Section 2, Reference # 06026

Spring, 2004

© Copyright, John J. Skowronski, 2004

M, W............. 3:30PM - 4:45PM............... 3 Credits .............. PM 110


An Electronic Version of This Syllabus Can Be Viewed From 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!

Warning!!!!!The concepts, ideas and words used in this class may challenge your sense of ethics and morals and your way of thinking about the world. If you are easily offended or cannot handle such disquieting information, think about looking elsewhere for your social psychology.

Rating: NC - 17 (rated for occasionally foul language and violent content -- and I mean it!)



Behavior in the context of social interaction, with emphasis on experimental findings. Study of such topics as interpersonal judgment and perception, social attraction, aggression, prejudice and social influence, including attitude formation and persuasion, conformity and social modeling. (Yawn!)



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? I get juiced just thinking about all this stuff! I hope that you get as EXCITED about social psychology as I am!!!

In addition to exposing you to the fascinating world of Social Psychology, I have a few other goals. I want to expose you to how psychologists think, how they do research, and what the results of the research mean (note: they might not mean what you think they mean). I hope to make you immune to some of the BULL MANURE that passes for psychology these days, especially in the popular media. It is easy to philosophize (e.g., spread bull paddies) about psychology, but philosophical speculation is not fact. Truth lies in DATA: In evaluating claims, I want you to always focus on the data. I also hope to use this class to help you learn more about your favorite topic: YOURSELF. Finally, I hope to use this class to help sharpen up some of those skills that you will need in the real world: how to prepare, how to read, how to write, and how to critically analyze real-world situations in terms of social psychological ideas and principles. Let's roll!



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

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


Office: PM 418 Office Phone: 753-7073 E-mail:

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, and checking phone messages is generally low priority on my list of things to do. Because I sometimes neglect to check voice mail, so E-mail is probably a better place to leave messages. At least I check e-mail occasionally - usually daily.

Office Hours: By Appointment & M/W/F 9:00 AM - 9:50 AM

Stop by during office hours. If you can't see me during office hours, 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. However, 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 in to my office.

I'm yours to use in this course (use me....ohhhh, please use me!). Ask me for help in the course, and I'll do my best! I'm here to help you learn about social psychology in whatever way that I can.


Smith, E.R., & Mackie, D.M. (2000). Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

This book is available in the University bookstore and may be available in VCB or at on-line sources (e.g., Please buy your book quickly -- you will need to start reading it today. Make sure that you buy only the textbook listed above, not the books used in other sections of this course on this campus, or other courses elsewhere. I happen to believe that this is the best Social Psychology book out there. Of course, I also believe that Elvis is alive and was abducted by wild alien women from the planet Amazonia....


One principle that guides this class is "READ EARLY AND READ OFTEN!" It is amazing how little value some students place in preparing early. It is also amazing that some students think that they can adequately prepare for an exam via the "power-cram-take-no-doze-read-the-chapters-the-night-before-the-test" method of study. In contrast, the data from the expert researchers in learning indicates that maximum learning occurs when you read early, when you read often, when you re-read material several times, and when you think about and apply what you read as you read it. This is what I expect you to be doing for this course.

Because these are the behaviors that promote effective long-term learning, in this course I will try to encourage these pro-learning behaviors in several ways:

(1) Social PsychoJeopardy! At the beginning of many class periods we will play a social psychological version of Jeopardy in which I give you an answer and you must provide the correct question to the answer. In my role as the evil quizmaster Alex Trebek, I will present the answers and will decide if your questions are correct -- and all decisions of the judge are final (Sheesh! This is worse than Judge Judy!). You will be called on during these PsychoJeopardy sessions, so you need to come to class prepared unless you want to look like an ignorant doofus (Who knows? Maybe ignorant doofus-hood is fashionable these days). The textbook chapters that will be the source of the Social PsychoJeopardy questions for each class period are listed in the course outline. In addition to helping you prepare for the exams, each correct question will get you 1 BONUS POINT toward your final grade. This is one of the few sources of EXTRA CREDIT POINTS in the course, so if you want extra credit, START READING THE BOOK NOW, KEEP READING and READ EARLY AND OFTEN (a good thing to do in all your classes, not just in this class).

