Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval


Department:
Psychology
Course Number: 325
Semester Hours: 3
Frequency Offered: Every semester
Course Title: Social Psychology
Catalog Description: Overview of theories and research in social psychology. Topics
                                    include: person perception, the self, stereotyping and prejudice,
                                    attitudes and persuasion, interpersonal relationships, and group
                                    behavior. Prerequisite: Psychology 210.
A2C2 Approved Course? Yes
Requested Approval: Arts and Sciences Core: Social Science
Contact Person: Peter Miene, pmiene@winona.edu

Description of Requirements and Learning Activities that promote students' abilities to

1. understand humans as individuals and as parts of larger social systems

Social psychology is typically defined as the scientific study of the effects of social and cognitive
processes on the way individuals perceive, influence, and relate to others (Smith & Mackie
2000). As such, this course is fundamentally concerned with theory and research devoted to
understanding human behavior both as individuals and as parts of larger social systems (e.g.,
chapters on interpersonal relationships, altruism and aggression, conformity to social norms). In
addition, the course content examines how all individuals attempt to understand themselves
individually (e.g., chapters on the self and on attitudes) and as parts of social systems (e.g.,
chapters on social cognition, person perception, stereotyping and prejudice). Social Psychology is
thus concerned both with a scientific description of how humans behave as "social animals" as
well as with understanding how humans attempt to understand their social world. Learning
activities designed to promote this understanding include: assigned readings from the textbook
and a few primary sources; lectures/videotapes and discussion; in-class demonstrations; small
group discussion and activities; in-class writing assignments.

2. understand the historical context of the social sciences

Social psychology is concerned with social and cognitive processes. Although cognitive
processes may be relatively invariate across historical contexts, social processes are inextricably
linked to their larger social context. As a discipline, social psychology was strongly influenced by
the Gestalt psychologists forced to flee Germany in the 1930s as the Nazis came to power. World
War II provided an important testing ground for research on attitudes and persuasion and
intergroup relations. A discussion of stereotypes and prejudice necessarily includes the historical
context provided by attempts to desegregate our society (e.g., Brown v. Board of Education,
1954, the Civil Rights movement). Understanding why Americans became fascinated with/troubled
by the possibility of subliminal persuasion in the 1950s is presented in the context of the fear of
communism and the Cold War. Many other examples of social psychological phenomena are
presented in historical context. Learning activities designed to promote this understanding include:
assigned readings from the textbook; readings from a few primary sources; lectures/videotapes and
discussion; in-class demonstrations; small group discussion and activities; in-class writing assignments;
internet assignments and other computer applications.

3. identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience

Social psychology is, almost by definition, interested in issues and processes that all humans are
concerned with (understanding the self and the social world), and much of the content may
therefore seem a matter of "common sense." One pivotal concept in the social psychology course,
therefore, is understanding why the experimental method, and not personal experience, provides
the data necessary for drawing cause and effect conclusions. In addition, we discuss a great deal
of research that may be at odds with what appears to be "common sense" (e.g., research in social
cognition suggests we frequently make decisions that are at odds with how we think we make
decisions). At the beginning of the course I differentiate between basic and applied research, and
then make the point that much of social psychological research is necessarily both. That is, even
the most theoretically-driven laboratory experiment frequently informs and can be applied to the
"real world" because the theoretical questions are concerned with how people influence and relate
to one another. Learning activities designed to promote this understanding include: assigned readings
from the textbook; readings from a few primary sources; lectures/videotapes and discussion; in-class
demonstrations; small group discussion and activities; in-class writing assignments; internet assignments
and other computer applications.

4. become familiar with the process of theory-building and theoretical frameworks used by
    the social sciences

The best research in social psychology tends to start with a "real world" observation, develops a theoretical
explanation for the occurance, and then systematically tests the observation and the conditions under which it
holds true. For example, in the 1950s, Leon Festinger made a number of observations that appeared at odds
with traditional reward/punishment models of behavior (e.g., a severe initiation into a group causes increased
liking for that group). From these observations came the foundation for cognitive dissonance theory, a theory
which makes interesting and sometimes counterintuitve predictions about behavior, that continues to be refined
and revised nearly 50 years later. The first unit describes the process of translating theoretical constructs into
observable, measurable independent and dependent variables. A framework for understanding and evaluating
the construct validity, internal validity, and external validity of a study is presented in the first unit and is then
systematically employed throughout the course. Major social psychological theories (in addition to cognitive
dissonance) and their supporting research are presented througout the course (e.g., attribution theory, self-
perception theory, social identity theory). Learning activities designed to promote this understanding include:
assigned readings from the textbook; readings from a few primary sources; lectures/videotapes and discussion;
in-class demonstrations; small group discussion and activities; in-class writing assignments; internet assignments
and other computer applications.

