Psychology 2035B-650 (online)

Understanding Yourself and Others

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


This course examines ways in which recent research findings in psychology may be applied in the individual's life. Emphasis on psychology as an empirical science and on avenues of self-understanding and personal growth. Topics include personality, stress and coping, person perception, interpersonal communication, friendship and love, sexuality, vocational development.


Antirequisite: Psychology 2050


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


3 lecture hours, 0.5 course


       Instructor: Matthew Maxwell-Smith                                      

       Office and Phone Number:  SSC 7400          

       Office Hours:    (by appointment only)         


       Course Website:


       Teaching Assistant: Vanessa Sinclair            

       Office: TBA                                                           

       Office Hours: By appointment only.                        


If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Weiten, Dunn, & Hammer (2018)

Psychology applied to modern life (12th ed.

Boston, MA: Cengage. 

Be sure to purchase the 12th edition. You are NOT responsible for purchasing anything from the website. 



This course examines ways in which recent research findings in psychology may be applied in the individual's life. Emphasis on psychology as an empirical science and on avenues of self- understanding and personal growth. Topics include: personality, stress and coping, person perception, interpersonal communication, friendship and love, sexuality, vocational development.


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

~ identify major concepts and theories (including examples) relevant to topics in this course;

~ interpret the results of research that has examined these concepts and theories; and

~ apply these concepts and theories to everyday life.


The specific Learning Objectives associated with each textbook chapter should also help students achieve the course objectives and learning outcomes.



Student evaluation will be based on two exams and quality of participation in discussions.



% of final grade

Midterm 1


Midterm 2


Final Exam


Online Discussions




5.1 Exams:

There will be three exams that are two hours long and consist of 90-100 multiple-choice and true/false questions. Each exam is non-cumulative in content. These exams deal with material covered in the textbook and any non-text content introduced by your instructor. All exams will be closed book – no books, notes, calculators, electronic dictionaries, or aids of any type will be allowed. Bring your Western student card and a No. 2/HB pencil to the exam. All students are expected to complete exams on the scheduled dates. Students who wish to change the location of their exam centre will need to give Distance Studies at least 4 weeks advanced notice before the date of the exam.


Grades will be posted to the course web site as soon as possible after each exam. 


Missing an exam

It is the Academic Counsellor, rather than the course instructor, who processes all cases of missing a exam. If you miss an exam, you are required to contact your Academic Counsellor in a timely fashion and be prepared to submit to them the necessary supporting documentation (see Section 9.0 of this course outline). Your Academic Counsellor will inform me about the outcome of his or her discussion with you.



5.2 Discussions:


There will be a total of two required online discussions on the course OWL site. Both discussions are worth 5% of the course grade each, 10% in total. A forum will become open on the day that its associated textbook chapter is introduced. The opening and closing date for each forum is listed in the Lecture Schedule (see section 7.0 of this course outline). You would need to contact your Academic Counsellor if you miss one or more posting and you are requesting academic accommodation for the missed posting(s) (see Section 9.0 of this course outline).


Students are required to post one original response and two replies to other students for each discussion. Additionally, you are strongly encouraged to respond to other students’ responses to your post. Receiving a good mark will require creative, insightful posts that show accurate knowledge of the material, elaborate on information posted  earlier in the discussion, and involve a meaningful dialogue with classmates.


Your forum post will be marked according to the following guidelines:


60% or less: inadequate post. Aspects of an inadequate post include: restating the question in your own words but not providing a clear answer to the question; posting information that is off-topic, incorrect, or irrelevant to the discussion; or providing no references or supporting experience.


61-70%: adequate post with superficial thought and preparation. Shallow contribution to the discussion (e.g., agrees or disagrees). The post does not enrich discussion; that is, it repeats but does not add substantive information to the discussion. There is use of personal experience, but no references to readings or to research.


71-80%: the post is factually correct but lacks full development of concept or thought. It elaborates on the question or on an existing post with further comment or observation. There is incorporation of some references from literature and from personal experience. The post contributes valuable information to discussion, with minor clarity errors.


81% or more: posts consistently demonstrate analysis of the question or of others’ posts. Information is factually correct. There is reflective and substantive contribution which advances meaningful discussion with clear and concise comments. References to literature, readings, and personal experience support comments.


More information about the content of each discussion will become open on the day that its associated textbook chapter is introduced.


Please note that it is your responsibility to make sure that your discussion contributions are posted properly and on time. Having written something that didn't get posted, for whatever reason, is not grounds for appealing a grade of zero for that discussion.


Please note: participation is a key element in this course, and some of the topics covered involve sensitive issues. Therefore, it is important that we foster and maintain an atmosphere of respect and civility. All class members have a role in creating this atmosphere by responding to comments with interest, and allowing all students to participate. When a student’s behaviour is not consistent with the above, one of the instructors will contact the student privately. Penalties may be applied to excessively rude or insensitive posts. If a student’s behaviour continues to be disrespectful, s/he will be removed from the discussion.