(2) Research project. In this course the topic of research of the research will be....yourself. The project for this academic term was not finalized at press time. However, the project will probably ask you to report some autobiographical memories, maybe more than once, and make some judgments about them. The judgments will probably require that you come to a laboratory session. It is my hope that you gain some insight into why you think the things that you do about yourself and about other people from this project. More project details will be provided later - so come to class. This project will be quite extensive, so you will be rewarded accordingly: SATISFACTORY COMPLETION of the project will earn you a full 25 points (over 40% of an exam's total worth) toward your grade. Cool! However, because this project is worth so much, I will not accept incomplete projects or projects that obviously reflect half-baked responses to the items. Because credit for the project is all-or-nothing, it will pay to do it correctly - and you may not get a second chance.

(3) Thought papers. The data from my colleagues who study learning suggest that one very effective way to promote long-term learning is to relate the material to be learned to the self. To promote this method of learning, in this class I will give you the opportunity to write one short paper for each chapter from chapters 3 through 14. The point of each paper will be to relate a NEW social psychological concept, theory or research finding to a personal experience that you have had in your lives. The whole point of this paper is YOU, so don't spend a lot of time defining or explaining the principle; just mention it at the start of the paper so that I know what you are trying to talk about. I want to know about your perceptions about how the stuff relates to YOU. Think Oprah here -- I want self disclosures ... but self disclosures that are related back to any NEW social psychology that you have learned by reading the book. Here are a few examples to help you to get started: (1) we will be talking about cognitive dissonance in class - have you ever experienced cognitive dissonance? When did you experience this? Why? How did you feel? What happened? (2) In class we will be talking about the power of accessibility in person perception; can you think of an event in your life in which accessibility had a powerful effect on how you might have thought about another person? Because one purpose of this task is to promote learning, I want to you dig deep here and to relate stuff in your life to NEW social psychology, not to social psychology you basically already understand (e.g., basic concepts such as prejudice).

In addition to promoting learning, I want to use these papers to help you to understand others. The social psychological data suggest that social interactions benefit when people can see others' perspectives and can develop empathy for others. Hence, I intend to share some of these papers with others in the class. PLEASE BE AWARE IN ADVANCE THAT THESE PAPERS WILL BE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN!!!!! I often post them in the hallway outside of class, sometimes with commentary, or I may read them in class or post them on the Web. Hence, do not put stuff in these papers that you don't want the world to know about you, and always use YOUR ALIAS to help maintain your anonymity.

Finally, my experience as a writer suggests to me that becoming a better writer requires MUCH practice. Hence, this assignment also gives you the opportunity to sharpen your writing skills - a skill that is terribly important in the "real world." Furthermore, on these papers FORM MATTERS! 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 the paper are correct, and that your paper is written in a clear and organized fashion.

My experience as a writer (a book and piles of chapters and journal articles) also tells me that good writing is often good self-editing, a process that requires multiple drafts. To promote this behavior, I ask you to get your first draft reviewed by the good people in the writing center (or pre-approved equivalent). When you turn in your papers to me you MUST submit your first draft, a copy of the feedback form that you get from the writing center, and a second draft that reflects the suggestions of the writing center staff.

The writing center is located in Stevenson Towers South, Lower Level. The web page is at The writing center's phone number is (815) 753-6636. You will need to set up an appointment to get an evaluation of your paper and you will need to do so well in advance of the assignment due dates (especially the later assignments).

A few other rules for these papers: (1) These papers MUST be typewritten or word-processed, and SHOULD be two pages in length (or less -- and ONE PAGE IS FINE as long as you meet the requirements of the assignment); (2) Make TWO copies of each paper, and keep one for yourself. You may need to produce this copy if my records get screwed up (and they will); (3) use ONLY your alias as your identifier on your paper - no real names please! Again, this will help prevent you from embarrassment when I post your paper in the hallway and identify it as a good/bad paper. (4) Each paper must be submitted by the BEGINNING of the class period listed in the schedule. No late papers will be accepted after that time. I repeat, no late papers will be accepted after that time. I repeat, no late papers will be accepted after that time. (5) The papers will receive one of two grades: either a 1 (Satisfactory) or a 0 (Unsatisfactory - a waste of my time). A paper will be graded as unsatisfactory either if it does not satisfy the assignment OR if has so many technical errors that I get royally ticked off at your lousy writing. You will not have the opportunity to rewrite these papers after turning them in, so do your rewriting before you turn them in. Do the best job that you can on every one of them.

You need only complete 6 papers to fulfill the assignment for 25 points; if you complete additional papers, YOU WILL RECEIVE 3 POINTS OF EXTRA CREDIT FOR EACH ADDITIONAL PAPER THAT YOU COMPLETE, UP TO TWO PAPERS (6 points) MAXIMUM. And remember, NO (THAT'S NO, NONE, NULL, NADA, NYET, NEIN) LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Remember, you need to turn 6 acceptable on-time papers to complete this assignment!

