Social Science I Room 161
Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:45 am
Instructor: Anthony R. Pratkanis
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 10:00-11:00 am
Office: Social Science II Room 365
Messages can be left at 459-5085
Humans are the only animal capable of living in both authoritarian and
democratic regimes. The purpose of this course is to explore the nature of
these forms of social relationships with a goal of promoting democracy. Topics
include: obedience to authority, conformity, self-justification, propaganda,
power, and conflict resolution. The course will begin with an overview of the
nature of autocracy and democracy. This will be followed by looking at a
series of threats to democracy that give rise to authoritarian regimes along
with checks and balances to counter these threats. The course will then look
at how to develop skills of pro-social behavior and conflict resolution needed
At the end of the course, the student should master these objectives:
(a)State and describe the major experimental findings concerning the social psychological processes involved in autocracies and democracies.
(b)Describe the nature of autocratic regimes and develop strategies for preventing the rise of such regimes.
(c)Describe the nature of democracy and develop strategies for responding to John Dewey’s statement that “every generation must discover democracy anew.”
(d)Understand the responsibilities of a citizen in a democracy.
Textbooks (all in paperback)
Stanley Milgram Obedience to Authority
Philip Zimbardo The Lucifer Effect
Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson Mistakes were Made but Not by Me
Roger Fisher, William Ury, & Bruce Patton Getting to Yes
Plus readings available through pdf (see last page of syllabus)
This course deals with political issues that some may find sensitive and for
which people of good faith may disagree. For that reason, the course adopts
the following social norms to govern class discussion and behavior:
If you cannot agree to abide by these norms, you should drop the course.
- Each person’s opinion should be respected and tolerated; we will not tolerate intolerance, however.
- There shall be no displays of political correctness – adopting positions to enhance a desired image as opposed to attempting to learn about the issue.
- Take the plank out of one’s own eye before attempting to remove the speck in another’s eye (or use the course principles to critique your own beliefs and behavior before passing judgment on others).
- Distinguish between values (what one prefers) and facts (what is the actual case).
- Use truth (empirical and historical facts) to make decisions and judgments as opposed to truthiness (using one’s prejudice to accept what “feels right”).
The course consists of lectures and class discussions plus assigned readings.
(Assigned text should be read in conjunction with the lecture). The course
evaluation will be based on: (1) six homework assignments, (2) a major poster
project, (3) class exercises involving discussion of projects, and (4)
participation in class discussions plus any additional comments that the
instructor considers appropriate. All written assignments must be submitted
in writing – no emailing of assignments. The narrative evaluation will consist
of a short summary of the student’s performance in the course. Note: if the
course is taken for Pass/No Pass, then a grade of "Good (C)" or better must be
earned to obtain course credit. Under the pass/no pass option, a grade of D
(marginal pass) or F (no pass) results in a no pass for the course.
The purpose of the homework assignments is to (a) reinforce core concepts from
the lectures and readings and (b) allow the student to apply these concepts to
novel examples. Each assignment should be completed as noted on the course
calendar. In completing the assignment, students will be given a problem to be
analyzed. Homework assignments should be typed, well written (see below), and
as brief as possible. Multi-page papers should be stapled before submission.
The homework assignments will look at:
1. Conflict in utopias
2. Obedience to classroom authorities
3. Social pressure and democracy
4. Reduction of a rationalization trap
5. Power and corruption
6. Conflict resolution
The purpose of the poster project is to provide an opportunity to apply the
critical information of the course to an area of particular interest to the
student. Specifically, the poster project consists of a social influence
analysis applying the course principles and knowledge to resolving a conflict
and promoting democracy. To complete this topic, students must first select
an issue or problem facing the promotion of democracy. Some examples of
problems and issues include: conflict resolution (such as the genocides in
Darfur and Bosnia/Kosovo, human rights violations in China, Iranian nuclear
development, Israel/Palestine conflict, Obama v Clinton in the Democratic
party), authoritarian abuse of power, (e.g., cultic influence, My Lai massacre,
North Korean regime), a problem confronting mature democracies (e.g., mass
media and democracy), or the promotion of democracy abroad (in countries
developing or attempting to develop democracy) or at home (reduction of social
pressures in a given domain; promotion of education and childrearing to promote
democratic values). This problem can be historic or contemporary. Next, the
student should develop a policy intervention and recommend a democratic
solution to the problem.
