Syllabus query

Academic Year/course: 2016/17

8058 - Master in Political Philosophy

32264 - Social Psychological Approaches to Society and the Individual

Teaching Guide Information

Academic Course:
Academic Center:
805 - Masters Centre of the Department of Political and Social Sciences
8058 - Master in Political Philosophy
32264 - Social Psychological Approaches to Society and the Individual
Teaching languages:
Theory: Group 1: English
Veronica Benet Martinez
Teaching Period:
Second Quarter



Social psychology is a broad and well-established discipline devoted to the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. Political psychology is a (relatively) young and thriving subdiscipline that lies at the interface between social psychology and political science. Political psychologists apply the concepts, theories, and methods of social psychology to gain a better understanding of various aspects of political behavior (e.g., ideology, nationalisms, prejudice, political identity, etc.).



This course will provide an overview of the disciplines of social and political psychology and its main theories and paradigms, while also highlighting social and political psychology’s contributions to the understanding of key social, sociological, political, economic, and cultural issues. Because 

Learning outcomes

Course-specific skills:


• Students will learn the basic tenets and findings behind classic theories and research paradigms in social psychology.

• Students will subsequently be better able to understand and assess contemporary theory and empirical research in social psychology presented to them in academic and popular media contexts.

• Students will be able to link social psychological theory and findings to both (1) old and contemporary debates in the social sciences (e.g., nationalisms and ethnic conflict, migration and multiculturalism´s management and effects, power and corruption, etc.) and also (2) their own specific academic discipline and topics of interest.

• Inevitably, students will also be able to link social psychological theory and findings to their own lives J

• Students will identify unresolved or conflicting conclusions about social human behavior.


General skills:


• Students will learn about academic research and its contributions to society, including knowledge advancement and policy. • Students will learn how to grasp the main and basic ideas behind empirical studies presented in class, even when these are a bit complex. • At the same time, students will ALSO learn how to understand, reflect upon, analyze, integrate, and synthesize complex ideas relevant to the lectures and readings. • Students will learn how to effectively present material in a public forum. • Students will sharpen their cognitive and socio-emotional abilities to initiate and participate in lively and respectful analytical discussions.


  • High proficiency in written and spoken English (very important!)
  • Comfort with statistics, quantitative data, and interpreting figures and tables
  • An open mind and a willingness to challenge oneself and classmates.
  • Ability to comfortably express oneself and one´s ideas in public, during class discussions and presentations.
  • Willingness to actively participate during class (e.g., ask questions, generate points of discussion, facilitate interactions).


The course will deal with the following broad five themes:  

1. Introduction to social psychology: What social psychology is, and its history and methodological emphasis; Links to political psychology, sociology, and economics.

2. Social-psychological basis of ideology: Socio-cognitive dimensions of ideology; Personality and social/political behavior.

3. Social cognition and inter-group dynamics: Attitudes and their cognitive, affective, and behavioral components; Political identity and social identity; Intra and inter-group dynamics and biases.

4. Social influence: Cognitive dissonance; Conformity; Obedience; Persuasion.

5. Immigration, globalization, and cultural diversity: Acculturation processes and outcomes; Interculturalism and multiculturalism at the group and individual levels; Psychological effects of cultural diversity and globalization.

Teaching Methods

Course Format & Activities


As a course participant, you are required to attend each class without exception. You will be expected to make each session stimulating by reading the required articles/chapters before class, turning in your weekly written commentary (please always bring them to class!), organizing your thoughts before each session, and participating actively in the discussions.


Sessions 1-2: These first weeks will focus on providing students a common and solid grasp on basic definitional and methodological issues. The presentation will correspond to the professor, but active student participation will be expected. There will also be discussion of students’ written commentaries based on the readings.


Sessions 3-8: Each week, the professor will first very briefly introduce the pertinent topic with a short lecture highlighting interesting concepts and controversies. Afterwards, there will be one or two student presentations (each week) on questions and issues that expand the pertinent topic beyond the assigned readings. Presentation topics will be assigned on the first day of class. The presentations should be 30-45 minutes each. During and after these presentations, we will discuss, as a group, issues that emerge and are relevant to the presentation and students’ written commentaries based on the readings.


Sessions 9-10: The final part of the course will be devoted to private or small-group sessions with the professor to develop the final paper.


Attendance and active participation in class (25%): Quantity and quality of your in-class questions, comments, and  responses. Students will be sometimes randomly quizzed during class to ensure they thoroughly read and reflected on the obligatory reading.