Late papers are not accepted. LATE PAPERS ARE NOT ACCEPTED.



Students who have a learning disability or chronic physical condition that interferes with learning are strongly encouraged to make immediate arrangements for class attendance, class assignments, and exams so their academic performance will not suffer due to the disability or impairment. Consult with me early in the semester about these matters.

Class attendance is not required, but it is expected. Lectures, class discussions, demonstrations -- and most importantly, your participation -- are all valuable contributors to your learning. Thus, class attendance is a serious and essential responsibility for all students. Attendance allows you the opportunity to maximize your learning potential; missing class often puts you at a disadvantage (for example, you miss the opportunity to get extra PsychoJeopardy credit, and some of what I will discuss in lecture is on the exam and is not included in the text). If you know you are going to be late to (or leave early from) class, please come anyway. I would rather have you present for part of class than to miss it completely. However, try not to make these comings and goings a habit - they do tend to be disruptive to others. Make sure to bring me some tea if you are very late in arriving to class: I take mine with cream and artificial sweetener.
When you do come to class, please keep a couple of things uppermost in your mind. First, TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR OWN LEARNING. Sometimes, things might go by too quickly for you to take good notes. If this happens, ask me to stop and go over something again, or to provide examples. Second, I ask you to be a good community member and PLEASE CONSIDER THE NEEDS OF OTHERS. This means a lot of stuff: for example, if others need help (e.g., they ask to see your notes), then help them. Don't be disruptive in class (e.g., via excessive talking); other people might actually want to pay attention. Don't monopolize discussions or question-and-answer sessions; allow everyone to participate. Third, please SHOW RESPECT FOR OTHERS' IDEAS AND OPINIONS. In this class we will be discussing personal and sensitive issues, and issues that sometimes provoke strong feelings. Please be sensitive to the feelings of others in discussing these issues. Also remember that GOOD PEOPLE CAN HAVE DIFFERING OPINIONS ON ISSUES, and that part of the purpose of the class is to increase your familiarity with how others might think and feel about various issues related to social psychology and social life. Please keep personal criticisms to a minimum, and instead try to listen, learn from, and think about the various perspectives that people bring to our class discussions. Please do not criticize or belittle people simply because they happen to have different values and priorities than your own.

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, including papers and exams. 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 even vaguely nefarious or dishonest. 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 record. Don't do it. There are no exceptions to this policy. Don't do it. So, keep those eyes riveted to your own paper during exams, and do not use shoes, arms, pencils, the bills of your caps, other people, or any other such artificial "performance aids" during exams. Don't do it. Just keep this simple rule in mind: you cheat, YOU DIE!!! I'll sic O.J. Simpson, Charles Manson, Freddy Krueger Jason, and Britney Spears on you...simultaneously. Don't do it.


Exam structure and format. There will be 3 exams. All of these will be unit exams covering about 1/3 of the course; there will not be a comprehensive final. Each exam will consist of 60 multiple choice questions (with an occasional bonus question or two). Each question is worth 1 point. Anything that comes up in the readings or in class (including responses to student questions) is fair game on the test. However, my exam questions generally focus on important THEORIES, PRINCIPLES, RESEARCH FINDINGS and APPLICATIONS. The tests are constructed with the following goals in mind: 25 questions on each exam can be answered either from reading the text or from class notes; 25 questions can be answered only by reading the text; and 10 questions can be answered only from class notes. I rarely ask about the names of researchers or the dates on which their findings were published except when it is relevant, as in the historical overview of social psychology. To do well on the tests you need to READ EARLY AND OFTEN and THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU READ. Perfect memory for class material will go a long way toward good performance on the tests, but I expect that you should also be able to APPLY WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED.
Post-exam reviews. You can come up and review an exam anytime. Just pop by during office hours or set up an appointment to do so.
Question dispute policy. Sometimes students may disagree with an answer that I consider to be correct. When this happens to you, please submit your dispute in writing, citing relevant material (including page numbers, dictionary definitions, citations, etc.). I will take your dispute into consideration. This may seem like a hassle, but trust me, it's for the best, and it tends to work in your favor.
Make-up policy. If you miss a regularly scheduled exam for any reason (excessive partying, sickness, your own death, the death of a family member or pet, car breakdowns, traumatic breakups with your significant other, screwed up alarm clocks, aliens landing on earth, the apocalypse, spontaneous collapse of this universe, the return of the black death, depression induced by the latest Britney Spears CD, etc.) you are AUTOMATICALLY GUARANTEED A MAKE-UP EXAM. It is not necessary to call me in advance, and no excuse or note is necessary - whatever reason is good enough for you to miss the exam is good enough for me. All (and I do mean all) make-up exams will be administered during our assigned final exam time (Monday, May 3, 4:00PM - 5:50PM ).
Experience has shown that it is difficult to make up TWO or more exams. In the past, students who have done so have failed the class a very high proportion of the time. Hence, if you miss two or more exams it might be better if you spend your time during finals week on those courses where your prospects are better.
The make-up guarantee does NOT apply to those who miss the scheduled make up time. If you miss the time that has been set for the make-up test (which would mean that you missed not only the original test date, but the make-up date as well), you'd better pucker up and kiss your kiester goodbye!
Late exam arrivals. Time is a precious commodity on exams - please arrive on time (or even early) on exam days so the exam can start promptly. The exam room will be closed 15 minutes after the scheduled start of the exam. The reason? Most people need at least an hour to complete the exam, so if you are 15 minutes late (or more) there is insufficient time to complete the exam. Take the makeup instead. If you are more than 15 minutes late to the makeup session, you're hosed.

