Behavioral Science with tracks in Psychology and Neuroscience | Duke Kunshan University

Behavioral Science with tracks in Psychology and Neuroscience

Behavioral Science with tracks in Psychology and Neuroscience

This major is not available to the Class of 2022. It is available for the Class of 2023 and beyond.

The new field of behavioral science seeks to understand how humans think and act within their environments and how policies can shape that behavior. For example, research showing the power of default options on decision making has led to the introduction of “opt-out” policies for decisions like becoming an organ donor or contributing to one’s retirement account, leading to marked increases in participation (e.g., millions of newly eligible organ donors). Across many institutions – governmental, educational, and corporate – effective interventions rely on an understanding of human behavior. Behavioral science has been commonly applied to problems in marketing, health science, financial investing, charitable giving, human factors and environmental design, and education.

The twin goals of behavioral science – understanding mechanisms of individual behavior and developing policies that shape that behavior – require students to develop a knowledge base drawn from several disciplines. Empirical behavioral science research draws upon the methods of psychology (and, more recently, neuroscience) to create well-designed experiments and measures. Computational modeling and statistics have become increasingly important for isolating the variables that shape behavior, especially when examining the consequences of large-scale interventions. Applications to policy often require disciplinary knowledge in behavioral economics, political psychology, marketing, or another field. And, considering the implications of new policies benefits from expertise in philosophy and ethics. In summary, an integrated course of study in behavioral science will combine disciplinary knowledge with the abilities to evaluate experimental designs, to draw conclusions from experimental data, and to link concepts across levels of analysis from individual behavior to societal policies.

Behavioral science will provide a distinct program of study for DKU undergraduates – one that integrates research approaches and theories currently spread across the social sciences (and some of the natural sciences). Because the most common empirical approaches in sociology, economics, and political science all involve analysis of population-level data (e.g., large panel surveys, census records), students in those majors typically gain expertise working with and evaluating datasets collected by others. Behavioral science provides a complementary approach that develops expertise in experimental methods.

To identify the difference between these approaches, consider a student interested in how demography predicts voting behavior. Through a traditional social science major – say, political science or sociology – that student could learn to analyze census data, voting records, and economic variables to create models at the societal level. Or, by choosing to major in Behavioral Science, that same student could conduct laboratory experiments that test predictions about group identity and political affiliation – and then use her findings to design field experiments that manipulate self-identity and measure real-world political preferences. This latter skillset has become increasingly valued by policymakers, who use the methods of behavioral science to guide their social interventions.

Through its interdisciplinary component, students will gain core skills that have broad relevance for modern societal challenges, while retaining a grounding in a traditional academic discipline like psychology or neuroscience. Moreover, it could be readily integrated with other social science disciplines (e.g., economics, political science, sociology) based on student demand. Because of its focus on how an individual interacts with her environment, it will attract interest from students who think globally or cross-culturally. For example, encouraging pro-environmental behaviors may require somewhat different policies in the US, China, or another country, depending on cultural and economic factors. Students exploring a behavioral science major at DKU will not only receive a broad-based liberal arts education, but also gain highly marketable skills in experimental design, data analysis, and implementing research into policy.

Major Requirements

(Not every course listed is offered every semester, and the course list will be updated periodically. Please refer to the online Course Catalog for Courses offered in 2020-2021.)

Behavioral Science / Psychology

Divisional Foundation Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
BIOL 110 Integrated Science - Biology 4
SOSC 101 Foundational Questions in Social Science 4
And choose one from the following 2 courses
MATH 101 Introductory Calculus 4
STATS 101* Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods 4
* Students who are more interested in computational modeling can take MATH 205 Probability and Statistics as a substitute for STATS 101.

Interdisciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
BEHAVSCI 101 Introduction to Behavioral Science 4
BEHAVSCI 102 Mechanisms of Human Behavior 4
BEHAVSCI 201 Individuals and Their Decisions 4
BEHAVSCI 202 Institutions, Groups, and Society 4
BEHAVSCI 401 Moving Beyond Nudges 4

Disciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
PSYCH 101 Introductory Psychology 4
BEHAVSCI 402 Judgement and Decision Making 4
And choose three courses total from Course Clusters I and II, with at least one course from each cluster
Course Cluster I
PSYCH 102 Cognitive Psychology 4
PSYCH 103 Developmental Psychology 4
PSYCH 104 Social Psychology 4
Course Cluster II
NEUROSCI 102 Biological Basis of Behavior 4
PSYCH 105 Abnormal Psychology 4
NEUROSCI 212 Cognitive Neuroscience 4

Electives

Students can choose the recommended electives in their tracks or select other courses in different disciplines or divisions as electives. The course list will be updated periodically.

