Section 1, Reference # 6063

SPRING, 2006

T, H............. 8:00am - 9:30am (OUCH!!) ............... 3 Credits .............. PM153

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in psychology or consent of instructor

A Link To An Electronic Version of This Syllabus Can be Found on Dr. J’s Webpage at:



Information in this syllabus is subject to changes and additions announced in class!

And there WILL likely be some changes, so come to class!

Rating: NC- 17 (not for the faint of heart, but definitely for inquiring minds!)



An in-depth survey of topics of current interest in the study of social interaction. Emphasis on experimental approaches to the study of social behavior of humans, but developments in animal social experimentation will also be utilized. Topics include, but are not necessarily limited to, attitudes and persuasion, conformity, social judgment, aggression, and interpersonal attraction.



I have many goals when I teach this course. First, I want to get you EXCITED about social psychology!!! How can you not be excited -- other people are fascinating! Moreover, the stuff in this course deals with some of the most interesting questions in psychology! Why do some people have such weird ideas about other people? Why can’t different groups get along? Why do advertisers run those boring ads millions of times on TV? What does it mean to fall in (and out) of love with someone else? Is there a difference between love and lust? Can people really be brainwashed? Ohh, I can feel my blood boiling just mentioning some of this stuff!!! In this course, we will examine and review some of the existing research on these kinds of topics.

The approach that this class will take is CONTEMPORARY, FOCUSED ON THEORETICALLY-DRIVEN RESEARCH, and GENERATIVE. That is, we will be focusing on recent ideas about the causes of social thought, social emotions, and social behavior, and will be constantly thinking about how to test those ideas in research.



Name: John J. Skowronski, Ph.D.      Aliases: Dr. Skowronski, Dr. John, Dr. J., John

            Feel free to call me whatever you like — just be careful what you call me to my face!

NIU Rank: Full Professor (and people generally think that I’m full of it!)

Birthplace: Chicago (so don’t even THINK of messing with me)

Degrees: M.A., Ph.D., University of Iowa, B.A., Augustana College (Il.)

                                    Go Hawks! Go Vikings!

            Yes, as much as it amazes you I am a Ph.D. --- that means I can, indeed, Pile it Higher and Deeper.

A Few Professional Highlights:

            Co-author of the book Autobiographical Memory (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers)

            Author or co-author of over 50 professional journal articles and book chapters.

            Associate Editor, Social Cognition (professional journal)

Recipient, Ohio State University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching (back in my former job {Go Buckeyes!}, they were under the mistaken impression that I could actually teach.....)

Previous Employers (e.g., folks who are celebrating because they have gotten rid of me):


            Augustana College (Instructor)

            The University of Iowa (Instructor)

            Kansas State University (Visiting Assistant Professor)

            Purdue University (Visiting Assistant Professor)

            Southampton University, England (Distinguished Visiting Professor)

            The Ohio State University, residing at the Newark Campus (Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor)




Office: PM 418              Office Phone: 753-7073         E-mail: jskowron@niu.edu

As pro golfer Fred Couples once said, the problem with answering the phone is that there might be someone on the other end. So chances are that if you call me, you’ll have to leave a message on my voice mail. E-mail is another place to leave me messages that I can ignore.

Office Hours: T, TH - 9:30AM - 11AM, and By Appointment

Stop by during office hours. If you can’t see me at those times, feel free to make appointments to see me -- whatever reason is good enough for you is good enough for me! You can even take a chance and just drop by if you are feeling lucky, but I am often about on other university business, so appointments are safer. Bring along pizza and root beer, just to make sure I’ll let you into my office.


In the graduate program here at NIU, you are called students, but to me you are really apprentices. I want you to STOP thinking of yourselves as graduate students and START thinking of yourselves as APPRENTICE PSYCHOLOGISTS. What’s the difference?

Students do as little as possible to get the best grade they can; apprentices try to learn as much as they can and practice whenever possible so that they can function well when they leave the apprenticeship.

Students get upset when they get corrective feedback; apprentices want corrective feedback because they want to get better in their chosen line of work.