Points in the course will be accumulated from either "regular" sources or from "extra credit" sources, and will almost always totally determine your final grade in the course. In all likelihood, these will probably be the only sources of points in the course. However, if a graduate student needs help with a research project, an additional extra credit project might be offered. But don't count on that.
Regular Point Sources
Exam 1:                                                                                                      60 pts.

Exam 2:                                                                                                      60 pts

Exam 3:                                                                                                      60 pts.

On-Time & Satisfactory Completion of ALL 6 Required Papers:             25 pts.

Satisfactory Completion of Research Project                                             25 pts.

Total Possible "Regular" Points:                                                                  230 pts.

Extra Credit Points/Point Adjustments

Social PsychoJeopardy Points                                                 Theoretically Unlimited (15 max.?)

Extra Personal Reaction Papers (2 max.)                                 3 Points Each, 6 Maximum Total

Occasional Bonus Questions on Exams                                                     Just a Few

Grades and Points:

A = 207 & up     B = 184 - 206    C = 161 - 183    D = 138 - 160    F = 137 & Below

These are the cutoffs. They will not be changed. These are the cutoffs. They will not be changed. These are the cutoffs. They will not be changed. These are the cutoffs. They will not be changed.

Please note that your esteemed and worthy professor (Hey! That's me!) reserves the right to add or subtract points from a student's point total. I NEVER USE THIS OPTION, but I keep it available because I can imagine circumstances in which I might need to use it (you being one point below a cutpoint isn't one of them).

The bottom line, then, is that your grade depends ENTIRELY on YOUR PERFORMANCE: don't look to me to bail you out if you don't learn anything and your exam performance reflects that lack of learning. Don't look to me to bail you out if you are one point below a grade cutoff. If you want more points, EARN as many as you can - learn a lot so that you can do well on the exams, read ahead to get psychojeopardy questions right, and do the extra credit papers.


PART 1: READ SYLLABUS and CHAPTERS 1, 2, 11, 3, 5

Date     Class Topics                                                 PsychoJeopardy Questions             Paper Due

                Covered                                                         From Chapter(s)                     Over Chapter(s)


1/12(M) Introduction                                                                 None

Welcome back my friends to the show that

never ends ...


1/14(W) A Conceptual and Historical Introduction                     Syllabus

What the heck is this stuff?

1/19(M) I had a dream ... that there was no class!

Martin Luther King Day


1/21(W) Thinking About Research in Social Psychology                 1

Run every kind of test from A to Z

But you still know nothin' about me...

1/26(M) The Human as a Social Animal: Some Thoughts             2

I need to be near you ...

1/28(W) Interpersonal attraction and close relationships                11                                     11

Ohh, wouldja just LOOK at Him???Yowza!!

2/2(M) Thinking about and perceiving other people:                       3

What are you - some kinda nut?

2/4(W) Person Perception: A Personal Preference Exploration     NONE                               3 I get him the red one or the blue one?

2/9(M) The facts about lie detection                                                 5

You can't hide those lyin' eyes (....can you?)

2/11(W) Perceiving Groups                                                         ALL                                 5

Y'all don't know what it's like

being male, middle class and white ....

2/16(M) Oh $#%@!!!^$^%$ Exam 1 Already! 60 Points!

