Education | Social Psychology
P566 | 6260 | Dr. Barbara Korth

Course Description

This graduate seminar course is an opportunity for students to
explore the content and discipline of social psychology with an
interest in educational, methodological, political, school psychology
and counseling applications. At the outset we will think of social
psychology as the study of the social nature of psychological
processes. This seminar is aimed at (1) exploring, discussing, and
critiquing the current research and findings of the field, (2)
introducing the methodology and ethics of social psychology including
its strengths and limitations, (3) critiquing the underpinnings,
history, and boundaries of the field of social psychology, (4)
contextualizing social psychology within the realms of education and
social science, (5) identifying future possibilities and applications
that are personally relevant, and (6) articulating ideas, theories,
research designs, vocabulary, and literature reviews reflective of
the field of social psychology.

Students will be engaged in reading both classic and contemporary
social psychological research and in reflecting on the practice and
findings of social psychology. Students will also have many
opportunities to articulate (orally and in written form) social
psychological concepts, theory, and formulations making it possible
for them to be part of the social psychological discourse. Students
will gain experience critiquing the field of social psychology and
applying its findings and method to educational and counseling
purposes including policies and practices. Because the course is a
seminar, readings, discussion, and active participation are crucial
to the dynamics and success of the class.

Required Texts

There are three required texts.

Aronson, E. (1999) The Social Animal. Eighth Edition. New York: Worth
Publishers. ISBN: 0716733129. The Aronson text is undoubtedly the
most popular text for use in graduate introductory social psychology
classes. The text is organized through the traditional topics of
study and presents the most current findings of research in those
areas as well as the landmark pieces. The text poses the most typical
conceptualization of “social psychology” of all three of our texts.
The chapters are longish and rich with report on the main topics of
social psychological investigation and thought.

Gergen, Kenneth. (Reprint Edition, 2000). The Saturated Self:
Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. Basic Books. ISBN:
0465071856. The Gergen text poses a challenge to the traditional
conceptions of the self and social psychology. It focuses most
directly on the problem of identity and its social nature and
implications. The text links many social psychological constructs to
the basic concepts of self and identity. It is a stimulating and
startling text to read and much more theoretical than the Aronson
text. I expect that this text will provide a strong basis for lively
class discussions.

Aronson, E. (2001). Nobody Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion After
Columbine. Owl Books. ISBN: 0805070990. Nobody Left to Hate is a book
that insists social psychologists face the call for educational
applications in its analysis of school violence and its potential
solutions in compassion. As a person whose primary research interests
involve care theory, I am interested in exploring the ways in which
social psychology can contribute to efforts at peace and compassion
and inclusion. I wonder if Aronson’s work can help. Let’s see what we

In addition to the texts, I will post readings on electronic reserve,
expect you, as class participants, to bring in readings to share and
so forth.

Course Schedule

The course will be organized like a seminar with some lectures
included. There is a lot of reading and we will share the
responsibility for this as well as for discussion. It might be most
realistic to plan your schedule to accommodate about 100 pages of
reading a week.

Session	Topic						Readings
2	Modern Social Psychology and Science	Social Animal 1, 9
3	Conformity 	Social Animal 2
4	Propaganda 	Social Animal 3
5	Social Cognition 	Social Animal 4
6	Self-Justification 	Social Animal 5
7	Human Aggression and Prejudice	Social Animal 6, 7
8	Liking, Loving, and Interpersonal Sensitivity	Social Animal
9	What about Columbine, Etc.?	Nobody to Hate 1 – 4
10	Interventions?	Nobody to Hate 5 – 8
11	The Self in Modern Context	Saturated Self 1, 2, 3
12	What is Truth? Postmodern Knowledge	Saturated Self 4, 5
13	Self in a Postmodern World	Saturated Self 6, 7
14	Self: An Adjusted Construct	Saturated Self 8, 9
15	Social Psychology and the Self: A Synthesis	


Students will have an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding
of social psychological principles, practices, and applications by
completing the following course requirements. These assignments are
specifically intended to provide evidence that individual students
have reached course goals and to what extent this has been
accomplished, but they also serve a pedagogical purpose by providing
us with opportunities to extend their learning into personally
relevant dimensions and pursuits. It is important to keep the course
content and goals in mind when completing the assignments. It might
seem silly to say this, but sometimes students produce absolutely
lovely papers on a very interesting topic and fail to apply anything
they might have learned in the class to the papers. In addition,
these assignments should give you an opportunity to be innovative
with what you have learned – to extend it, improve it, critique it.