One of the main purposes of the course (obviously) is for you to learn as much as you can about empirical approaches to social psychology. However, in this course I am also trying to give you the opportunity to develop and practice some of the skills that you will need when you head out into the world beyond NIU. I don’t expect you to be perfect at these skills now -- that’s why practice and corrective feedback are important! On the other hand, it IS important for you to do the best that you can at these tasks. I will try to gently point out your mistakes so that you can come to recognize and fix them yourself. After all, part of the training of a bricklayer is to recognize when a crooked wall has been put up and to know when to tear it down and start over, and maybe to eventually avoid putting up those crooked walls. I want you to be able to do the same thing for the kinds of skills that psychologists need to have.

There are four skills that I am going to give you the opportunity to sharpen in this course.

The first of these is CRITICAL ANALYSIS. In your career you will need to read and understand primary research articles. In this course we will frequently dissect research articles in social psychology so that you learn how to read journal articles and how to critically evaluate those articles.

The second of these skills is GENERATIVITY. One of the things that you will need to be doing in your career is to generate your own research ideas. I will be asking you to practice this skill by asking you to think about how the research that we will be reading about in this class can serve as a jumping off point for new research. This will be part of many class sessions.

The third of these skills is WRITING. My experience as a writer suggests to me that becoming a better writer requires much practice. Hence, I will be giving you assignments that provide an opportunity to sharpen your writing skills - a skill that is terribly important in the academic world. Furthermore, form matters on your papers. Gone are the days when you will receive positive feedback because your ideas are good. In my role as a journal editor, I have seen otherwise terrific papers become trivialized by terrible writing. Try to do the best job that you can in making sure that the spelling, punctuation and grammar that you use in each paper are correct, and that each paper is written in a clear and organized fashion. In an attempt to help you to improve your writing, I will provide corrective feedback (usually collectively). The written research proposals and questions will help you to achieve this goal.

The fourth of these skills is PUBLIC DISCOURSE (PUBLIC SPEAKING, DISCUSSION and COMMENTARY). One of the important things that you will be doing in your future psychology-related jobs is to talk to other people about psychology. Sometimes this will be in an informal setting in which ideas are freely exchanged; sometimes this will be in a formal setting (as in a lecture or presentation). This class will be providing you with the opportunity to sharpen your skills in these kinds of circumstances.



One of the most difficult tasks that you have ahead of you is bringing yourselves up to speed with respect to the psychological literature. This course will help you to accomplish this in two ways.



The first is through the summaries of the literature provided by the two assigned textbooks. This textbook reading is designed to give you an overview of various areas in social psychology, including important theoretical themes and findings that have emerged in the research. These textbooks are:

Fiske, S.T. (2004). Social beings: A core motives approach to social psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Hewstone, M., & Stroebe, W. (Eds.) (2001). Introduction to social psychology (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Exams. To help you to think about and integrate this material, you will be asked to complete TWO take-home exams. Here are the two exam questions:

(1) Social Psychologists have intensely investigated thinking processes in the social world. These include how we think about others, as well as how we think about ourselves. Using your reading from the Fiske and Hewstone/Stroebe books, as well as other sources, to highlight major theoretical themes and research findings in this area. It is important to discuss in some detail both specific theories and specific research results in your answer. ANSWER DUE BY CLASS TIME, 3/16/06

(2) Social Psychologists have intensively investigated topics related to social influence. Using your reading from the Fiske and Hewstone/Stroebe books, as well as other sources, to highlight major theoretical themes and research findings in this area. It is important to discuss in some detail both specific theories and specific research results in your answer. ANSWER DUE BY THE END OF OUR ASSIGNED FINAL EXAM TIME (10 AM), 5/9/06

The purpose of these exams is to convince me that you have read and thought about the textbook readings. Try to be as integrative as you can in your answers - it would be good if you were able to work in stuff from each chapter of your assigned readings when formulating the answer to each question. The better you do this job, the better your grade. How long should your answers be? Well, I prefer writing that is simultaneously complete and concise. However, as a general guideline, my guess is that if your answer to each question stretches beyond 30 pages of single-spaced text, you are probably going overboard. On the other hand, I would find it surprising if you could adequately answer these questions in 5 pages of single spaced text.