Exam covers all lectures to this point, as well as Chapters 1, 2, 11, 3 and 5


PART 2: READ CHAPTERS 9, 10, 12, 13, 14

Date     Class Topics                                                 PsychoJeopardy Questions             Paper Due

               Covered                                                         From Chapter(s)                     Over Chapter(s)


2/18(W) Norm Formation: How and Why                                 None

If all your friends jumped off a cliff,

would you?

2/23(M) The Norm of Obedience:                                             None                                         9

It's My Way or the Highway

2/25(W) Norms Leading To Compliance:                                     9

Can you hold this for a second?

3/1(M) Hurting Others                                                               10                                            10

First we'll take Manhattan, then we'll take Berlin!

3/3(W) Special Topics in Aggression: Televised Violence             12

I got the idea from watching the Sopranos....

3/8(M) &         Spring Break!

3/10(W)           Wasting away again in Margaritaville...

3/15(M) When Do We Help Others?                                         13                                             12

He's not heavy, he's my brother...

3/17(W) Me and Mine or We and Ours? Cooperation                 14

Versus Self-Interest

Welcome to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood!

3/22(M) Group Performance: Social Facilitation and                 ALL                                         13

Inhibition, and Social Loafing

He REALLY choked on that shot, Jim.....

3/24(W) Groups, Leaders and Leadership:                                None

I'll follow you to the ends of the earth....


3/29(M) Oh $#%@!!!^$^%$ Exam 2 Already! 60 Points!                                                         14

Exam covers all lectures in this unit, as well as Chapters 9, 10, 12, 13, 14


PART 3: READ CHAPTERS 7, 8, 4, 6, Epilogue

Date     Class Topics                                                 PsychoJeopardy Questions             Paper Due

               Covered                                                         From Chapter(s)                     Over Chapter(s)


3/31(W) Attitude Formation and Sources of Preferences             None

Creed or The Dave Matthews Band?

4/5(M) Thinking is For Doing: How and When                             None                                     7

Attitudes Guide Actions

This Deal is Just too Good to Pass Up!

4/7(W) Attitudes and Persuasion                                                     7

The object of oratory is not truth, but persuasion....


4/12(M) Backdoor Attitude Change: Do First and                                      8                                                       8

Feel Later

Once you wanted revolution,

Now you're the institution.

How's it feel to be "The Man?"

4/14(W) Putting It all Together: Cults and Brainwashing                   4                                         4

How can you think like that?

4/14(W) On The Social Sources of Self-Knowledge                     6, Epilogue

I wanna be like Mike!

4/19(M) Self-Motives and their Social Consequences                         ALL                                  6

You're so vain, you probably think this song

Is about you....

4/26(M) Project Description

Remembering the Self: What We Remember                                     None

and Why

When I was 17, it was a very good year.....


The Self in Social Perception: A "Modular"

Approach to Thinking About Others

I can see your face, I can feel your touch,

I can smell your perfume, you hurt me so much.....

4/28(W) Oh $#%@!!!^$^%$ Exam 3 Already! 60 Points!

             Exam covers all lectures in this unit, as well as Chapters 7, 8, 4, 6 & Epilogue









Smith, E.R., & Mackie, D.M. (2000). Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.



Three exams are scheduled - see syllabus outline for chapters assigned for each.

Multiple choice, 60 items, 1 point per item.

Questions will cover material from both class and textbook.

Exams are non-comprehensive.

See syllabus outline for exam dates, date change is very unlikely.

All make-up exams administered during assigned final exam period.


Six one-page thought papers are required.

Two additional papers can be done for extra credit.

For each paper, take a new concept from the assigned chapter and relate it to an event in your life.

First draft of the paper must be checked by the Writing Center.

Turn in first draft (with editor's comments), final draft, and writing center contact sheet.

Papers are due at the beginning of class on the dates listed in the syllabus.

Late papers will not be accepted.

Satisfactory, on time completion of six papers will earn 25 points.

Three additional points can be earned for each extra-credit paper completed.


Class Project:

The project will likely explore autobiographical memory.

More details about the project and how to do it will be discussed in class.

Most of the last day of class will be devoted to discussing the project.

Satisfactorily completing the project will earn 25 points.


Many class periods (see syllabus) will begin with a brief game of psychojeopardy.

One point of extra credit can be earned for each correct question provided.

All students will be called on during this session.


Grades are determined by adding up the points obtained from the various class assignments and comparing the total points obtained to the grade scale described on page 9 of this syllabus.

Your professor does not mess with the grading system, so it is highly unlikely that the grading scale will change or that you will be capriciously allocated extra points (even if you say pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!).

It is unlikely that additional extra credit will be available, but if it is, it will be available to all students.