Psychology 3830

Updated May 7, 2015

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Instructor: Prof. Ines Segert
E-mail: (Best way to reach me)
Office Hours:

TH: 11-12

125 Psychology Bldg

Required Texts: Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition ( Robert Sapolsky)
Why We Get Fat and What To Do about It ( Gary Taubes)
Recommended Text Salt, Sugar, Fat ( Michael Moss)

Three exams 360points
Article Critiques 100 points
Total 460 points

Course Description: This course is an introduction to Health Psychology. Health Psychology is a relatively new field which holds the view that health and illness emerge from the interaction of biological. psychological, and social factors. In this course, we will focus on 4 areas within health psychology:

1). Historical views of health and medicine

2). Interaction between social, biological, psychological factors in health

3). Ways to promote health and maintain healthy behavior

4). Specific strategies to improve health and decrease stress in college students

Attendance and Participation: You should plan to attend every class and participate in class discusssions. Moreover, it will will harder to get a top grade if you do not attend regularly since material from class discussions and lectures will be on the test. If you do have to miss a lecture, make sure to get a copy of the notes from someone who is a conscientious note-taker. I make it a policy not to personally provide notes for missed classes.

NOTE: Attendance may be recorded randomly during the lecture part of the class. Students who exhibit a systematic pattern of non-attendance may be dropped from the class.

Examinations (360 Total points; 78% of your grade): There will be 3 examinations given. Exams will be made up of 40 multiple choice and T/F questions, ech worth 3 pts. Material will come from both the books and other assigned reading and (mostly) lecture. If you are genuinely unable to take an exam due to an excused personal emergency, you should first make every attempt to contact me before class. You will then be able to take a make-up essay exam at the end of the semester. THERE IS NO FINAL Cumulative EXAM.

Article Critiques (100 points; 22% of your grade): You will choose read, summarize and critique four original jurnal articles. Due dates and articles are are posted on our website.Each 2-3 page, typed, double-spaced page report ( Font 12 or smaller, normal margins) should first summarize the article and then critically evaluate the conclusion. Each article is worth 25 points. Papers are due in class.

Late Policy: Any late submissions must first be approved by Dr. Segert. There will be a 2-points/day deduction for each late paper. E-mail submissions without prior approval will be counted as late.

Important Due Dates:

Article Summaries: Feb 4; March 4; April 1; April 22

Exams: Feb 25; April 3; May 4


Grading Scale:

Letter Grade

Total Cumulative Points


451-460 Pts


428-450 Pts


414-427 Pts


405-413 Pts


382-404 Pts


368-381 Pts


359-367 Pts


336-358 Pts


322-335 Pts


313-321 Pts


290-312 Pts


276 -289 Pts


275 Pts and Below

Rounding policy: Final Grades are determined by the points you earn in the class. It is to your advantage to study and prepare throughout the semester, so you are not in the position of missing the next higher grade by a point or two at the end of the semester.

Note: I will not respond to emails asking me to adjust or add points to your grade.  Exam scores are adjusted when necessary; such adjustments are made immediately after each exam and applied to all students taking that exam.  No other grade adjustments are made. 

Recording Policy: Lectures may NOT be recorded on video or cell phones. University of Missouri System Executive Order No. 38 lays out principles regarding the sanctity of classroom discussions at the university. The policy is described fully in Section 200.015 of the Collected Rules and Regulations.  Redistribution of audio or video recordings of statements or comments from the course to individuals who are not students in the course is prohibited without the express permission of the faculty member and of any students who are recorded.  Students found to have violated this policy are subject to discipline in accordance with provisions of Section 200.020 of the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri pertaining to student conduct matters.

Intellectual Property Notice
All course materials including but not limited to the syllabus, course assignments, study guides, learning guides, online lecture videos and content, and lab book (i.e. course pack) are property of the instructor and University and may not be shared online or distributed in any manner to others. Students are prohibited from posting course materials or notes online and from selling notes to or being paid for taking notes by any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course. Doing so will constitute both an academic integrity violation and a copyright violation. Violations of copyright laws could subject you to civil penalties and criminal liability. Violations of academic integrity may subject you to disciplinary action under University policies

Academic Honesty: Academic honesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards academic dishonesty as an extremely serious matter, with serious consequences that range from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, consult the instructor. The University has specific academic dishonesty administrative procedures. In particular, it is NEVER PERMISSIBLE to turn in any WORK THAT HAS BEEN COPIED from another student or from a published source.

In this course, cheating, or the appearance of it, will result in an automatic Zero on that exam. Such actions include displaying a test for others to see, looking at another person's test paper, attempting to communicate in any manner with another student during the test, or plagiarism. In addition, any incident of cheating will be reported to the provost’s office

Accommodations For Students With Disabilities: If you have a disability and need accommodations (for example, extended testing time, notetakers, large print materials), please inform your instructor privately as soon as possible. Sudents with disablilities seeking academic accommodations should also register with the Access Office, A048 Brady Commons, 882-4696. As necessary, the Access Office will review documentation about your disability and about the need for accommodations you are requesting. The Access Office will then assist in planning for any necessary accommodations.

Class Schedule and Assignments
DATE Topic Assignments
1/21 Overview


IOM Report 2013: Shorter lives, Poorer Health


Obesity classified as a disease

2.7 Trillion Dollar Bill




Introduction to Health Psychology: Definition of Health, Threats to Health, Biopsychosocial Model


Life Expectancy Calculator

National Center Health Statistics Life Expectancy Report


1/26 Biological Components: Development of Biomedical Model


When is an illness real?

