Social Psychology

Home/ Social Psychology
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSUS1PS7044

Course Coordinator and Team: BibinazThokchom&VatsalaSaxena

Email of Course coordinator:bibinaz[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in&vatsala[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in



This course looks at humans as forever relating to others in different ways and differing contexts: learn languages (spoken or not), search for identity, seek our role in groups, locate ourselves within society by receiving or contesting morals and also generate value in our encounters with various institutions and social processes. This happens, it can happen, only in relationships and conversations with others. If we look at our relations and conversations to study their effects on our actions, on who we are, then we have begun to see psychology as a deeply social process. This course opens up questions around psychology as a social process and asks how the “actual, imagined or implied” presence of others affects our thoughts, feelings and behavior and how we, in turn, also influence others. We will ask why we see one social group or people belonging to one group in one way and another group or its people, differently? What attracts us to some people and not others? Why do we often think one way and act another, in other words, does behavior validate the attitudes people think they have? Are we naturally aggressive or are we naturally helpful or is our behavior determined mostly by our circumstances? How important is it for us to have identities that make us integral parts of groups? Is it us or is it our groups which determine the kind of leaders we are or we have? What, or who, makes a leader? We will also study our own views on the salient social categories and groups to which we belong and think of the many ways in which these constitute us. Such queries constitute the field of Social Psychology, and we will study this through some of the best research done on the subject while developing its links to our own intuitive thoughts as humans, young or old.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1: Understanding social psychology: In this module, the students will be familiarized with the questions of what is social. What is social psychology? How is it different from other social sciences like sociology, social anthropology, social work and industrial psychology? Where is social psychologists’ place in the world?

2: Social influence: Most of us not just attempt to change others’ behavior, beliefs; perceptions etc. but are also at the receiving end of such attempts at social influence. Such processes can be discussed in the topics of conformity, compliance and obedience. Students will learn, in this module, the distinction between different social and phenomenological situations where people conform to adhere to some existing norms, say yes to someone’s request and obey orders from certain kind of people. Students will be exposed to popular Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority and will be discussed using stimulating life examples in the class.

3: Attitude, Prejudice, Stereotypes and Discrimination: We all have personal or collective opinions, evaluations, views and judgments about certain kind of people/object/thing/event. How do we develop such attitudes and why? What are the components of attitudes? This module will take students to a short tour over the world views on people belonging to specific social groups i.e. prejudice, stereotypes and how this leads to discrimination? Also some rectified strategies/measures to reduce such social distances will be familiarized to the students during the discourse in the classroom.

4: Aggression, Altruism and morality: The nature and causes of aggression have been conceptualized through major perspectives of psychology viz. Instinct theories, biological, social learning and cognitive behavior theories. Verification of some of the theoretical hypotheses will be shown through studies done by Arnold Buss (a modified version of Milgram’s experiment) by using aggression machine apparatus.

5: Group Dynamics: This module will enable students to construe how groups’ process, the nature and functions of the group, group development process, group think, group decision making etc. Students will also learn what sort of characteristics and social situations enforce someone to lead a group of people and how they exercise power within and outside the group.

6: Intergroup behavior: The purpose of this module is to facilitate students to look beyond a person’s role within a group but beyond to the out-groups and how groups develop some sort of relationship or conflict between them. This module shall dispute on the topics of social categorization, social identity, minority and majority influences, intergroup co-operation and conflict, bargaining and negotiation, ethnic and cultural relations and social dilemmas.

7: Social cognition: This module will discuss the manner in which we interpret, analyze, remember and use information about the social world. Students will be discoursed around the aspects of social cognitions like, social schemas, prototypes, attributions and fundamental attribution errors, attribution biases, cognitive dissonance and social intelligence.

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:

SnoAssessmentDate/period in which Assessment will take placeWeightage
1Home AssignmentEnd of August25%
2Mid Semester ExamAs per Academic Calender40%
3Semester End ProjectLast day of Semester exam35%

Reading lists:

The course coordinators will mainly use the following text books to transact the course while actively engaging in classroom discussions. Relevant video clips related to topics taken up in various modules will also be used to illustrate the concepts and experiments being taught in the class.

  • Baron, Byrne, &Branscombe, Social Psychology (11thed.). Pearson Education.
  • Hussain A. Social Psychology, Pearson Education and Dorling Kindersley India Pvt Ltd.
  • Thomas Gilovich, DacherKeltner, and Richard E. Nisbett. Social Psychology (2nded.).
  • Wendy Hollway, Helen Lucey, and Ann Phoenix. Social Psychology Matters, Tata McGraw Hill.