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Psychology 1552

Social Judgment

Mondays, 1-3, WJH 1408



Nick Epley

Office:  William James 1480

Phone # 4-7831

e-mail:  epley@wjh.harvard.edu

Office Hours:  By appointment

Course Description

Everyday life requires people to make a variety of judgments about themselves and others—What is she thinking?  Will we be happy together? Why did he do that? Am I good enough to make it here?  Although varied and diverse, these judgments are generally guided by a small set of mechanisms.  This course will examine how these mechanisms guide people’s understandings of themselves, others, and the social world around them.  We will cover the role of heuristics, stereotypes, expectancies, and affect in a variety of domains including casual attribution, perspective taking, anthropomorphism, temporal comparison, social comparison, and social conflict.  

Course Reading

1.  T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, & D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment (pp. 103-119). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2.  Supplemental journal articles—discussed at first meeting.

Course Requirements

Participation (20%).  This is not a lecture course, and thus all students are expected to play an active role in discussion.  All students are expected to come to class ready to participate with questions, new ideas, or interesting insights.

Discussion Leader (20%).  Each week, 2-3 students will lead, as a group, the class in discussion.   Discussion leaders are expected to introduce the day’s topic in whatever manner they deem most appropriate to stimulate thoughtful and active discussion and to introduce the “below-the-line” readings (to be described later).  Please feel free to think creatively about how to do this, including everything from movies to poetry to acting to lecturing.  Think of yourself as a hot-shot instructor whose main job is to get the class excited about the day’s topic.

Each student will serve on a team as a discussion leader at least twice during the term.  Discussion leader assignments will be discussed further on the first day of class.

Thought papers/Discussion Questions (30%).  In order to stimulate class discussion, each student is expected to prepare a short thought paper for each class (no more than 1 page, and I mean it!).  There are no explicit guidelines for what should be included in a thought paper, just say something smart.  Perhaps bring up an interesting point not considered by the authors, or a mortal flaw in a set of experiments, or a subtle

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