AP Psychology

Unit 5: States of Consciousness

Understanding consciousness and what it encompasses is critical to an appreciation of what is meant by a given state of consciousness The study of variations in consciousness includes an examination of the sleep cycle, dreams, hypnosis, circadian rhythms, and the effects of psychoactive drugs.
AP students in psychology should be able to do the following:


Consciousness can be a funny thing. It offers us weird experiences, as when entering sleep or leaving a dream, and sometimes it leaves us wondering who is really in control. After zoning me out with nitrous oxide, my dentist tells me to turn my head to the left. My conscious mind resists: "No way," I silently say. "You can't boss me around!" Whereupon my robotic head, ignoring my conscious mind, turns obligingly under the dentist's control. During my noontime pickup basketball games, I am sometimes mildly irritated as my body passes the ball while my conscious mind is saying, "No, stop! Sarah is going to intercept!" Alas, my body completes the pass. Other times, as psychologist Daniel Wegner (2002) noted in The Illusion of Conscious Will, people believe their consciousness is controlling their actions when it isn't. In one experiment, two people jointly controlled a computer mouse. Even when their partner (who was actually the experimenter's accomplice) caused the mouse to stop on a predetermined square, the participants perceived that they had caused it to stop there. Then there are those times when consciousness seems to split. Reading Green Eggs and Ham to one of my preschoolers for the umpteenth time, my obliging mouth could say the words while my mind wandered elsewhere. And if someone asks what you're doing for lunch while you're texting, it's not a problem. Your thumbs complete the message as you suggest getting tacos. What do such experiences reveal? Was my drug-induced dental experience akin to people's experiences with other psychoactive drugs (mood-and perception-altering substances)? Was my automatic obedience to my dentist like people's responses to a hypnotist? Does a split in consciousness, as when our minds go elsewhere while reading or texting, explain people's behavior while under hypnosis? And during sleep, when do those weird dream experiences occur, and why? Before considering these questions and more, let's ask a fundamental question: What is consciousness?

 22Understanding Consciousness and Hypnosis
 23Sleep Patterns and Sleep Theories
 24Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Disorders, and Dreams
 25Psychoactive Drugs

Powerpoint - "New" Chapter Slides
Powerpoint - Definitions
Study Guide 5 (and Answers 5)
Textbook (sort of an "e-book")