Students will be expected to write a major term paper, produce one
minor project choosing among four possible options, and participate
in seminar activities. Each of these will be described in detail
below. The major paper will comprise 45% of the course grade. The
minor project will comprise 30% of the course grade and will involve
applying social psychological research and concepts to particular
practices in education, policy, and counseling. The difference
between the major and minor projects is that the major paper is an
opportunity to extend theory and method of social psychology itself
and the minor project is an opportunity to apply social psychological
theory, findings, and/or method as a potential innovation for
practice or as a novel approach to an interest. The seminar
participation activities will span the semester and will require
preparation for seminar discussions, lectures, group work, and so
forth. In total, seminar participation will comprise 25% of your

These assignments are valuable opportunities for students to create
their own challenges, determine their own learning extensions, and
develop applications that push their own practice and reflection. It
is my hope that you will personalize the course in a way that
challenges you and gives you the kind of learning you hope for.
Everyone enters this class with different background experiences in
social psychology. For some of you, this class will involve learning
a whole new language, new concepts, and so on, but for others the
basic concepts and language will already be familiar to you. I want
each of you to have the possibility to design your learning in the
course through these assignments such that your own goals and
interests with respect to social psychology can be pursued and
maximized. I will help you with this while encouraging conceptual
clarity, empirical breadth, thoughtful innovations, and precise

Major Paper							
		45% course grade

Each student will select a social psychological topic, problem, or
issue to research. This paper will require each of you to conduct out-
of-class library work and/or field research and synthesize that work
with course concepts and constructs. It is important that the paper
reflect a thorough understanding of the content of the topic in its
empirical shape, the conceptual underpinning of the topic, and the
social psychological method and constructs of study related to the
topic. Suggestions for major paper topics are provided below. The
primary purpose of this assignment is to encourage high-level
theoretical reflection and thought in a particular area of social
psychological study, develop expertise in the content of the
findings, locate gaps in the field of study (blindspots or ignored
interests), and understand the connection between method and findings
as it relates to the topic. Moreover, the process of being fluent in
social psychological discourses requires some experience. This paper
is such an experience. It should attempt to contribute to the field.
I will be looking for your contribution.

This paper must adhere to the APA stylistic manual in terms of
citations, headings, and so on (but not margins). This major paper
will probably be 25 - 30 pages in length and will employ the style of
a formal paper. To vary from this is fine with me, but you might want
to work out the idea ahead of time and share it with me.

With respect to topics, it might be that you want to study something
you have previously examined from a more traditional psychological
frame of reference (personality characteristics like risk-taking or
media influences, or particular disorders like autism spectrum
disorders, or experiences with grief, or constructs like
intelligence, for examples) from a social psychological point of
view. Here are some other specific ideas:

•Defining “The Self” in social psychological literature and research.
This paper would examine the underlying assumptions in the concept
of “self” from within mainstream social psychology or across sub-

•Self as Substantive Concept, Self as Empirical Construct. This paper
would take a close look at the match between conceptions of
the “self” in social scientific literature and the way in which the
self is operationalized as a construct for research purposes.

•Female Circumcision and Social Order: Controlling Sexual Practices

•An examination of webpages and propaganda regarding ____ (could be

•Mass communication and social crisis

•Buddhism and the belief in “No Self”

•Religious Practice without Belief

•Talk Therapy: An examination of therapist use of conversation and
talk in work with clients. How would a social psychologist
examine the use of talk therapy?

•What problems and benefits might ensue if teachers or counselors
work with people of another culture?