- Presentations (20%): Each student will deliver at least one presentation (weeks 3-8) on a chosen topic.

- Weekly written comments (25%): During weeks 1-8, and for each obligatory reading, students will submit their analytical (vs. anecdotal) reflection and comments of each obligatory reading.3 These comments should be turned in no later than monday 5pm.

Final paper (30%): Students will write a short research proposal (8‐10 pages + references) at the end of the course.

Bibliography and information resources


*Haslam, S. A., & Smith, J. R. (2012). An introduction to classic studies in social psychology. Social Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies. Sage Publications


Jordan, C. H., & Zanna, M. P. (1999). How to read a journal article in social psychology. In R. F. Baumeister (Ed.), The self in social psychology. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

Hewitt, J. P. (1976). Self and society: A symbolic interactionist social psychology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

*Chapter 4: Attitudes (in Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2010). Essential social psychology)


Carlson, R. (1984). What's social about social psychology? Where's the person in personality research? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Bartz, J. A., Zaki, J., Bolger, N., & Ochsner, K. N. (2011). Social effects of oxytocin in humans: context and person matter. Trends in cognitive sciences15, 301-309.

*Ozer, D., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401-421.


Roberts, B. W., Kuncel, N. R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldberg, L. R. (2007). The power of personality: The comparative validity of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability for predicting important life outcomes. Perspectives on Psychological Science2, 313-345.

Rentfrow, P. J., & Jokela, M. (2016). Geographical psychology: The spatial organization of psychological phenomena. Current Directions in Psychological Science25, 393-398.

Borghans, L., Duckworth, A. L., Heckman, J. J., & Ter Weel, B. (2008). The economics and psychology of personality traits. Journal of Human Resources, 43, 972-1059.

*Jost, J. T. (2006). The end of the end of ideology. American Psychologist, 61, 651-670.


Graham, J., Haidt, J., & Nosek, B. A. (2009). Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 1029-1046.

Thorisdottir, H., Jost, J. T., Liviatan, I., & Shrout, P. E. (2007). Psychological needs and values underlying left-right political orientation: Cross-national evidence from Eastern and Western Europe. Public Opinion Quarterly, 71, 175-203.

Jost, J. T., Federico, C. M., & Napier, J. L. (2009). Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities. Annual review of psychology, 60, 307-337.

*Chapter 9: Intergroup Relations (in Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2010).  Essential social psychology)


Schmid, K., Al Ramiah, A., & Hewstone, M. (2014). Neighborhood ethnic diversity and trust: The role of intergroup contact and perceived threat. Psychological Science.

Spears, R., & Otten, S. (2012). Discrimination: Revisiting Tajfel’s minimal group studies. In Social Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies. Sage Publications.

*Schwartz, S., Unger, J., Zamboanga, B., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). Rethinking the concept of acculturation: Implications for theory and research. American Psychologist, 65, 237–251.


Simon, B., Reichert, F., & Grabow, O. (2013). When dual identity becomes a liability: Identity and political radicalism among migrants. Psychological Science, 24, 251-257.

Morris, M. W., Chiu, C. Y., & Liu, Z. (2015). Polycultural psychology. Annual Review of Psychology66, 631-659.

Fulmer, C. A., Gelfand, M. J., Kruglanski, A. W., Kim-Prieto, C., Diener, E., Pierro, A., & Higgins, E. T. (2010). On “feeling right” in cultural contexts how person-culture match affects self-esteem and subjective well-being. Psychological Science.

Benet-Martínez, V. (2012). Multiculturalism: Cultural, social, and personality processes. In K. Deaux & M. Snyder (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of personality and social psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

*Chapter 5: Social Influence (in  Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2010). Essential social psychology)


Reicher, S., & Haslam, S. A. (2012). Obedience: Revisiting Milgram's obedience studies. In Social Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies. Sage Publications

Haslam, S. A., & Reicher, S. (2012). Tyranny: revisiting Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment. In Social Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies. Sage Publications

*Chapter 14: Applications (in Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2010). Essential social psychology)


Galinsky, A. D., Todd, A. R., Homan, A. C., Phillips, K. W. et al. (2015). Maximizing the gains and minimizing the pains of diversity: A policy perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science10, 742-748.

Stone, S., Johnson, K. M., Beall, E., Meindl, P., Smith, B., & Graham, J. (2014). Political psychology. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science.