Instructor: Professor Brian P. Meier
Few television families have captured the hearts of so many individuals around the world like The Simpsons. The Simpsons have been making people laugh for over two decades as the longest running situation comedy in television history. The Simpsons present a comical and scathing review of popular culture. Yet, a critical examination of the characters and topics uncovers a host of psychological processes at work. The characters are influenced by a variety of situations (e.g., bullying) and personality traits (e.g., narcissism) that allow for a lively investigation of human behavior. In this course, students engage in a critical examination of The Simpsons using the lens of psychological science. The goal is to use The Simpsons to develop an understanding of psychological science as well an appreciation for the ways in which psychology can be used to explain, predict, and modify behavior. The course covers relevant topic areas in psychology such as altruism, psychological disorders, self-control, stereotypes, attraction, and development across the lifespan. Students are actively involved in the learning process by watching and discussing episodes, reading textbook chapters and original articles, writing critical papers using the methods of social scientists, and presenting work to their peers. This social science course is perfect for students who are interested in better understanding human behavior.