• Course Introduction

      • Time: 64 hours
      • Free Certificate
      This course will introduce you to the fundamental principles of psychology and to the major subjects of psychological inquiry. It has been designed to not only provide you with the tools necessary for the study of psychology but to present you with a sampling of the major areas of psychology research. The course begins with a short overview of how psychology developed as an academic discipline and an introduction to a number of the principal methodologies most commonly deployed in its study. The subsequent units are arranged around broad areas of research, including emotion, development, memory, and psychopathology. We will focus on well-substantiated research and current trends within each of these categories.

      First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me in this course". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

    • Unit 1: The History and Methods of Psychology

      "Psychology has a long past but a short history." This brief statement by one of the pioneers of psychological research, Herman Ebbinghaus, captures the history of psychology as a discipline. Though it is relatively new as a formal academic subject, the questions it seeks to answer have been around since the beginning of man. In this unit, we will review the history of psychology as a discipline, by learning about both its ancient philosophical ("prescientific") roots and its more recent reincarnation as a "scientific" field of study. 

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

    • Unit 2: Neuroscience

      What makes you "you"? This question gets to the heart of one of the longest-running debates in psychology: the nurture versus nature dispute, which asks whether humans are a product of their environment or of their biological makeup. While it is unlikely that we will ever conclusively answer this question, research has provided us with some important insights that will assist you in understanding arguments on both sides of the debate. This unit will then explore our neurological system especially the structure and functions of neurons as well as parts of the brain. Early psychologists considered the brain a "black box" that controlled certain processes, though they did not know how to identify these processes or how the brain controlled them. This is no longer the case; nowadays, scientists insist that the psychological mind and physiological body are fully integrated with one another. Today, knowledge of the biological origins of our psychological states is integral to the study of psychology. The unit then explores the role and function of sleep as well as the use of substances in examining various states of consciousness. 

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

    • Unit 3: Sensation and Perception

      As human beings, we perceive our world through our senses. This means that we are constantly performing a complex set of processes by which we take in sensory information, convert it into a form usable by the brain, and have the brain send signals to a relevant part of the body in order to tell it how to respond - all in a matter of milliseconds. In this unit, we will highlight the vision and hearing sensory systems and gain a deeper understanding of how we perceive the world around us. 

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

    • Unit 4: Learning and Memory

      Psychologists are concerned with how people learn and create memories of their experiences. For example, early psychologists such as Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner performed experiments that explained human action by measuring changes in behavior. These experiments informed our understanding of the process of learning and marked the beginning of the field of behaviorism. In this chapter, we will draw from behaviorism, cognitive psychology, and neuropsychology to learn the basic principles of learning and memory.

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

    • Unit 5: Development

      The physical, mental, and emotional changes that an individual undergoes over the course of his or her lifetime raise a number of questions about who we are and how we develop as human beings. One such question is whether our traits are stable or changeable throughout our lifetime; another is whether development is a continuous, gradual process or a set of discrete stages. Though these questions remain unresolved, this unit will provide you with ways to think critically about these issues. It will also provide you with an overview of human development, from infancy to old age.

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

    • Unit 6: Personality

      In the last unit, you learned about several theories of human development. However, these did not speak about our long-term traits, or the characteristics that make us unique human beings. In this unit, we will focus on personality psychology, which is the study of how our personalities develop and how they are shaped by our experiences and circumstances. We'll examine some of the development theories a bit deeper and also look at how psychologists assess personality traits. 

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

    • Unit 7: Social Psychology

      Human beings are social beings. As psychologists, we acknowledge this fact by studying the ways in which an individual's social environment impacts his or her emotional and mental functioning. This is called social psychology - the focus of this unit. We will discuss the social behavior of individuals, groups, and entire societies as well as the influences that our relationships to these entities have on us as individuals. The readings conclude with a discussion of the theories related to human motivation and emotion.

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.

    • Unit 8: Industrial and Organizational Psychology

      In this unit, we explore industrial and organizational psychology, also known as "I/O" psychology. This subfield is concerned with studying behavior in an organizational setting (such as the workplace) as well as utilizing principles of psychology to understand work behaviors. This is a rather new subfield within psychology, but is growing very quickly due to its interesting line of inquiry. 

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.

    • Unit 9: Health and Stress Psychology

      In this unit, we focus on health and stress in the workplace and in our everyday lives more broadly. First, we define stressors, and then we connect stress and illness. As you work through this unit, think about the stressors in your life, and the coping mechanisms you use to handle them. How does the information presented here shed insight on how you handle stress? Is stress always negative?

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

    • Unit 10: Psychopathology

      Today, we commonly think of psychology as a means of treating mental disorders. However, the branch of psychology that addresses these disorders is known as psychopathology, a field of study made famous by Sigmund Freud. Clinical psychologists have since refined the field, developing more sophisticated methods for diagnosis and treatment so that clients can maintain a normal lifestyle. Millions of people live with various types of mental illness and mental health problems, such as social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, drug addiction, and personality disorders. Treatment options include medication and psychotherapy. In this unit, we will aim at understanding different perspectives on psychological disorders, learning to identify characteristic symptoms of each.  As you review this final unit, think about all the factors that may contribute and alleviate the major mental disorders discussed. What is the interplay between biology, social support systems, and other environmental factors in how human beings cope?

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.

    • Study Guide

      This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walk through the learning outcomes, and list important vocabulary terms. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

    • Course Feedback Survey

      Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

      If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org or post in our discussion forum.

    • Certificate Final Exam

      Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

      To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

      Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

    • Saylor Direct Credit

      Take this exam if you want to earn college credit for this course. This course is eligible for college credit through Saylor Academy's Saylor Direct Credit Program.

      There is a new version of this course as of June 2023.

      The current Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam for this course can be found in the updated version, here: PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology.

      Please enroll in the new version of the course to access the exam.