Psychology 3830

Updated April 19, 2016

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

W 1-2

T.A. E-mail  

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

Two exams 300 points
Media Critique 100 points
Total 400 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 5 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

5) Critical analysis of health coverage in the media

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: Although I don't take attendance in the class, I do occasionally do in-class activities that may earn extra credit points. These points are availbel only in class.

Examinations (300 Total points; 75% of your grade): There will be 2 examinations given. Exams will be made up of 50 multiple choice and T/F questions, each 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.

Media Critiques (100 points; 25% of your grade): One of the goals of the class is to examine how health information is portrayed in the media, analyzing it for accuracy and methodology. Accordingly, you will, in a group of 4-5, select a recent topic covered in a nationall media outlet ( NYTimes, NBC news, etc) and compare the coverage with the origial journal report. Each member of the grouo will submit a brief 2-3 page summary and the group will present their findings to the class at the end of the semester. More details will be given as the project is due.

Important Due Dates:

Exams: March 22; April 28

Critique Presentations: 5/3-5/5


Grading Scale:

Letter Grade

Total Cumulative Points


392-400 Pts


372-391 Pts


360-371 Pts


352-359 Pts


332-351 Pts


320-331 Pts


312-319 Pts


292-311 Pts


280-291 Pts


272-279 Pts


252-271 Pts


240-251 Pts


240 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 Related Readings; Only those designated as REQUIRED will be on the tests.


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


IOM Report 2013: Shorter lives, Poorer Health


How You Will Die Demo



1/21 Health Assessment

Death Clock

Wharton School Life Expectancy Calculator

Northwestern Mutual 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


Biomedical Model: Germ Theory


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 Unexpected Consequences of Biomedical Model


The Selling of ADHD

Boy With Thorn: Alternative Medicine

Adderall Addiction

How to increase vaccination rate


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

Articles discussed in class:

Open Label Placebos

Doctors Prescribe placebos

Supplemental Artcles:

Article: Hypnosis

Article: Spreading psychosomatic disease

Article: Mind-Body Medicine

60 Minutes: Placebo Effect video

60 Minutes: Is there a placebo effect



Psychology Dept Distinguished Speaker

Dan Kahane


Jesse Wrench Aud


Psychological Components: Personality : Reactivity; Repressors; Cognitive Biases

Link: Hostility/Type A Questionnaire

Article: Doctor's Biases


Social components: Gender; Media

Article: The Dr. Oz Efect




Health Disparities:

Regional Differences

Stigma & Health

Supplemental Articles:

Article: Racial Disparities in Cancer

Article: The Psychological Weight of Weight Stigma

Article: Doctors and Overweight Patients

Link: America's Health Ranking


2/25 Weight Stigma & Health




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



Stress: Definition

Stress: Biological Circuits

NOTE: End of Material covered on Exam 1

Required Reading: Zebras: Chap 1

Required Reading: Zebras: Chap 2

Figure: Effects of Stress on Body

Figure from Lecture: HPA Axis

Figure from Lecture: Alarm Phase, Effects on Body



Psychology Department Distinguished Speaker

Paul Bloom: Against Empathy


Jesse Wrench Aud


Stress: Psych factors & Stress

NOTE: This material will be covered on EXAM 2, not EXAM 1


Required Reading: Zebras: Chap 13

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



Info about Group Project:

Start group assignments



In Class Review

Updated Study Guide for Exam 1


Exam 1



3/24 NO CLASS  
3/25-4/3 SPRING BREAK  
4/5 Stress: Stress & Growth

Required Reading Zebras: Chap 6

Article: Social Isolation Affects Brain Development



Coping with Stress

Changing Response to Stressor: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Changing stressor: Cognitive Restructuring

Required Reading Zebras: Chap 18

Brief Meditation

Online PMR exercise

Descripton of Relaxation Techniques

Reprioritizing and decreasing stress


4/12 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


NUTRITION: Background and Statistics

Why Diets don't work

Group Members List Due

CDC Obesity Data

Obesity classified as a disease

BMI Calculator

Article: Taubes NYT Article: What if Fat doesn't make you fat?

Article: Taking on Coca Cola in Mexico






A calorie is not a calorie

Taubes: Why we gain weight

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

Article: Carmody, Thermogenesis

Taubes Frontline Interview

Taubes video of talk

Required Reading Taubes, Chaps 4-6


Article for Project Due


Taubes, con't

Required Reading Taubes, Chaps 9, 11, 12

Article: Data Indicates Saturated Fat is not Harmful

    NyTimes: After Biggest Loser, Body Fights to Maintain Weight


Catch-up and Review

Updated Exam 2 Study Guide


BJSM Op-Ed: Exercise Myths

Scientific American: What's Really Making Us Overweight


Exam 2




Molly, Madison, Kathleen, Cheyenne

Alex, Olivia, Bethany, Maggie, Amber

Lexi, Scott, Casey, Tara

Claire, Patricia, Nhu, Daniel

Karolina, Caitlyn, Madeline, Justin




Ashtyn, Danny, Molli, Rikki

Rachel, Madeline, Sydney, Audrey, Falak

Kamryn, Tia, Danielle, Shannon

Jessica, Blair, Kara, Ashley











Science of Addictive Food


Media distortion of Nutrition Research





Video Link: Vaccine Wars

NOVA Program : Vaccines:Calling the Shots