5.3 Bonus:


There will be some opportunities to earn up to 2 extra marks to count toward your overall course grade.  The extra credit points may be earned in one of two ways: 1) participating in online research studies by researchers from the Department of Psychology at Western, or 2) completing written assignments (more details will be posted to our course web site later). 


Because this course emphasizes the importance of psychological research, you would all benefit from participating in research studies.  You may be able to see some of the principles that we discuss in class applied in research studies. 


You may participate in studies being conducted by any ONLINE studies by the researchers of Western’s Psychology Department.  These are the same studies that first year students participate in as part of Psychology 1000.  In order to participate you will be given an account for the Psychology Research Participation Pool that you can access via the SONA sign up system, and you may choose from any ONLINE studies that you wish. In fairness to all of our off-site students, you are only eligible to receive credit from ONLINE research studies.


As a participant in the subject pool, you earn a certain number of credits for each study (i.e., studies may give each participant 0.5 credits, 1.0 credits, etc.). For our course, you will receive marks added to your overall course grade for each study in which you participate, to a maximum of 2.0 credits/marks.  The SONA system will track the studies and I will be given the information at the end of the term in order to adjust your grade.


You may also earn bonus marks by completing written assignments that I will be posting on the OWL site.  These activities may involve writing papers on a variety of topics relevant to the course, e.g., assessments of research articles, preparing a dossier on a research questionnaires, discussing a specific ethical issue. Each activity will be evaluated on a 0-1.0 scale based on the accuracy, completeness, and quality of the submitted document. You may mix and match the two methods of getting bonus marks (choose a study, choose a paper) but the maximum number of bonus marks would be 2.0. This is an opportunity to earn extra marks and is not required as part of your normal grade---you will not lose any marks if you do not participate in studies. 


The opportunity to earn bonus marks ends the last day of classes (Wednesday April 11).



Policy on Cheating (and other Academic Offences):


Scholastic offences are taken very seriously at Western.  Therefore, students must be familiar with the appropriate policies, including the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence.  This can be found at the following website: Scholastic Offences at Western.


Cheating is a very serious academic offence and it will not be tolerated.  As of September 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology requires that all multiple-choice tests and exams be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses, using reliable software.  In addition, records will be made of student seating locations during all tests and exams.  If a similar pattern of responses is detected, students will be reported to the Dean’s office for further investigation and possible disciplinary action.


The penalties for cheating can include refusal of a passing grade on the test/exam; refusal of a passing grade in the course; suspension from the University; and expulsion from the University.


To avoid any suspicion of cheating, please take the following steps:


(i) If you studied with another student, then do not sit near this person during the tests/exams.  Students who study together are more likely to have similar answers.


(iiKeep your answers covered so students sitting near you do not have the opportunity to cheat from your exam.


(iii) If you suspect that someone is cheating from your exam, then immediately notify the course instructor or one of the proctors.  That way, a record can be made of the incident, and alternative seating arrangements can be provided.


Make-up Exams:

Students will be allowed to write make-up exams only under special circumstances.  These include medical or compassionate reasons, and must be substantiated with proper documentation as soon as possible (e.g., medical certification verifying that you are unable to write an exam; certificates stating for medical reasons are not sufficient).  Please note that the documentation must be submitted to (and approved by) an academic counsellor in your Dean’s office.  A student who misses an exam for any other reason, or who is unable to substantiate a claim in a timely fashion, will be assigned a grade of zero for that exam.   In fairness to all, no exceptions to this policy will be allowed.


Please see the POLICY ON ACCOMMODATION FOR MEDICAL ILLNESS - UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS at for additional information on medical accommodation.  Additional information on appropriate medical documentation can be found at


Policy Regarding Illness:                                                

If you feel that you have a medical or personal problem that is interfering with your work, then you should contact your Faculty Academic Counselling Office as soon as possible.  Problems may then be documented and possible arrangements to assist you can be discussed at the time of occurrence, rather than retroactively.  In general, retroactive requests for grade revisions on medical or compassionate grounds will not be considered.


NOTE: Grades cannot be adjusted on the basis of "need".  In addition, students will not be given the opportunity to improve their grades by completing extra assignments.  As such, it is important that you monitor your performance on exams and take steps to eliminate any problems as soon as possible, so the problems do not interfere with your performance on subsequent exams.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail







% of final grade

Material covered

Midterm 1

Feb 3


Weeks 1-4

Midterm 2

March 10


Weeks 5-7

Final exam

TBA Apr 14-30


Weeks 7-11


Note 1: All of our mid-term exams will fall on a Saturday at 9am or 2pm. The final exam will be administered on a specific date and time during the W'2017 final exam period April 14-30, 2018.


Note 2: Exams will cover material from the textbook and any online lecture material.


Note 3: Electronic devices (e.g., cell phones, dictionaries, ipods/earbuds) are NOT permitted during exams.  Please leave these devices at home or in your book bag.







