Psychology 310-090: Social Psychology
Spring Semester 2007
Dr. Kelly G. Shaver

Class Hours: 4:00 - 5:15 TR
Robert Scott Small 003
Office Hours: 2:00 - 3:00 TR
Or by Appointment
309 Tate Center for Entrepreneurship

Course Description

Social psychology was established as an independent discipline only in the 1930s, despite the fact that the first textbooks with the topic were published in 1908.  Defined as the scientific study of the personal and situational factors that affect individual social behavior, social psychology considers the cognitive and motivational processes behind people's actions in a social context.  This course deals with the theory and research that contribute to our understanding of individual actions.

Required Textbook

book image

Brehm, S., Kassin, S., & Fein, B.  (2005).  Social psychology.  (6th ed.).  New York:  Houghton-Mifflin.

ISBN: 0618487565. 

(Available through the Bookstore and

Course Objectives

Why do people behave as they do?  This is the intriguing question addressed by social psychological theory and research.  Because of the power of personal experience, people are often surprised when their own view of the world is not shared by others.  The purpose of this course is to enable students to evaluate their personal experience in light of the data and well-established theories created through nearly a century of formal study of everyday social behavior.

Requirements and Evaluation

            Class Project.  It is difficult to understand the approach of contemporary social psychology without seeing its methods of research "from the inside."  Consequently, one requirement of the course is a class project, on a topic to be determined by the students, with methods designed by the class, and with data collected by the students.  This study will involve everyone, so the work will be widely shared.  The class project will not be part of the course grade.

            Examinations.   There will be two midterm examinations and a final examination.  Each examination will consist of a combination of identification questions and short answer questions.  Identification items will come entirely from the glossary of the textbook, short answer questions will be based in large part on material from the textbook, but may also include material  from class sessions.   Each midterm examination will be worth 60 points and will constitute 30% of the course grade. The final examination will be worth 80 points and will constitute the remaining 40% of the course grade.  

            Anonymity in Testing.  One of the conclusions from social psychological research is that expectations have a substantial effect on behavior.  To eliminate such expectations from grading, all examinations will be designed so that the short answer questions can be graded without names.  There is a 10-point penalty for incuding in short answers any information that would render such anonymous grading impossible.  This penalty automatically applies to make-up examinations.

Course Outline

Jan. 9
General introduction, requirements, and outline of the class project.
Jan. 11
United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  PROJECT DESIGN.
Jan. 16
Research methods in social psychology, I.  Variables and controls.
Jan. 18
Research methods in social psychology, II:  Experimentation.
Jan. 23
Perceiving other persons.
Jan. 25
Explaining actions and events. 
Jan. 30
Perceiving groups. 
Feb. 1
Attitude measurement.
Feb. 6
Processes of attitude change.
Feb. 8
Feb. 13
Class project update.

Feb. 15
Organization of the social self. 3
Feb. 20
Motivational processes in social behavior.
Feb. 22
Fairness in social exchange.
Feb 27
Development of interpersonal relationships.
Mar. 1
Social influence processes.
Mar. 13
Joining and participating in groups.
Mar. 15
Group decision processes.
Mar. 20
Class project data collection and analysis plan. ---
Mar. 22

Mar. 27
Helping behavior. 10
Mar. 29
Aggression and social problems.
Apr. 3
Pretrial and trial issues.
Apr. 5
Legal decision making.
Apr. 10
The social psychology of organizational life.
Apr. 12
Social psychology and new venture creation.
Apr. 17
Report on the class project.
Apr. 19
May 1