This analysis should begin with understanding the problem using the
principles described in the course including:
Obedience to authority
Power of the situation
Granfalloons (ethnic strife)
Next, the student should use the principles of the course to suggest
ways to democratically resolve the issue using such course principles
Getting to yes
Promoting pro-social behavior
Checks and balances on power
Jigsaw and other prejudice reduction methods
This paper should be as short as possible (no more than 10 pages). It should
be written as a briefing paper for a policy maker. In other words, after a
brief description of the problem, there should be a succinct presentation of
specific problems to be addressed along with recommendations for solutions.
Bullet lists should be used whenever possible. (Note: most policy makers do
not have time for long reports and need to be able to skim the paper for
The class project should be ambitious and challenging in scope. Students
should attempt to attack a problem of substance and importance and should view
this project as if it were being submitted to an audience outside of this class
and UCSC (i.e. an article for publication or a project report for an
employer). In order to accomplish this goal, students will work in groups of
3 class members. In work groups, students should be able to accomplish a
project that includes doing the necessary historical research about the issue
or problem and developing effective intervention strategies. Evaluations will
be shared equally among all group members.
The poster project requires the following: First, find a group and a topic.
(See calendar for dates for submitting a preliminary statement of group members
and topic; this statement should include a list of group members, the topic of
the poster in general terms, and a statement of at least 2 hours per week when
the group can meet). Second, develop your poster idea. As part of this
development, submit a statement of intent and poster plan, which includes your
topic, the names of the group members, an overview of tasks to be performed,
and a detailed description of tasks to be performed along with who will done
each task and when. Note: submission of this statement of intent should be
done early in the term. (See course calendar for due date statement of intent
and poster plan). Third, do the research. Fourth, prepare a poster describing
what your research has shown (see next paragraph) along with a copy of the
written materials for submission to the instructor. (The written copy is due
at the Poster Session. This can be a short summary of the poster or a copy of
the text of the poster and includes the title of the poster and the names of
group members). Fifth, display your poster at the end-of-term Poster
Session. During this session, one group member must stay with the poster at
all times to answer questions. Students not presenting posters will mix
freely around the posters to discuss research content and provide feedback
to the presenters.
Physically, each group will have roughly 8 feet of wall space to display their
research. Typically, a poster consists of a series of pages or panels
describing the research. For example, one page may outline the research
hypothesis. Another page may list the methods, followed by results, and
then discussion. Given the nature of posters, print must be large and text
kept to simple sentences and phrases. Students should not feel limited to
just text material and can include graphs, slides, audio-visuals, computer
displays, and models. It is the responsibility of the group to bring
materials for setting up the poster and attaching it to the wall, as well as,
securing any additional materials need for presentation. Note: please use
pushpins or other devices that will not damage walls when securing your
posters. A copy of the written text of the poster plus any supporting
materials must be turned-in to the instructor at the Poster Session. This
written material must contain the title of the project and the full names of
each contributing member. It can also include a copy of the materials displayed
on the poster plus anything else the group wishes to submit. (The grade will
be based on the material in the poster and not on the written material).
A good poster project has the following attributes: (1) integrative of course
material, (2) original and creative, (3) informative and instructional
(provides a learning experience for both reader and writer), and (4) readable.
The format of the paper must follow American Psychological Association
guidelines as much as possible.
Some tactics for improving the style of your poster include: (1) use tables,
figures, charts, and headings to improve organization, (2) get to the point
quickly, (3) use simple words and sentences, (4) type it, (5) don't hand in a
first draft (revise to get the lard out), (6) use proper footnote and
reference formats, and (7) make it short (don't waste anybody's time, more
than 10 pages is probably too long). Further hints on writing can be found in
Strunk and White's Elements of Style, J.D. Lester's Writing Research Papers,
Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, and
Soden's Looking Good on Paper.
