Psychology 434: Maps of Meaning 2017-02-08T15:15:06+00:00

Psychology 434 – Maps of Meaning

I will utter things that have been kept secret from the foundation of the world (Matthew 13:35)


Here is a helpful guide to writing an essay. If you take the steps outlined in this guide, you will write a much better essay:  here

Registration for the Past and Future Authoring Assignments can now take place. Click these links to register:

Past Authoring
Future Authoring

Assignment Submission

Past Authoring & Future Authoring (submission & peer reviews)

  •  Assignments
  1. Login to Blackboard
  2. Select PSY434 course page
  3. In the Left column – select peerScholar (this can also be accessed undeAssignments)
  4. Click ‘here’ to launch peerScholar
  5. Select the PSY434 course on the black menu tab bar under the peerScholar logo (see
  6. Select the green Create button (see applicable for Steps 6-12)
  7. Read through the assignment instructions (same as found on the course webpage)
  8. Select the Rubric button — to view how your peers will be grading you
  9.  Select “Save & Next: Create
  10. Copy & paste your assignment into the text editor box
  11. Select “Save & Next: Self-Assess
  12. Give yourself a grade based on the criteria in the rubric your peers will be evaluating you on — this mark WILL NOT affect your final mark, so please be as honest as possible — it is simply meant as another form of reflection
  • Peer Review
  1. Login to Blackboard
  2. Select PSY434 course page
  3. In the Left column – select peerScholar (this can also be accessed undeAssignments)
  4. Click ‘here’ to launch peerScholar
  5. Select the PSY434 course on the black menu tab bar under the peerScholar logo  (see
  6. Select the green Assess button (see applicable for Steps 6-13)
  7. Read through the peer review instructions
  8. Select the Rubric button — to view how you should grade your peers
  9. Select “Save & Next: Give Feedback
  10. Complete the two forms of assessment: (1) short answer comments, and (2) a grade using the rubric criteria — do this for all 3 assigned peer assignments
  11. Select Save & Next
  12. Give the quality of your peer reviews a grade — this mark WILL NOT affect your final mark, so please be as honest as possible — it is simply meant as another form of reflection
  13. Click Save to finish
  • Essay/Narrative Writing: (Hand in Through Blackboard)
  1. Login to Blackboard
  2. Select PSY434 course page
  3. In the Left column – select Assignments
  4. Select assignment title Essay/Narrative Writing (directly under the assignment header, beside Attached Files you will find the rubric for the assignment)
  5. Scroll down to Assignment Submission section
  6. Select Browse My Computer – attach A2 file (saved as YOURSTUDENTNUMBER2.doc — e.g., if your student number is 123456789, the assignment should be saved as 1234567892.doc)
  7. Select Submit (if you would still like to edit/review your submission, select Save Draft)

Instructor & TA/Office Hours:


Dr. Jordan B. Peterson (4046 Sidney Smith Hall)

Office Hours for JB Peterson: Wednesday from 16:15-17:45. Sign up sheets for these hours are posted outside my office door.

Teaching Assistants:

Christine Brophy:

Office Hours: Tuesday 10:00 – 11:00 : Link to sign up: Here

Course Home Page: Psychology 434
Home page:


This course is based on the book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Maps of Meaning lays bare the grammar of mythology, and describes the relevance of that grammar for interpretation of narrative and religion, comprehension of ideological identification, and understanding of the role that individual choice plays in the maintenance, transformation and destiny of social systems.


Action and its Imitation (January 12)

Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi, L. & Gallese, V. (2001). Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nature Reviews, 2, 661-670.

Memory, Novelty and Anxiety (January 26)
Vinogradova, O.S. (2001). Hippocampus as comparator. Hippocampus, 11, 578-598.
Ohman, A. & Mineka, S. (2003). The malicious serpent: snakes as a prototypical stimulus for an evolved module of fear. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 5-9.
Peterson, J.B. (2013). Three kinds of meaning and the management of complexity. In In K. Markman, T. Proulx, & M. Linberg (Eds.). The Psychology of Meaning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Dominance and Hierarchy (February 02)
Kravitz, E.A. (2000). Serotonin and aggression: insights gained from a lobster model system and speculations on the role of amine neurons in a complex behavior. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 186, 221-238.

