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Advanced Placement Psychology
Curriculum Map





Essential Questions


Suggested Alternative Assessments



History and Approaches

  • Prescientific psychology
  • Psychological science develops
  • Schools of thought
  • Psychology’s subfields

 Research Methods

  • Scientific method
  • Survey
  • Correlation
  • Statistical reasoning
  • Central tendency
  • Ethics







Ch. 1

  • What is psychology and what makes it a science?
  • How do the schools of psychology compliment each other?

  • How do researchers study behavior?
  • What does a correlation prove?
  • Why are descriptive statistics important?
  • Is it ethical to experiment on animals?
  • Is it ethical to deceive participants?

·  Discuss early psychologists’ effort to understand the structures of the mind

·  Analyze the different perspectives from which psychologists examine behavior and mental process 

·  Describe the relationship between psychological theories and scientific research

·  Identify the basic elements of an experiment

·  Explain why correlational research fails to prove cause- and-effect

·  Describe the three measures of central tendency

·        Write a biography of one of the important contributors to psychology

·        Analyze and summarize primary documents from psychology’s beginnings 

·  Write a research paper using an experimental method and APA guidelines

·  Write an essay discussing ethical guidelines and Milgram’s obedience study



Biological Bases of Behavior

  • Neural communication
  • Nervous system
    • Peripheral
    • Central nervous system
  • Brain
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Divided brains
  • Endocrine system
  • Evolutionary psychology



 Sensation and Perception

  • Senses
  • Thresholds
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Body position and movement
  • Selective attention
  • Illusions
  • Perceptional organization
  • Perceptual interpretation
  • ESP











Ch. 5+6

  • Are the brain and the mind different?
  • How do the structures of the brain control behavior and mental processes?
  • How does the brain recover after an accident?
  • How does brain damage affect functioning?



  • How is information gained from the environment?
  • How do the five sense function?
  • How do cues in the environment help perception?
  • How does experience affect perception?
  • Can we always trust our senses and perception?

·  Describe how nerve cells communicate

·  Describe the functions of the brainstem, thalamus, cerebellum, and limbic system

·  Discuss the capacity of the brain to reorganize following illness or injury

·  Discuss the impact of evolutionary history on genetically predisposed behavior tendencies

·  Contrast the process of sensation and perception

·  Describe the effects of noise on hearing and behavior

·  Analyze the nature of sensory interaction

·  Describe Gestalt psychology

·  Describe perceptual constancies and their influence on illusions

·  Analyze the role of nature and nurture in perception

·  Explain the importance of context and experience in perception

·  Silhouette with a view activity

·  Essay on the capacity for reorganization of the brain after accident or injury







·  Group project and oral presentation on one of the five senses

·  Create an optical illusion based on perceptual constancies and environmental cues



States of Consciousness

  • Waking consciousness
  • Sleep and dreams
    • Rhythm of sleep
    • Sleep disorders
    • Dreams
  • Hypnosis
  • Drugs and consciousness
    • Dependence and addiction
    • Psychoactive drugs
  • Near death experiences

  Developmental Psychology

  • Prenatal development
  • Infancy and childhood
  • Gender
  • Social development
  • Adolescence
  • Adulthood


Ch. 7







Ch. 4+3

  • Why do we dream?
  • Is hypnosis valid and effective?
  • How do drugs affect mental processing and everyday functioning?
  • What is addiction?
  • Do people really “see the light at the end of the tunnel” in near death experiences?  

  • Are we products of nature or nurture?
  • Are gender differences a product of genetics or society?
  • How are the elderly viewed and valued?

·  Contrast conscious and subconscious information processing

·  Describe the cyclical nature and possible functions of sleep

·  Identify the physiological and psychological effects of drugs

·  Discuss the impact of physical maturation on infants’ memory and motor skills

·  Describe Piaget’s view of how the mind develops

·  Summarize current views regarding continuity versus stages and stability versus change

  ·  Research report on meditation and its effectiveness

·  Presentation on grant proposal for studying an altered state




·  Interview a child and write a research report

·  Analyze responses to death at various ages




  • Psychoanalytic perspective
  • Humanistic perspective
  • Trait perspective
  • Social-Cognitive perspective
  • The Self
  • The unconscious mind







  • Classical conditioning
  • Operant conditioning
  • Punishment v. rewards
  • Observation

Ch. 15










Ch. 8

  • Are personalities constant over time or do they change with each new experience?
  • Do personality tests really assess personality?






  • What are the differences between classical and operant conditioning?
  • Is punishment effective in deterring unwanted behavior?
  • Do rewards influence behavior?

