PSYCHOLOGY 377: Special Topics [Social Psychology Lab/Lecture Section] 
(CRN=80786) Fall 2013 - -Main Campus
  Tue & Thu 12:45—2:00 p.m. (DDH 100F)


Luis A. Vega, Ph.D.
Office: DDH 111D  (Tel. 654-3024)
Office Hours: Mon-Thurs. 9 - 10 a.m. & Mon 12-1 p.m.
or by appointment. 


        Student TA 
Hours:  TBA


Note: We will make intensive use of the class homepage and Blackboard ( Instructions will be provided in class.


This course supplements Psychology 312L, and is designed for students who wish to use Psychology 312L, plus this Psychology 377 course, as their 5-unit advanced lab course under the new Psychology major.  This lecture format course will focus on the relationship between theory-method that social psychologists employ in their research. Readings will examine how theories in social psychology have been tested, methods that have empirically supported them (or not), and methodological strengths, implications, and limitations.  PREREQUISITE: Concurrent or past enrollment with passing grade in Psychology 312L.

The student will apply a variety of methodologies used in social psychology to examine theory testing by reviewing relevant literature in social psychology.  In completing this course, students shall be able to

  1. Recognize, evaluate, and constructively criticize methodological approaches to theory testing.
  2. Select and justify an appropriate methodology to evaluate the validity of any given theory.
  3. Derive testable hypotheses from social psychological theory.
  4. Use internet databases (e.g., EBSCO) to find appropriate journal research articles on theories.
  5. Use the literature to analyze or critique empirical approaches to theory testing.
  6. Choose and properly interpret statistical tests of empirical results where theories are tested.
  7. Describe strengths and weaknesses in terms of validity of the conclusions for different theories.
  8. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of rival explanations of any given theory.
  9. Write reports using correct APA style and correct English grammar, mechanics, and syntax.
  10. Give "one" oral presentation that addresses each of the above objectives on a study assigned by the instructor.
  11. Please see below, under "Outcomes Assessment," for specification of goals and objectives for the Psychology Major covered by this class.

TEXTS -- no textbook is required. Journal articles needed for this lecture course are listed below or must be found by students through a literature search.


Writing_the Research Report  --
Psych_Web Resources (Russ Dewey) --
Elements_of Style (Strunk & White) --
American_Psychological Assoc. --
American_Psychological Society --
Western_Psychological Association --
Social_Psychology Network --
Classics in the History of Psychology --
Encyclopedia of Psychology --
APA style--worth browsing --    
English writing tutorials --
Methods' Descriptions --
Critical thinking Principles --
Masters in Psychology --
Psychology Degree Information --


Several articles will set the foundation for this course, especially in terms of the role of theory in social psychological research and the confidence we can have on published studies. Next, students will select a theory of social psychology, do an in-depth analysis of how the theory was empirically supported, and present to the class the nuances, controversies, critiques, and historical background and context if appropriate, to the established reputation for that theory. Any of the following theories listed below can be considered in this course lecture, to be proposed by the student first, and approved by the professor second.

Source listing theories:



Fall 2013 Calendar & Dates to Remember >



9/17 T

Introduction—Critical Thinking and Methodology in Social Psychology
Gernsbacher, M. A. (2007, May). The value of undergraduate training in psychological science. Observer, 20(5), 5. <link>
Roediger, H. L. (2013, September). Journal impact factors. Observer, 26(7), 9-11. <

9/19 R

Science and Trust:
Simonsohn, U. (2013). Just post it: The lesson from two cases of fabricated data detected by statistics alone. Psychological Science, xx(x), 1-14. (First published online). 
Video on Lewin.

9/24 T

Ethics in Social Psychology:
Korn, J. H. (1997). Illusions of reality: A history of deception in social psychology. Albany, NY: SUNY.  (pp. 1- 24).

