CLTR 724-001

Global Communications: Modern Social Psychology

Helen C. Harton, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa


Office hours: I will not hold office hours per se, but I will be happy to meet or correspond with you about class topics. You can talk to me before or after class to set up a meeting, or email me at


Readings: Readings will be listed for each class session on the online syllabus (it will be updated as the course goes on—be sure to check it regularly). Some may include links to web materials, whereas others may be handed out in class. Readings should be done before the class session to which they are listed.

I will also post the power-point slides from class at least by the morning before class so you can print them out before class if you wish. In addition, I will post notes on each class topic that you can use to help review for tests.

If you want to read more about social psychology or have a book to refer to when studying, you may optionally purchase Charles StangorsPrinciples of Social Psychology, available from FlatWorld Knowledge online at this url: . Note that this book is completely optional and that you do not need to buy or read the book to do well in the course.  


Course Description and Objectives: Social psychology is "an attempt to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others" (Allport, 1954). This course is designed to acquaint students with the research, theory, and methodology of social psychology. Students will learn about how social psychologists predict and explain human behavior.


Course Format: Each class session will include some lecture, but you will also learn through small and large group discussions, demonstrations, and other class activities.


Course Information: You should visit the class website: frequently for class updates. I may also send out information about the class via email. Make sure to check your email regularly.


Course Requirements:


Class participation (10%). You are expected to attend class regularly and to participate in class discussions and activities. You need to attend at least 10 of the class sessions to pass the course, but you should attend all of them to ensure that you do well.


Homework assignments (15%). Most days you will have an assignment to turn in related to the course topics in addition to the readings you should do for that day. These assignments will ask you to apply course concepts to your life and are designed to help you learn the material better. They should be typed and printed in black ink. You can write them in an informal manner, and I will not grade you based on your English grammar, etc. (although it needs to be clear enough that I can understand what you mean). These will be graded with a check plus (A+; you clearly thought about the assignment and answered all parts of it correctly), check (B+; you mostly did what you were supposed to, but may have missed some small things or not completely understood some concepts), check minus (B-; you had trouble with several parts of the assignment), or zero (failing; you did not turn in the assignment or put very little effort into it). These assignments should be turned in at the beginning of the class period to which they are assigned. You may turn in up to 3 of the homework assignments late, but they must all be turned in by the date of the midterm (for those assigned in the first part of the course) or the final (for those assigned in the latter part of the course).


Midterm exam (20%). You will take one midterm exam that will include multiple choice questions about the class topics covered thus far. The questions will cover information from the lectures, class activities, homework assignments, videos, and required readings. I will give you some sample questions and a study guide when we get closer to the time of the exam.


Final exam (25%). The final exam will cover information from the lectures, class activities, homework assignments, videos, and required readings in the second half of the course (post-midterm exam).


Group project 30%. You will also do a group project in this course. You will choose a group of 2-3 other people to work with. Your group will then choose among the possible projects listed below. I will have you rank your top 3 choices, and then I will chose which project you are assigned from that list to make sure that we have some groups doing each project. You will carry out the project and address the questions that go along with it, relating it to course materials. You will then do a short class presentation on your findings later in the course. The presentation should last no more than 10 minutes and should include some audio-visuals (e.g., Powerpoint slides), that you will hand in to me. I will provide more information on the format of the presentations later in the course.


Make up exam policy. Make up exams will only be given in extreme circumstances, requiring documentation of why you can’t make the exam (e.g., you were very sick; you had to attend to a family emergency).


Academic Honesty Policy: Cheating and plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated and will result in a 0 on the assignment in question. If you have any questions about what is acceptable, please ask me.


Class Schedule:





Wed., Jan. 2

What is social psychology?



Thurs., Jan. 3

Research methods

Homework 1

Fri., Jan. 4

Social cognition

pages 1-9

Homework 2

Mon., Jan 7

Prejudice and stereotyping

pages 10-25

Homework 3

Tues., Jan 8

The self

Homework 4

Wed., Jan. 9

Midterm exam and work on projects


Study for the test!

Thurs., Jan. 10

Attitudes and attitude change

All parts under Elaboration Likelihood Model:

And theory of reasoned action:


Fri., Jan. 11

Social influence

Homework 5

Mon., Jan. 14

Group dynamics

Homework 6

Tues., Jan. 15

Attraction and love

Homework 7

Wed., Jan. 16

Helping and happiness

Homework 8

Thurs., Jan. 17

Aggression and rejection


Fri., Jan. 18

Group project presentations


Turn in Powerpoint slides for your group project

Mon., Jan. 21

Final exam


Study for the test!

