R. Chris Fraley, PhD
Department of Psychology, Room 409
E-mail, phone, and other information:

Teaching Assistants

Josh Jackson | Email: jjackso7[AT]
Jamie Marcus | Email: marcus2[AT]
Serena Wee | Email: swee2[AT]

Class web page


Mar 14th, 2006

We will not have class on March 17th, 2006.
May 1, 2006

Student projects

If you're in one of the three sections, please participate in the studies that your classmates are running.

There is no textbook for this class. However, there will be reading assignments announced from time to time. These readings will be made available on the class web page and will be announced in class.

Structure and Overview of the Course

The discipline of psychology occupies a peculiar niche in modern universities. Contemporary psychologists are concerned with basic humanistic issues (e.g., the nature of emotions, the mind, relationships, free will, and consciousness) that have traditionally been studied by philosophers, poets, and historians. However, unlike scholars in these other disciplines, modern psychologists employ the methods of the natural sciences (e.g., measurement, experimentation) in order to understand these phenomena.

The objective of this course is to introduce you to scientific methods, explain why they are valuable, and illustrate how they can be used to understand psychological phenomena. More specifically, we will focus on the methods used to study the psychology of personality. Personality psychology is concerned with understanding the ways in which people differ from one another, the origins and development of those differences, and the implications of those differences for important outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction, marriage, career performance, mental and physical health). The study of personality is arguably one of the most integrative areas in contemporary psychology, bringing together theories and data from multiple disciplines to better understand the way in which the mind works, how we develop, and what makes us different from one another. As such, the methods we will discuss in this course will be broad in scope, ranging from those concerned with low-level aspects of human functioning (e.g., perception) to those that are more abstract (e.g., the organization of the self-concept).

This specific course will not discuss in much depth the "content" of personality psychology (i.e., the knowledge that has accumulated over the last few decades). A prerequisite for the class is Psych 250, so I will assume that you already know something about what psychologists have learned about the nature of human personality. This course will focus on the methods that personality psychologists use to acquire this knowledge. As such, the emphasis will be on providing you with a broad set of skills rather than facts and trivia.

I will deliver lectures on Mondays. I expect you to be in class on time, and, if you cannot make it to class for some reason, I strongly encourage you to obtain the lecture notes from one of your classmates as soon as possible. (Do not come to me or one of the TAs for lecture notes.) After the first few weeks, the Monday class meetings will become a bit less formal as we move into group activities, discussions, and continuations of activities that are relevant to your lab sections. There will be two lab sections, led by the TAs, held on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week. In those sections you will design studies, collect and analyze psychological data, and expand your critical thinking skills.

The Class Webpage

I will post lecture notes and other materials relevant to the class on the class web page. You should treat the class web page as your primary syllabus. I will be updating it on a regular basis and it will be your responsibility to keep up-to-date on any changes that are made. (I will, however, announce significant changes in the lecture sessions.) The lecture-topical schedule listed below is preliminary and will change as a function of how quickly or slowly we are progressing though the course. If you do not have Internet access at home, please visit one of the many student computer facilities on campus on a regular basis.


Grades will be based on a combination of tests, papers, and laboratory participation. The tests will cover some of the basic concepts that we will discuss in lecture, as well as some of the skills you acquire during the laboratory sessions (e.g., data analysis). The purpose of the tests is to provide you with a means to ensure that you are mastering the skills appropriately (i.e., the tests will be used as a feedback mechanism). Thus, if you do not do well on a test, you will have the opportunity to determine where you went wrong, practice some more, and then try the test again. In an ideal world, every student will earn A's on the tests by the end of the semester. You can only retake any one test twice, and that re-test has to be done within 8 days of the first time. There will probably only be 2 to 3 tests, concentrated primarily in the beginning of the semester. (The latter part of the semester will be focused more on papers and participation.)

The tests will compose 30% of your grade. 50% of your grade will come from the papers you write for the class. During the course of the semester you will have to write two major papers. The first paper will be a report on the results from studies that we conduct during the lab sections. The second paper will be a report on a group project that you design in collaboration with other students. This project will be an empirical research project in which you and your group design a study, collect the data, and analyze and interpret those data.

The remaining 20% of your grade will come from your participation in the lab sections. It is expected that you will be in attendance for all lab sections. Moreover, it is expected that you will participate fully in all lab activities. There will be many hands-on exercises over the course of the semester. It is essential that you engage in these activities in order to fully gain as much as you can from this class.