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
POLSCI 107 Political Psychology 2
PSYCH 110 Mindfulness, Stress, and Health: Eastern and Western Perspectives 4
NEUROSCI 202 Medical Neuroscience 4
BEHAVSCI 203 Comparative Analysis of Behavior 2
BEHAVSCI 204 Experimental Philosophy 4
GLHLTH 301 Global Health Research Methods 4
PUBPOL 303 Policy Choice as Value Conflict 4
ECON 309 Behavioral Finance 4

p>Behavioral Science / Neuroscience

 

Divisional Foundation Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
BIOL 110 Integrated Science - Biology 4
SOSC 101 Foundational Questions in Social Science 4
And choose one from the following 2 courses
MATH 101 Introductory Calculus 4
STATS 101* Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods 4
* Students who are more interested in computational modeling can take MATH 205 Probability and Statistics as a substitute for STATS 101.

Interdisciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
BEHAVSCI 101 Introduction to Behavioral Science 4
BEHAVSCI 102 Mechanisms of Human Behavior 4
BEHAVSCI 201 Individuals and Their Decisions 4
BEHAVSCI 202 Institutions, Groups, and Society 4
BEHAVSCI 401 Moving Beyond Nudges 4

Disciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
NEUROSCI 102 Biological Basis of Behavior 4
BEHAVSCI 205 Systems and Circuits 4
NEUROSCI 212 Cognitive Neuroscience 4
NEUROSCI 301 Research Methods in Neuroscience 4
BEHAVSCI 301 Computational Neuroscience 4

Electives

Students can choose the recommended electives in their tracks or select other courses in different disciplines or divisions as electives. The course list will be updated periodically.

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
PSYCH 110 Mindfulness, Stress, and Health: Eastern and Western Perspectives 4
POLSCI 107 Political Psychology 2
NEUROSCI 202 Medical Neuroscience 4
BEHAVSCI 203 Comparative Analysis of Behavior 2
BEHAVSCI 204 Experimental Philosophy 4
GLHLTH 301 Global Health Research Methods 4
PUBPOL 303 Policy Choice as Value Conflict 4
ECON 309 Behavioral Finance 4

BEHAVSCI 402 Judgement and Decision Making (4 credits)

Building upon the foundational courses in this disciplinary track, this course explores how psychological processes shape human judgment and decision making. Core concepts include understanding rational choice models and their limitations; decision variables like probability, ambiguity, and risk; applications of heuristics to decision making; effective and ineffective uses of incentives; decision rules and aids; and types of interventions that can shape choices.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101, and completion of any courses from Clusters I or II

MATH 101 Introductory Calculus (4 credits)

This course offers an introduction to Calculus, a subject that is the foundation for a large part of modern mathematics and has countless applications across the sciences and beyond. The course covers the fundamental Calculus concepts (limits, continuity, differentiation, integration) and explores related applications. The treatment of these concepts assumes no prior knowledge of Calculus. Recommended for students who have not had a previous (high-school level) Calculus course. Students who have had such a Calculus course are recommended to take MATH 105 instead.

STATS 101 Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods (4 credits)

This course will introduce students to common statistics used in social science research articles and the media with the goal of making them informed and critical consumers of research results reported by various sources. Students will gain understanding of the conceptual basis and purpose of different statistics, as well as the formulas for deriving them. The relationship of statistical analysis to other components of the research process will be explicated. The course will be taught using team-based learning with an emphasis on the application of new concepts, knowledge, and skills in the classroom. Application activities will include interpreting statistics presented in tables and graphics in research articles and the media, critiquing conclusions drawn from statistics, and using statistical software, such as SPSS or Stata, to conduct statistical tests and generate tables and graphics.

MATH 105 Calculus (4 credits)

Calculus is the foundation for a large part of modern mathematics and has countless applications across the sciences and beyond. This course covers the fundamental Calculus concepts (limits, continuity, differentiation, integration) and explores related applications. The treatment of these topics is rigorous and it involves basic principles of mathematical logic and epsilon-delta language.

Prerequisite(s): Recommended for students who have had a previous (high-school level) Calculus course. Not open to students who have credit for MATH 101.

BEHAVSCI 102 Mechanisms of Human Behavior (4 credits)

This course introduces students to the primary empirical approaches in behavioral science through a combination of directed readings and hands-on experience with the primary methods in the field. Students will design, conduct, and analyze experiments that explore perception, action, and decision making in a laboratory setting. Students will also explore complex social behavior by implementing online experiments and analyzing the resulting data.

Prerequisite(s): BEHAVSCI 101

BEHAVSCI 201 Individuals and Their Decisions (4 credits)

This course is a team-taught, question-driven introduction to the certificate and the fundamentals of how humans make decisions. The primary goal is to provide hands-on and problem-focused instruction designed to connect students to research as quickly as possible. Substantive topics include behavioral and experimental economics, consumer behavior and marketing research, game theory, medical decision making, neuroeconomics, and political psychology.