Read the textbook readings in advance: Social Psychojeopardy. About half of the class days will be “mine.” One of the things that I plan to do on those days is to quiz you about the stuff you were supposed to have read. The quiz format will be a social psychological form of ‘Jeopardy’ - I provide the answers and you provide the questions. You will be called on arbitrarily, so it will be good for you to have read the material in advance. You will earn 1 point for each of the questions that you correctly supply, and I will keep a semester-long tally of your performance. Psychojeopardy dates and material covered will be announced in class.


The articles. These describe research relevant to the assigned chapters. We will be using these target articles to get you practice in critiquing research and to get you thinking about generating new research in social psychology. One day each week (more-or-less) will be devoted to these articles (for exceptions, see the course outline) - typically two articles per day (see schedule at the end of the syllabus for the article titles and dates).

The readings are on the computer in room 408 - see the folder titled "520 readings, 2004." It can be accessed by clicking on "My Computer" and "C:". Take in a blank CD and copy (don't move, COPY) the readings to your CD. You can then do with them whatever you want.

The presentations. For each article, the assigned presenter will BRIEFLY “deconstruct” the article by breaking it down into its basic components. It will be especially important to describe the underlying theory and to briefly summarize how that theory was tested and what the results were. Then, the class presenter will discuss a new study that extends or builds upon the method described in the target article and that tests the underlying theoretical model. The class will then collectively discuss and critique the research idea.

Let me clarify this. One of the class members (or a team) will be assigned primary responsibility for presenting a deconstruction of the original paper to the class. It will be the responsibility of the presenter(s) to describe the paper in a clear and concise manner, probably taking no more than 10 minutes to do so. The student(s) will then present her/his/their suggestion of a follow-up study to the class. This should include a rationale for why the study would be theoretically informative, along with detailed predictions about the expected results and potentially informative alternative pattern of results. Dr. Sagarin’s article (Sagarin, Rhodes,& Cialdini, 1998) is an excellent model. It discusses alternative theoretical models and shows how the data would look for the different competing predictions. After the presenter or team has presented a research proposal, the class will then comment on and critique this proposal. These critiques are an important part of the class. One of the things that you will do in the future is to comment on, and contribute to, the work of others. I want you to be intellectually powerful in your critiques and comments - the quality of the work matters, and nobody gets a free lunch. On the other hand, you need to present your comments in a way that is as gentle as possible. You will be amazed at how hard it is to do this - so start practicing now. In the week that you present, YOU DO NOT DO A PAPER.

The papers. In addition, all class members will generate their own research ideas for one of the two target articles (you get to choose which). These will be described in a brief paper that will be turned in at the start of each class. If time remains after the public critiquing is completed, I will ask other class members to present their own ideas about replicating and extending the research (so keep a copy of your papers handy!). The paper simply needs to do the same thing as the talk. That is, I expect these papers to briefly describe the underlying theory and to briefly summarize how that theory was tested and what the results were. Then, the paper should suggest a follow-up study. This should include a rationale for why the study would be theoretically informative, along with detailed predictions about the expected results and potentially informative alternative pattern of results. I encourage you to think about “replicate and extend studies” in which you use the same methodology as in the target article but add a new manipulation. In all cases, the manipulation should be designed to clarify the underlying theoretical processes that underlie the research performed in the original article.

Make two copies and save one for yourself. The papers must be word-processed, and should be no more than two single-sided pages (single spaced is OK). Most of the time one page or less ought to be enough. Remember that you need to write these papers well! No one-draft wonders, please. Good writers extensively edit their own work and go through multiple drafts. I expect you, young apprentices, to do the same. I will occasionally provide corrective feedback (usually collectively) on these papers.



I would really like you to focus on learning new stuff - in my view, grades in this class ought to be secondary to learning. However, the university demands that I assign grades, so here’s how I will do it.

