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B2-ZIN3: Psychology in Humanistic Studies (19-20)

Dutch title

Psychologie in Humanistiek

Course Code



Meaning of Life

Year of Study

Bachelor 2




7,5 ECTS




Dr. Joanna Wojtkowiak

Teaching Staff

Dr. Joanna Wojtkowiak, prof. dr. Arjan Braam

Learning Objectives

After participation in this course B2-ZIN3 Psychology, students are able to: 

  • Define, illustrate and compare important psychological theories and concepts and methods (final attainment level 1a Knowledge and insight). Students learn some important psychological theories and get familiar with empirical studies. 
  • Read, understand and contextualize psychological literature with regard to questions of meaning and humanization by using different insights from the bio-psycho-social model and the spiritual/meaning dimension (final attainment level nr. 3a Judgement). 
  • Argue how to understand and study the importance of meaning making and humanization of society from a psychological perspective (final attainment level nr. 2a Knowledge and insight application).

Content Description

How is meaning making understood from a psychological perspective? This course offers an introduction into psychology as academic discipline in relation to humanistic studies. Psychology focuses on studying and understanding mental processes, such as emotions, behaviour and social relations. We will discuss some main psychological sub-disciplines, such as narrative psychology, personality psychology, psychopathology, social and cultural psychology, as well as read classical texts by humanistic psychologists Carl Rogers and Viktor Frankl. Students will get familiar with psychological explanations of behavior and mental life from the bio-psycho-social model and we will add a meaning/spiritual dimension. 


During the lectures, theoretical and empirical literature will be discussed in relation to current issues References from media, newspapers, video and examples from popular psychological literature will be used in order to illustrate learning material as well as the role of psychology in contemporary society. During the seminars, we will discuss the subjects more deeply by means of presentations. Students are asked to actively prepare tutor sessions on the basis of group-presentations.


In the closed book exam, theoretical knowledge and insights from this course will be examined. Next to general knowledge of the subject matter, students are expected to be able to define and illustrate theoretical concepts and methods from different psychological sub-disciplines.

Literature &

Obligatory literature (a.o.):

  • McAdams, D. (2001). The psychology of life stories. Review of General Psychology, 5(2), 100-122. 
  • Park, C. (2010). Making sense of the meaning literature: An integrative review of meaning making and its effects on adjustment to stressful life events. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 257-301. 
  • Newman, E.J. & Lindsay, D.S. (2009). False memories: What the hell are they for? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 1105-1121. 
  • Salmivalli, C. (2010). Bullying and the peer group: a review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15, 112-120. 
  • Hewstone, M., Fincham, F.D. & Foster, J. (Eds.) (2005). Chapter 15 Abnormal Psychology. From, Psychology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Rogers, C.R. (2007: 1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Practice, Research, Training, 44(3), 240-248.
  • Frankl, V. (1972). The feeling of meaninglessness: A challenge to psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 31(1), 85-89. 
  • Haslam, N. (2006). Dehumanization: An integrative review. Personality and Social Psychology, 10(3), 252-264.  
  • Frankl, V. (1966). Self-transcendence as a human phenomenon. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 6, 97-106. 
  • Ryan, R.M. & Deci, E.L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review on research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141-166.