PSYCH301: Social Psychology

Course Syllabus for "PSYCH301: Social Psychology"

This course will introduce you to the concepts and ideas in the area of social psychology. Social Psychology aims to discover the different ways in which people interact with other individuals, groups, and the larger society as a whole, as well as why people act in certain ways. As with an anthropology or sociology course, social psychology looks at the inner workings of groups of people. However, it differs from these courses in terms of its focus; social psychology focuses primarily on the single individual’s psychology as part of the group or society, rather than the culture or group interaction (though both of these areas have some relevance in social psychology). This may seem to be quite a broad subject area – and it is. Humans are social creatures (in other words, they have evolved to be able to interact and communicate at high levels with individuals of their own species) and almost invariably exist in a social context (even a situation in which society is absent could be studied by social psychologists as a social context). Social psychology deals with a huge range of aspects of human life, including love, attraction, aggression, helping behaviors (or altruism), and obedience. While social psychology encompasses a multitude of topics, it also relates to many other fields, both within psychology and outside of it. For example, other branches of psychology (personality, gender, culture, emotions, clinical, and industrial psychology) have used important findings from social psychology in their own studies. Subjects outside of psychology, such as religion, economics, and even engineering, have made use of information that has come out of social psychology research. Social psychology research has undoubtedly had the greatest impact on the field of psychology as a whole. This course will introduce you to the most influential social psychology experiments and explain the impact that they have had on the field as a whole. First, we will introduce you to the broad topic of social psychology. Next, we will get into the content areas in which social psychological research is conducted. These areas will include the research, findings, and theories regarding self and person perceptions, attitudes, social influence, prejudice and discrimination, interpersonal relationships, aggression, and altruism, in addition to applications of social psychology to health, law, businesses, and the environment.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • discuss experiments and other empirical research in the field of social psychology;
  • outline the basic methodology, results, and impact of seminal research studies in social psychology (e.g., Milgram’s study, Asch’s study, Festinger’s study, etc.);
  • explain how the notion of the “self” contributes to cognitive processes in social interaction;
  • discuss the main research findings in the area of social persuasion;
  • define the term “attitude” and identify the mechanisms behind attitude change;
  • discuss the cognitive and affective theories/components linked to stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination;
  • identify the basic properties of and factors involved in interpersonal attraction and the formation and maintenance of relationships;
  • discuss the breadth and importance of social psychological research and its impact in the field of psychology;
  • compare and contrast different types of aggression and discuss research techniques for studying aggressive behaviors;
  • identify factors that affect a person’s decision to help or not help other people; and
  • describe how social psychology can be applied to health, law, business, and environmental issues.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed all courses listed in the Core Program of the Psychology Discipline. This requirement only applies to those students who are seeking the equivalency of a Full Psychology Degree. If taking this course as an elective, you must only have completed PSYCH101.

Course Information

Welcome to PSYCH301: Social Psychology. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory materials presented in the latter units. You will also need to complete:

  • The Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the resources provided in each unit.
In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 74 hours.Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you approximately 5.75 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 4.25 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 1.5 hours) on Tuesday night; etc.