Your Top 5 Favorite Psychology Courses

podcast psychology social media Apr 12, 2022

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Last week on my Instagram stories I asked you what your favorite psychology course has been - and there were over 40 unique responses! I think this really shows how wide of a field psychology is, and how many different paths you could take in this major. 

In this blog I’m going to talk about the top 5 courses that were submitted. We’ll go over a little bit about what the course is about, what a syllabus may look like, and potential jobs in each of these topics. 

What’s funny about these top 5 is that I feel like they all best describe the world of social media psychology - which is incredibly appropriate and means that we’re all in the right place.

Ok so coming in 5th place with 2 unique submissions is cognitive psychology. 

According to a syllabus I found: Cognitive psychology is the study of how we sense and interpret information from the world around us, incorporate this new information with our prior experiences, and determine how to respond to an ever changing environment. While the main purpose of this course is to introduce you to the scientific study of the mind, you will also begin to understand the central role cognition plays in our everyday lives. 

Some topics you’ll cover are the history of cognitive psych, vision, attention, memory, knowledge, everyday memory errors, and decision making.

Some career paths someone who is interesting in cognitive psych may take are: software or ux design. A topic in research could be to understand how visual design is perceived in an app or website. How do the users behave if something is presented in different ways? If you are more intrigued by the media side of social media, this may be a course or a field you want to dig deeper into.

In 4th place with 3 unique submissions, we have positive psychology. 

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Positive Psychology focuses on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, cultivate what is best within people, and enhance people’s experiences of love, work, and play. 

Some topics you’ll cover are the history of positive psych, the meaning and measure of happiness, positive emotions and well being, close relationships and well being, and handling anger. 

While this course is pretty clearly beneficial for someone who is going to go into the role of a counselor or therapist, it also is a field of research you could explore. An example of a study could be understanding the self-reported impact of checking into a daily gratitude app, which could then help inform the development of that app, website, idea, etc. 

I like this one because it’s a pretty vivid example of how a field in psychology can be so fluid, because it all comes back to the fact that we’re all human. 

Speaking of human. 

5 of you submitted the course abnormal psych! And some of you have even told me your fav topics in abnormal psych, which were character studies on mental disorders in movies, fetish and personality disorders, using the DSM, and psychological disorders. 

Here’s a syllabus description for abnormal psych:

This course will provide an overview of the scientific study of mental illness (also known as psychopathology). About 25% of the course will cover basic concepts and definitions, historical perspectives on psychopathology, different theoretical models of psychopathology, the assessment and diagnosis of mental illness, and research methods for studying mental disorders. The remaining 75% of the course will concern the leading categories of mental disorders among adults, children and adolescents, including the description and classification of these disorders, the leading theories and evidence explaining their origins, and some of the treatments for these disorders. Legal and ethical issues pertaining to the assessment and treatment of mental illness will be discussed, as well as the role of culture and diversity in assessment and treatment.

While work in this field is heavily clinical, it could also be applied to law, or of course to research. Exploring the relationship among anxiety or eating disorders and social media is an example of the kind of research you could do. 

Ok, in second place we have social psychology! 

This course is designed as a comprehensive survey course of theory and research in social psychology. The goal of this course is to explain how our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other people. Topics to be studied include the self, social perception, social cognition and information processing, attitudes and persuasion, prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination, social influence and group behavior, romantic relationships, aggressive behavior, helping behavior, and applied social psychology. Throughout the course, you will be encouraged to think about how research in social psychology can shed light on events going on around the world and in your own lives and how it can help to better human existence. 

This was one of my favorite courses in college, and has informed so much of what I do in my world of social media strategy and management. Some different topics of research that are more specific to social media would be niche marketing, the impact of influencers, or an understanding of how something like a meme goes viral. These, interestingly enough, are all topics that I go into great detail about on the members only section of my website.

Ok, so the number one most popular psychology course among you who submitted responses on my Instagram story was... Personality Psych!

This course serves as a comprehensive introduction to research, theory, and application in the field of personality psychology. Individual differences and situational influences are examined concerning achievement motivation, anxiety, intelligence, self-concept, interpersonal attraction, aggression, sexuality, and the Big Five Personality Traits. Various paradigms will be explored to help explain differences in personality, including the trait, biological, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, behavioral, and cognitive approaches. In addition, students will learn about assessment accuracy and predicting behaviors, so that they can apply concepts learned in this course to their own lives. An integrative model is suggested for more accurately understanding both normal and abnormal personality and cultural considerations will be discussed at length throughout the semester. 

This was honestly my very favorite course as well, my professor who taught it also taught social psych and she was such a badass. Shoutout to Dr. Ruth Grant at Sacred Heart University. 

Understanding personality has genuinely shaped so many impactful interactions in my life, and also was the basis of my dissertation - I looked at big 5 personality traits along with social media use integration in predicting mindfulness (here's a video of me defending my dissertation!)

This course would be helpful if you were ever in a coaching or management position, so you can understand your team or clients. It helps you understand yourself. It’s all around just a great course. Even if you don’t take the course I’d recommend watching some youtube videos or reading a book on personality. It is a fascinating wormhole that I may have to dedicate an entire future episode to.

So there you have it! The top 5 most popular psychology courses among my digital friends on your path o’ psych! 

If you enjoy learning about this I would really appreciate you sharing it with your friends that you think may enjoy it too. I know that the podcasts I tend to get into are the ones where my friends are like “oh I think you’d like this” – so it would make me so happy to create that podcast that someone listening is like, oh i think you'd like this. 

The next big topic I will be covering in the member’s only section of my website is going to be on influencers: friend or foe? Working in this field I have had sooo many different experiences with influencer marketing, so I have got some things to talk about. 

Thank you tuning in! I’m Dr. Lauren Serpico, and I’ll see you out there! 


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