Tues., Jan. 22

Wrap-up; Group project presentations; Course discussion; Presentation feedback. 




Project Topics

In your project, you should 1) use information from the readings and lecture to describe and identify the phenomenon you are demonstrating; 2) tell what you did in the project and why; 3) describe the results of your project (including tables or graphs where appropriate); 4) comment on your results, tying them into class topics and your own life. Are your results different from what you expected? If so, do you have an explanation for why? Have you experienced this phenomenon personally? When? Make sure to answer all questions accompanying the project description below as well as to address each of the guidelines above in your presentation.


1. Self-serving biases. Find at least six recent news articles from the sports section in which a coach and/or players are interviewed (Hand me the references for the articles when you do your presentation). Discuss what types of attributions the coaches and players in each article make for their performance. Are they self-serving attributions? Are there differences in attributions among solo- vs. team-sport athletes? What about “star” athletes vs. less known ones? Discuss the results in terms of attribution theory, self-serving attributions, and the reasons why people make self-serving attributions. What are the likely motivations for the athletes making these attributions?


2. Motivating children. Search parenting magazines, websites, or child care guides for at least 6 articles giving advice about how to motivate children to do well. Hand in a reference list of the articles or books you used. Describe the advice. How does the advice fit in with what you have learned about the overjustification effect in self perception theory? What about the effects of insufficient justification found in cognitive dissonance theory? Does research back up what the professionals are suggesting? If not, what might be a better alternative?


3. Persuasive ads. Find at least 6 persuasive ads (print, online, or on tv/radio) that are not trying to sell you a product (for example, do find ones such as political ads, ads promoting a social behavior, etc.). What are the ads trying to sell? What elements of persuasion that we’ve talked about do they use? For example, are they central or peripheral route ads? Are emotions or humor used in the ads? Are they likely to be effective, based on what we’ve talked about in class? Which, if any, of Cialdini’s principles do they invoke?


4. Breaking social norms. One way to look at the power of social norms in determining our behavior is to violate a norm. Choose a social norm to break (nothing illegal or immoral, please). Examples include dressing in a way that is inappropriate for the situation (appearance norms), standing too close or too far away when talking to someone (interpersonal behavior norms), or singing in a restaurant (social etiquette norms). Perform the same norm violation at least six times in different settings and with different groups of people. Record where you did each violation, who was there (number of people, gender, etc.), and how they responded to you, both verbally and nonverbally in a table. How did you feel while violating the norm? How do you think social norms induce people to conform?


5. Beauty stereotypes. Search examples of the current media-soap operas, children’s cartoons, sitcoms, tv dramas, etc. for evidence of the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype. Choose six characters from 1-2 sources (e.g., 3 from one tv show and 3 from another). Rate each character in the television show, movie, or book on his or her 1) physical attractiveness; 2) moral goodness; and 3) competence or successfulness. Use a table or graph and examples to summarize what you found. Do the physically attractive characters appear less moral and/or more successful? Are there some genres where this stereotyping is stronger? What are the implications?


6. Helping behavior. Conduct a field experiment testing the effects of number or gender of bystanders on helping behavior. Create a situation in which you need help-you may choose to carry a large load of books and drop them, for example (don’t do anything too drastic). Drop the books at least 8 times; four times when there is only one other person present, and four times when there are two or more people present. Record the number of bystanders, their age and gender, and their response in a table. Were individuals or groups more likely to help? What about people of different ages or gender? What other factors do you think might have increased or decreased helping in your situation?


7. Television violence. Watch three hours of prime-time television--one hour each of 1) children’s cartoons; 2) children’s programs that are not cartoons; and 3) adult programs. For each type of program, keep track of the number of violent acts in which 1) victims indicate pain; 2) there are negative outcomes; 3) violence has no consequences; 4) there are positive outcomes; 5) acts of violence are committed by a “bad guy”; 6) acts of violence are committed by a “good guy”. Summarize the number of incidents of each category for each type of program in a table or graph. What patterns did you observe? What were the differences, if any, between types of programs? What are the implications for these findings? Is television too violent?