points and study guides will help you focus on what I consider to be the important ideas of the people being discussed.

Graduate Students: As is required, graduate students will have an extra requirement, which will either involve a class presentation or a paper drawn from the extra graduate student readings. This will be worth 20pts.

Syllabus validation assignment: On Moodle. All students are required to verify that they have read and understood the syllabus. This is a required assignment that counts for 5 points toward your final grade. Instructions for completing the assignment can be found at the end of the syllabus.

Course Grades: 
     On each test you will be accumulating points.  Each test is worth as many points as there are questions.  I grade on a relative scale.  This means that at the end of the semester I total up the points that each student received on all four tests and the final.  The student with the top number of points receives an "A" and sets the top of the scale.  I then take 93% of that top score and all other scores that are equal to or greater than that also get an "A".  I then take 85% of the top score and all students who are equal to or greater than that get a "B", and so forth (78% for C's, 70% for D's).  There is no absolute scale, it is all relative to students' performance on tests.   

Because I do not calculate grades until the end of the semester, I do not know what your grade is during the course of the term, or what you "need" on a given test to get a certain grade. As far as I’m concerned you always “need” to get as many points on each and every test as you are capable of getting. Just do your best! Here is the best way to keep track of how you are doing during the course of the semester.  After each test, I will post your score and the high score for that test on Moodle. Write these numbers down (your score and the high score) and keep track of them throughout the semester.  If you take your total score and divide it by the high total you will get a proportion which indicates where you stand relative to the rest of the class.  Compare that proportion to the scale used to assign grades.

So here's an example: (which, by the way, I also demonstrated in class the first day!). Suppose you get a 43 on test 1 and a 50 on test 2 and the high scores for tests 1 and 2 were 52 and 55 respectively. Then your total to that point in the semester would be 43+50=93 and the high total would be 52+55=107. So you're grade would be: 93/107=.89 or B. 

Make-up tests: 
    See Psychology Department Information Sheet (
Make-ups are given by the department in White Hall, Room 209, on Thursdays from 3:30:4:45. My make-up tests consist of 5 essay questions that must be answered within a one hour fifteen minute time period. Most students would prefer to not to have to take this type of a test, therefore I encourage you to take the tests when they are scheduled. You must bring your own paper and pen to make ups. If you write on my sheet with the test questions on it I will take off points!

To take a make-up you must inform me beforehand that you are going to miss a test or you must contact me promptly after the missed test. 
By "promptly" I mean by the next class meeting.  So, for example, if we have a test on a Monday (Tuesday), then you will have until class time on Wednesday (Thursday) to contact me (class time means when the class starts!). If I do not hear from you by the next class meeting immediately following the missed test, I will not allow you to take a make-up.  You may see me personally, or you may call (leave message at the main office), fax (549-3892) or email (email is best). One way or another I must hear from you by the next class meeting or I will not allow a make-up.  Look folks, you can save us both a world of pain if you just show up when you are supposed to and take the tests.

Class Outline
Date Chapter
Intro to class
8/22, 24
    1, 2
 Psychology and Science, Ancient Greeks
The Ancient Greeks

*Note: Off 9/5 for Labor Day

Test 1 Weds Sept. 7 Chapters 1,2 

Date Chapter
Roman and post-Roman Philosophy
Roman and post-Roman Philosophy
Renaissance Humanism & Rise of Science

Test 2 Weds. Sept 28 Chapters 3,4
Date  Chapter
British Empiricists
Test 3 Weds Oct 19 Chapters 5-7

Physiology and Psychophysics
10/31, 11/2
First Psychological "Schools"
Evolution and Intelligence

Test 4 Monday Nov 14 Chapters 8-10

American Functionalism
posted outlines
Grad student presentations
12, 14
Behaviorism, Gestalt Psychology

*Off 11/23 for Thanksgiving
Final is Tuesday, December 6, 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. in the regular classroom
Final will cover chapters 11, 12, 14 plus grad student presentations


I do take attendance for each class as is required by University policy.  However, you cannot rely on me to drop you for non-attendance.  It is the responsibility of the student to drop the class if it is his/her desire to do so.

Disabled students:
If you are a qualified student with a disability seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to self-identify with the Office of Disability Services, Student Union, Room 1304. No accommodations will be granted without documentation from the Office of Disability Services. The deadline for registering or making accommodation changes is two weeks prior to the start of the Final Exam period. Any requests received after the deadline will generally be considered for the following semester.

Classroom Decorum
No behavior that interferes with the ability of the instructor to teach or students to benefit from that instruction will be tolerated.  Disruptive, disorderly, or uncivil behavior will be not be permitted.  No beepers, cell phones, or other noise-making electronic devices are allowed in class without prior explicit permission of the instructor!

Children in the classroom: By university policy children are not permitted in the classroom. Students are not to bring family members for day care or babysitting.

Academic integrity:
Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. Behavior that violates these standards is not acceptable. Examples are the use of unauthorized material, communication with fellow students during an examination, attempting to benefit from the work of another student and similar behavior that defeats the intent of an examination or other class work. Cheating on examinations, plagiarism, improper acknowledgment of sources in essays and the use of a single essay or paper in more than one course without permission are considered very serious offenses and shall be grounds for disciplinary action as outlined in the current General Catalogue.

“Students agree by taking this course that all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity to VeriCite for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the VeriCite reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the VeriCite service is subject to the Terms of Use posted on the VeriCite website.”

Sexual misconduct statement: If you are the victim of a sexually oriented crime, please be aware that the University Policy regarding Victims of Sexual Misconduct is located online at as well as at page 68 in the University Student Handbook at  The policy includes definitions of the various sexually oriented offenses prohibited by Southeastern as well as the reporting options for victims and the process of investigation and disciplinary proceedings of the university. For more information log onto

Important Dates:

Monday, August 22 — Wednesday, August 24
Thursday, September 15
Now that you have finished reading the syllabus you need to do the following to get the required 5 points for the syllabus validation assignment: 
(1) Login to the Moodle site for this class 
(2) Click on syllabus verification link
(3) Read over syllabus and then click on "I have read syllabus" selection
(4) Save it