Course Description

Course Name

Social Psychology (in English)

Session: VSVS1121

Hours & Credits

45 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


This course explains in the most experiential manner possible what Social Psychology is, and discusses the influence of the social environment on the individual and vice versa. We will study the social impact of feelings, thoughts, behaviors and attitudes.

We will learn about and prove the existence of phenomena such as: our social construction of reality which often leads to a non-rational way of viewing reality; self-justification, cognitive dissonance and our strive towards consonance that leads our motivations and drives; obedience to authority which comes rather from our own need to be seen as cooperative than from the impact of an authority; our tendency to conform to others; discrimination and racism, coming from stereotypes and prejudice and our drive to adhere to stereotypes; human aggression; liking, loving and interpersonal sensitivity, mass communication, propaganda and persuasion; and, last but not least, gender difference and its ramification on our social perception and behavior.

Students will not only study the existence of these phenomena, they will also learn about the consequences of these phenomena in the daily social world. They will for example be able to develop efficient commercial messages and high power communication/sales techniques based on their understanding of social and self-bias and of the mechanism of cognitive dissonance; they will learn to understand what lies and rumors mean for us – that they don’t always have ill-intent - and see how education processes should deal with the phenomenon; they will gain insight in the power that lays in our tendency to obey others even if these others make us do illegal, immoral things, how it can explain for example the holocaust and they will discuss the way the holocaust could have been prevented, as well as how managers of the restaurant chain Mc Donald’s were coaxed into strip searching their employees by a false police agent; they will learn to understand the impact of conformity, how it can lead to social disasters, for example the explosion of the Challenger and how we can learn from them to avoid repeating them; they will learn how stereotyping is a cultural given, that has a huge impact on social problems such as discrimination, racism and fascism and they will learn strategies to fight stereotypes on a personal and group basis, and strategies to beat inter-group conflicts; they will experience how the self is involved in our liking of others and in the disliking of others, they will know and practice what impression management is and its effects on personal and professional life and they will see how the social and psychological impact of gender difference is fed by stereotypes and stereotype threats, therefore does not really exist and learn how we can all live together based on the n=1 rule.

Learning outcomes:

This course will teach participants:

1. Cognitive insight in:

a. History of social psychology

b. Conceptualization of and definitions within the field

c. Different research methods and its preference for the ‘experimental method’

d. Important social psychological research and its results: the Stanford Prison Experiment, the obedience to authority experiment by Stanley Milgram, the Asch conformity experiment, ‘A class divided’, Robber’s Cave Experiment, …

e. Social problems such as compliance to norms, conformity, obedience to authority, propaganda…

f. Social psychological solutions to these social problems such as anonymous voting, Jigsaw techniques, over-arching goals, role playing, psychodrama of Moreno …

g. How social psychological mechanisms influence our judgment and decision-making processes

h. How we can use social psychological phenomena to impact the world around us

i. What authenticity and values in life are

2. Practical/experiential learning:

a. Critical sense with regards to theory and practice in the field of social psychology (Sokal hoax!)

b. Analytic insight in the different research methods

c. Competency in conducting a valid social psychological experiment, and in drafting valid conclusions from its findings

d. Communication skills

e. Impression management

f. Appreciate and utilize diversity in teams

g. Teambuilding techniques and teamwork

h. How to apply social psychological learning with the objective to change social problems within society (for instance: racism, rumors …)

i. Time management

j. Giving and accepting feedback

k. Leadership competencies

l. Working under the pressure

Content (order of content may be modified):

MODULE 1: What is social psychology?

· Definition

· Conceptualization of the field

· History of social psychology

· Cultural psychology

· Different research methods

· Preferred research method: the experiment

· Fundamental and applied social psychology

· Practicum: team building exercise to open up authenticity, respect and confidentiality; to gain insight in verbal and non verbal communication; to feel how the social situation defines your thoughts, feelings and behavior

MODULE 2: Social cognition.

· Rationality as opposed to social construction of reality

· Information processing

· Cognitive and social biases

· Practicum in empathy, giving feedback and conflict management

· Cognitive dissonance theory and our drive to the mental state of consonance

· Stereotypes, prejudice, xenophobia, discrimination, racism

· Practicum in jigsaw technique as a means to overcome prejudice

MODULE 3: The Self in a social context.

· Awareness of identity

· Identity theory

· Social identity theory

· Practicum: from Irving Goffman to a Post Secret project

· Categorization

· Group identification and its risks for society

· Gender within social psychology

· Altruism vs. being selfish

· Practicum: role play, psychodrama

MODULE 4: Interaction within the social context.

· Where do attitudes grow?

· Attitudes and beliefs do not only guide our thinking, but also our behavior

· Self esteem

· Practicum in impression management

· Formal and informal groups

· Social influence on group behavior:

o Rumors

o Authority and obedience

o Conformity

o Public opinion

· Mass communication, persuasion, propaganda

· Violence and aggression

· Interpersonal sensitivity:

o Liking and loving

o Shyness

· Practicum: how do we dismantle this team and integrate the learning of the class in our daily life?


· The social animal. Elliot Aronson. By Worth Publishers, originally published in 1972, 514p.

· Knowing people. Michael J. Lovaglia. By Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2013, 362p.

Complementary bibliography:

· Per module you will receive more or less 3 mandatory and 6 optional readings (articles), all to be downloaded from the internet and we will refer you to do critical reviews of some news stories.

Course Evaluation:

20% Tasks (individual and in group) and attendance

40% Acquired knowledge (individual – final exam)

30% Projects

10% Personal qualification - subjective evaluation (students are expected to come prepared to class and profesor will value that students are showing a mark of improvement)

Spanish Grading Scale:

Matrícula de Honor 10 Sobresaliente 9 – 9,9 Notable 7 – 8,9 Aprobado 5 – 6,9 Suspenso 0 – 4,9 No Asistencia (Student has exceeded the allowed number of unexcused absences)

Please find as a reference the following grading scale conversion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student’s home university or institution to determine the final grade equivalencies.

Matrícula de Honor = A+ Suspenso = F Sobresaliente = A No presentado = Incomplete (attended Notable = B classes but did not take final exam) Aprobado =C No Asistencia = Incomplete (enrolled in the course but did not attend class)

Appeal grades: The deadline for claiming notes is 30 days from the reception at the university certificate.

Class Attendance:

Class attendance is obligatory, it is checked every class day and it is being

reflected in the course attendance sheet that is sent to the University.

An 85% of attendance is required for the successful completion of the course.

Not missing any class will be considered positively.

If a student exceeds this limit, the grade in the transcript for this subject could appear as “not attended course”.

Attendance is not only class presence. Professors will encourage active class participation and discussion and will be taken into consideration as part of the course evaluation.

Experiment Example Video-



*Course content subject to change