Some tactics for improving content include: (1) select a topic related to the
course, (2) use information related to the course, (3) collect your own data
(e.g., interviews, write groups, locate articles in academic journals), (4)
back up your statements with references to published works or other data, and
(5) draw your own inferences that go beyond mere repetition of those of your
Group Work. Working in groups is often challenging, but it is a skill that is
required in various settings. First, you should be prepared to work with your
group at times outside of class to be scheduled by your group. Second, to
facilitate group work, it is helpful to develop a written list of
responsibilities assigned to each group member. This list should detail
exactly what is expected of each member (e.g., listing all anticipated tasks
and describing each member's responsibilities including who will co-ordinate
group activities). This will help everyone in the group to know what is
expected. Third, you should be aware of your group's process at all times.
It is the responsibility of group members, not that of the instructor, to
ensure the performance of each member.
Selecting Team Members. One important ingredient for a successful poster
project is selecting group members with compatible goals and complementary
skills. Here are some attributes to consider in selecting fellow group members:
Your approach to group process (are you a social loafer looking for an easy
ride, prefer to have a well-coordinated structure, likes to do everything at
the last minute, etc.)
Your goal in terms of a grade for the project (do you want to slide by or
get an A)
A list of skills that you seek in a group member (particularly skills that
will be needed for a poster project that you do not have). Some skills that
are often needed in the poster project include: (a) writing ability,
(b) graphic skills, (c) stats and research design capability,
(d) ability to search archival data, (e) interpersonal (sales) skills to gain
access to needed materials, (f) leadership to co-ordinate the group, (g)
computer skills for various aspects of the project, and (h) creative vision
(see how to put the pieces together to form the whole).
Your schedule for the quarter and how it will match with other group members
to allow for work on the project outside of class.
After assessing the skills and attributes you need in a group member to reach
your goals, you should think of questions that will allow you to document
whether or not the potential group member has that skill/attribute or not.
In addition, you should think of how you will document desired skills should
you be asked by others to do so. Some ways to do this include asking potential
group members for references (people who have worked with them on group
projects in the past), to submit writing samples, or to demonstrate stats
and computer skills. Assessment of potential group members is essential to
realizing your goals. For example, suppose you are a social loafer who wants
a good grade without doing the work. It is imperative that you find a very
smart and nice person to do all the work for you. Imagine the calamity should
the other group members be social loafers or your patsy is incompetent or isn’t
very nice and decides to fire you! Suppose you want to go to grad school and
thus want to do a really great project as a way of learning needed skills.
Imagine your chagrin if everyone else is a social loafer!
Facilitating Group Dynamics. To facilitate your work in groups, go to the
following web site before beginning the project:
This web site has information on the following: basic information on working
in teams, managing tasks, managing members, managing interactions and meetings,
managing the team context, along with links to other resources. In addition,
you may also want to set up a Yahoo Group to allow you to monitor your group’s
progress. Yahoo Groups allows you to keep a calendar, upload files, set up an
email distribution list, and other useful things. You may use this group to
upload files, keep project files, keep information accessible to all members,
and so forth. To set up a Yahoo group, go to the Yahoo groups web page and
follow the instructions for setting up a group (see the extensive Yahoo help
files if you need help). Be sure to make the group private so that only
members can join. Invite all the members of the group to join (you do this
by sending an email message to them). Note: a Yahoo Group (or similar forum)
is one way to document poor performance of a group member, if you seek to
remove that member from the group.
