PSYC 2302: Social Experience Assignments
In this course, you will write a short Social Experience assignment. The purpose of this assignment is:
1. to point out the relevance of social psychology to everyday life
2. to stimulate critical thinking about social psychology
3. to give you an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of course concepts
See the Course Calendar for a list of due dates.
This assignment will be turned in on Blackboard through the Turnitin link provided.
• How does your current awareness of this psychological phenomenon change the way you interpret what happened during this event?
• If you (or others) had been aware of social psychological research about this phenomenon during the event, how might the outcome of the interaction have been changed?
• How will your learning about this phenomenon influence your attitudes/behavior/perceptions in the future?
• What questions do you now have after considering the event in light of psychological theory?
• What type of experiment(s) might help address these issues? Don’t be too formal – just a couple of sentences about research idea will be sufficient.
You can also discuss an event that seems to be inconsistent with the topic you have chosen to write about. Take a look at Sample SE Assignment #2 for a good example of a discussion of a situation that seems like it could have led to the Fundamental Attribution Error, but didn’t. In such cases, you might also want to consider some (but not necessarily all) of the following questions:
• How was this interaction inconsistent with the theory or phenomenon you have chosen?
• Why do you think the outcome of this interaction seems to be inconsistent with the phenomenon you chose?
• What aspects of the situation, if changed, would have resulted in a less surprising outcome?
• What type of experiment(s) might help answer these questions?
I’m not going to be nitpicky about formatting on these, because I want this writing assignment to be as informal as possible. However, here are some general guidelines you should keep in mind in order to get full credit for your work:
• Your entry should be typed, spellchecked, and absolutely no more than two single-spaced pages. One shorter paragraph summarizing the experience and longer paragraphs of discussion is a good model to follow.
• Don’t change margin widths, font sizes, or line spacing. These are really obvious attempts to make your work seem longer than it really is, and I’m very experienced at spotting them.
• Do not plagiarize! If you use the ideas of others, you must cite.
• No quotes! I am looking for your ability to write about the idea. I am not testing your ability to find a string of interesting quotes.
You can use the Sample SE Assignments I’ve posted on Blackboard as a template for your writing. If you’re concerned about formatting issues, come see me and I’ll be happy to show you what an acceptable entry should look like.
The assignment will be worth 30 points, and you can earn up to a total of 30 points.
Papers that receive full points will:
• Demonstrates deep understanding of the chosen psychological concept
• Display insight & creativity in identification of everyday social experience and fully describes the event
• Writing is tightly focused, logical, and free of grammar & spelling errors
I look forward to reading about your experiences with social psychology! I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about yourself and about social psychology. Be creative and challenge yourself. As you know, my exams focus on application and inference rather than rote memorization. This SE assignment will give you a chance to process the course material on a deeper and more meaningful level, which is a good way to practice the critical thinking skills you’ll need to succeed on the exams.
“Nothing relevant happened to me this week” is not an excuse for not writing. Remember, you can always write about something that happened to you previously or about something that happened to someone you know. If all else fails, watch any TV sitcom or reality TV show for a half-hour and you’re bound to find good material to write about. Fiction is full social psychological material. My personal recommendations are The Office, Lost on DVD, or really any reality show.
Make sure the topic you choose is specific and interesting enough to be useful to you and your learning about social psychology. Something like “this interaction is relevant because I made an attribution” is not informative or very sophisticated. Writing “in this interaction I made a self-serving attribution that allowed me to maintain high self-esteem” conveys more information, deals with a more specific phenomenon, and is more interesting to read.
Remember that these assignments are not anonymous. Don’t write about anything you would be embarrassed to have me read, and please don’t write about any involvement you may have had with illegal activities.
PSYC 2302: Social Experience Assignments
Major Concept List
This chart lists most of the major concepts that are associated with each of the chapters we’ll be covering out of your textbook. Any of these topics would be a good foundation for an SE Assignment. Keep in mind that this list is just a suggestion. You may find it helpful, but you aren’t limited to the concepts on the list. You are free to select any process, phenomenon, theory, or psychological tendency that is relevant to the material we’re currently covering in class. Your textbook and the material discussed in lecture will also be helpful in generating ideas for you to write about.
