Blaine G Robbins
Cognitive structures and processes and their antecedents and consequences, both societal and individual. Reciprocal influences of social roles, social institutions, and social cognition.
This course provides a broad introduction to cognitive social psychology. In particular, we will explore key empirical findings from social psychology within the last 100 years and highlight major theories and perspectives from both psychological social psychology and sociological social psychology. Since social psychology is a field that bridges sociology and psychology, the course focuses on individuals and their interactions with people in everyday life. This includes the analysis of how individual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors result from social situations to how these social situations are, in turn, the result of processes operating within and between individuals. The first half of the class, then, is organized around psychological processes occurring within individuals, including things like categories and categorization, cognitive heuristics, schemas, stereotypes, attributions, social inferences, and attitudes. The latter half of the class, in contrast, is organized around sociological processes occurring between individuals; in this module we explore the foundations of social exchange, social norms, conformity, obedience, status construction, social dilemmas, and social identity. In essence, this course explores the intersections of agency and structure – how the individual and society mutually constitute and reinforce the other, but also how changes in one can lead to changes in the other. This class employs article readings, lectures, YouTube videos, and class activities to give students a better understanding of their own and others’ behavior.
Student learning goals
Be able identify the main areas of study within cognitive social psychology.
Know key social psychological insights such as the fundamental attribution error, cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning, the halo effect, conformity, obedience, framing effects and the like.
Understand the formation of power, commitment, inequality, status, and norms within small groups so as to increase a group's efficiency and effectiveness.
Be able to employ methods that you can use to reduce cognitive biases, stereotypes, attribution errors, and priming effects for instance.
Harness cognitive and social devices that you can use to increase your overall happiness and well-being.
General method of instruction
The primary method of instruction will consist of lecture with a number of in- and out-of-class activities.
No prerequisites are necessary.
Class assignments and grading
25% of your course grade will constitute in- and out-of-class activities. The remaining 75% will consist of 3 essay exams.