Social Psychology Essay

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PSYC 221 - Social Psychology
PSYC 221 Sections 0101 & 0201 – University of Maryland – Fall 2012

WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY AND WHAT DO SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS DO?
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other people (Allport, 1985). In other words, Social
Psychologists try to understand the mental processes that determine how we think about ourselves and other people and how those other people influence our own behavior. This is more difficult than it sounds because we all have our own subjective intuitions and experiences, and all our beliefs are influenced by the cultures we grow up with (e.g., nations, religions, race, gender, political ideologies). In many cases those assumptions turn out to be wrong, and in other cases the research helps us more fully understand why the assumption was correct all along. There is a
Mondays & Wednesdays BPS 1250 tremendous reason to study social psychology… the more we understand about ourselves and those around us the more effective we Section 0101: 1:00-1:50 PM
Section 0201: 2:00-1:50 PM can be at achieving our own personal goals (e.g., having healthy relationships, improving your academic performance, protecting your
Instructor: Dylan Selterman, Ph.D. safety) and advancing society (e.g., reducing violence, increasing productivity, facilitating cooperation between groups).
Email:

dselter@umd.edu

This course will teach you the scientific process that Social
Office Monday & Wednesday
Psychologists use to study human thoughts, feelings and behavior and
Hours: 3:00-4:00 BPS 3147-A give you the opportunity to practice applying that process in a number
(and by appointment) of ways. You will learn how we (a) gather and critically evaluate research findings in the existing research literature, (b) integrate those
Teaching
findings into coherent and testable theories that explain objective
Assistants: TBD observations, (c) design and conduct valid research that tests those theories and extends our knowledge, and (d) effectively communicate our theories and findings to a wide range of audiences. The result of the process is a more accurate and objective (rather than intuitive) understanding of the mental processes that influence us - and that is what prepares you to apply your scientific understanding to explain and influence a wide range of complex, challenging and controversial social problems.
Examples of how you will practice thinking and behaving like a Social Psychologists:
• Participate in classroom activities that require you to use the scientific process and the results from research studies in your understanding and discussion of “real world” applications and events.
• Complete critical writing assignments that put you in the shoes of a Social Psychologist and challenge you to engage in the process of scientific thought and practice.
• Develop a scholarly analysis paper that integrates your progressive learning of the scientific process and practice in the “real world” and develops new research ideas on topic of interest to you.

REQUIRED TEXT
Baumeister, R. & Bushman, B. (2010). Social Psychology and Human Nature, Brief Edition,
2nd edition. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN-10: 0495602655 | ISBN-13: 978-0495602651.

COURSE GOALS/LEARNING OUTCOMES
The learning objectives for this course are based on the Department of Psychology’s learning outcomes for all courses, which include developing students’ abilities in the following areas:
1) Research Methods: Understand basic research methods in social psychology, including design and interpretation. In other words, you should learn to think like a scientist who studies human behavior. a. Formulate testable predictions/hypotheses.
b. Incorporate existing theoretical frameworks into new areas.
c. Recognize limitations in applicability of results.
d. Demonstrate technological competency and information literacy related to research
methods.…