PY 372
Course Syllabus
Schiller International University in Madrid - Spring 2002

Instructor: Laurence E. Heglar, PhD
Office hours: By appointment.
Meeting times: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 15:00 to 16:15
Location: Room 302
Mobil phone: 676.406.071

Course Description:

This course is designed to provide a general survey of the field of social psychology. It focuses on the scientific study of the relationship of individuals to one another, individually, in groups and in society. It seeks to explore the theoretical and practical implications of social influences that affect human behavior, and the link with various theoretical frameworks in psychology is noted. We will be studying issues such as conformity, mass communication, persuation and propaganda, social cognition, human aggression, and prejudice. We will be exploring ideas from various fields on human social behavior.

Course Objectives:

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
  • describe our social nature, i.e. how our development is dependent on social interaction and how our self-identity is tied to our social structure.
  • describe the conditions under which we conform/comply to the behavior of others, including obedience and cult behavior.
  • understand the effects of mass communication on our behvaior
  • describe how persuasive communication works
  • discuss self-justification and the theory of cognitive dissonance
  • demonstrate an understanding of how we communicate in social interaction

Basic Text:Aronson, E. (1995). The Social Animal. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Additional Readings: Photocopies of readings should be purchased in the bookstore.

Midterm examination (essay) = 30%
Final examination (essays) = 30%
Research Report = 25%
Participation and attendance = 15%

Attendance: Attendance will be taken every class period. Any student who misses more than 6 classes, excused or unexcused, will have their grade lowered by one full mark. This policy starts on the first day of classes, and only students with an ADD/DROP form may be excused during the first two weeks.

Research Report: A part of your grade is based on a short research project. This project will require you to consider some type of behavior from a social psychological point of view. For information on my requirements for your project, click here (Word .doc). A good starting point for web sites related to psychology is the Psychology Reference Web Page on this web site. (
Documenting sources from the World Wide Web - MLA Style

Course Outline:

Jan. 24 What is Social Psychology?
Jan. 29 A Social Animal to the Core Text, Ch. 1
Kummer - Man & Primates Compared
Jan. 31 Self-Identity & Social Context Goffman - Asylums
Feb. 5 Self-Identity & Social Context Goffman - Asylums
Freud: Individual & Social Psychology
Feb. 7 Social Influence - Mass Behavior Text, Ch. 2
Feb. 12 Social Influence - Conformity Text, Ch. 2
Asch - Opinions & Social Pressure
Feb. 14 Social Influence - Obedience If Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger, Would You?
Feb. 19 Mass Communication Text, Ch. 3
Impact of Mass Violence on U.S. Homicides
Feb. 21 Persuasion Text, Ch. 3
Feb. 26 Persuasion
Compliance Without Pressure: -The Foot-in the-Door Technique
Feb. 28 Social Cognition
Perceiving Ourselves and Others
Text, Ch. 4
March 5 Social Cognition
Causal Attributions
Text, Ch. 4
March 7 Social Cognition
Attitudes and Beliefs
Text, Ch. 4
March 12 Catch-up and Review
March 14 Midterm Exam
March 21 Review test
April 2 Analysis of Transactions Parent, Adult, Child
April 4 Analysis of Transactions Analyzing the Transaction & Games People Play
April 9 Cognitive Dissonance Text, Ch. 5 - Self-Justification
April 11 Cognitive Dissonance Text, Ch. 5 - Self-Justification
Reducing Weight by Reducing Dissonance
April 16 Cults Freud: Group Psychology
April 18 Cults An Analysis of Jonestown
April 23 Cults & Context A Study of Prisoners & Guards
April 25 Social Interaction Social Interaction & Its Management
April 30 Social Interaction Body Language and Social Order