Firing Group Members. To deal with group members who are not fulfilling their
responsibilities, your group has the option of firing irresponsible group
members. A group member who is not fulfilling his or her responsibilities must
be issued one written warning signed by each remaining member of the group
informing the individual that the remainder of the group feels that she or he
is not fulfilling the responsibilities assigned to him or her. The written
warning should be dated and detail the responsibilities that have been
neglected. A group member who has received a written warning who continues
to neglect responsibilities may be fired by the group. Again, a dated written
notice signed by the remaining group members should be issued to the individual
who is fired. Any members fired by their groups have two options: (1)
persuading another group to accept them into it as members or (2) completing
the poster assign individually (Note: in this case, the poster project will be
graded using the same high expectations as that for a group – that is, it
should be at least 3 times better than an individual level project).
You may find the following web sites of value in searching for
information about social psychology, autocracy, and democracy and
for information helpful in class assignments:
www.socialpsychology.org (guide to careers in social psychology)
www.uwsp.edu/aca/psych/apa4b.htm (guide to APA style)
www.psychgrad.org (provides valuable information on how to apply to
graduate school in psychology)
www.psychwww.com (info on careers in psychology)
www.apa.org (homepage for the American Psychological Association)
www.psychologicalscience.org (homepage for the American Psychological Society)
www.spsp.org (homepage for the Society of Personality and Social Psychology)
http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~towens/socialpsych/ (homepage for the Social
Psychology section of the American Sociological Association)
www.spssi.org (social psychologists look at social issues)
www.stanleymilgram.com (a web site dedicated to the work of Stanley Milgram)
www.zimbardo.com/prisonexp (more information about the Stanford prison experiment)
www.jigsaw.org (more details on the jigsaw classroom, one of the most effective techniques for reducing prejudice)
http://livingroomcandidate.movingimage.us/ (library of on-line U.S political ads)
www.infocult.org (information on cults)
www.cjs.org (more information on cults)
www.freedomofmind.com (Freedom of Mind Resource Center maintained by Steven Hassan, one of America’s leading cult counselor).
http://www.gallup.com/index.html (web site to the Gallup Poll)
http://radiostationworld.com/default.asp (list of the world’s radio stations)
http://www.actualidad.com/index.cfm (list of world’s newspapers)
http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/ (front page headlines of world’s newspapers)
http://livingroomcandidate.org/ (US political ads)
http://uscpublicdiplomacy.com/index.php (USC public diplomacy center emphasizing the use of social influence in international relations)
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html (CIA: The World Fact Book)
http://www.policyalmanac.org/ (Almanac of policy issues providing background information, archived documents, and links on major U.S. public policy issues).
I do not take roll for lecture attendance. This does not mean that lectures
are optional. Much material is covered in lectures, and it will be difficult
to pass the course without regular attendance. It is an 8 am class; please
do not take the course if you cannot arrive to lecture on time or cannot
attend lecture regularly. Class announcements are generally given at the
beginning of class and are not repeated as new students arrive. If you miss
class, it is the student's responsibility to cover missed materials. (It is
not the instructor's responsibility to provide lecture notes, repeat lectures,
etc.) Many of the lectures involve videos/DVDs. Due to copyright laws, this
material cannot be placed on reserve and the only way to obtain the information
in these videos/DVDs is to attend class.
How to Read a Nonfiction Book
Recently, I have had a number of students come to my office hours to tell me
that my course was the first time they had to read a book for a class, and
they wanted my advice on how to read a book. For students for whom this course
may be their first academic experience with reading a book, I recommend the
- S is for Survey or Skim: Begin by skimming the to-be-read section of the book looking at the major headings and to get a general idea of what will be covered.
- Q is for Question: Next, go through the to-be-read material and ask yourself questions – What are the major points in the section? What issues are being raised? What does each section focus on?
- R is for Read: Now, read the material. Remember to keep asking questions about what the material is stating and why.
- R is for Review: Review the material for the main points and then fill in the details of what the author stated.
- R is for Recite and Rehearse: Make notes about the important points and details and then review them frequently.
An employer once informed me that educators do a major disservice by accepting
late assignments. In her world, missing a deadline means a lost account.
