Research Methods in Social Cognition
Research Methods in Social Cognition is a 4cr course that examines the theories and
methods of cognitive social psychology. In the lecture/seminar component of the course,
students read and critique recent journal articles on social cognition experiments; the
lecture/seminar component is intended to help students gain insight into methods, design,
and theory. In the laboratory component of the course, students act as participants in
laboratory simulations based on previous experiments in social cognition, then write APA-
Psyc212 (Experimental Design and Quantitative Methods) and Psyc343 (Social
Psychology) are prerequisites to this course. By enrolling in this course, you are confirming
that you have met the prerequisites.
Psyc345 satisfies the psychology laboratory requirement, but not the college
- Course Objectives
- How do people make sense of themselves, of other people, and of the social
world in general? Broadly speaking, the social cognitive perspective addresses these and
other social psychological questions, borrowing liberally from theories and methods
Although these questions will be addressed in lecture, the optimal way
to understand the issues and techniques is through active engagement. To
facilitate this process, students will critique and discuss published research,
participate in laboratory simulations of social cognition experiments, and hone scientific
- For the first several weeks (both Tuesdays & Thursdays),
lectures will focus
around methodological issues, and provide a refresher regarding
experimental design and
statistics. Material from these lectures should be useful in writing
laboratory reports, and discussion. For some helpful methodology definitions,
Lecture, seminar, and lab all are fair game for the final examination,
which combines a
multiple choice and essay format. The multiple choice items obviously
change each term, but some recent exams from 1998 and 1995 may
give you ideas
about the type of questions asked. The essay portion comprises
methodology questions about a particular article; the questions are
identical from term-to-term
essay questions)but are with
reference to a new empirical article.
Later in the semester, Tuesdays will be reserved for lecture, and
Thursdays will be reserved for seminar
discussions of empirical articles.
- Thursday seminars will center around a chapter from the text and 2 recent
journal articles. The text provides a sound theoretical background to each topic as well as a
summary of relevant research, and should be integrated into the critiques and discussion.
Articles are on electronic reserve at the
- Writing weekly critiques on the empirical articles should hone critical thinking
skills. Written critiques simultaneously should enhance the quality of the discussion, by
encouraging critical thinking about readings prior to class. Each student will be assigned
randomly to write a 1 page comment for one of the two articles. Of course, all students are
expected to read all papers. "Non-writer" participation will be kept in mind when class
participation grades are assigned. Please place critiques in my Stern 2007 mailbox by
Tuesday at 3 pm.
- There are no formal "rules" about how to write a weekly comment. Given what
they are intended to achieve within the class period (a stimulating, somewhat organized
discussion), here are some guidelines: Write about 1 page, focusing on the article to which
you are assigned, referring liberally to the text for support. Try to make and support at
least 2 points. You might address (but are certainly not limited to) any of the following
questions or issues: Theoretical issues (e.g., How does this study support or contradict
theoriesdiscussed in the text?) Methodological issues (e.g., Are the control
procedures adequate?) Interpretational/Validity issues (e.g., Are the
current operationalizations really tapping the constructs of interests?)
- Laboratory Sessions
- The laboratory component of the course is intended to provide hands-on
insight into social cognitive methodology. Students participate in experimental simulations,
code and analyze data, interpret results, and write laboratory reports.
- In each of the eight simulations, students serve as the participants who provide
the raw data for laboratory reports. The procedures for these experiments are relatively
innocuous, and the material will not be socially sensitive. If anyone finds a particular study
objectionable, she or he may decline participation. However, because laboratory
attendance is required, all students must remain present until the end of the session. In
accordance with ethical guidelines, the teaching assistant will ensure confidentiality of
students' responses, and will encourage students to respect each other's privacy.
- Of course, psychology majors and minors are not "naive" participants.
Recognized that data are being collected for pedagogical purposes, rather than for basic
research purposes. In that spirit, please try to take seriously the role as a "participant."