5. understand the research methods used in the social sciences

Social psychology is an experimental discipline, and the course primarily examines experimental methods (as
opposed to correlational or observational methods) designed to understand social and cognitive processes.
Two particular problems in social psychological research include the social desirability response bias (the
desire on the part of the research participant to provide the "good" or "normal" or "appropriate" response),
and demand characteristics (features of the experimental situation and/or of the experimenter that suggest
how a participant ought to respond), and we discuss numerous strategies employed by social psychologists
to combat these problems. As described in point 4 above, the framework for evaluating research introduced
in the first unit is applied throughout the rest of the course. Learning activities designed to promote this
understanding include: assigned readings from the textbook; readings from a few primary sources;
lectures/videotapes and discussion; in-class demonstrations; small group discussion and activities; in-class
writing assignments; internet assignments and other computer applications.

6. describe and detail discipline-specific knowledge and its applications

Although I frequently make some revisions to the material covered, certain core topics are always a part of the
course. Core topics include: person perception (factors influencing the impressions we form of others, the
attributions we make for their behavior, and the interesting effects caused by the object of perception having
the capability of perceiving you right back); the self (how we perceive and think about ourself); stereotypes/prejudice/discrimination (how we think about, feel about, and behave toward members of social
groups to which we do not belong); attitudes (how they are formed, changed, and potentially direct our behavior
as individuals); social norms (how they influence our behavior as individuals as well as members of a larger group);
interpersonal attraction and close relationships (who and why we like and love the people we do); groups in conflict
(reasons for and interventions to reduce conflict); and social dilemmas (behaviors that bring benefit to the self but
bring harm to the social group to which the person belongs, thus ultimately harming the self). Through the discussion
of all these topics, applications to the law, business and industry, and education are frequently made. For example,
research on conformity can be applied to jury decision-making. Research on the theory of stereotype threat makes
specific (and amazingly simple yet effective) recommendations for improving educational success for minorities in
the classroom. Research on attitudes and persuasion is easily applied to marketing campaigns and advertising strategies. Learning activities designed to promote this understanding include: assigned readings from the textbook; readings from
a few primary sources; lectures/videotapes and discussion; in-class demonstrations; small group discussion and activities; in-class writing assignments; internet assignments and other computer applications.

7. understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience

As a discipline, psychology is inherently interested in both individual differences and commonalities across the human experience. One of the major themes of social psychology is understanding individual behavior as a response to the
social situation; although individual differences certainly emerge, the research frequently points to the power of the
situation to influence behavior. One prime example would be the work of Stanley Milgram on obedience. Milgram
was disturbed by Nazi war criminals explaining their behavior as simply a product of following orders, and he began
a program of research designed to show that Germans were especially likely to demonstrate obedience. He developed
the infamous teacher/learner paradigm with the intent of demonstrating Americans would defy instructions to harm another person, but through the course of this program of research, he ended up demonstrating the "shocking" tendency of all
humans to obey, regardless of age, gender, educational level, race, and culture. Many other social psychological
phenomena first observed in North America are now being replicated across cultures.

Differences across human experience are also to be observed in social psychology. For example, large gender differences frequently emerge in the ways men and women think about and behave in interpersonal relationships. Cultural differences emerge in terms of how we explain a person's behavior: North American adults are especially likely to explain behavior in terms of characteristics of the person, while children and adults from more collectivist cultures tend to explain behavior in terms of situational influences. Although most psychologists discount race as an important biological construct, it clearly remains as a defining social construct. Research on differential treatment on the basis of skin color, for example, demonstrates that even small differences in treatment can lead to important social effects. Personality differences also typically influence human behavior in social situations. Learning activities designed to promote this understanding include: assigned readings from the textbook; readings from a few primary sources; lectures/videotapes and discussion; in-class demonstrations; small group discussion and activities; in-class writing assignments; internet assignments and other computer applications.

Psychology 325
Social Psychology
Example Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Peter Miene
Office:        Phelps 231 I
Phone:        457-5668
email:        pmiene@winona.edu
Office Hours: MTWRF
                        and by appointment
Required
Textbook:        Smith, E. & Mackie, D. (2000). Social Psychology (2nd Ed.).
                         Psychology Press.

UNIVERSITY STUDIES PROGRAM OUTCOMES:

Psy 325 has been approved by the University Studies Program as a Social Science course
within the Arts and Sciences Core. As a University Studies course, Social Psychology is
designed to promote students' abilities to:

1). understand humans as individuals and parts of larger social systems
2). understand the historical context of the social sciences
3). identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience
4). become familiar with the process of theory building and theoretical frameworks used by
     the social sciences
5). understand the research methods used in the social sciences
6). describe discipline specific knowledge and its applications
7). understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience,
     as tied to such variables as gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the discipline of social psychology
with a special emphasis on experimental social psychology. We will cover some of the major topical
areas and theories of concern to social psychologists, such as person perception, stereotyping & prejudice,
attitudes & persuasion, and norms & group behavior. The course will emphasize the underlying themes and
principles which unite these areas of study.

COURSE STRUCTURE:

Format. Class sessions will be a mixture of lecture, videos, and discussion. Students are expected to keep
up with the readings for each unit and should come to class prepared to ask or answer questions and
discuss the material. The majority of the topics covered in this course have "real world" applications to
social issues/problems, and quality discussion necessitates that students have done the readings prior to class.
The content in lecture will overlap what is presented in the book to some extent, but lectures are definitely
not just a repeat of what you have already read.