Research proposals. 30% of your grade will be determined by your research proposals. The papers will be given a grade between 0 and 3. A grade of “3” means that the paper was very well conceived and well written, and in my opinion the idea is well worth researching; a grade of “2” means the paper was OK, but was not something that makes my heart go “pitter-pat;” a grade of “1” means that, in my opinion, either the idea was not good or the paper was ill-crafted. A grade of “0" means your work was not worth the paper it was written on. Papers that miss the deadline will be assigned an “X” - these will revert to a grade of “0" for grading purposes. Not every idea is great – most will be OK, and some might stink. You can expect that most good graduate-level papers will be assigned a grade of “2.” I tend to reserve grades above 2 for ideas that I think are really good. One other element of my grading system is that you need not be perfect. If you turn in too many papers that are bad enough to rate a “1” or below, your grade will suffer. However, the relation here is curvilinear; one or two substandard papers will barely hurt you, but the damage increases with larger numbers of substandard papers. Three substandard papers will begin to detract substantially from your grade. Turning in papers on time is crucial - you can get away with a missed paper, but multiple misses begin to substantially affect your grade. Another way of saying this that to earn an “A” grade in this portion of the course, you will need to turn in ALMOST ALL of the papers and MOST of what you turn in should be high-quality enough to earn a grade of “2” or better.

Class presentations. 15% of your grade will be determined by the quality of your class presentations. My judgment will determine whether a presentation is sub-standard or not, but I will supplement my own judgment by asking the rest of the class to judge a presenter’s performances. My grade judgment will be based on my perception of your level of preparation, the quality of your idea, and the quality of your presentation. Again, I don’t expect perfection here - I know that many of you are novice presenters, and I will grade accordingly. Nonetheless, it is important to be prepared and to try to have a good idea for your presentation. Your grade will be assigned on the same 0 to 3 scale used for the papers. You can expect a good, graduate-student quality presentation to earn a grade of “2.”

Class Participation. 25% of your grade will be determined by the quality and quantity of your class participation. I will be tracking your comments and critiques of others’ research proposals. Your grade will suffer if you never say anything, if you say too much (it is not good to monopolize discussions), or if you frequently offer comments that are irrelevant, misdirecting, or overly negative or condescending. My judgment will determine whether your participation is sub-standard or not, but I will supplement my own judgment by asking the rest of the class to judge the quality and quantity of a class member’s participation. This grade will also be affected by the extent to which you ask questions or provide comments in class, and by your performance on the social psychojeopardy items.

Exam Performance. 30% of your grade will be determined by your exam performance. I will read each of your answers to my take-home question and will use my judgment to assign it a grade of between 0 and 3 (same scale as described above). You can expect a good, graduate-student quality answer to earn a grade of “2.”



Please note that your grade will not be at all affected by the performances of others in the class. This means that you are not in competition with others. I have pre-set mental standards about the level of performance that I expect. Therefore, there is no such thing as a curve-breaker in this class! Hence, feel free to help each other out as much as you can outside of class. It might be especially useful to chat about the material with others in the class before the class starts, or to use each other as sounding boards for questions, research ideas, etc. In my view, the best thing that can happen in this course is for people to be merrily chatting about the chapters and target articles at lunch, in the park, etc. Please do.


HOWEVER......Be careful here to respect each other’s intellectual property: after your discussions, don’t “borrow” the ideas that others were intending to use for themselves and include them in your own papers. It is legitimate, however, to use thoughts or ideas offered by others if they are freely given. Sometimes the line is a fine one - if you have any doubt, ASK!!!!!