9/26 R

Competing Theories and Method: (Illustration)
Competing Theories:  (see)
*Byrne, D. (1961). Interpersonal attraction and attitude similarity. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62(3), 713-715
*Rosenbaum, M. E. (1986). The repulsion hypothesis: On the nondevelopment of relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1156-1166.

10/1 T

When is a theory valid?
Greenwald, A. G. (2012). There is nothing so theoretical as a good method. Psychological Science, 7(2), 99-108.
Theory selected by student: 

10/3 R


10/8 T

Meta-Analysis as a Method:
Johnson, B. T. , & Eagly, A. H. (1989). Effects of involvement on persuasion: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin , 104, 290-314.
Theory selected:

10/10 R

Behavioral Measures

Word, C. O., Zanna, M. P., & Cooper, J. (1974). The nonverbal mediation of self-fulfilling prophecies in interracial interaction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 10, 109–120.
Theory selected:

10/15 T

Cognitive Measures:
Hamilton, D; Gifford, R (1976). Illusory correlation in interpersonal perception: A cognitive basis of stereotypic judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 12 (4), 392–407.
Theory Selected:

10/17 R

 Emotional Measures:
Schachter, S., & Singer, J. (1962). Cognitive, social, and physiological determinants of emotional state. Psychological Review, 69, pp. 379–399.
Marshall, G. D. and Zimbardo, P.G. (1979). Affective consequences of inadequately explained physiological arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 970-988.
Theory Selected:

10/22 T

Interpersonal Measures:
Tajfel, H. (1970). Experiments in intergroup discrimination. Scientific American, 223, 96-102.
Theory Selected:

10/24 R

Behavioral –Cognitive Measures:
Ward, A., & Brenner, L. (2006). Accentuate the negative: The positive effects of negative acknowledgment. When questions change behavior. Psychological Science, 17, 959-962.
Theory Selected:

10/29 T

Survey Measures:
Bobo, L. and V. Hutchings. 1996. Perceptions of racial group competition: Extending Blumer’s theory of Group Position in a multiracial social context. American  Sociological Review, 61, 951-971
Theory Selected:

10/31 R

Archival Measures:
Leader, R., Mullen, B., & Abrams, D. (2007). Without mercy: The immediate impact of group size on lynch mob atrocity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1340-1352.
Theory Selected:

11/5 T


11/7 R

“Trend” Measures:
Milman, K. L., Rogers, T., & Bazerman, M. H. (2008). Harnessing our inner angels and demons:What we  have learned about want/should conflicts and how that knowledge can help us reduceshort- sighted  decision making. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 324-338.
Theory Selected:

11/12 T

Content Analysis Measures:
Wilson, R. E., Gosling, S. D., & Graham, L. T. (2012). A review of Facebook research in the social sciences. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 203-220. ***explain
Theory Selected:
Theory Review Paper DUE

11/14 R

Philosophy of Science Review
Proctor, W. R., & Capaldi, E. J. (2003). Teaching scientific methodology. APS Observer, 16(1), 17-18, 25-26.
Theory Selected:

11/19 T 

Theory-Method-Theory Cycle:
Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B. E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 400-424.
Theory Selected:

11/21 R

Advanced Topics and Review – A Primer of Latent Variables

11/26 T 

Final-Comprehensive --2:00 – 4:30 p. m.

GRADING (Midterm & Final will include both objective and essay components) 

Two Miterm-Tests --
Theory Presentation
Theory Review Paper
Final Test 3--
Total Points


Grading Scale

-------------- >

A = 92-100%

A- = 90-91.9%

B+ = 88-89.9%

B = 82-87.9%

B- = 80-81.9%
C+ = 78-79.9%

C = 72-77.9%

C- = 70-71.9%

D+ = 68-69.9%

D = 62-67.9%

D- = 60-61.9%
F = 0-59.9%

Using articles from this class, as well as student presentations, students will write integrate course material, distilling the role of methodology in testing of theories. In specific, the report should include communalities, differences, the role of statistics, research design, and the role of rival explanations or theories. Lastly, the report should note the relative value of theory in social psychology. The report will be graded according to the following criteria:

  1. An appropriate literature search for the study.
  2. Effective use of the literature to justify the analyses, interpretations, and integration.
  3. Appropriate description of the methods used.
  4. Appropriate and accurate interpretation of statistical test(s) and designs.
  5. Accurate description of the results.
  6. Effective analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the research.
  7. Analysis and consideration of alternative explanations or rival theories.
  8. Use of proper APA style and correct English grammar, mechanics, and syntax.
  9. Your paper should all sub-sections of the APA paper.