·   Describe Freud’s view of personality structure in terms of the Id, Ego, and Superego

·   Analyze the contributions of Neo-Freudians

·   Describe the humanistic perspective

·   Discuss research regarding the consistency of behavior over time and across situations  

·   Explain the difference between classical and operant conditioning

·   Identify the different types of reinforcers and schedules of reinforcement

·   Discuss the importance of cognitive processes to behavior

·    Myers-Briggs personality test

·    Personality analysis paper, analyzing a friend, famous person, or cartoon figure






·  “A day in the life”, identifying the types of conditioning and learning throughout the day




  • Information processing
  • Encoding
  • Sensory, short-term, long-term memory
  • Retrieval
  • Forgetting and amnesia
  • Repressed and recovered memory

Thinking and Language

  • Thinking
  • Solving problems
  • Making decisions
  • Language structure
  • Language development
  • Animal thinking and language


  • Definition
  • Multiple intelligence
  • Creativity



Midyear Exam

Ch. 9,10,11















All chapters

  • Is memory accurate?
  • How is information stored and retrieved?
  • What is the physiology behind forgetting?
  • Can forgotten memories be recovered?
  • Are repressed memories valid?
  • How are decisions made?
  • How much do emotions interfere with decisions?
  • Is there one form of intelligence?
  • Can creativity be assessed through a test?

·  Describe memory in terms of information processing and distinguish among sensory, short-term, and long-term memory

·  Analyze the implications presented when viewing memory as reconstructive

·  Discuss how are beliefs distort logical reasoning  

·  Describe the structure of language

·  Analyze the nature/nurture debate in terms of language acquisition

·  Discuss whether intelligence should be considered a general mental ability or many specific abilities


·  Essay debating the validity of repressed and recovered memories

·  Essay debating that repressed and recovered memories are not valid

·  Research court cases with eye-witness testimony as the main evidence report on the prevalence and verdict

·   Research emotional intelligence and present to class



Testing & Individual Differences

Assessing intelligence
Test construction
Cultural bias
Group differences
Genetic influences
Environmental influences
Extremes of intelligence

Abnormal Psychology

  • Defining and classifying
  • DSM-IV
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Dissociation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Prevalence


Ch. 11+1







Ch. 16

  • Are intelligence tests culturally biased?
  • What accounts for the group differences in intelligence scores?
  • Can intelligence be faked?




  • What is “normal” or “abnormal”?
  • What is the most common disorder?
  • How does society view the mentally ill?

·  Discuss whether intelligence tests are culturally biased

·  Describe group differences in intelligence tests

·  Discuss the stability of intelligence scores


·  Identify the criteria for judging whether behavior is psychologically disordered

·  Describe the aims of the DSM-IV

·  Describe the prevalence and symptoms of various disorders and the timing of their onset

·  Design an intelligence test, avoiding cultural bias and testing for all types of intelligence





·  Case study conference

·  Create a patient file with diagnosis and history



Treatment of Psychological Disorders

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Humanistic
  • Behavioral
  • Cognitive
  • Biomedical therapies
    • Drugs, surgery electro convulsive


Motivation and Emotion

  • Instincts and evolutionary psychology
  • Drives and incentives
  • Hierarchy of motives
  • Hunger
  • Sex
  • Belonging
  • Theories of emotion
  • Physiology
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Stress


Ch. 17







Ch. 12+13

  • Is there one type of treatment that works best for most disorders?
  • Why do therapists use an eclectic approach when treating patients?



  • How important are emotions to our sense of self?
  • What causes fear?
  • Do emotions serve a purpose or do they just get in the way?
  • How does society influence expressing emotions?
  • What motivates people to succeed?

·  Discuss the rationale and benefits of group therapy

·  Describe the commonalities and differences among the psychotherapies

·  Identify the common forms of drug therapy


·  Define motivation and identify several theories of motivated behavior

·  Describe Maslow’s hierarchy of motives

·  Discuss psychological and cultural influences on hunger and sex

·  Identify the three components of emotion

·  Describe the relationship between physiological states and specifics emotions

·  Case conference with each type of treatment and therapy presented by “therapists”





·  Design an ad campaign to motivate customers and play on their emotions

·  Design a guidebook for a company, utilizing knowledge about motivation and emotion, to produce the most productive and happiest employees



Social Psychology

  • Attitudes and actions
  • Conformity and obedience
  • Social relations
    • Prejudice
    • Aggression
    • Conflict
    • Attraction
    • Altruism


Ch. 18

  • How do attitudes influence actions?
  • Why is conformity valued so highly in society?
  • Why are people attracted to each other?
  • Do opposites really attract?


·  Identify the conditions under which attitudes have a strong impact on actions

·  Explain the foot-in-the-door phenomenon

·  Discuss the results of experiments on conformity

·  Discuss how group interaction can facilitate group polarization and groupthink

·  Create and administer a survey about social attitudes



Review for AP Exam

AP Exam

All chapters






Final Project


  • Why study psychology?

·   Analyze an aspect of psychology using proper research methods and experimentation

·    Create a psychology game to test knowledge of all areas of psychology