Exams. Exams will be a mixture of multiple choice and essay questions, and they will cover material
presented in class only, in the text only, as well as material covered in both. There are 5 exams in this
course, contributing 500 points to the course grade (100 points each). Each exam will cover only
material presented/discussed during that unit; the final exam is the last unit exam and is not comprehensive.

Projects. There will be a number of in-class writing projects that YOU MUST BE IN CLASS TO
COMPLETE. There may also be a few writing assignments to be completed outside of class.
These assignments will contribute a total of 50 points to the course grade.

Optional Paper. Students have the option of writing a 4 - 5 page critical analysis paper to replace their
lowest exam score (assuming the paper grade is higher than the exam score it is replacing). The paper
must follow a specific format, and I will be providing instructions regarding the paper following the first
exam. Papers may be submitted any time during the semester, but absolutely no later than....

Grades. Grades will be assigned according to a percentage of the total number of points possible in the
course (550 points possible).
A = 90% and up (495 to 550 points) C = 70% to 79% (385 to 439 points)
B = 80% to 89% (440 to 494 points) D = 60% to 69% (330 to 384 points)

Course Schedule

                                                                                                            University Studies Program
Day/Date        Topic                                  Reading                     Social Science Outcomes addressed


M 8/28       Course Overview                                                            1,2,6
W 8/30 Introduction                                  Chp. 1                      brief history of social psychology
F 9/1        Research                                    Chp. 2                      3,4,5,6

W 9/6         Research                                    Chp. 2                      discussion of theory building, theoretical
                                                                                                              frameworks, and research methods using
                                                                                                              specific research examples
F 9/8         Research quiz                            A&M*
M 9/11 Perceiving Individuals                         Chp. 3                                2,5,6,7
W 9/13        Perceiving Individuals                 Chp. 3                          factors influencing person perception,
F 9/15        Perceiving Individuals                   Chp. 3                         detection of deception, behavioral
M 9/18 EXAM 1                                                                              confirmation and research issues
W 9/20 Perceiving Groups                              Chp. 5                         1,2,3,4,5,6,7
F 9/22        Perceiving Groups                        Chp. 5                           in-depth discussion of stereotyping, prejudice,
M 9/25        Perceiving Groups                       Chp. 5                          and discrimination: considers historical
W 9/27 Social Identity                                    Chp. 6                           context, theory building, research issues &
F 9/29 Social Identity                                      Chp. 6                          problems, the human tendency to categorize
M 10/2 Social Identity                                    Chp. 6                           into groups, social influences and
W 10/4        Social Identity                           Steele**                         individual differences
F 10/6        EXAM 2
W 10/11 The Self                                            Chp. 4                        3,5,6,7
F 10/13 The Self                                              Chp. 4                        theories and research examining the self
M 10/16 Attitudes & Change                           Chp. 7                        1,2,4,5,6
W 10/18 Attitudes & Change                           Chp. 7                        study of attitude formation, change, and
F 10/20 Attitudes & Behavior                           Chp. 8                        influence on behavior; historical context,
M 10/23 Attitudes & Behavior                          Chp. 8                        theoretical frameworks; research methods
W 10/25 Attitudes & Behavior                          Chp. 8                        and problems
F 10/27 EXAM 3

Day/Date        Topic                                     Reading                Social Science Objectives met

M 10/30 Groups, Norms,                                Chp. 9                 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
W 11/1  and Conformity                                 Chp. 9                  the influence of social norms on behavior of
F 11/3  Norms & Behavior                              Chp. 10                 individuals as members of groups, and on
M 11/6        Norms & Behavior                      Chp. 10                 groupsthemselves; historical context, theory
W 11/8 Norms & Behavior                              Chp. 10                & research on conformity & obedience;
M 11/13 Interaction in Groups                        Chp. 12                 commonalities across gender, race,
W 11/15 EXAM 4                                                                       culture, educational level
F 11/17 Liking & Loving                                  Chp. 11                  3,5,6,7
M 11/20 Liking & Loving                                 Chp. 11                  discussion of theory and research in
M 11/27 Liking & Loving                                 Chp. 11                   interpersonal attraction and relationships
W 11/29 Conflict                                              Chp. 13                  3,5,6,7
F 12/1 Conflict                                                 Chp. 13                   theory and research in group conflict
M 12/4 Helping                                                Chp. 14                   1,6 individual differences and social
                                                                                                                  influences related to decisions to help
W 12/6        Social Dilemmas                           Chp. 14                   1,6 discussion of individuals acting within
F 12/8        Social Dilemmas                             Chp. 14                 a larger social system, seeking self interest
                                                                                                                  can bring harm to the group (and thus self)
T 12/12 FINAL EXAM
8:00 - 10:00

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*Aronson, E. & Mills, J. (1959). The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. Journal
of Abnormal and Social Psychology
, 59, 177-181.

**Marx, D., Brown, J. & Steele, C. (1999). Allport's legacy and the situational press of stereotypes.
Journal of Social Issues, 55, 491-501.