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PSYC324 Health Psychology

The interplay between psychological processes and physical health

Health psychology is an increasingly popular and important sub-field in psychology that examines the interplay between psychological processes and physical health. This is a new paper (commencing in 2019) that provides an introduction to health psychology, covering both social and biologically oriented topics, such as stress and coping, the role of emotions and personality in susceptibility to illness, health and wellness interventions, and the role of psychology in the immune system. By bridging the social with the biological, this paper will appeal to a wide range of students - from those who are mainly interested the social side of psychology, to those interested in the biological side of psychology.

Paper title Health Psychology
Paper code PSYC324
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,059.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,627.65

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PSYC 210, PSYC 211 and PSYC 212
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in each of PSYC 210 and 212 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-328 concurrently with PSYC 211.

With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in PSYC 211 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-328 concurrently with PSYC 210 and 212.


Dr Tamlin Conner (

Teaching staff

Dr Tamlin Conner



  • Textbook to be determined
  • Target readings (journal articles) will be posted to eReserve.


  • Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  1. Understand the scope of health psychology as a sub-field in psychology
  2. Understand the evidence, main ideas, and cross-cutting themes in health psychology
  3. Produce well-written, scientific summaries of research in health psychology
  4. Read and critically evaluate research in health psychology
Paper Structure

The paper will cover:

  • Biopsychosocial models of health
  • Stress and coping
  • The connection between mental health and physical health
  • Psychological processes in chronic health conditions
  • The psychology of placebos
  • Introduction to psychoneuroimmunology
  • Promotion of wellness and prevention of disease/interventions
  • Research methods in health psychology, focusing on quantitative methods
  • Career options in health psychology (postgraduate pathways to practice)


  • Reading critiques (20%). You will be required to submit four reading critiques (5% each) during the semester. Each critique is two pages and will require you to reflect on the main ideas in that week’s reading and to develop constructive criticism of the research.
  • Test (30%). There will be an in-class test consisting of multiple-choice and short-essay style questions on the material from the first half of the semester.
  • Final exam (50%). There will be a final exam consisting of multiple-choice and short-essay style questions. The final exam will include some questions about the material from the first half of the semester, but will prioritise material from the second half of the semester.

There are no terms for the paper.

This is an example course outline. The order and nature of the topics may change from year to year.

  • Week 1: Introduction, biopsychosocial and Te Whare Tapa Whā models of health; research methods
  • Week 2: The psychobiology of stress
  • Week 3: Psychological factors and health (emotions and personality)
  • Week 4: Environmental factors and health (social support, loneliness, socioeconomic status)
  • Week 5: The psychology of health behaviours - alcohol, exercise, and nutrition
  • Week 6: The psychology of behaviour change
  • Week 7: TEST 1 / Film
  • Week 8: Health utilisation, adherence, and screening for disease: why psychology matters
  • Week 9: Psychological factors in chronic diseases; symptom reporting and illness perceptions
  • Week 10: Psychological influences on pain; the psychology of placebos
  • Week 11: Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI); psychological influences on cellular aging
  • Week 12: To be determined (TBD)
  • Week 13: The future of health psychology; careers in health psychology; review and reflection
Teaching Arrangements

Second semester; days and times to be determined.

The paper will consist of lectures and in-class activities. There is no separate laboratory component.

Lectures will be podcasted through Otago Capture and will be available for viewing for one week only.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41