Intro to Social Psychology

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Psych 40
Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:45 am
Merrill Academic 102
Fall 2004

Anthony R. Pratkanis
Office: 365 Social Science II
Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday 12:15-1:15 pm
Messages: 459-5085

The previous century was the first one to study scientifically social behavior. This course presents an analysis of contemporary research in social psychology and what that research can teach us about the world we live in. Problems of conformity, persuasion, prejudice, attraction, and aggression will be discussed. The focus of the course will be (1) a person's relationship with other people and how he or she influences others and is influenced by others and (2) the use of the scientific method, especially experimentation for studying social behavior.

The objectives of the course include:

** to introduce the student to the field of social psychology

** to develop professional skills such as critically reading and evaluating social science research and an ability to apply the scientific method to the study of social behavior

** to develop skills at applying social psychology to the solution of practical problems

Required Texts

Aronson The Social Animal (9th ed. Please use this edition only)
Pratkanis & Aronson Age of Propaganda (Revised Edition)
Randi Flim-flam!
Tygiel Baseball's Greatest Experiment
Myers The Pursuit of Happiness
Aronson Nobody Left to Hate

Optional Text

Aronson Readings About the Social Animal (9th ed.)

Note on textbooks: Aronson's Social Animal will be used throughout the term and is the primary textbook for the course. Students should use the 9th edition. Aronson's Readings About the Social Animal is optional; it provides original accounts of important studies and should be of value to those considering a career in psychology. Students have a choice for their final book in the class between Myersís The Pursuit of Happiness and Aronsonís Nobody Left to Hate (see below). The bookstore is stocking some of each.


The course is divided into critical and enrichment activities. Critical knowledge refers to the core concepts of the course, that is, the basic ideas and principles of social psychology. It is critical because it serves as a basis for other activities such as the enrichment activities and applications. Enrichment activities are designed to personalize the student's knowledge of social psychology. These activities provide the student the opportunity to go beyond the critical information of the course and to apply the principles of social psychology to a domain of particular interest.

Critical information is conveyed through class lectures and films and through the required readings. Lectures are designed to amplify text material. (Assigned text should be read with the lecture). Enrichment activities consist of exercises covered in discussion sections and the four papers. The grade in the course is based on performance on a midterm and final exam plus four papers.


The purpose of the final and midterm exams is (1) to assess the acquisition of knowledge of social psychology and (2) to provide motivation to master core concepts. As such they will be completely based on lectures and readings. The exams are closed book and will consist of short answer questions (such as short statement, matching, fill-ins, true/false, multiple-choice).

Discussion Sessions

Students will have the opportunity to participate in a weekly discussion session chaired by a teaching assistant. The goals of these meetings include: (1) to facilitate (as needed) the learning of critical course information and (2) to provide a forum for enrichment exercises (i.e. discussion of lecture and materials, independent activities, discussion of papers).

Note: if you wish to change sections (not recommended) you need to find someone in the section you wish to transfer into to switch places with you. You must notify the TAs involved of the switch.

Paper Assignments

The student is required to write a 2-page paper on each of the four additional texts. The purpose of each paper is to: (a) provide the student with the opportunity to apply course principles and (b) serve as a focus for discussion in section. Note: the paper assignment is not a call for personal opinions that are unsubstantiated by data. It is a call for the creative application of course concepts to issues of importance.

Paper deadlines are given on the course calendar. Each paper should be submitted in your section to your TA on the appropriate date. (Hardcopies only. Do not email the paper to the TA).

Students should focus on the following issues for each book:

1. Age of Propaganda: Select an advertisement, sales technique or other influence attempt and analyze why it works using the principles of persuasion outlined by Pratkanis & Aronson. Try to use 3 or even more principles of persuasion. To complete this assignment you will need to have read Pratkanis & Aronson's Age of Propaganda.

2. Flim-flam: Take an example of flimflam described by the Amazing Randi and analyze why people were fooled using the principles of social cognition outlined in Chapter 4 of the Social Animal. To complete this assignment you will need to have read Randi's Flim-flam and Chapter 4 of the Social Animal.

3. Baseball's Greatest Experiment: List three tactics used by Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson to reduce prejudice in baseball. State the underlying social psychological principles of these tactics, and give an example of how each tactic could be used to reduce prejudice today. To complete this assignment you will need to have read Tygiel's Baseball's Greatest Experiment and Chapter 7 of the Social Animal.

4. Pursuit of Happiness or Nobody Left to Hate: State how, according to social psychological research, you can live a happy and productive life. Note: the assignment calls for the use of social psychology research to understand how to live a happy life (and not speculation). To complete this assignment you will need to have read Myers's Pursuit of Happiness or Nobody Left to Hate.

