Psychology and Health: Emotions, Behaviors, and Disease

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 19, 2021 - August 11, 20217/19 - 8/113 WeeksOnlineWaitlistedOnlineMary Beth McCullough

Course Description

Have you ever wondered where the terms “cold feet” or “butterflies in your stomach” come from? Have you ever wondered why zebras and other animals don’t get ulcers? This course will answer these and other questions related to the role of psychology in the onset, course, and treatment of physical health conditions. This course will provide an overview of the principles and applications of health psychology: “the study of how biology, psychology, and social processes work together to impact a person’s health and illness.” Students will learn how a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors influence their physical health and will gain an appreciation of the connection between our mental and physical well-being.

Health psychology topics will be discussed in terms of acute and chronic illnesses (e.g., cancer, HIV) and behaviors (e.g., sleep, diet/exercise, substance use). We will discuss what stress is, the links between stress and physiological functioning, and how stress reduction promotes better mental and physical health. Students will learn the role of sleep in brain functioning (e.g., “Why am I so tired during first period?”), why health behaviors are so hard to change (e.g., “Why can I not motivate myself to exercise?”), and why some behaviors (even playing video games!) can seem addictive. This course will be interactive, discussion-based, and will include information that you can apply to your every day life. For example, students will monitor one of their own health behaviors during the course and will apply health psychology principles to make a treatment plan for hypothetical patients.

After taking this course, students will be able to articulate the biological, social, cultural, and environmental influences on health and well-being; give examples of bidirectional relationships between psychological and physical functioning; and apply psychological principles to enhance and improve physical and mental health.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course, but a strong interest or some background in the subject material is expected.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPY0937

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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