Class time time will be devoted to discuss examples of acceptable approaches to this paper.

The midterms and final will consist of essay questions based on the readings and presentations. Please make sure you attend class so as to not miss any information.  More guidelines will be given in class.


  1. Per the CSUB University Catalog and pursuant to Title 5, California Code of Regulations, § 41301. Standards for Student Conduct, CSUB students must adhere to laws, rules, standards, responsibilities, and expectations inherent with being a CSUB student. Specifically, acts of student misconduct such as academic dishonesty, interference with instructional activities, activities endangering the well being of the university community, as well as criminal activity of any kind will result in disciplinary actions, including expulsion and/or referral/involvement of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies (see p. 84-88 of the 2013/14 catalog --- 
  2. Make-up exams are given only in the event of medical emergencies.
  3. Late papers or assignments will NOT be accepted.

Higher education "shareholders" increasingly demand high leverage for every dollar spent in our universities. As such, teaching and learning accountability is demanded in demonstrable terms for both professors and students. How well teaching (professors) and learning (students) goals and objectives are being met is imperative for a quality education.

Student Learning Objectives (SLO) in Psychology:

All students taking psychology courses can be expected to be part of the outcomes assessment process, either through direct or embedded means. By direct, we mean that specific assessment tests will be given to students, which may or may not contribute to the students' grades. By embedded, we mean that tests students take as part of their psychology curriculum will be used for assessment purposes, imposing no additional demands on students. Assessment criteria can be found in the mission statement for the Psychology major,
The Department of Psychology, by agreement of the professors who teach this course, have determine that MASTERY level knowledge in the following student learning objectives is expected in students who take this class:
Goal 1:  Knowledge Base of Psychology        /  Outcome 1.3:  Use the concepts, language, and major theories of the discipline to account for psychological phenomena.
Goal 2:  Research Methods in Psychology      / Outcome 2.5:  Follow the APA Ethics Code in the treatment of human and nonhuman participants in the design, data collection, interpretation, and reporting of psychological research.
Goal 3:  Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology / Outcome 3.2:  Engage in creative thinking.
Goal 4:  Application of Psychology                 / Outcome 4.3:  Articulate how psychological principles can be used to explain social issues and inform public policy.
Goal 5:  Values in Psychology                        / Outcome 5.3:  Seek and evaluate scientific evidence for psychological claims.
Assessment: All these SLO will be assessed through embedded assessment as part of class test, papers, or surveys.

The purpose of the following is not to discourage outside assistance, but to enable me to more accurately assess student writing. Outside writing assistance must be limited to identifying and drawing your attention to writing problems. You must do the actual corrections and revisions yourself. If you do obtain outside assistance for your writing, then you need to: (a) tell me and identify the source of help, (b) make sure that your tutor understands and agrees to the stated policy, and (c) hand in, along with your term paper, all of the written work that you showed to your writing tutor and any written feedback that he/she provided. Also, in papers I ask you to re-write, make sure to attached the original graded paper.
The university hosts a Writing Center, where you can go for assistance to help you improve your writing--THEY WILL NOT WRITE YOUR PAPERS. They are located in (Adminstration East) AE 101 (tel. 654-2086). Their page is located at:

Students who are entitled to accommodations under the ADA can contact me at their earliest convenience to make appropriate arrangements. I adhere to all rules and regulations set forth by CSUB’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office (Tel. 654-3360)   

NOTE: The above schedule and procedures in this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.