Policy on Missed Tests and Assignments

Students will be eligible for a make up test if an officially documented excuse if provided (i.e., court order, police report, death certificate). I do not accept doctor's notes, but I will accept medical billing statements (with any personal/confidential information omitted). If there is a scheduling conflict that will prevent you from taking a test, you must let me know in advance of the test date. Please contact your TA regarding missed tests and assignments.

Schedule for the Class

The outline below is a preliminary outline (i.e., one that is subject to change) of what will be covered during the lab sections of the class.

Week 1 ~ Jan 13 - Jan 27 Date Topic

Jan 23 Introduction to the Science of Personality
[download lecture as PowerPoint file]

Jan 25 no class - SPSP conference

Jan 27 no class - SPSP conference

Week 2 ~ Jan 30 - Feb 3

Jan 30 Four limitations of personal experience
[download lecture as PowerPoint file]

Feb 1 The scientific method and pseudo-science
[download lecture as PowerPoint file]

Week 3 ~ Feb 6 - Feb 10

Feb 6 Subliminal recording experiments - experiments

Feb 8 Subliminal recording experiments - How to enter and manage data in SPSS

Feb 10 Subliminal recording experiments - Discussion of Greenwald et al. (1991) article
Download PDF version of article

Week 4 ~ Feb 13 - Feb 17

Feb 13 Subliminal recording experiments - How analyze simple experimental data in SPSS - Composite variables, mean differences and Cohen's d
[download lecture as PowerPoint file]
Download SPSS data file | view copy of original self-esteem questionnaire

Feb 15 Subliminal recording experiments - Analyzing difference scores in self-esteem
In class assignment - Personality Test

Feb 17 Practice in creating composites using class life satisfaction data
Download SPSS data file
View item labels and variable information
In class assignment

Week 5 ~ Feb 20 - Feb 24

Feb 20 Correlational analyses: Theory and practice
[download lecture as PowerPoint file]

Feb 22 In-class exercises on correlations using class data
In class assignment
Download SPSS data file (note: same dataset as before, but I modifed it slightly to make the assignment easier)

Feb 24 Test 1: In class exam on creating a data spreadsheet, creating composites, and studying mean differences between groups
Download Quiz Here
Note: The quiz is due at the end of class. Feel free to print the quiz if you like; you should be able to print a limited number of pages from your account free of charge. If you cannot make it to class for the quiz, please contact your TA to arrange an alternative date.

Week 6 ~ Feb 27 - Mar 3

Feb 27 Some (simple) steps for creating a measure of individual differences in a personality variable
[download lecture as PowerPoint file]
Download SPSS data file

Mar 1 Group work on item pool generation

Mar 3 Data collection

Week 7 ~ Mar 6 - Mar 10

Mar 6 Entering data and initial examination of questionnaire properties

Mar 8 Examination of questionnaire properties - Selecting 10 items for a new scale

Mar 10 Using metaForm to create on-line questionnaires

Week 8 ~ Mar 13 - Mar 17

Mar 13 Work on metaForm questionnaires

Complete metaForm questionnaires for classmates as part of data collection. Use your Alias as your user ID so that responses from multiple questionnaires can be combined if needed.

Mar 15 Importing metaForm data and analyzing item properties

Mar 17 We will not have class on March 17th, 2006.s

Week 10 ~ Mar 20 - Mar 24

Mar 20 Spring Break

Mar 22 Spring Break

Mar 24 Spring Break

Week 11 ~ Mar 27 - Mar 31

Mar 27 Orientation to next group project
See this link for a full description of the assignment

Jen Smith's PowerPoint slide on Paper Writing Tips
Jen Smith's MS Word file Sample Paper (corrupted file fixed)

Mar 29 Group meetings to discuss project

Mar 31 Group meetings to discuss project

Week 12 ~ Apr 3 - Apr 7

April 3 Working on first major project

April 5 Working on first major project

April 7 Working on first major project

Week 13 ~ Apr 10 - Apr 14

Apr 10 Working on first major project

Apr 12 Working on first major project

Apr 14 Working on first major project

Week 13 ~ Apr 17 - Apr 21

Apr 17 Working on first major project

Apr 19 Working on first major project

Apr 21 First Major Project Due

Week 15 ~ Apr 24 - Apr 28

Apr 24 Information regarding Final Project

Apr 26 Work on final project

Apr 28 Work on final project

Week 16 ~ May 1 - May 5

May 1 Lecture on partial correlations
[download notes as PowerPoint file]
[download SPSS dataset used in notes]

May 3 Work on final project

May 5 Work on final project

Final paper due May 8th