Drug Reps and Prescribing Influence

Lack of patient dignity

Patient Choice

Science & Cholesterol

Video: Abilify Commercial


1/28 Biomedical Model: Germ Theory  
1/30 Overdiagnosis

REQUIRED ARTICLE Overdiagnosis as problem

Supplemental Articles:

We are giving ourselves cancer

Risks in Medical Radiation

False Health Innovation


Unnecessary Cardiac Treatments


Lure of Easy Fix: Diabetes

NYTimes Article: "have these symptoms?'

Do Mamagrams Reduce Late Stage Cancer Rates

2/2-2/4 Unexpected Consequences of Biomedical Model


The Selling of ADHD

Boy With Thorn: Alternative Medicine

Adderall Addiction

2/4 Article Summary 1 Due


Link to Article

Grading Rubric




Pychological Components:

Psychogenic Illness


LeRoy Girls Update

Article: Hysteria and Teen-Age Girls

CNN: Discussion of LeRoy Jr/Sr High Case

Article: Morgellons Disease

2/9 Psychological components: Placebo effect


REQUIRED ARTICLE: Placebo mechanisms

Supplemental Artcles:

Article: Hypnosis

Article: Spreading psychosomatic disease

Article: Mind-Body Medicine

60 Minutes: Placebo Effect video

60 Minutes: Is there a placebo effect

2/11 Psychological Components: Personality : Type A Personality

Link: Hostility/Type A Questionnaire

Doctors Prescribe placebos




Video Link: Vaccine Wars

NOVA Program : Vaccines:Calling the Shots

2/18 Psychological Components: Personality : Reactivity; Repressors; Cognitive Biases

Article: Doctor's Biases

2/20 Social components: Gender; Media

Supplemental Articles:


Article: Changing Role Models & Anorexia in Brazil

Link: America's Health Ranking

Article: The Dr. Oz Efect


Catch-up and Review





Exam 1 KEY


Health Disparities:

Regional Differences

Stigma & Health




3/2 Weight Stigma & Health

Article: The Psychological Weight of Weight Stigma

Article: Doctors and Overweight Patients

3/4 Article Summary 2 Due

Summary Article: Consequences of Labeling Obesity a Disease

Link to Article for Summary

Grading Rubric

Example of Paper



Social Groups/Family Influences


Required Reading in Zebras: Chap 17 & p164-185

Article: Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function

Article: Baboon Social Status and Health

Article: Insurance Status and Medical Outcome

Article: Why is the US sicker than Britain?


Supplemental Articles:

Article: Group Medical Appointments

Article: Modeling parents behavior


3/6 Stress: Definition


Required Reading: Zebras: Chap 1


3/9-3/11 Stress: Biological Circuits

Required Reading: Zebras: Chap 2

Figure: Effects of Stress on Body

Figure from Lecture: HPA Axis

Figure from Lecture: Alarm Phase, Effects on Body

Article: Stress and Infertility

3/13 Stress: Psych factors & Stress

Required Reading: Zebras: Chap 13

Article: City living and urban upbringing affect neural social
stress processing in humans



Stress: Stress & Growth

Required Reading Zebras: Chap 6

Article: Social Isolation Affects Brain Development

3/20 NO CLASS  

Coping with Stress

Changing Response to Stressor: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Changing stressor: Cognitive Restructuring

Required Reading Zebras: Chap 18


Online PMR exercise

Descripton of Relaxation Techniques

Reprioritizing and decreasing stress


4/1 Article Summary 3 Due


Link to Article


Review & Catch-Up


4/3 EXAM 2  

NUTRITION: Background and Statistics



CDC Obesity Data

BMI Calculator


4/8 Methodology: Determining Causes; Evaluating Research & Media Reports

Chabris & Simon: Does this Ad Make Me Fat?

Lesser: Outdoor advertising, obesity, and soda

Willet: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

Rohrman: Meat consumption and mortality

Taubes: Epidemiology faces its limits

4/10 Automatic Influences  
4/13 Automatic Influences






4/15 Why Diets don't work Article: Taubes NYT Article: What if Fat doesn't make you fat?

A calorie is not a calorie

Required Reading:Taubes, Why we Get Fat: Chaps 1-3

Article: Carmody, Thermogenesis

Taubes Frontline Interview

Taubes video of talk

4/20 Taubes: Why we gain weight

Required Reading Taubes, Chaps 4-6


4/22 Article Summary 4 Due

Link to Article

4/22 Taubes, con't

Required Reading Taubes, Chaps 9, 11, 12


4/24 What should we eat?

BJSM Op-Ed: Exercise Myths

Scientific American: What's Really Making Us Overweight


Moss: Salt Sugar, Fat



Michael Moss Interview

Video: The Men who Made Us Fat



Catch up and In-Class Review


5/4 EXAM 3 KEY








  Supplemental Articles  



Article: Inactivity Risks, despite exercise

Family/Social Factors

Article: Plastics make you fat

Mom's Diet

Childhood Obesity Poll

ARTICLE: Unhappy Meals

Science of Addictive Food


Media distortion of Nutrition Research

ARTICLE: A1 Gene and Obesity

ABC NEWS: Panel disputes FDA on plastic bottles