Principles of Social Psychology, v. 1.0​: Introducing Social Psychology

Assignment Instructions

Locate a film or book (popular fiction, not a psychology text or instructional/academic film) that illustrates one of the concepts we’re discussing this semester.  For example, the film/book might depict situations that are relevant to the concepts of obedience, conformity, altruism, persuasion techniques, groupthink, interpersonal attraction, etc…  Any topic discussed in our readings is fair game, but the concept needs to be clearly depicted in the source you chose.


For the purposes of this assignment,  films/books that actually depict any of the classic experiments we’re discussing this semester (e.g., the recent film titled “Stanford Prison Experiment”) are explicitly not allowed.  Work to “stretch” and use your critical thinking skills to determine whether your source is clearly related to a social psychology concept or not.


After viewing the film or reading the book, please use Power Point Slides to report your observations. This assignment is not intended for this to be a formal writing assignment.  Rather, the intent is to see you make connections between your readings and “real-life” situations as depicted in popular media sources and to express your thoughts succinctly and coherently.  Be creative, but be sure that the reader/viewer is able to clearly discern that you can critique the film/book in a scholarly way as related to course material (e.g., don’t just give a “book report” in which you describe the plot of the movie/book).


You do have some leeway in terms of the length of your submission.  But, please, try to be succinct.  If you’re doing a PowerPoint submission or narrated slideshow, aim for no more than 10-12 slides and no more than 10 minutes maximum (less than this guideline is acceptable as long as all the below points are clearly and fully addressed). 


In your submission, please be sure to clearly address the following topics:


1.         Describe which social psychology concept you are choosing (e.g., conformity, obedience, altruism, persuasion, etc…) and indicate how you see it manifested in the film/book you chose.


2.         Describe the social psychology concept.  What does it mean?  How has it been studied in the field of social psychology?  What have you learned about it this semester?


3.         Briefly describe the film/book you chose (e.g., its plot, characters, themes, etc…).  This description does not need to be really lengthy (you don’t need to summarize the entire plot; hit the high points), but should be sufficient to demonstrate that you actually viewed the entire film or read the entire book.


4.         Clearly describe how you feel the film/book you chose relates to the social psychology concept.  If you chose altruism, for example, how do the characters in the film/book behave in a prosocial manner toward others?  If you chose groupthink, how did the characters get caught in a situation that resulted in a groupthink mentality?


5.         Finally, take time to ensure that your finished product is polished (no grammatical/spelling errors in written work, no grammatical issues or unclear language in video submissions), flows well, and looks professional.  While you aren't expected to submit Spielberg-quality films, your submission should be at least as professional-appearing as reasonable videos seen on YouTube or PowerPoint presentations made in a work setting.

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