After the lab has been conducted, laboratory materials will be
available on the Web here.
Before the lab is conducted, reader access to these materials is
- APA-Style Papers. Students will write 6-7 page APA-style
papers for two of
the experimental simulations. Please refer to the 5th edition of the APA Publication
Manual (Comments on the 5th
edition) .These papers themselves are under
no circumstances group projects. Papers are due 3 weeks after the lab is conducted. Late
papers will be penalized a half-grade for each day late, so students are encouraged to
submit papers in a timely fashion.
Papers should include a) a title page, b) an abstract, c) an introduction
discussing the relation of the study to the research on which it was based, d) a
methodology section, e) a results section, with graphs and tables as appropriate, f) a
discussion, and g) references. On average, sections c-f each will be 1.5 pages long. (The
other sections really do not add to the length of the paper.)
Psyc345 is not
a writing intensive course, so
requests to "re-write" or to submit drafts will not be honored.More about
the APA format paper.
Students' work must be their own.
You may not solicit help from other people (e.g., classmates, professors,
other students, significant others) in outlining or writing your paper.
(Substantial paraphrasing and borrowing of ideas without appropriate
citation can be construed as plagiarism,so be sure that you
understand what constitutes a breech of the honor code
- Lab Reports. Lab partners must submit a jointly prepared lab report for the
remaining experimental simulations (i.e., Lab reports on studies submitted as long papers are
necessary). These lab reports are intended as group projects, so students may work on
them together and submit a single report to the teaching assistant (who will assign a grade).
Lab partners will be assigned randomly for the first 3 labs, then assignments will be
switched (again, randomly) for the remaining labs.
For the first simulation, the teaching assistant will lead the group through the
writing of the lab report.
These reports are unlikely to exceed 1 or 2 typed pages. At a minimum, lab reports must a)
state the hypothesis and experimental design, b) briefly describe the methodology, c)
describe the results, which includes clearly stating the inferential statistics used and
summarizing the findings with descriptive statistics, d) provide a brief interpretation of the
result, and e) provide the appropriate reference. It is not necessary to read the paper on
which the lab is based in order to write the report. Lab reports are due 2 weeks
after the lab is conducted. Accepting late papers (and imposing penalties) is at the
discretion of the teaching assistant.
- Multiple choice questions will comprise 50% of the exam, examining knowledge
in lecture, laboratory, and seminar. The remaining 50% of the exam involves reading a short
empirical article, and answering questions about it. With the exception of the question that
assessing understanding of the results, the same questions (but a different articles) are used
each year. A copy of these questions, and a previous multiple choice exam, are accessible
through the course website. The exam contributes 24% to the final grade. The exam will be
given on the date and time scheduled. No exceptions. In addition, no student may begin the
final exam if another student already has exited the exam, so please plan to arrive on
- The remaining 10% of the grade derives from class participation, which is
throughout the semester. Prompt class and lab attendance, as well as seminar participation
on both assigned articles is expected. Monopolizing the conversation is not equivalent to
- Please bring any accommodations from the ERC to my attention the first week of
Included in this request are reservations for taking the final exam at the ERC; the ERC fills
up quickly during exam week.
| 8 Critiques || 16% |
| 5 Lab Reports || 20% |
| 2 Empirical Papers || 30% |
| Class participation || 10% |
| Final Exam || 24% |
Numerical to Letter Grade Equivalents
| A 93 and above ||
B- 80 to 82 || D+ 67 to 69 |
| A- 90 to 92 || C+
79 || D 63 to 66 |
| B+ 87 to 89 || C
76 || D- 60 to 62 |
| B 83 to 86 || C- 70 to
72 || F 59 and lower |
Reading List for Spring 2002
345 Lab Website
Essay Portion of Final
1998 Multiple Choice Final
1995 Multiple Choice Final
Newcomb & Tulane Honor Code
Social Psychology on the
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Last updated 01/09/02