Psychology and Popular Music

Fall 2022
Winter 2023
Freshman Only
Class Size: 46
14 Credits per quarter
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Taught by

I’m lookin’ for a mind at work!
-- from The Schuyler Sisters in the musical Hamilton, 2015

Both psychology and popular music explore the complexity of the human experience. What are the overlaps and differences in those approaches? How can one discipline shed light on the meanings and range of the human experience in a way that the other can’t?

In the psychology portion of this program we will develop a better understanding of people’s behavior and mental processes using social science methods. In fall quarter, we will examine the biological bases of human behavior and how people learn, think, and remember. We will explore what motivates people and how emotions, personality, and social interactions affect us. In the winter quarter, we will focus on human development: how people both change and stay the same over the course of a lifetime.

We will also focus on psychomusicology—how diverse American musicals, popular songs, and the ways we share them on social media inspire and shape our emotions, memories, and identities. Playlists are self-portraits as well as deeply personal gifts. What do your musical tastes reveal about you? In fall quarter we'll study soliloquies from musicals like "Hamilton," songs that reveal the inner life of a character on stage or screen. In winter we'll shift focus to how contemporary music videos and social media can help change minds via psychological approaches to historical moments and social movements.

Activities will include lectures, seminars, and workshops in social science research methods and performing arts. We'll study empirical methods, learning to separate facts from fictions in studies of the human experience. You'll develop your own voice and explore new ways to express and channel emotions in a safe workshop environment. Ukulele studies are also an option (but not required).

This program incorporates Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s in-person 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First-year students who register for 14 credits in this program will be placed into Greener Foundations for an additional 2 credits, totaling 16 credits. Once first-year students have been placed into Greener Foundations, they will receive an email confirming their registration status. 


Fall 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (14): 10172
Winter 2023 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (14): 20131

Academic details

Preparatory For

Psychology, Digital Media, Music, Social sciences, Humanities, and Arts.


Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
In Person (F)
In Person (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 D1105 - Lecture