Social Psychology 1.

Type of instruction


Part of degree program
Typically offered in

Autumn/spring semester

Course description

Aim of the course:
The first part of the course provides an introduction to the history, the main topics and the
methods of social psychology, then it proceeds to a detailed discussion of social psychological
knowledge, following the structure of intra-individual-, interpersonal-, intragroup- and
intergroup-level phenomena. Of these, Social Psychology 1. concentrates on the intra-individual
level, discussing social cognition and the cognitive approach in social psychology. Students shall
learn about social psychological phenomena from social perception (including attributions,
impression formation, stereotypes and prejudice) to social aspects of the self (including the selfconcept
and self-esteem) to attitudes (including their origins and functions as well as their change
due to persuasion or consistency/dissonance). Besides attending lectures, students shall
participate in seminars to develop their skills of reading, interpreting, and analysing professional
literature. Topics of interpersonal-, intragroup- and intergroup-level phenomena will be left to
Social Psychology 2.

Learning outcome, competences


  • Knowledge of basic axioms and principles of social psychology (esp. situationism), as well as the history and methods of the field
  • Knowledge of important concepts and studies in the following topics: attributions, person perception, impression formation, group perception, self, attitudes, persuasion, motives for cognitive consistency and cognitive dissonance


  • A balanced application of the situationist approach to explain human behavior and mental processes
  • A critical approach to psychological research, especially regarding methodology, statistics, and replicability


  • Application of social psychological knowledge to explain human behavior and mental processes
  • Methodologically critical interpretation of research in psychology

Topics of the course

  • The notion and history of social psychology
  • Thinking social psychology
  • Research methods in social psychology
  • Attributions
  • Perception of individuals
  • Self-concept and self-esteem
  • The role of self in behavior; ego-defense
  • Perseption of groups
  • How people use stereotypes and whether they can be changed
  • Attitudes
  • Persuasion
  • Attitudes and behavior; cognitive dissonance

Compulsory reading list
 Smith, E.R., Mackie, D.M., Claypool, H.M. (2014): Social Psychology (4th Edition).
Psychology Press.
 Further literature listed in the semester-specific course descriptions