Intro to Social Psych
Social Influence, Construal, Individual Differences, Fundamental Attribution Error, Self-Esteem, Self-Justification
Hindsight Bias, Correlation vs. Correlation, Empiricism, Naïve Skepticism, Experimental Method,
Social Cognition Automatic Thinking, Schema, Priming, Perseverance Effect, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Availability Heuristic, Representativeness Heuristic, Counterfactual Thinking, Thought Suppression, Overconfidence Barrier,
Social Perception Nonverbal Communication, Display Rules, Emblems, Social Role Theory, Implicit Personality Theory, Attribution Theory, Covariation Model, Correspondence Bias, Perceptual Salience, Two-Step Process of Attribution, Actor/Observer Difference, Self-Serving Attributions, Defensive Attributions, Belief in a Just World
Self-Knowledge Self-Schemas, Self-Reference Effect, Independent vs. Interdependent View of the Self, Self-Awareness Theory, Causal Theories, Reasons-Generated Attitude Change, Self-Perception Theory, Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation, Overjustification Effect, Task-Contingent vs. Performance-Contingent Rewards, Two-Factor Theory of Emotion, Misattribution of Arousal, Appraisal Theories of Emotion, Social Comparison Theory, Downward vs. Upward Social Comparison, Social Tuning, Impression Management, Self-Handicapping, Self-Enhancement
Justifying Our Actions Cognitive Dissonance, Self-Affirmation Theory, Impact Bias, Postdecision Dissonance, Lowballing, Justification of Effort, External vs. Internal Justification, Counterattitudinal Advocacy, Insufficient Punishment, Self-Persuasion
Attitudes & Attitude Change Affectively Based Attitude, Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning, Behaviorally Based Attitude, Explicit vs. Implicit Attitude, Elaboration Likelihood Model, Central vs. Peripheral Route to Persuasion, Need for Cognition, Heuristic-Systematic Model of Persuasion, Attitude Inoculation, Reactance Theory, Theory of Planned Behavior, Subliminal Messages, Stereotype Threat
Conformity Conformity, Informational Social Influence, Private Acceptance, Public Compliance, Contagion, Mass Psychogenic Illness, Social Norms, Normative Social Influence, Social Impact Theory, Idiosyncrasy Credits, Minority Influence, Injunctive Norms, Descriptive Norms, Obedience
Group Processes Social Roles, Group Cohesiveness, Social Facilitation, Social Loafing, Deindividuation, Process Loss, Transactive Memory, Groupthink, Group Polarization, Social Dilemma, Tit-for-Tat Strategy, Public Goods Dilemma, Commons Dilemma, Negotiation, Integrative Solution,
Interpersonal Attraction Propinquity Effect, Mere Exposure Effect, Reciprocal Liking, Social Exchange Theory, Comparison Level for Alternatives, Equity Theory, Compassionate vs. Passionate Love, Evolutionary Approach to Love, Attachment Style, Investment Model, Exchange vs. Communal Relationships
Prosocial Behavior Prosocial Behavior, Altruism, Kin Selection, Norm of Reciprocity, Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis, In-Group vs. Out-Group, Negative-State Relief Hypothesis, Urban Overload Hypothesis, Bystander Effect, Pluralistic Ignorance, Diffusion of Responsibility
Aggression Hostile vs. Instrumental Aggression, Frustration-Aggression Theory, Aggressive Stimulus, Social Learning Theory, Scripts, Catharsis
Prejudice Prejudice, Stereotype, Discrimination, Out-Group Homogeneity, Illusory Correlation, Ultimate Attribution Error, Stereotype Threat, Blaming the Victim, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Realistic Conflict Theory, Institutionalized Racism/Sexism, Normative Conformity, Modern Racism, Mutual Interdependence, Jigsaw Classroom
Sample SE Assignment #1
Jill Y. Undergrad
SE Assignment #1
Fundamental Attribution Error
Last week I called Ticketmaster to buy tickets to see the Cardinals play the Dodgers at St. Louis. I told the woman that I wanted four seats as close to the dugout as possible, but she told me she could only search for tickets by price range. So I said the $35 seats would be fine. She then told me they had four seats in leftfield together for $35 each. When I reminded her that I wanted to sit near the dugout, she got all irritated and said she could only do a computer search for the best available seats remaining. I kept trying to get the seats I wanted, but she insisted I would have to buy tickets at the stadium if I wanted specific seats. I ended the call cursing under my breath about what an unhelpful, brain-dead sales clerk this woman was.
In retrospect, I fell victim to the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). I attributed her unwillingness to give me the seats I wanted to stable personality characteristics, which led me to view this woman as unfriendly and incompetent. I never considered the situational factors that might have influenced her behavior. This woman was clearly being forced to use an outdated computer program that restricted what she could do and how she could search for tickets. This probably led many customers, like myself, to become agitated with her. I imagine such a work environment would lead most people to be rather ornery and to appear unhelpful. My main focus was on getting tickets, so I wasn’t motivated to make careful attributions about her behavior. In a situation where accurate impression formation was more important, I might have been less likely to use a cognitive shortcut and fall victim to the FAE. The funny thing is, even though I now realize I committed the FAE, I still have a hard time convincing myself that this woman wasn’t less friendly and less intelligent than your average person.
Note this is not an appropriate length, just an idea of the level of content and discussion.
Sample SE Assignment #2
John Q. Student
SE Assignment #1
Fundamental Attribution Error
My girlfriend took the LSAT this morning so I told her I would take her out to eat to celebrate finishing the test. I didn’t bother making a reservation because I wasn’t sure when we were going to go. I picked her up at 6:45, but when I got there she was mad because she said I had told her I’d get her at 6:00. Then, when we got to the restaurant, there was a two-hour wait, and every other place on Dickson Street was just as crowded. I could tell she was pretty mad at me, and she didn’t make much conversation during dinner once we finally sat down. After I dropped her back at her place, I thought to myself that it probably hadn’t been a good idea to take her out since I knew she’d be tired and in a bad mood after the test.
I made a situational attribution for my girlfriend’s behavior, which means I didn’t fall victim to the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). If I had shown the FAE, I would’ve attributed her bad mood and irritability to her personality, not to the pressure she was under to do well on the test and the fatigue she must have felt after taking it. Maybe the FAE is less likely to occur when you know a person well. When you make attributions for the behavior of someone you just met, it’s often easiest to assume their acts result from their personality. If I had been on a blind date, maybe I would’ve made the FAE in explaining my date’s behavior. But I’ve known my girlfriend for almost a year, and I’ve seen her in several different situations, so I know that her moods change depending on situational factors. It would be interesting to do an experiment where you ask some people to make attributions about a person they had never met before, and others to make attributions about a close friend. I’d bet that the FAE is less likely when you make attributions for a close other, just like it’s less likely when you try to account for your own behavior.