The Psychology of Couples and Intimacy
Psyc 2560 - COPACE
Summer 2011 Session I
Download Couples Syllabus CJF

Tuesday and Thursday 6 - 9:30
Location: JC 218

Professor: C.J. Eubanks Fleming
Office: 345 Jonas Clark Hall
Office hours: By Appointment, Tuesday and Thursday

Goals of the seminar: While intimate relationships are important for everybody, their scientific study is something a psychology-interested student needs to master. Your goal in this class will be to learn about the psychology of couples and intimacy. You will study a broad overview of the field including both research and clinical perspectives. Most, if not all of this material will be relevant to your own life either now or at some point in the future.
You are about to begin studying a topic that almost all of us have in common. Our best estimate is that at least 90% of you in this class will marry at least once, 50% of those of you that marry will divorce, one-third within the first four years, and of those that divorce, 80% will get married again (approximately 60% of whom will divorce yet again). Few other areas of study will ever be as directly relevant to your life.
Because this is an area in which just about everyone has some inherent interest, there are a lot of myths about relating that are perpetuated in the popular media. Therefore, one of the goals of this class will be to teach you how to critically evaluate what you see and read about relationships.

Learning Objectives:
By successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1) Identify and describe major topics integral to the scientific study of couples and intimate relationships.

2) Locate, analyze, and integrate information from scholarly papers about current couples’ topics.

3) Create and deliver effective written and oral presentations of scholarly literature about a topic within couples’ psychology.

4) Discuss and evaluate different theoretical models and assumptions of couples’ clinical work.

Required Texts:
Intimate Relationships. Thomas Bradbury and Benjamin Karney (2010). W.W. Norton & Co. This text is available in the bookstore.
The Marriage Checkup. James Cordova (2009). This text is available in the bookstore.
Additional readings will be made available as needed at the copy center in the basement of Higgins University Center.

Class Expectations:
This class is a seminar, meaning that class time will be devoted primarily to discussion of the issues raised by the readings. There will be little lecturing, so come to class prepared to participate in an intellectual discussion of the readings. Your active participation in class will factor heavily into your grade. This is an upper level seminar and the reading level is consistent with that status.


Your grade in this class will be a product of weekly quizzes, leading 2 discussions in class, two (2) 8-10 page papers, and your active class participation.

Quizzes: There will be a quiz each week. They will be a no more than 15 minutes long, and will be multiple-choice. Quizzes will be limited to only the most recent material, which should always be fresh in your minds. Each quiz will be worth 10 points, for a total of 100 possible quiz points by the end of the semester.

Quiz questions: Each class, you will email me one well-thought-out question that is relevant to the current topic (two questions if there are two topics.) It(they) will be multiple-choice, and have 4 possible answers. It is to your advantage to make it the best questions that you can think of. If it is deemed “quiz worthy”, then it will be added to the quiz. You will already know the answer, so you will be assured the point for being correct (unless you forget your own question). The question(s) must be submitted no later than the day before class (Monday and Wednesday), so that it may be added to the upcoming quiz if necessary.
Quiz questions will be worth 50 points.

Leading a Class: You will be responsible for leading 1 class discussion for the topic that you choose. Leading the discussion will involve coming to class with a list of discussion questions/topics (at least 5 good ones), which you will use to facilitate class discussion of the topics of the day. You are free to use music, movie/television clips, journal articles, or other media to augment your presentation. We will assign the topics during the first class. You will be required to bring in at least one recent article from a scientific psychology publication to present that is relevant to the topic of the day.
Leading the class discussion will be worth 100 points.

Class Participation: Since this is a seminar, active participation is weighted heavily. Class participation will be judged based on your attendance and active participation in classroom discussions.
Class participation will be worth 50 points.

The Papers: Each paper will be worth 100 possible points. The papers should be between 8-10 double-spaced pages. These are to be scholarly papers and not reaction papers or opinion pieces. You are expected to use journal articles and to follow APA publication style in your writing. In assessing the papers, I will generally look for the depth of your thinking, your ability to explicitly use material from research articles and the text/class, the thoughtfulness of your analysis, and the expository clarity and coherence of your paper. In the text of your paper, you may use the name/date reference system (e.g., Smith, 2009). The reference list at the end of the paper should include all cited works and be in APA style.

The topic of the papers should be relevant to the study of intimate relationships and you may use either of the texts as a source of ideas for your papers. You should use at least 5 empirical journal articles as the sources for each paper. The paper is intended to mimic a introductory literature review that you would use as the beginning of a research article.

Each paper should address a question that you have about intimate relationships and present what you have learned from the empirical literature, the textbooks, and class (to the degree that the last two are relevant). For example, you might have a question about whether a person’s childhood attachment style predicts his/her adult attachment style. You would conduct a literature search to find at least 5 journal articles that address this question in some manner and then write an 8-10 page paper describing what you have learned, including the complexities of the question, the means by which researchers have addressed the question, the challenges of the research, what research has found, and what remains uncertain.

The first paper will be due June 9. The second paper will be due June 30.
Both papers together are worth 200 points.

Final Grades: The following scale will be used to calculate final grades.

Total Score       Final Grade
485-500          A+
466-484          A
450-465          A-
435-449          B+
416-434          B
400-415          B-
385-399          C+
366-384          C
350-365          C
335-349          D+
300-334          D
000-299          F

Course Schedule

Note: There is some room for flexibility built into the schedule, so for those topics that are particularly compelling, we may elect to spend more than one class period discussing them. In such cases, the whole schedule will simply shift forward.

5/24: Course overview and Intimacy (Cordova, 2009)

5/26: Emotion Skills and Communication (Cordova, 2009)

5/31: Foundations: (Bradbury & Karney, 2010: Chapters 1-3).

6/2: Men and Women, Gay and Straight (Bradbury & Karney, 2010, Chapter 4)

6/7: Attraction and Mate Selection (Bradbury & Karney, 2010, Chapter 5)

6/9: Personality & Attachment (B&K, Ch. 6. Cordova, Ch. 12)
First Paper Due

6/14: Relationship Maintenance and Problem Solving (B&K, Ch. 7. Cordova, Ch 11)

6/16: Conflict and Forgiveness (B&K, Ch. 8. Cordova, Ch. 6).

6/21: Beliefs, Values, and Team Spirit (B&K, Ch. 9)
Explanations and Justifications (B&K, Ch. 10)

6/23: No Class – Work on final papers and readings!

6/28: Stress & Social Support (B&K, Ch. 11)
Lifespan and Coparenting (B&K, Ch. 13 pp 564-end. Cordova, Ch. 10).

6/30: Interventions (B&K, Ch. 12)
Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Integrative Couple Therapy (Cordova, 2009- Chapters 4 and 5)
For 2nd Leader Only: Cordova & Jacobson, 1993
Second Paper Due