Prerequisite(s): BEHAVSCI 102

BEHAVSCI 202 Institutions, Groups, and Society (4 credits)

Through this course, students will gain a deeper appreciation of how the behavior of individuals is influenced by macroscopic factors: group memberships and identity, commercial and political institutions, and cultural and societal norms. Sample topics include voting behavior, legal decision making, how diversity shapes group dynamics, cross-cultural differences in perception and decision making, and the rise and fall of cultural memes. The course will also explore the incorporation of behavioral science into public policy through “nudges” that can shape individual behavior.

Prerequisite(s): BEHAVSCI 102

BEHAVSCI 401 Moving Beyond Nudges (4 credits)

This capstone course explores the ethical issues associated with the rise of behavioral science, with particular focus on the intersections between individual autonomy and policy. It is organized around a series of case studies that illustrate applications of behavioral science to different domains; students will work in groups to analyze those applications and their impact upon society. Topics will be drawn from both past and current events, and could include legal decision making, the impact of nudging policies upon disadvantaged groups, new intrusive forms of marketing, the rise of misinformation in news media, or how advances in technology limit human behavior (e.g., self-driving cars). Students will gain skills in analyzing complex problems, formulating policies, and communicating potential solutions.

Prerequisite(s): BEHAVSCI 201, BEHAVSCI 202

PSYCH 101 Introductory Psychology (4 credits)

Broad survey of the field of modern psychology. The main goal of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the important topics, theories, research, and applications in psychology.

BEHAVSCI 402 Judgement and Decision Making (4 credits)

Building upon the foundational courses in this disciplinary track, this course explores how psychological processes shape human judgment and decision making. Core concepts include understanding rational choice models and their limitations; decision variables like probability, ambiguity, and risk; applications of heuristics to decision making; effective and ineffective uses of incentives; decision rules and aids; and types of interventions that can shape choices.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101, and completion of any courses from Clusters I or II

PSYCH 102 Cognitive Psychology (4 credits)

Overview of cognitive processes including pattern recognition, concept formation, attention, memory, imagery, mental representation, language, problem solving, and modes of thinking. The basic approach is both empirical (using data collection and analysis) and theoretical (building models using inductive/deductive reasoning). Application of basic laboratory results to cognition in everyday life.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101

PSYCH 103 Developmental Psychology (4 credits)

Overview of the cognitive, social, and emotional changes that occur throughout the lifespan, with emphasis on the period from infancy to adolescence. Examines both the empirical evidence and the theoretical models used in understanding human psychological development.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101

PSYCH 104 Social Psychology (4 credits)

Effects of social interaction and social processes on a wide range of individual attitudes and behaviors (for example, conformity, leadership, prejudice, aggression, altruism). Emphasis on the logic, reasoning, research designs, and methods by which knowledge is generated.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101

NEUROSCI 102 Biological Basis of Behavior (4 credits)

An introduction to the methods, models, and reasoning that have led to discoveries about brain-behavior relations, and a critical evaluation of the current theories that guide our thinking about the neurobiology, development and evolution of sensory and cognitive processes, sleep, pain, emotion, hunger, and thirst as well as maternal and sexual behavior patterns.

PSYCH 105 Abnormal Psychology (4 credits)

This course provides a broad overview of abnormal psychology. Areas of focus include: Reviewing different theoretical perspectives for conceptualizing abnormal behavior; Approaches to the diagnosis and assessment of psychopathology; Major classes of psychopathology including how they are defined and treated; Current research, methods, and theories in the field of abnormal psychology.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101

NEUROSCI 212 Cognitive Neuroscience (4 credits)

The biological bases of higher brain function, including perception, attention, memory, language, emotion, executive functions and consciousness. Emphasis on human brain function at the macroscopic network-level, and the current theories and controversies in this rapidly growing field.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101 or NEUROSCI 102

POLSCI 107 Political Psychology (2 credits)

This course has three dominant themes. The first covers social influence and intrinsic personality predispositions. The second theme concerns the manner in which people interpret new information about politics and use it to update their beliefs. The third theme focuses on values, stereotypes, and prejudice and their expression in various political systems.

PSYCH 110 Mindfulness, Stress, and Health: Eastern and Western Perspectives (2 credits)

Mindfulness-based therapies are based in Eastern and Western philosophies, theories, and research. They have been shown to be significantly helpful for stress-related problems, mental health problems, and medical disorders. Mindfulness-based therapies are also revolutionizing the way that psychologists think about and treat human suffering. In this course, we will explore the theories, techniques, and research on mindfulness-based therapies from Eastern and Western traditions. A combination of lecturing, class discussion, and experiential exercises will be used to help students gain a well-developed understanding of this important area of psychological research and practice. Students will also acquire basic skills in how to use mindfulness-based techniques to reduce stress and distress.