A good paper has the following attributes: (1) integrative of course information, (2) original and creative, (3) informative and instructional (provides a learning experience for both reader and writer), and (4) readable. On point #4, remember that we live in a world of information overload. To compete in this message-dense environment, papers should be (1) well organized (use figures, charts, headings), (2) understandable (get to the point; use simple sentences; type it; correctly reference scholarly materials; don't hand in a first draft) and (3) short (don't waste anybody's time; any material over 2 pages doubled-space will not be read). 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.

All papers should discuss course topics and make use of course principles. You should draw your own inferences that go beyond mere repetition of course materials. You also should back-up your statements with references to published works or other data.

Evaluation Procedure

Each student's grade will be based on the two exams (two-thirds of the grade) and the four papers (one-third of the grade combined). The narrative evaluation will consist of a short summary statement of the studentís overall performance in the class.

Important note: If you take this course for pass/no pass you must obtain a grade of C (good overall) or better to earn a pass. Under the pass/no pass option, a grade of D (marginal pass) or F (no pass) results in a no pass for the course.

Web Sites

You may find the following web sites of value during this course: (guide to careers in social psychology and over 4,000 links to social psychology related topics) (info on psychology grad schools) (info on careers in psychology) (guide to APA style) (homepage for the American Psychological Association) (homepage for the American Psychological Society) (homepage for the Society of Personality and Social Psychology) (social psychologists look at social issues) (a complete discussion of social influence tactics) (various links to social influence topics on the web) (information on the latest health flim-flam) (information on the latest mental health flim-flam) (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal) (James Randiís web page; can you win the $1 million?) (a web site dedicated to the work of Stanley Milgram) (more information about the Stanford prison experiment) (more details on the jigsaw classroom, one of the most effective techniques for reducing prejudice).

Enrollment Policy

We will follow the enrollment policy established by the psychology department and the university. These procedures are not negotiable and will be followed to the letter. (This course is offered three times a year for those who were unable to enroll this quarter). You may not take this course using the "Credit by Petition" option.


Accepting late papers is unfair to those students who complete course work on time, unfair to instructors who must re-arrange their schedules, and, most importantly, represents a pattern of behavior that is unacceptable in the real world. Mid-terms and final exams must be taken at their scheduled time. No paper will be accepted three days past the due date. Late work will be indicated in the narrative evaluation.


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 TA or 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 instructorís (or TAís) job, and the writing of such letters is up to instructor discretion. The first step in this procedure is to ask the instructor if he is willing to write such a letter for you. 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 size of the enrollment 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.

Important Notice

Please review the Course Calendar below before agreeing to take this course. Make sure that you can complete all activities at the times listed below. Missed work will receive a no-pass.


Note: SA refers to The Social Animal; RSA refers to suggested optional readings in Readings About the Social Animal.

Sept. 23: Introduction to Social Psychology
TH Assignment: SA--Why I wrote this book; Ch. 1
Optional Reading: RSA Preface; Open Letter; #1 & 2

Sept. 28: Child's Play
TU Assignment: SA--Ch. 9
Begin reading Age of Propaganda for First Paper Assignment

Sept. 30: Psychology's Greatest Discovery
TH Assignment: SA--Ch. 2
Optional Reading: RSA #3 & 4

Oct. 5: Life in Groups
TU Assignment: SA--Ch. 2 (continued)
Optional Reading: RSA # 5, 6, & 7
Begin reading Flim-flam for Second Paper Assignment

Oct. 7: Some Common Influence Tactics
TH Assignment: Pratkanis & Aronson
Note: SA--Ch 3 serves as a summary of persuasion
Optional Reading: RSA # 8, 9, & 17

Oct. 12: Persuasion and Propaganda in America
TU Assignment: Pratkanis & Aronson (continued)

Oct. 14: And Thinking Makes it So: Social Cognition, Expectations, and Behavior
TH Assignment: SA--Ch. 4
Randiís Flim-flam! Book
Optional Reading: RSA #27 & 34

Oct. 19: Principles of Social Cognition
TU Assignment: SA--Ch. 4 (continued)
Randiís Flim-flam! Book (continued)
Optional Reading: RSA # 11, 12, 13, & 14

Oct. 21: Study Day
TH No class (Sections will meet)
Assignment: Catch-up or go ahead on assignments


Oct. 28: The Nature of Cognitive Dissonance
TH Assignment: SA--Ch. 5
Optional Reading: RSA #16, 18, 19 & 20

Nov. 2: Dissonance and Maturity
TU Assignment: SA--Ch 5. (continued)
Optional Reading: RSA #15 & 21
Begin reading Baseball's Greatest Experiment for Third Paper Assignment

Nov. 4: Racial and Gender Prejudice
TH Assignment: SA--Ch. 7
Tygielís Baseball's Greatest Experiment
Optional Reading: RSA # 28

Nov. 9: The Eye of the Storm
TU Assignment: SA--Ch. 7 & Tygiel (continued)
Optional Reading: RSA #29
Begin reading Pursuit of Happiness or Nobody Left to Hate for Final Paper Assignment

Nov. 11: Veterans Day. (No class or section). University holiday to honor those who have served their nation.