Part 1: The nature of Psychological Adjustment


Jan 8



Jan 15



Jan 22



Jan 29



Feb 3

(Exact Time TBD)


Part 2: Understanding the Self and the Predictors of Psychological Adjustment


Feb 5



Feb 12



Feb 19-23



March 5



March 10

(Exact Time TBD)


Part 3: Ameliorating Stress and Improving Psychological Adjustment


March 12



March 19



March 26



April 2



April 9



April 14-30

(Exact Time and Date TBD)



Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.


Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQs)


As we proceed through the course, students often have questions that could affect their progress. To facilitate your progress, I’ve provided answers to some of these Frequently Asked Questions. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.




Q: Can I use an older version of the textbook?

A: The lectures and exams are built around the newest version of the textbook. I always recommend that students use the newest version of the textbook so they don’t miss any material that might be on exams. Pages viii - xii of the newest version of the text illustrate how many content changes have been made since the previous edition, and it is quite likely that the content in many of these changes will be covered on the exam.


Q: I don't have access to this course from OWL. What should I do?

A: If you don't have access, then you are not officially registered in the course. It's possible that you registered late (in which case I can add your name to OWL if you send me your UWO email "username" [the part before]). This will give you access to the course website, but it does NOT ensure that you are officially registered in the course! Therefore, please check the Registrar's website to ensure that you are officially registered. We cannot submit final grades if students are not officially registered in the course.


Q: I'm experiencing problems with OWL. Can you help?

A: It's best to ask the experts at the ITS Support Centre (SSB 4100; 519-661-3800;


Q: Are the exams cumulative?

A:  No.


Q: What textbook chapters will be covered on the upcoming exam?

A: See "Summary of Examination Schedule". Remember, any online lecture material will also be covered.


Q: How much detail do we have to remember from the textbook?

A: I try to avoid asking questions that focus on the smallest details. Nevertheless, some of the exam questions will focus on specific details, so be sure to read the textbook carefully. For a good idea of what specific details to focus on, consult the learning objectives that I post at the end of each set of slides for each lecture.


Q: Do we have to know material in the textbook "Figures"?

A: Yes. The Figures are designed to supplement the textbook material (e.g., by providing a graphic depiction of research findings, or a visual representation of basic concepts/ideas). As such, they will help you understand the material.


Q: Do we have to know material in the "Recommended Reading"  and the "Learn More Online" boxes?

A: Unless I say otherwise, it will not be tested on the exams. Nevertheless, you are strongly encouraged to explore this material if you want to increase your knowledge and competence in the area of how Psychology can be applied to everyday life.


Q: Do we have to know the "Application" sections at the end of each chapter?

A: Yes, except for Chapters 8 and 16 (see our class schedule). These will be treated like other textbook material when it comes to exam questions.


Q: I can't write the exam at the scheduled time, and want to write the makeup exam. When is it scheduled? Will it be the same format?

A: As indicated on the course syllabus, makeup exams are granted under a limited set of circumstances, and must be supported by proper documentation (see the Psychology Department's website for additional information regarding documentation). Documentation must be approved by your Academic Counselor/Dean's office. After the documentation is received and approved, a makeup exam will be scheduled. At that time, we will also discuss the exam format. In the meantime, it is your responsibility to ensure that the documentation is submitted as soon as possible.





Q: Can I ask questions during the exams?

A: To be fair to all students, NO questions will be allowed during the exams. I cannot help you define any "concepts" or "words" on the exams. I cannot discuss what you remember from the textbook or the lectures (because some questions are designed to test your memory of this material). I cannot tell you whether the "reasoning" behind your chosen answer is correct, because that's the same as telling you whether or not your answer is correct. Obviously that's not something we should discuss during the exam! I cannot help you decide what to do if you think two options are correct (except to tell you to choose the best option). Note that we CAN discuss these issues AFTER the exams, but we cannot discuss them during the exams.


Q: Does the time allowed for the exams include filling in the scantron, or do we get extra time for this?

A: You DO NOT get extra time! When the exam ends, your scantron will be removed and blank answers will be recorded as incorrect answers. See previous question.




Q: When will the exam grades be posted?

A: As soon as possible. Check your email inbox or the course web site for notices and please be patient.


Q: I missed the exam. Can we simply re-weight my final grade?

A: No. Students must demonstrate their mastery of all material in the course. If you receive permission from your Dean's Office, then you will be given an opportunity to write a makeup exam. Otherwise, you will receive a zero on the exam. See the next question.


Q: I missed the exam. When can I write the makeup?

A: As indicated on the course outline, you cannot write a makeup exam until you receive permission from your Dean's Office. Documentation is required. Please see the course outline for further details, and submit the documentation as soon as possible. If you miss the makeup, it is possible that you will not be given another opportunity to write it (and a grade of zero will be recorded).


Q: I missed the makeup exam. What should I do?

A: This is a very serious situation. You should contact your Dean's office as soon as possible if there is anything that is preventing you from writing exams and makeup exams at the scheduled times. Please ask the Dean's office to contact me.