NEUROSCI 202 Medical Neuroscience (4 credits)

Examines the functional organization and neurophysiology of the human central nervous system, with a neurobiological framework for understanding human behavior. Students learn the anatomy and function of neural systems in the brain and spinal cord that mediate sensation, motivate bodily action, and integrate sensorimotor signals with memory, emotion, and related cognitive faculties. Provides the foundation for neurological sciences, including understanding the impairments of sensation, action, and cognition that accompany injury, disease, or dysfunction in the human central nervous system.

BEHAVSCI 203 Comparative Analysis of Behavior (4 credits)

This course explores commonalities and differences in behavior across species, with a particular focus on how behavior has been shaped by evolutionary pressures (e.g., ecological niches). It will identify ways in which human behavior is mirrored in other great ape species, while also considering evidence for and against uniquely human behavioral capacities. The course will draw upon concepts from psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and related disciplines.

Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 101 or NEUROSCI 102

BEHAVSCI 204 Experimental Philosophy (4 credits)

This course investigates the interrelations between the experimental methods of the social/neural sciences and the fundamental questions of philosophy. Students will consider whether and how empirical research could influence a range of philosophical ideas; key topics include the nature of free will, questions of personal responsibility, and ethical judgments and decisions. The limitations of empirical methods – and the challenges of integrating theories across disciplines – will also be explored.

GLHLTH 301 Global Health Research Methods (4 credits)

This course introduces research methods in global health. Global health is a multi-disciplinary field, so the course considers approaches common to the behavioral and social sciences, public health, and medicine. Primary interest is the study of causal inference. Global health researchers, practitioners, and donors need to know what programs and interventions “work” and why. To answer questions of impact, the course explores randomized controlled trials, a mainstay of medical research, and spends significant time helping students understand the rationale, process, and limitations of field experiments. Randomization is not always possible or advisable, however, and researchers must build a causal argument using non-experimental methods. The course reviews several approaches, considers relevant threats to causal inference, and discusses how to improve non-experimental research designs. The course also covers research basics, such as developing and testing theory, asking good questions, understanding variability, designing good measurement, and selecting research participants. The latter part of the course turns to more specialized topics in global health research, such as cost effectiveness, community based participatory research, research on humanitarian aid, and monitoring and evaluation. Students will learn how to evaluate published and unpublished research and how to design a global health research project.

Prerequisite(s): GLHLTH 101 or Consent of the Instructor

PUBPOL 303 Policy Choice as Value Conflict (4 credits)

Public policy should be informed by evidence and facts, but it cannot be determined by them. People disagree about public policy not only because they disagree about empirical matters but also because they hold different understandings of familiar political concepts and they assign different weightings to competing political values. This course aims both to illustrate these general propositions and, more importantly, to introduce the tools and techniques with which one can construct and critique reasoned arguments about the political concepts and values that underpin policy choice. The course will be divided into four sections, each of which focuses on a set of contemporary policy disputes whose resolution depends upon clarifying and justifying our understanding of an underlying political concept and its associated values. The four concepts whose policy implications we shall explore are: democracy, justice, liberty, and rights. Readings are mostly works of contemporary political philosophy.

Prerequisite(s): PUBPOL 101

ECON 309 Behavioral Finance (4credits)

The field of Behavioral Finance uses psychology to explain anomalies that we observe in the financial markets—investment behavior that are not consistent with the classical economic models of rational decision-making. In behavioral models, we recognize that individuals (and markets) may behave irrationally, sometimes for extended periods of time. Using some of the more popular and accepted theories of human behavior from the fields of psychology and decision-making, we will characterize some prevalent features of irrational behavior in the financial markets. We will discuss typical errors made by financial market participants as a result of behavioral biases, and examine the extent to which irrationality can affect financial markets at the aggregate level (“bubbles”), how long irrationality may persist, and what factors will eventually cause these bubbles to burst (“crashes”).

Prerequisite(s): ECON 101

NEUROSCI 301 Research Methods in Neuroscience (4 credits)

Explore the wide spectrum of methods commonly used in the field of neuroscience, ranging from molecular/genetic to electrophysiology and whole brain imaging. Multiple units of this team-based learning course will include interaction with a scientist currently practicing the technique.

Prerequisite(s): NEUROSCI 102

BEHAVSCI 301 Computational Neuroscience (4 credits)

Students will explore a variety of computational models that have been applied to brain physiology and function. The course will emphasize both understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of those models and applying those models within simulations or data analyses. It will span levels of analysis from neural circuits (e.g., computations in local populations of neurons) to high-level cognition and behavior (e.g., coding properties within sensory systems). The course will include hands-on laboratory exercises; thus, prior programming experience is recommended.

Prerequisite(s): NEUROSCI 102