Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies
Course Proposal
Sociology 205
Social Interaction

Social Science University Studies Outcomes

This course includes requirements and learning activities that promote students ' abilities to...

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

Sociology is the study of interactions and relations among human beings. In this course it will be noted that human society is studied on both the macrolevel (focusing on broad features of society) and on the microlevel (focusing on social interaction). This course involves primarily microlevel sociology with its focus on face-to-face interaction and the interdependence of individuals and society . Through lectures, assigned reading, and active learning projects, students will discover that sociologists interested in social psychology believe the individual and society are not distinct and separate units; that they are shaped by each other and that neither can be understood without reference to the other.

2. Understand the historical context of the social sciences

Like the subjects it studies, sociology was itself a social product of an emerging new social order in Europe during the ISth and 19th centuries and continues to be shaped by the context in which it is practiced. This history is addressed mainly by lecture in the theory section of the course but is also reflected in the sections on groups and conformity as well as on prejudice and inequality (see sections III, V & IX of course outline). In these sections, students will learn how American sociology built on the European tradition and added features of U.S. culture (e.g., individualism and pragmatism) as it came to distinguish between microsocial processes (concerning individuals and small groups) and macrosocial processes (concerning structural features such as institutionalized inequality).

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

In sections I, IV, V, VII and especially XI of the course outline, attention will be focused on the logical/empirical basis of the study of social interaction. Assigned reading, class lecture and in- and out-of-class exercises and assignments are used to illustrate that, to be accepted, assertions about human behavior must (1) make logical sense and (2) correspond to the facts.


  1. Become familiar with the process of theory-building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences
  2. Symbolic interactionism (introduced in section I) is a major theoretical perspective in sociology and it is reflected throughout the course. Because sociology does not have a unified theoretical perspective, this course also draws from the theories of both sociological and psychological social psychology (sections VI & VII of course outline) emphasizing the view that each compliments the other and each has weaknesses that the strengths of the other can partiallyoffset. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are introduced through the use of examples in lecture and assigned reading (see Section XI of course outline) to illustrate the relationship between theory and research.



  3. Understand research methods used in the social sciences

The nature of scientific research, which involves rigorous observation and careful analysis, will be discussed in assigned reading as well as in lecture as the method used to answer research questions (see I and XI of course outline). The relative strengths and weaknesses of methods (e.g. participant observation vs controlled experiments) will be included in required reading and examined in class discussion with various examples highlighted throughout the course.

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

While noting the distinctions between "basic" and "applied" approaches, this course will include opportunities (e.g. voluntary community service, in-class activities, and assigned projects) for students to consider and demonstrate possible applications of knowledge about behavior at the level of group interactions (see course requirements on syllabus). The assigned reading with its emphasis on the power of the social situation to affect people's beliefs, feelings and behavior invites thinking about possible applications (see Sections IV, VII & VIII). Possible activities and projects might involve discussion groups or short data gathering exercises concerning various social issues or concerns such as persuasion tactics used in media advertising or effects of pornography on sexual aggression.

  1. Understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience.


Understanding of diversity is frequently seen as central to sociology. The concepts developed in this course and the topics covered provide numerous opportunities for examining relationships between different societal groups.



Sample Student Syllabus
Sociology 205
Social Interaction
University Studies Program (Social Science) Course

Course Description:  A study of human interactions and relations among people, how social situations affect behavior, how people acquire the ability to interact as members of society, and the methods used to study human interaction.

Course Objectives:  To acquaint students with the sociological perspective, to five an overview of theory and research methods in social psychology, and to consider the application of social psychological theory and research to the problems confronting individuals and groups in a diverse and interdependent world.  This course is designed to satisfy the Social Science Outcomes of the University studies Program (USP).

University Studies Program Social Science Outcomes:

1.  Understand humans as individuals and as 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 buy the
     social sciences.
5.  Understand research methods used in the social sciences.  Describe and detail discipline-specific
     knowledge and its application.
6.  Describe and detail discipline-specific knowledge and its applications.
7.  Understand differences among and commonalties across humans and their experiences.

These outcomes are reflected in the readings, lectures and activities of the course outline.

