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PSYC3082 Contemporary Psychological Issues

Bachelor Course Unit


One trimester


3rd year

Credit points: 

6 (out of 144)



Mode(s) of delivery:

On-campus and Online Delivery




This unit is an elective subject in the 3rd year of the Bachelor of Psychological Science. The main objective of PSYC3082 is to explore the psychological impact of changes in society spurred on by technology and physical and social environmental change.

Unit description

This unit explores the psychological impact of changes in society spurred on by technology and physical and social change. A central feature will be the role of decision making. People make judgments and predictions at many stages in their lives and in interaction with others. Psychologists have studied these processes for many years and there are competing formulations of what is involved. Psychologists, as human being, are affected by internal and external factors in the making of decisions about psychological concepts and processes. So the theme of decision making can be a means for us to understand the behavior of others but also the behavior of psychologists as a means of reflection on the relationship between being a person in everyday social interaction and as a psychologist, trained to make decisions with varying levels of skills. The unit will examine the role of psychology as a discipline in creating social change and the ways in which the science of psychology is used to explain and understand social events and changes. This will involve an examination of psychology as a discipline which straddles many disciplines and modes of study, from the biological and physical sciences to the humanities and the social sciences, including historical, sociological and anthropological studies. It will be reflective upon the nature of psychology itself and upon its influence on society. Topics to be examined include media and internet representation of social, political and scientific and technological events. This will include events portrayed in the media and considered by the psychological community to have an essential psychological component to enhance understanding and perhaps to alter events. The unit concludes with a plenary session and discussion of topics.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be able to:

  • describe major psychological impacts of technology and changes in social and community practice
  • identify psychological and sociological consequences for individuals and communities of economic and political changes and events
  • outline ways in which psychology and technology combine to change human environments with foreseen and unforeseen consequences of benefit and harm
  • reflect upon and critically analyse the role that psychology as a multi-faceted discipline may play in influencing change in society and in the role of the citizen.

Unit content

  • What are contemporary psychological issues? Social change and psychology at the nexus of science and the humanities, technology and politics
  • The psychology of psychological decision making Training and the growth of expertise.. How rational are we? How rational should we be? The presentation and analysis of competing accounts of the processes which underlie decision making: Rationality, systematic biases and naturalistic decision making. The fundamental issue of the effect that the epistemology, or theory of knowledge that we adopt in our psychological practice has upon our understanding of our subject matter and the behavior of our subjects and clients will be examined.
  • The psychology of terrorism. How political events transform the micro processes of social interaction and the ways in which phenomena are studied. Decision making in catastrophe
  • The psychological impact of surveillance and evaluation technology. Unforeseen consequences of government action? “Nudging” and the place of government in unconscious manipulation of the behaviour of citizens. The concept of “wise psychological interventions”
  • Can we have a psychology that is socially or ideologically “pure”? The psychology and sociology of psychological research and psychological practice
  • An alternative view: Psychology and the caring society: Humanistic psychology, positive psychology and economic and social change
  • Psychological interventions and aided change: Psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, technology and the future of professional psychology
  • Artificial intelligence. What to think about machines that think and how the growth of the algorithm will eliminate many employment opportunities
  • Psychology and the media. Representation in the media of psychological concepts and the impact of media change in the delivery of psychology and the understanding of the person
  • Plenary session: Discussion of issues that have been examined and a consideration of the ways in which psychology as a discipline examines, analyses and understands its subject matter

Learning and teaching process

This unit comprises 10 weekly three hour lectures and 9 weekly one hour Tutorials. Attendance at Tutorials is compulsory. Attendance at lectures is highly recommended. Lectures will be captured electronically at the time of delivery. These recordings of the slide content and oral presentation will be available for downloading as soon as it is feasible after the lecture.

Assessment summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space

Recommended text

For more information regarding recommended texts for specific units, please see the Psychological Sciences Textbook List.

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. This includes plagiarism of any nature. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism in order to ensure that you do not engage in it. Please refer to the Academic Misconduct Policy for more information.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of trimester. 

 **you must have completed PSYC2012 or enrol into PSYC2012 at the same time.