Therefore tardiness will not be tolerated. It is unfair to other students who
emit course related behavior in timely fashion, unfair to the instructor who
must rearrange work schedules, and most importantly represents a pattern of
behavior that is unprofitable in the real world. Given that many of the
assignments involve class projects, late work will be penalized. Late work
will be graded on a curve where the lowest grade in the class (among those
submitting the paper on time) becomes the highest grade possible. A written
assignment is considered late if it is submitted up to 3 school days after the
due date. After that, the paper will not be accepted. The poster assignment
must be performed on the scheduled class date. Assignments that are not
completed receive a 0 (zero), which is averaged with the student’s other grades
to determine the overall grade. Required assignments are not optional.
This course follows the enrollment policy established by the psychology
department. These procedures are not negotiable and will be followed to the
letter. You may not take this course using the "Credit by Petition" option.
The enrollment for this course is handled by the university computerized
enrollment system. I do not have (a) permission codes, (b) a waiting list, or
(c) a way to add students. The only way to gain admission into the course is
to keep trying to enroll via the university system. (If the course is
currently full, then a seat will open up only if someone drops. That seat
will be assigned via the university computerized enrollment system).
Plagiarism is a very serious offense and will not be tolerated. Any paper
containing plagiarized material will not be accepted for credit in this
course. Plagiarism is defined as any use of another author's words or ideas
without appropriately providing credit. Exact quotes from another source
should be placed within quotation marks with an appropriate citation including
page number. In addition, paraphrases of another author's words may also
count as plagiarism; changing around the order of the words or the exact
prepositions used does not change the fact that you are using another person's
ideas. Submission of another paper (whether a classmates or from an on-line
service) is plagiarism. Use your own words to describe the studies and
findings that you want to describe in your paper. The campus policy on
plagiarism can be found at:
You should consult this website before agreeing to take this course.
Enrollment in this course represents acceptance of university rules and
guidelines and a commitment to abide by those rules and guidelines. Any
questions about this policy can be direct to the instructor.
Letters of Recommendation
After the course, students frequently ask the instructor for a letter of
recommendation. Writing letters of reference is not a task that is part of
the instructor’s job, and the writing of such letters is up to instructor
discretion. The first step in this procedure is to make a personal assessment
of the quality of letter the instructor can write for you. To do this, make a
list of the qualifications needed for the position, for each qualification
state the typical level of accomplishment of the successful applicant, and
then list the interactions you had with the instructor that would serve to
document each qualification. The next step is to ask the instructor if he
is willing to write such a letter for you. (You should feel free to show
your personal assessment to the instructor). Do not send unsolicited
materials to the instructor. They will be returned. Also, please do not
use the instructor as a "reference" (with potential employers, landlords,
banks, credit cards companies, etc.) without the approval of the instructor.
Given the nature of the course, the instructor typically cannot learn the
information about you that is required for letters for Education Abroad
Program (EAP) and thus cannot write such letters.
Please review the Course Calendar below before agreeing to take this course.
All activities are planned; some important activities are performed in groups.
Late work will be penalized. Missed work will receive a no-pass.
A Note on the Readings
The course calendar lists the date when each reading should be done.
However, you may wish to do as much of the readings (as possible) at
the beginning of the course. The required readings are well written,
engaging, and on interesting topics. By doing the readings as early
as possible, you provide a foundation for conducting your conflict
resolution analysis and for developing your poster ideas.
April 1: Introduction to the Social Psychology of Autocracy and Democracy
TU Assignment: Download all the pdf articles (see last page of syllabus); Read ahead in Zimbardo
Homework #1 (Conflict in Utopia) distributed
April 3: 1939
TH Assignment: Zimbardo Ch 1; #1: Lewin, Lippitt, & White (1939)
April 8: Why Utopias Fail
TU Assignment: Begin Zimbardo Chs 2-11; #2: The Other American Dream by Tamara Jones; #3: Twin Oaks Community webpage; #4: Walden II Wiki; # 5 Allard.