Course Requirements and Grading:  Students are expected to attend class, complete assigned reading, participate in class activities and projects, and take at least three of the five exams given during the semester.  Class will involve lectures, videos, discussion, and numerous short ungraded and unspecified in-class assessments as well as slightly larger projects and in-class activities indicated in the course outline below.  These activities and projects are intended to reinforce ideas and concepts presented in class and in the assigned reading.  Taken together, these activities and projects, if of acceptable quality. can be counted as the equivalent of one exam.  The exams will each be worth 100 points and will cover the material outlined below.  Counting the best four out of five exams, your grade will be determined as follows:  360-400 =A, 320-359 + B, 260-310 = C, 200-259 =D, and under 200 =F.   Up to 20 additional points may be earned based on verified participation in community service or attendance at university-sponsored lectures or performances.   Since one exam will be discarded, make-up exams will not ordinarily be given.   in the unlikely event a make-up test ins necessary, such exam will be scheduled at the instructor's convenience.

Course Outline:

I. Social Psychology and the Study of Social Interaction                       Babbie, Chapters 1-2
                   Reading & lecture: (USP Outcomes 1-7)                             Aronson, Chapter 1

        Project: Keep daily journal of everyday life events and behavior that you think
        would interest a social psychologist. (USP Outcomes 3, 4, & 6)

       Class Activity: "Who am I?" 20 Statements Test (USP Outcomes 1 & 3)

II. Social Interaction and Social Structure                                            Babbie, Chapters 5-6
                 Reading & lecture: (USP Outcomes 1 & 7)

        Class Activity: List statuses you occupy, indicate which are ascribed and achieved,
        and identify the statuses each relates to. (USP Outcomes 1 & 7)

III. Social Groups and Conformity                                                            Aronson, Chapter 2
                  Reading & lecture: (USP Outcomes 1, 2, & 7)                    Babbie, Chapter 3

        Class Activities: Identify examples from class videos (Obedience and Truth About Lies)
        that illustrate conformity processes at work. (USP Outcomes 1 & 6)

IV. Mass Communication, Propaganda and Persuasion                             Aronson, Chapter 3
               Reading & lecture: (USP Outcomes 1, 3 & 6)

        Project: Media Watch. Based on assigned reading in chapter 3, make a brief class
        presentation of examples of persuasion tactics found in mass media.
        (USP Outcomes 3 & 6)

Test #1

   V.  Theoretical Perspectives and the Development of Social Psychology
               Lecture – Sociological & Psychological Origins (USP Outcomes 2 & 4)

        Class Activity: Compare (note similarities) and contrast (note differences)
        sociological social psychology and psychological social psychology
        based on your understanding of lectures. (USP Outcomes, 2, 3 & 4)

VI. Social Cognition                                                                            Aronson, Chapter 4
                Lecture & reading (USP Outcomes 3, 4 & 5)

                In-class group project: Decide how you might conduct a modified replication of
                Kenrick and Gutierres’ "blind date" experiment discussed in your
                reading. Share ideas with class. (USP Outcome 5)

VII. Self Justification                                                                           Aronson, Chapter 5
              Lecture & reading (USP Outcomes 4 & 6)

        Project: Keep a journal for about one week and record instances when you find
        yourself experiencing dissonance and note your efforts to reduce it. Rely
        on reading in chapter 5 for ideas. (USP Outcomes 4 & 6)

Test #2

VIII. Human Aggression                                                                           Aronson, Chapter 6
             Lecture & readings (USP Outcomes 3 & 6)

             Class Activity: In small groups discuss the research evidence presented in chapter
             6 and try to decide if you think steps should be taken to make violent
             pornography illegal. (USP Outcome 6)

IX. Prejudice and Inequality                                                                     Aronson, Chapter 7
             Lecture & readings (USP Outcomes 2 & 7)                                  Babbie, Chapter 7

             Class Activity: Complete handouts in class as you watch the film The Color of
. Rely on them for class discussion. (USP Outcome 7)

Test #3

X. Interpersonal Attraction                                                                      Aronson, Chapter 8
                Lecture & reading (USP Outcome 7)

                Class Activity: Interpersonal dispute role play (USP Outcomes 6 & 7)

XI. Social Science Methods and the Study of Social Interaction              Aronson, Chapter 9
                 Lecture & reading (USP Outcomes 3 & 5)

                Class Activity: Choose a study that you learned about in this class that especially
                interested you and identify its strengths and weaknesses in terms of
                investigator control, intrusiveness of measures, difficulty of conducting
                study, and ethical problems. (USP Outcome 5)

XII. Social Change and the Global Picture                                               Babbie, Chapters 9-10
                Lecture & readings (USP Outcome 7)

               Class Activity: Brainstorming session to identify commonalities, in addition
               to the ones discussed in chapter 10, that class members have observed in
               international travel. (USP Outcome 7)

Test #4

  1. I. Review for Test #5 (Comprehensive Final Exam – see Final Exam Schedule)