Classy Classes: PSYCH 148S – The Psychology of Prejudice: Stereotypes, Prejudice and Discrimination

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PSYCH 148S: “The Psychology of Bias: Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination” is a three-unit course where students gain an understanding of societal biases and ways to combat them. The class integrates research and studies from social, cognitive, affective, developmental, cultural, and neural perspectives to analyze the processes that reflect and perpetuate group prejudice.

Taught by a doctorate in social psychology. students Nick P. Camp and Camilla M. Griffiths, the course explores prejudice in terms of identity groups such as race, gender, and age. Students also analyze precursors to bias, different elements of bias, levels of analysis, and different perspectives of bias.

Griffiths is entering his fourth year of doctoral studies. student and the subject of bias is very relevant to his research.

“I’m interested in hearing from students who have or haven’t taken psychology courses before and their perspective on what topics I’m really passionate about and that guide my research,” Griffiths said.

Camp hopes that by teaching this course, students will learn about the different processes of bias, how to think about those processes, and what they can do to resolve them and change them for the better. The class is open to all students, from high school to graduate. No training in psychology is necessary.

“People come from so many different backgrounds and personal experiences. Some people have taken psychology classes and some haven’t, so there’s a bit of everything,” Camp said. “I think it actually improves the course.”

Natalie Shabahang, senior at the University of Michigan, is interested in the scientific aspect of bias and its origin.

“I’m hoping to gain a more nuanced understanding of the different functions that go through someone’s head before they finally get to the behaviors they actually perform in real life that reflect biases,” Shabahang said.

Robert W. King, on the other hand, practiced respiratory care in hospitals and community clinics for several years and saw firsthand the results of racial bias in medicine.

“I find racial bias in medical care, in emergency rooms, in painkillers [and] in the courses and instructions given to patients, and I try to learn how to combat this so that we can have equal access to health care through education,” King said.

PSYCH 148S is a two-hour, twice-weekly discussion course with multiple research reviews, student presentations, external readings, and occasional lectures. As part of the class participation requirement, which is 35% of the final grade, students must complete an assignment called QuALMRI (Question, Alternative Hypotheses, Logic and Design, Method, Results, and Inferences). For the QuALMRI, students present a specific study from the external readings of the course in a short and interesting way, like a joke.

Midway through the course, students will work with group members to examine the role of bias in a real-world topic, such as criminal justice or the media, and present their findings to the class. They will identify a problem in their area and describe how at least two psychological processes they have learned in the course contribute to this problem. For the final project, students use these presentations and apply course material to real-life examples in an essay.

This application to everyday life is one of the reasons high school sophomore Lorrena Ferrarini took the course.

“I really hope to learn what I’m doing right and wrong in my everyday life, why I’m doing it, so if it’s something I shouldn’t be doing, I can change it, and just to have an explanation of why we have this bias,” said Ferrarini.

Camp hopes that by the end of this course, students will use scientific awareness about bias to bring about social change.

“This is a course that all students should take, because bias is something that affects us all and understanding the processes that contribute to it is very important in determining how to address it,” Camp said.

Contact Riya Chopra at riya.chopra202 ‘at’ gmail.com

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