Attitudes and Persuasion

Prerequisites: Psyc700 Social Psychology

  • Approach
    • Using a seminar format, discussions generally will focus on 2 empirical journal articles, which serve as exemplars of the type of research conducted in the area. Assigned background readings provide theoretical background to each topic, and also provide a summary of relevant research.
  • Weekly comments
    • Objective. Writing weekly comments will enhance skills needed to write critical journal reviews. This simultaneously will enhance discussion quality, by encouraging critical thinking about readings prior to class. The combined critique grade contributes 25% to the final grade.
    • Procedure. Each Tuesday by 3 pm, please submit 2 copies of your comments in the envelope outside my door. I will collate them by 4 pm, and leave copies outside my door for the cofacilitator. There are no formal "rules" regarding the weekly comments. Given what they are intended to achieve within the class period (a stimulating, somewhat organized discussion), here are some guidelines: Write 1 to 1 1/2 pages, focusing on the weekly articles; refer liberally to the background readings for support. Make and support at least 2 or 3 points for each article. You might address questions such as the following. How does this paper relate to other theories? Is the theoretical rationale sound? Does the study really demonstrate what it claims to demonstrate? What are some alternative explanations (e.g., from the background readings or your areas of expertise?). Are there problems with the design, statistics, procedures, etc? Is the article just old wine in new skins? What might other theories of social psychology have to say about this finding or approach? Are the results of any consequence? What further directions should be taken in this line of research? Note that, in general, critiques that focus on more theoretical issues are preferred to ones that focus on lower level methodological issues (e.g., continually lamenting the use of sophomore undergraduate students as participants.

  • Term project
    • Objective. The term project should encourage in-depth pursuit of students' own interests, from an attitudes/persuasion perspective. The term project comprises 50% of the final grade. Papers are due by 12pm on May 5. No later. No kidding.
    • Procedure. Students will write a literature review integrating Attitudes & Persuasion with topics their own interest. Please do not exceed 10-12 pages. You are encouraged to discuss potential topics with the instructor to help determine their appropriateness to the course. During the last 2 weeks of the course, students will present their project to the class, and may assign a background reading to facilitate their presentation. (More detail)

  • Co-facilitation
    • Objective. Co-facilitation of discussions will help develop skills in leading group conversations (particularly for seminars and workshops). Second, co-facilitation should keep the style of weekly discussion fresh, by capitalizing on the variety of styles represented by the students' interests and personalities. The cofacilitation grade, combined with general class participation and the course presentation, contribute 25% to the final grade.
    • Procedure. Students will co-facilitate at least once. The co-facilitators' role is to help keep the conversation going, and on track. Again, there are no formal "rules" to go by. If you feel creative, fine. If you feel task-oriented, fine. In general, though, I would suggest clustering the comments ahead of time: by issue, by depth, or whatever seems to fit the particular topic. If you wish, you may begin the discussion by "setting the stage," (i.e., sketching design, abstracting the main points, etc). As the conversation develops, encourage people who wrote pertinent comments to contribute to the class. Try changing the topic when it is exhausted or becomes trivial. If you plan in advance, you may stage a debate, and assign students to a "side" of one of two central issues (or adopt some other top-down approach). Alternatively, you may abstract a structure from the comments and provide an outline to the class (or some other bottom-up approach). Sometimes, I'm open to creativity.

    Readings from Spring 1996
    Readings for Spring 2000
    Link to ERES

    Social Psychology on the Web
    Back to Ruscher's Homepage

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