Social Psychology (in English)
Universidad Pablo de Olavide
Area of Study
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
This course is designed to offer a comprehensive view of Social Psychology and its most
important phenomena, examining them from theoretical basis as well as in our daily lives.
To combine these two different perspectives in our classes we will complement the theoretical
dimension with materials such as films, scientific articles, visits, conferences or project
presentations. The dynamics in class will apply educational strategies to foster students?
participation and involvement in their process of learning. Seeking to promote this, expositive
lessons will be combined with students? presentations.
We will tackle Social Psychology as the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and
behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. Taking off from
this definition, throughout our course we will explore the following topics:
1. Social Cognition:
What is social cognition? Here we will tackle this question by means of an introduction to the
concept of social cognition. In addition to this, we will examine processes which will delineate
some of the basic aspects of our everyday cognitive functioning. Some of these processes will
be: Categorization, stereotyping, encoding of categories, schemas and scripts.
What is the self? And, how do we know our selves? To tackle these two questions we will
revise the contributions of the most relevant theories in the field of Self-Studies. Here we will
pay special attention to the role of narratives, and to the functions that they perform in our
autobiographic memories and identities. Due to the direct relation between ways of narrating
and cultural patterns, we will discuss how culture influences our ways of experiencing and
thinking of our selves.
3. Attitudes and Persuasion:
Firstly, we will study what attitudes are and also, how attitudes influence our daily lives. Some
of the questions constituting this topic will be the following: what is the function of attitudes in
our daily lives? Are attitudes inherited? How do they relate to our values? How do they relate to
our behaviors? From theoretical grounds our answers to these questions will be embedded in
examples from daily life.
Secondly, we will study persuasion, revising its conceptualization and the models explaining its
functioning and its applications in communicative processes. To analyze the main models we
will draw upon actual uses of persuasion in, for instance, marketing of mass scale
4. Prejudice and Inter-Group Relations:
When considering prejudice we come across two other interrelated concepts: stereotyping and
discrimination. Taken together these three make up a triad of processes that contribute to
negative attitudes, emotions, and behaviors directed at members of certain social groups. Here
we will look into the definitions of these concepts and into the dynamics of their interrelations.
5. Attraction and Inter-Personal Relations:
It is a basic human characteristic to be attracted to others, to desire to build close relationships
with friends and lovers. In this section, we explore two needs that underlie attraction and
relationships: affiliation and intimacy. Not everyone has the social skills or resources necessary
to initiate and maintain close relationships. Therefore, we also look at the emotions of social
anxiety and loneliness. Some of the questions we will tackle here are: What is a close
relationship? What are the roots of interpersonal attraction and close relationships? How does
interpersonal attraction develop? How do close relationships form and evolve? And, what are
the components and dynamics of love relationships?
What exactly is aggression? The term tends to generate a certain amount of confusion, because a
layperson?s concept of aggression differs somewhat from what social psychologists study. Here
we will develop our understanding of this term departing from its definition in Psychology.
From here we will turn to questions such as: What are the different types of aggression? What
are the gender differences in aggression? How can we explain aggression? What are the
ethological and sociobiological explanations for aggression? What role do brain mechanisms
play in aggression? How does alcohol consumption relate to aggression? What is the frustrationaggression
hypothesis? And, how does anger relate to frustration and aggression, and what
factors contribute to anger?
7. Pro-Social Behavior: Altruism:
Here we will start from the difference between altruism and helping behavior, explaining their
different meanings and the important of considering them as separate categories. After that we
will turn to aspects directly related to the concept of altruism, such as empathy and egoism,
exploring their relation with this term. In addition to this, we will revise questions such as:
What about the idea that we may help to avoid guilt or shame? Does biology play any role in
altruism? How do social psychologists explain helping in emergency situations? What other
factors affect the decision to help? And, how do personality characteristics influence helping?
Week 8: Presentations
-Social Psychology: Experimental and Critical Approaches, 2003. Rogers, Wendy Stainton.
Berkshire, GBR: McGraw-Hill Education
-Social Psychology. (2000) Kenneth S., Horowitz, Irwin A., Mahwah, NJ. USA: Lawrence
*Both are available at the University library as online resources (which will facilitate your
access to them).
Course Requirements and Grading:
Participation is essential during the class and also outside of it. During the class you will be able
to contribute to organized discussions or to introduce new topics relevant to the subject being
studied. Suggestions of new materials to discuss or to consider are welcome, as well as activities
which could contribute to richen our approach to the course subjects. Also as part of the class
you will participate in organizing and presenting contents together with your classmates. This
will make classes more dynamic, fostering abilities related to the selection of information,
organization of it into time-unities, and social skills related to presenting contents to the others.
Outside of the class you will need to prepare for the classes, reading materials, reflecting about
them and becoming ready to have a proper view on the issues being studied.
This participation represents 20% of your grade.
In this project students will work in groups to explore in depth an object of study selected by
them or proposed by the professor. The object of study can take manifold forms, it is open and
creativity and innovative ideas are welcome. As examples, we could think of films,
photography, individual or cultural narrative accounts, or case studies.
To analyze the select object in this project, students can draw from the course readings and/or
from additional readings related to the selected topic.
The analysis will have a double goal. On the one hand, you will tackle the object from the
theory to explain it, its sources, its origin, and its possible relations with other topics (among
other possibilities). On the other hand, you will consider how the object affects your
understanding of the theory. Here you will explain how it influences the sense you make of your
realities and/or your selves.
The groups will present their projects in class during the last week. However, the professor will
give students feedback throughout the semester as the projects are developed.
This project represents 30%of your grade.
There will be a mid-term exam which will represent 20% of your grade.
Working in a group, you will have to hand in two essays (one of them in October, the other at
the end of the term). In them, you will have to work on a selection of theoretical issues and on
their practical relevance, applying theory to the understanding of a selection of examplesituations.
The structure to follow and the grading details of each essay will be explained in
These papers represent 30% of your grade.
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.
Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations