PSYCH 449 - Decision Processes
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Psychology (PSYCH)
Department: LSA Psychology
Requirements & Distribution:
Advisory Prerequisites:
One of STATS 250 or STATS 280 or STATS 425 or MATH 425.
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Consider the following: Should I take PSYCH 449 or HISTART 477? I'm not really good at chemistry and things like that. My grades in those courses stink. So should I give up my dream of becoming a doctor? Other companies are making tons of money selling sport utility vehicles. But they seem to have the market locked up. Besides, I have bad feelings about the pollution those things cause. Should we enter the SUV market anyway? My client, Mr. Thomas, thinks that Consolidated is responsible for his injuries and thus he wants to sue them. Should I advise that he go through with that plan? Floyd and I have been going together for several years, and now he wants to get married. Should I give in and marry him, despite my misgivings? As alderman for the fifth ward, should I vote for this legislation that would change the zoning rules for the city? Questions like these illustrate the kinds of decision problems people confront all the time, in their personal and professional lives. They provide the ultimate focus of PSYCH 449, "Decision Processes." Specifically, my primary aims in this course are to help the student do two things: (a) achieve an understanding of how people – individually and collectively — actually solve decision problems; and (b) develop an understanding of how people — including the student him — or herself — could decide better than they would be inclined to decide naturally. Should you elect PSYCH 449? One consideration you should take into account is whether the aims described above fit with your interests. That is, do the aims excite you? Another consideration pertains to your future plans. PSYCH 449 would be good preparation if your plans include either: scholarship (e.g., in graduate school and thereafter) on basic processes in cognitive psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, or related areas, e.g., political science, economics, marketing or professional practice (either immediately after college or after professional school) in areas where decision making is critical, e.g., business, law, health care, counseling, operations engineering.

How is PSYCH 449 organized? The entire class meets twice a week, in 1.5* hour "lecture" sessions. And on Fridays, each student attends either of two 1-hour discussion sessions. PSYCH 449 is built around what I call the "cardinal decision issue perspective." This is a way of thinking about decision problems which focuses on things like what decisions are, what it ought to mean to say that a decision is "good" or "bad," and the kinds of questions that must be answered for virtually any decision problem that arises. The specific topics we will address are organized according to the categories distinguished in the cardinal issue perspective. One of my major goals is to have you develop a deep appreciation for that perspective since it can help you think through the problems you will face as a student of decision making and as a decision maker. Our treatment of a given topic typically proceeds as follows: First, students do the reading for the given topic. Then, in the "lectures," the key questions surrounding the topic are illustrated through demonstrations or exercises in which all students participate actively. As the instructor, I offer a class-interactive presentation in which I introduce essential ideas not covered in the readings and integrate all we have seen on the topic, seeking to provide an integrated picture that makes sense to the student. The Friday discussion sessions are devoted primarily to active discussions of question lists provided for the readings and to tasks related to students' team projects.

Course Requirements:

The requirements of the course include: attendance and active participation in class, exercises, six bi-weekly 15-minute quizzes, and a small term project in which the student provides decision making advice in a fictional yet realistic scenario.

Intended Audience:

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PSYCH 449 - Decision Processes
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
002 (DIS)
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
003 (DIS)
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
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