Cheating is a practice that I frown upon, and you won’t like it at all when I frown. Cheating is wrong. Don’t do it. Cheating ticks me off. Don’t do it. Cheating extends to any work that you turn in for this course. Don’t do it. I hate dealing with cheating, and because I hate it, I get very, very cranky. Don’t do it. I even hate thinking about it. Don’t do it. Cheating includes copying from others’ exams, plagiarizing others’ papers, turning in work that is not your own, and anything else nefarious or dishonest that might apply. Don’t do it. I have had to deal with far too much cheating in my academic lifetime. Don’t do it. When I catch cheaters, I fail them - for the whole course. Don’t do it. I also refer them to their department and to the university for further disciplinary action, recommending that they get kicked out of school and that a reprimand letter for cheating get included in their permanent school file. Don’t do it. There are no exceptions to this policy. Don’t do it. Just keep this simple rule in mind: you cheat, YOU DIE!!! I’ll sic O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, Charles Manson, Freddy Kruger, Jason, and Barry Manilow on you...simultaneously. Don’t do it.



Dates                                                                                           Hewstone & Stroebe       Fiske



Jan 17                 Introductory stuff


<>Jan 19                 Thinking about theory testing in
                            your proposals (Sagarin, et al.)


Jan 24- Feb 2     History, Themes, Basic Ideas                                {1, 2} {3, 4} {1, 2}         14

                                   & Methods


Feb 7 - Feb 9        Ordinary Personology                                           7                                      3


Feb 14 - Feb 16      Social Cognition                                                  5                                      4


Feb 21 - Feb 23      The Self & Emotions                                           6                                      5


Feb 28 - Mar 2       Attraction & Close Relationships                        12                                     7, 8


Mar 7 - Mar 9          Attitudes & Attitude Change                               8                                       6



Mar 21 - Mar 23        Social Influence: Dyadic, Group &                      13                        12 pp. 459-495; 13



Mar 28 - Mar 30         Prosocial Behavior & Helping                             9                                        9


Apr 4 - Apr 6             Antisocial Behavior & Hurting                              10                                     10


Apr 11 - Apr 13          Groups & Group Performance                          14                            12 pp. 495-500


Apr 18 - Apr 20           Individuals in Cooperation and Conflict              11                            12 pp. 501-503


Apr 25 - Apr 27         Stereotyping, Prejudice, Discrimination                 15                                 11 

                                     & Intergroup Relations


May 2                     Applications: Health, I/O, Law, Etc.                       16, 17


May 4                         Makeup Talks & Topic Grab Bag


May 9                         Makeup Talk Session (if needed)



Article Readings/Presentations

Jan 19 — Sample Article/Presentation Model


Sagarin, B.J., Rhoads, K.v.L, & Cialdini, R.B. (1998). Deceiver's distrust: Denigration as a consequence of undiscovered deception. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 1167-1176.

Feb 9 - Ordinary Personology


Trope, Y., & Gaunt, R. (2000) Processing alternative explanations of behavior: Correction or integration? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 344-354.

Reeder, G.D., Vonk, R. Ronk, M.J., Ham, J., &; Lawrence, M (2004). Dispositional Attribution: Multiple Inferences About Motive-Related Traits. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 86, 530-544.


Feb 16 – Social Cognition


Skowronski, J.J. (2002). Honesty and intelligence judgments of individuals and groups: The effects of entity-related behavior diagnosticity and implicit theories. Social Cognition, 20, 136-169.


Todorov, A., & Uleman, J.S. (2004) The Person Reference Process in Spontaneous Trait Inferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 482-493.


Feb 23 – The Self & Emotions


Windschitl, P.D., Kruger, J. & ; Simms, E.N. (2003). The Influence of Egocentrism and Focalism on People's Optimism in Competitions: When What Affects Us Equally Affects Me More. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85, 389-408.


Skowronski, J.J., Gibbons, J.A., Vogl, R.J., Walker, W. R. (2004). The effect of social disclosure on the intensity of affect provoked by autobiographical memories. Self and Identity, 3, 285-309.

Mar 2 - Attraction & Close Relationships


Jones, J.T., Pelham, B.W., Carvallo, M., & Mirenberg, M.C. (2004). How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Js: Implicit Egotism and Interpersonal Attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 665-683.


Schmitt, D.P., & Buss, D.M. (2001). Human mate poaching: Tactics and temptations for infiltrating existing mateships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 894-917.

Mar 9 – Attitudes and Attitude Change


Sagarin, B.J., Cialdini, R.B., Rice, W.E., & Serna, S.B. (2002). Dispelling the illusion of invulnerability: The motivations and mechanisms of resistance to persuasion. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 83, 526-541.