•What is the relationship of culture to personality? What is the
social psychological contribution to understanding the answer to this

•Gender at the Workplace: Language, Stereotypes, and

•Ethnic Identity Development: Models and Problems

•The Politics of Identity

•Gender and Conflict: New Ways to Handle an Old Topic

•Race Riots and the Media

•Ethnic Stereotypes in Times of Crisis and War

•School Violence and Youth

•Gang Aggression and Fear

•Ethnic Pride Movements: Personal and Societal Effects

•Empathy and the Relational Self

•Can the self be true? Postmodern question of the Concepts of Self.

•Political Implications for Identity

(1) An outline with a summary of what contribution the paper will
make to the field of social psychology is due the first week in
October. (2) A rough draft is due the first week in November. (3) A
final draft is due the first week in December.

This paper and its components will be submitted electronically
through ONCOURSE.

Minor Project							
	30% of course grade

These projects give the student an opportunity to apply research and
principles from the field of social psychology to specific
educational and/or counseling practices or problems. Students may
choose a project from among three options. These options are
described below.

Annotated Bibliography

Students will review, summarize, and critique 5 articles on one topic
related to a specific field of educational and/or counseling
applications. For each article, the student will provide a:

•summary of the need and purpose of the study,

•brief description of the methodology (how the study was conducted,
who were the subjects, how were the data analyzed)

•report on the findings,

•critique (this doesn’t mean “go on a hunt for negative things” it
means “critically analyze”)

•apply social psychological constructs to the findings of the

A reflection on the five articles should also be included. This
reflection should involve discussing how the application of social
psychological principles, etc. to the studies contributes to our
understanding of the phenomena. The reflection should allow you an
opportunity to integrate and synthesize what you learned through the
5 articles in terms of social psychology.

Short Paper

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the counseling and/or
educational applications of a particular field of research. This
could include using course concepts to evaluate a particular practice
in the field. For example, a student might want to study the practice
of “teen court” using social psychological research and concepts
about conformity and social justification. The way in which you apply
the concepts and research findings should be original to you.

This paper should use APA for stylistic decisions and reference
citations. It is a good idea to get used to using APA when you are in
the field of social psychology. The paper is likely to be around 6
pages in length.

Here are some ideas for paper topics/questions:

•How do school “Violence Prevention Plans” reflect or fail to reflect
research findings of social psychologists?

•Examine a particular intervention plan used to deal with family

•Examine the rhetoric in Indiana popular press on mandated school
achievement tests using the concepts related to mass media,
propaganda, and notions of conformity

•Look at public representations of family violence (billboards,
magazine article, movies – you can choose one genre) and see how
closely these representations match the research

•Examine the supreme court decisions during the most recent
presidential election using concepts of conformity.

•Constructivist classrooms encourage the active participation of
children in the power structure of the class. Children use democratic
principles to construct the rules and children help to employ those
rules through the course of the school day. What social psychological
findings and concepts can be applied to this practice?

•Many schools are using peer tutoring to enhance the academic
achievement of youngsters. What would a social psychologist think of

•Re-evaluation counseling (also called co-counseling) as a grassroots
movement for psychological healing – how does this work as both a
social movement and a counseling practice among lay people?

•Examine policy processes of local school boards from a social
psychological point of view.

•Analyze a recent political speech related to education using social
psychological constructs.

Class Presentation

The class presentation will consist of leading a class session on a
particular application of social psychological research and concepts
to the fields of education or counseling. The presentation should
extend knowledge available to us through the texts, lectures, and
regular seminar activities. The session should be well organized with
identifiable goals, include outside resources, and demonstrations,
illustrations, or examples of particular applications. The class
session will be scheduled within the Domain that it best fits as
negotiated amongst us. The student will submit a written document
containing any handouts, copies of overheads (or presentation
materials), reference lists, presentation notes, and a plan or
outline for the presentation. Topics should be approved by the class
prior to the 5th class session.

Research Proposal

A description of a plausible social scientific study that would
include references to similar studies, location of the need for the
study, description of the methodology, and possible benefits of the

You will volunteer for a due date for your minor project during
session two. So between the first and second sessions, I want you to
think about a project you might be interested in so that you can come
prepared to sign up for a due date. Where appropriate, the minor
project will be submitted through ONCOURSE.

