Psychology and the Self

Who are you? Why are you who you are? Why do people do and say the things that they do? How do we understand and explain human behavior?

These questions can be approached from a variety of interesting and insightful perspectives in the liberal arts. Psychology provides one such perspective allowing people to gain insight into themselves, others, and their relationships with those around them and the world more generally. The focus of these two weeks is to expose students to the psychological tools that will enable them to examine the questions and issues mentioned above. Particular focus will be given to the field of social psychology and the insight and understanding it has led to in the areas of self and identity, relationships, aggression, and prejudice.

Class time consists of a mix of lectures, discussion sessions, documentary, and other relevant movie presentations—all of which are designed to focus attention on the underlying processes that allow us to understand these human issues of interest. The process of gaining insight into oneself and the nature of our social world is at the same time engaging, enjoyable, challenging, sometimes discomforting and always demanding—requiring a rigorous reading of material and a critical evaluation and integration of the understanding gained to the world around us.

This program is not a simple overview or introduction to the field of psychology. Readings include scholarly articles and chapters from writers and thinkers spanning the fields of psychology, philosophy, and literature such as William James, Aldous Huxley, Amartya San, and Gordon Allport, among others. Students are expected to actively engage in the classroom activities and will have the opportunity to lead class discussions on various topics.

Academic Director

Dr. Anré Venter

Dr. Anré Venter received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Notre Dame and is currently the director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at Notre Dame. He teaches the introductory psychology course for first year students, statistics, a mid-level Social Psychology course and upper-level seminars focusing on the Philosophy of the Self. His primary research interest examines issues of self ranging from the effects of self-complexity as a buffer against stress as well as the relationship between culture and self.

Prior to entering Notre Dame, Dr. Venter received an M.A.. in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University and a B.A. in psychology and social anthropology from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.