PSYC2052 Social Psychology

Bachelor Course Unit


One trimester


2nd year

Credit points:

6 (out of 144)




This unit is one of the core second year units in Psychology. This unit explores the role of the social environment in influencing attitudes and behaviour in the individual. 

Learning and Teaching Process

This unit comprises ten (10) weekly 2.5 hour lectures and nine (9) weekly 1 hour tutorials.  Lectures commence in Week 1 of the trimester and will be captured electronically at the time of delivery and will automatically be made available online within the following 24 hours. Attendance at tutorials is compulsory; students should attend, from Week 2, the tutorial class into which they are enrolled.

All students are provided with secure online access to comprehensive unit learning resources via the Student Portal. Unit Coordinators, Lecturers, and Student Support staff are available to students (in all modes of delivery) at designated times via email and telephone contact throughout the duration of the unit.

The content of tutorials will supplement the lectures by  discussion of contemporary topics will be discussed in class in the light of social psychological theory and method. Important historical sources of social psychological thinking will be considered to introduce to the methods used in social psychology to test hypotheses and develop theory. The adoption of a critical mode of enquiry is essential to understand this conception of the discipline. While there will be an emphasis upon the theory and methodology of an experimental social psychology, there will be a broader appreciation of an eclectic range of approaches, methodologies and analyses. No single philosophy or methodology has hegemony in the study of human social behaviour. And social psychology is not the only discipline with an interest in understanding the complexities of social behaviour. The vital role of an acculturation or socialisation process in the absorption of the methods and techniques of social psychological inquiry will be emphasised. There will be a strong element of reflective practice embedded in the content of lectures and tutorials, to focus attention on the need to be self-aware of the impact of knowledge of social psychological processes on society and also on the ability of the actor to understand society.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit you should be able to:

a) Articulate the factors and the nature of their influence on attitudes, perceptions, and judgments of people in social situations

b) Identify and elaborate upon the factors that influence behaviour in relation to interpersonal attraction, conformity, prejudice, prosocial behaviour, conflict, and aggression

c) Critically evaluate research related to theories of social psychology identifying their weaknesses and strengths

d) Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the self in developing attitudes and behaviour in social settings

e) Be aware of the epistemology and the sociology of social psychological inquiry that acts to determine the data that are acquired and the inferences that are drawn from them.

f) be aware of the processes whereby facility and expertise in the discipline is acquired for the application of knowledge

Unit Content

Week Lecture Topic Tutorial Topic
1 Introduction to social psychology: A brief introduction to a history of the discipline and an account of why and how we study social behaviour psychologically No tutorial Wk 1
2 The culture of social psychology. An examination of social psychology as an institution in contemporary society, with normative expectations about the correct and incorrect ways in which issues are studied and criticised Discussion of the issues raised by the question set for the first assignment. We shall also examine the ways in which we construct the concept of a social psychologist and consider alternative models of the role

The role of the person and self in the perception of others and attribution processes 

What is a person? Human, zombies and robots. Can you be a psychologist and not be a person? Consideration of the second assignment
4 Attitude formation and the link with behaviour: Belief systems and ideology Is it ever ethical to do experiments with human beings? Milgram and beyond. Class discussion of issues in conducting experiments and surveys in the laboratory and in naturalistic settings. How ethical were the experimenters in the Milgram and associated experimental traditions? 
5 Persuasion and the change of beliefs and attitudes. Other forms of social influence. Methods of resistance to change will also be considered The measurement of cognitive structure, a fundamental feature of social behaviour: Can extremity be a good thing?  
6 Interpersonal attraction, prosocial behaviour and aggression A consequence of the culture of social psychology: Surveillance and observation as central to the conduct of the discipline and the functioning of contemporary society
7 Behaviour in groups: Group structure and functions  Should we ever lie? Who knows if I am lying? Can we really “know” another person? A demonstration, with a discussion of the literature on lie detection. Consideration of liar characteristics and the ability of people to present as multiple characters.  
8 Behaviour in groups: Group performance  The experimental social psychology of social class: The link with sociology of class and the analysis of a macro-level social concept through micro-technology and “thin slicing”.      

Behaviour in groups continued. Leadership 

 Is social psychology a form of history? Class discussion of the ways in which a knowledge of social psychology can expand an understanding of social change and also how a knowledge of history and sociology is essential for the education of an experimental social psychologist.
10 Applications of social psychology, including the examination of the influence of popular culture on social behaviour Revision of concepts and themes of the unit

Assessment Summary

Type Weighting Length
Assessment 1: Evaluation of Social Psychologists 20% 800 word limit
Assessment 2: Essay 30% 2000 word limit
Assessment 3: Final Exam 50% 2 hour time limit


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time.