Social Cognition
Social Cognition Syllabus
Psyc749

Prerequisites: Psyc700 Social Psychology

  • Course Topic
    • 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 of cognitive psychology.

  • Text
    • Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition (2nd Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill

  • Approach
    • Each session, using a seminar format, discussion centers 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. The journal articles serve as exemplars of the type of research conducted on the topic du jour.

  • Weekly comments
    • Objectives. Writing weekly comments hones skills needed to write critical journal reviews as an academic professional. Written comments simultaneously enhance the quality of the discussion, by encouraging critical thinking about readings prior to class. The combined critique grade contributes 25% to the final grade.
    • Procedure. Each Monday 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: For each article, write 1 to 1 1/2 pages, refering liberally to the background readings for support. Make and support at least 2 or 3 points for each article.
    • Suggested comments. 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?

  • 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 each will co-facilitate at least twice. 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. Five years ago, one student co-facilitator began the practice of providing an outline of the topics with the names of students who made pertinent comments. Other students followed suit and these outlines came to be called "Mif sheets." You may adopt the practice, or create a new one.

  • Term project
    • Objective. The term project should encourage in-depth pursuit of students' own interests from a social cognitive perspective. The term project comprises 50% of the final grade. Papers are due by 3 pm on Dec 11.
    • Procedure. Students will write a literature review (with or without a research proposal) on an area of social cognition that overlaps with their own interests. 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 week of the course, students will present their project to the class. Students may assign a background reading to facilitate their presentation.
      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


  • 1996 Readings



Social Psychology on the Web.
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