Nov. 16: Mr. Branch Rickey, Mr. Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball
TU Assignment: SA--Ch. 7 & Tygiel (continued)
Optional Reading: RSA # 30 & 31

Nov. 18: Human Aggression
TH Assignment: SA--Ch. 6
Optional Reading: RSA 10, 22, & 23

Nov. 23: Study Day
TU No class (Sections will meet)
Assignment: Catch-up or go ahead on assignments


Nov. 30: Peace-making
TU Assignment: SA--Ch. 6 (continued)
Optional Reading: RSA 24, 25 & 26

Dec. 2: Why do fools fall in love?
TH Assignment: SA--Ch. 8
Optional Reading: RSA #32, 33, 35, & 36

Dec. 6: FINAL EXAM (Monday 8:00 Ė 11:00 am)

Schedule for Discussion Sections

01A Tuesday 12:00-1:10 pm (Kristina Schmukler) N. Sci Annex 103
01B Monday 8:00-9:10 am (Kristina Schmukler) N. Sci Annex 103
01C Wednesday 5:00-6:10 pm (Yvette Robles) N. Sci Annex 103
01D Friday 8:00-9:10 am (Yvette Robles) Crown Clrm 208

Week 1 Discussion Section: Introductory Meeting
Topic: What is Social Psychology?
Assignment: None
Monday Sections: Oct. 4
Tuesday Sections: Sept. 28
Wednesday Sections: Sept. 28
Friday Sections: Oct. 1

Week 2 Discussion Section: Persuasion
Topic: Persuasion in America
Assignment: Pratkanis & Aronson
FIRST PAPER DUE (on persuasion and propaganda)
Monday Sections: Oct. 11
Tuesday Sections: Oct. 5
Wednesday Sections: Oct. 6
Friday Sections: Oct. 8

Week 3 Discussion Section: Flim-flam
Topic: Social Cognition and Flim-flam
Assignment: Randi Book
SECOND PAPER DUE (on flim-flam)
Monday Sections: Oct. 18
Tuesday Sections: Oct. 12
Wednesday Sections: Oct. 13
Friday Sections: Oct. 15

Week 4 Discussion Section: Exam Review
Topic: Prepare and review for midterm
Assignment: Bring questions for review session
Monday Sections: Oct. 25
Tuesday Sections: Oct. 19
Wednesday Sections: Oct. 20
Friday Sections: Oct. 22

Week 5 Discussion Section: Exam and Dissonance
Assignment: No formal assignment
Monday Sections: Nov. 1
Tuesday Sections: Nov. 2 (Tuesday Section doesnít meet on Oct. 26; exam day)
Wednesday Sections: Oct. 27
Friday Sections: Oct. 29

Week 6 Discussion Section: The Jackie Robinson Story
Topic: Jackie Robinson
Assignment: Begin Tygiel
Monday Sections: Nov. 8
Tuesday Sections: Nov. 9
Wednesday Sections: Nov. 3
Friday Sections: Nov. 5

Week 7 Discussion Section: Reducing Prejudice
Topic: Reducing prejudice on campus and in America
Assignment: THIRD PAPER DUE (on baseballís greatest experiment)
Monday Sections: Nov. 15
Tuesday Sections: Nov. 16
Wednesday Sections: Nov. 10
Friday Sections: Nov. 12

Week 8 Discussion Section: Happiness
Topic: How can you be happy?
Assignment: Myers or Aronson (Nobody Left to Hate) book
FOURTH PAPER DUE (on happiness)
Monday Sections: Nov. 22
Tuesday Sections: Nov. 23
Wednesday Sections: Nov. 17
Friday Sections: Nov. 19

Week 9 Discussion Section: Exam & Course Review
Topic: Prepare and review for final exam
Assignment: Bring questions for review session
Monday Sections: Nov. 29
Tuesday Sections: Nov. 30
Wednesday Sections: Dec. 2
Friday Sections: Dec. 3

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