Homework #1 (Conflict in Utopia) due
April 10: A Prison at Stanford
TH Assignment: Complete Zimbardo Chs 2-11
April 15: Obedience to Authority
TU Assignment: Milgram Chs 1-9
Homework #2 (Obedience in a classroom) distributed
April 17: Yertle and His Dominion
TH Assignment: Milgram Chs. 10-15 plus Appendices
Preliminary Poster Idea and Group Due (This statement should include a list of group members, the topic of the poster in general terms, and a statement of at least 2 hours per week when the group can meet).
April 22: Social Conformity
TU Assignment: Zimbardo Ch 12; Asch
Homework #2 (Obedience in a classroom) due
Homework #3 (Social pressure) distributed
April 24: Horton Hears a Who
TH Assignment: Zimbardo pp. 457-488; #6 Nemeth
April 29: Granfalloons and Jigsaws
TU Assignment: #7: Aronson & Bridgeman; Read ahead in Tavris & Aronson
May 1: The Rationalization Trap
TH Assignment: Tavris & Aronson Chs 1, 3, 5-8
Homework #3 (Social pressure) due
Homework #4 (reducing a rationalization trap) distributed
Poster Group Work Plan Due (This statement of intent and poster plan should include your topic, the names of the group members, and a detailed description of tasks to be performed along with who will done each task and when).
May 6: Propaganda and Persuasion in Autocracies and Democracies
TU Assignment: #8: Diamond (2008)
Homework #4 (reducing a rationalization trap) due
May 8: Participatory Democracy
TH Assignment: No reading assignment (read ahead for Homework #4)
Homework #5 (power and corruption) distributed
May 13: Corruption in a Small Town
TU Assignment: #9: The Long War Against Corruption; #10: The Myth of the Authoritarian Model
May 15: Power and Corruption
TH Assignment: No reading assignment
Homework #5 (power and corruption) due
Homework # 6 (conflict resolution) distributed
May 20: Getting to Yes
TU Assignment: Getting to Yes
May 22: No class; work on poster assignments
TH Assignment: Getting to Yes
May 27: The Role of the Military in and for Democracies
TU Assignment: 11. White, R. K. (1995). When Does Intervention Make Sense?
May 29: John 3:16
TH Assignment: Zimbardo pp. 458-451
June 3: Decision Making in a Democracy
TU Assignment: Zimbardo pp. 451-456; Tavris and Aronson Ch. 4; 12. White, Ralph K. (2004). Misperception and war.
Homework # 6 (conflict resolution) due
June 5: Poster Session
TH Assignment: None
Note: Zimbardo Chs 12-14 are not formally assigned. However, these chapters provide an example of how to conduct a social influence analysis.
Articles for the Course
Note: unless URL is given, article is available through university library’s on-line journals.
1. Lewin, K.; Lippitt, R.; White, R. K. (1939). Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created "social climates." Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271-299
2. The Other American Dream By Tamara Jones
3. Twin Oaks Intentional Community webpage
4. Walden II Wiki
5. Allard, W. (2006, June). Solace at Surprise Creek. National Geographic, 20, 120-147.
6. Nemeth, Charlan J. (1986). Differential contributions of majority and minority influence. Psychological Review, 93(1), 23-32.
7. Aronson, E., & Bridgeman, D. (1979). Jigsaw groups and the desegregated classroom: In pursuit of common goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5(4), 438-446.
8. Diamond, L. (2008, Mar./Apr.). The Democratic Rollback. Foreign Affairs, 87, 36-48.
9. Ben W. Heineman Jr. and Fritz Heimann. (2006, May/June). The Long War Against Corruption. Foreign Affairs p115.
10. McFaul, M., & Stoner-Weiss. (2008, January/February). The myth of the authoritarian model. Foreign Affairs, pp. 68-84.
11. White, R. K. (1995). When Does Intervention Make Sense? Peace and Conflict, 1.
12. White, Ralph K. (2004). Misperception and war. Peace and Conflict, 10(4), 2004, pp. 399-409
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Obedience to Authority
Yertle the Turtle