Higher Order Control (Feb 23)
Miller, E.K. (2001). The prefrontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience Reviews 1, 59-65.

Vision (Mar 02)
Isbell, L. (2006). Snakes as agents of evolutionary change in primate brains. Journal of Human Evolution, 51, 1-35.

DatesChapterPages# PagesTitle
Jan 11th
Jan 18thPreface & 1-2xi-3243Available: here
Jan 25nd232-8957Available: here
Feb 1st289-14859
Feb 08th2148-18767
Feb 15th3187-23245
Feb 22thReading Week
Feb 29th4233-28350
Mar 8th4283-30623
Mar 15th5307-34235
Mar 22th5342-36826
Mar 29th5368-40032
Apr 05th5400-46969

Writing Assignments & Peer Review:

You will be required to produce three written assignments, and to peer review written work for three students over the duration of the course. Two of the writing assignments (1 and 3) are available online. The other one (2) may be an essay or narrative (including poetry).

Peer Review: Before an author or researcher publishes a paper or a book, he or she has generally received feedback from several anonymous peer reviewers and an editor and rewritten the work with those criticisms in mind. This process may be repeated three or four times, and generally results in a much stronger finished product. Your written work for this class will thus be read by three anonymous students, criticized constructively, and graded. You will receive the average of the top two grades that you were awarded for each assignment. Instructions for Peer Review can be found above, under Assignment Submission: Past Authoring & Future Authoring (submission & peer reviews).

Essay or Narrative Writing: Hints for essay or narrative writing can be found here.

Assignment 1, Past Authoring:
Past Authoring is an exercise designed to help you understand your personal history more clearly. Every experience that you have had contains information. If you have fully processed the information in that experience, (1) its recollection will no longer produce negative emotion and (2) you have learned everything you need to know from it, at least for now. Any past experience more than a year old (approximately) that still produces negative emotion still has information embedded in it. Writing about such experiences helps extract that information. Writing helps move the information from vague, emotion-laden and imagistic representation to high resolution conscious narrative form.

The assignment can be found online here: Past Authoring


Assignment 2, Essay or Narrative Writing: 2000 words:
The essay is on a topic of your choice.

Assignment 2 is designed to give students maximal freedom of expression. You may write a formal scientific essay, a philosophical essay, a story or a poem.

If you choose to write a short story or a poem (or anything else of a literary nature) make sure you include an interpretive afterword, detailing the relationship between that story or poem and the class material. This means that you have to serve as your own literary critic.

  1. The paper should have an appropriate and sufficiently ambitious goal.
  2. The paper should be explicitly related to the themes of the class.
  3. The paper should incorporate material beyond that which is covered in lecture and in the text, Maps of Meaning, even if that additional material is simply your own thought.
  4. The paper should employ an appropriate form for the achievement of its goal. The form should be well executed.
  5. Writing should display (in approximate order of importance): clarity, coherence, style, economy, grammar, punctuation. Most papers should include both analysis and synthesis.
  6. The goal should be successfully achieved.

NOTE: Assignment 2 should be 2000 words long, double-spaced, in type no smaller than 12-point.

When you have completed Assignment 2, save it EXACTLY as YOURSTUDENTNUMBER2.doc. We will tell you where to post it in the next two weeks.

Assignment 3, Future Authoring:

Future Authoring is an exercise designed to help you lay out a set of explicit goals for your future. In essence, you will be asked to write your own story. Carl Jung once noted that every person lives a story, or a myth. This means (1) that you know your own story, and are acting it out consciously, (2) that you do not know your own story, and may therefore be unconsciously or implicitly acting out a tragedy, or (3) because of your own lack of direction, you serve as a minor character and, perhaps, a foolish or tragic one in the stories of other people. Obviously, option (1) is preferable to (2) or (3), but it also requires some conscious effort. The Future Authoring Exercise has been designed to aid that effort.

The assignment can be found here: Future Authoring


Due Dates & Grade Weighting

Note: Assignments are always due ONE DAY before class.

FourJan 31Past Authoring20%
SixFeb 14Peer Review for Assignment 15%
EightFeb 28Essay or Narrative20%
TenMarch 14TA Grading Due
ElevenMarch 21Future Authoring20%
ThirteenApril 04Peer Review for Assignment #35%
Exam PeriodTBAFinal Exam30%