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PSYC470 Health and Human Behaviour

How psychological processes influence health and well-being.

How do behaviours, psychological processes and social contexts predict physical health? How do people make sense of illness and navigate healthcare? What kinds of psychological interventions might help people live healthier and longer lives? Health psychology research has the power to explain people's physical health and the potential to inform interventions that are effective at improving the health of individuals and whole population groups.
This paper provides an advanced introduction to health psychology that helps prepare students to apply for entry into postgraduate study in health psychology. As a student in this paper you will develop an understanding of the major ideas and debates within health psychology, learn to critically evaluate the evidence for those major ideas and debates and develop your skills in academic writing, working in teams and giving oral presentations.

Paper title Health and Human Behaviour
Paper code PSYC470
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Full Year
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,282.09
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,357.07

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Admission requires an average grade of at least B+ in 300-level PSYC papers and satisfactory performance in PSYC 311.
Entry into Psychology 400-level normally requires a major in Psychology, a B+ average or higher in Psychology 300-level papers, and a pass in PSYC 311 Quantitative Methods. We highly recommend that students have completed PSYC 310. Students from other universities must show evidence of an equivalent level of competence.
Contact or
Teaching staff
Lecturers: Dr Tamlin Conner and Dr Gareth Treharne
Paper Structure
This paper provides an advanced introduction to health psychology, which is an exciting field of academic study and emerging professional practice that focuses on the interplay between psychological processes and health. Topics covered in the paper include:
  • Conceptualisations of health and illness
  • Research methods and theories in health psychology
  • The role of personality, stress and emotions in health and illness
  • Traditional and alternative methods of managing illness
  • Contextual and life span approaches to health and illness
Classes for this paper are run in a seminar format involving small-group and class discussions of presented material and readings and other small-group activities. Students are also required to give several group presentations on readings.

The assessments for this paper involve a final exam (50%) and internal assessments (50%). The internal assessments typically involve essays and short summaries of readings, some of which change from year to year. The final exam is three hours and involves essays and short answer questions.
Teaching Arrangements
Full-year paper
Required Reading:
  • Lyons, A. C., & Chamberlain, K. (2006). Health psychology: A critical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why zebras don't get ulcers (3rd ed.). New York: Henry Holt and Company
A selection of modern and classic readings will also be set throughout the year.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will develop an understanding of the main principles, debates and research methods in health psychology.

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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Friday 09:00-11:50 9-12, 15-22
M1 Friday 09:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41