Lord, C.G., Paulson, R.M., Sia, T.L., Thomas, J.C., & Lepper, M.R. (2004). Houses Built on Sand: Effects of Exemplar Stability on Susceptibility to Attitude Change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 87, 733-749.


Mar 23 – Social Influence: Dyadic, Group & Societal


Hollingshead, A.B. (2001). Cognitive interdependence and convergent expectations in transactive memory. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 81, 1080-1089.


Meade, M.L., & Roediger, H.L. III.(2002). Explorations in the social contagion of memory. Memory & Cognition, 30, 995-1009.

Mar 30 – Prosocial Behavior


Smeesters, D., Warlop, L., Van Avermaet, E., Corneille, O., & Yzerbyt, V. (2003). Do not prime hawks with doves: The interplay of construct activation and consistency of social value orientation on cooperative behavior. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 972-987.


Sturmer, S., Snyder, M., & Omoto, A.M. (2005). Prosocial Emotions and Helping: The Moderating Role of Group Membership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 532-546.

Apr 6 – Antisocial Behavior & Hurting


Vandello, J.A., & Cohen, D. (2003). Male honor and female fidelity: Implicit cultural scripts that perpetuate domestic violence. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 997-1010.


Anderson, C.A., Carnagey, N.L., & Eubanks, J. (2003). Exposure to violent media: The effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 960-971.

Apr 13 – Groups & Group Performance


Beersma, B., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2005). Conflict's consequences: Effects of social motives on postnegotiation creative and convergent group functioning and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 358-374.

Messe, L.A., Hertel, G., Kerr, N.L., Lount, R.B Jr., & Park, Ernest S. (2002). Knowledge of partner's ability as a moderator of group motivation gains: An exploration of the Kohler discrepancy effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 935-946.


Apr 20 Individuals in Cooperation and Conflict


Reed, A. II, & Aquino, K.F. (2003). Moral identity and the expanding circle of moral regard toward out-groups. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 1270-1286.


Diekmann, K.A., Tenbrunsel, A.E., & Galinsky, A.D. (2003). From self-prediction to self-defeat: Behavioral forecasting, self-fulfilling prophecies, and the effect of competitive expectations. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85, 672-683.


Apr 27 – Stereotyping, Prejudice, Discrimination & & Intergroup Relations


Wigboldus, D.H.J., Dijksterhuis, A., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2003). When stereotypes get in the way: Stereotypes obstruct stereotype-inconsistent trait inferences. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 470-484.


Wittenbrink, B., Judd, C.M., & Park, B. (2001). Spontaneous prejudice in context: Variability in automatically activated attitudes. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 81, 815-827.

May 2 – Applications: Health, I/O, Law, etc.


Kallgren, C.A.; Reno, R.R., & Cialdini, R. B. (2000). A focus theory of normative conduct: When norms do and do not affect behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1002-1012.


Huntley, J.E., & Costanzo, M. (2003). Sexual harassment stories: Testing a story-mediated model of juror decision-making in civil litigation. Law and Human Behavior, 27, 29-51.

May 4 – Grab Bag & Make-Ups


van den Bos, K. (2003). On the Subjective Quality of Social Justice: The Role of Affect as Information in the Psychology of Justice Judgments. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85, 482-498.

Cesario, J., Grant, H., & Higgins, E.T. (2004). Regulatory Fit and Persuasion: Transfer From "Feeling Right." Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 86, 388-404.




American Psychological Association (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th edition). Washington, DC: APA.


Rosnow, R. L., & Rosenthal, R. (1997). People studying people: Artifacts and ethics in behavioral research. New York: Freeman.


Strunk, W.S., White, E.B., & Angell, R. (2000). The elements of style (4th ed.). Needham Heights: Pearson Education.


Darley, J. M., Zanna, M.P., & Roediger, H.M. III (Eds.). (2003). The compleat academic: A career guide (2nd edition). Washington, DC: APA Books.