Seminar Participation						25%
course grade

Recognizing the value of class participation and preparation, I want
to allot a total of 25% of the course grade on this feature of the
class. To assign a grade based on participation, we will compile
several bits of information. These are described below.

In-Class Leadership

Your participation through class leadership will be recorded and
appreciated. Below are some examples of in-class leadership. This
list is not exhaustive, just illustrative.

A-level participation would entail attending 13 of the 15 class
sessions, contributing to the leadership of the class in at least 2
different ways, regularly and respectfully participating in class
activities (including discussions), regularly extending one’s
preparation for class beyond the required readings, and reflecting on
one’s own participation.

B-level participation would entail attending at least 12 of the 15
class sessions, contributing to the leadership of the class in at
least one of the following ways, regularly and respectfully
participating in class activities (including discussions), regularly
preparing for class by completing assigned readings, and reflecting
on one’s own participation.

Discussion Leaders. There will be regular opportunities for students
to take responsibility for leading class discussion in a planned way:
questions will be provided that students use to lead class discussion
or students may volunteer to lead the discussion on a particular
topic and prepare a set of questions for class use. More thorough
preparation with respect to the assigned readings will be required
and the students will manage and support discussion through their

Reference Lists. Students may prepare lists of external readings that
relate to a particular topic of discussion. These should be lists of
readings the student had been engaged with and is willing to

Media References. Students may bring in critiques and summaries of
popular media representations of topics covered in class. This could
include novels, films, magazine articles, websites, and so forth.

Activism. The student my engage in political or social activism
related to topics covered in class. Sharing opportunities for and
experiences with activism will be a nice way to participate in the
class. These activities should be reported on in brief summary form
linking the activity to social psychology topics.

Meta-leadership. Sometimes it is very useful and appropriate to use
the course concepts and research to raise issues related to our class
interactions, choices, practices, and so forth as a way of applying
social psychology to our experiences as a social group. This kind of
leadership is important. This kind of meta-analytic discourse can be
planned ahead of time or raised in the moment.

Text or Lecture Notes. Sometimes students write up outlines of
chapters in texts or prepare lecture notes that they make available
to others. This gesture supports the learning and class participation.

Observational Assignments. Optional observational activities will be
assigned to correspond with various class topics. Completing the
activities prior to class and sharing those activities with the class
will support our practical understanding of social psychological


Students will complete self-evaluation forms at mid-term and at the
end of the semester that will ask you to describe your participation
in the class, preparation for the class, and experiences with the
class.  The form will also ask you to evaluate the class as a whole
on these processes. The midterm self-evaluation will not be assigned
points, but will be used to see how participation is being
conceptualized and for us to provide feedback to one another.


Attendance will be noted. If a student’s grade is on the border of
the next higher grade (off by one point) and the student has attended
all class sessions, that student’s grade will be rounded up by the
one point.


I will be using ONCOURSE – an online class forum. You can access
oncourse by going to courses you are
enrolled in should be listed. I would like it if you signed in by the
second week of class so that I can tell you are not having access
problems. I will use ONCOURSE to make announcements, post readings
and questions, adjust the class schedule, and so forth. All materials
that can be submitted through ONCOURSE, should be.

Some Concluding Comments

Please stay in dialogue with me throughout the semester regarding
your own expectations for learning as well as how you are
experiencing the course in relation to those.

If you have any doubts about what constitutes academic honesty or
academic dishonesty please refer to university website information on
these topics. Plagiarism is one very specific form of academic
dishonesty and it can easily be committed inadvertently. Please be
sure you understand what constitutes adequate referencing of
another’s ideas, words, images, and so on. Always err on the side of
producing credit through a proper citation.

I tend to be a critic of social psychological discourse and practice –
but an informed critic who values the field and respects its
participants. You will find this critical edge present in my own work
and in the way I approach the field. You need not agree with this
critical perspective nor adopt it for purposes of the class. I hope
that you will give thoughtful consideration to the work of the field
and learn to articulate your own perspective. I consider all of these
efforts to be contributions to the conversation of social psychology.