Social Psychology (Sociology): Self and Interaction

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 01 July 2022
07 October 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L3C8 Criminology with Social Psychology,
BA L3H8 Criminology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA LHC8 Criminology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA CL83 Sociology with Social Psychology,
BA CL93 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA CLV3 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

Social Psychology is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of Sociology and Psychology, which is concerned with the interrelations among individual, groups, and society. More specifically, it studies how individuals interact with one another, the way individuals influence social groups and vice versa, as well as the dynamics of intergroup relations. The course will provide an introduction to a number of theories and themes in sociological social psychology that link the wider social structure with individual personality and conduct. Its aim is to provide an overview of the principle theoretical approaches to social psychology and how they may be applied to the understanding of social life.

The first part of the Autumn term will be devoted to an examination of the historical origins of social psychology. We will look at late 19th century and early 20th century theories of the ‘crowd’, 'group', and 'imitation'; the emergence of psychoanalysis and the implications of Freudian and post-Freudian theory on social psychology; as well as on the socio-cultural approaches to psychoanalysis, and how they can be practically applied in empirical sociological research today. We will then turn to discuss criticisms and debates over psychoanalysis and gender. The next section of the term will focus on life-course psychology from childhood, to midlife, through old age and to death. We will look at stage models by Erikson, Levinson, and contemporary theorists, again highlighting the feminist critique of theories of life-stages. Finally, in the last section of the term we will discuss theories of 'self and the body', namely the 'psycho-social' body, theories about narration of the body, and intersectionality.

The Spring term will be devoted to an examination of contemporary perspectives on social psychology. We will begin by examining theories of the self and what constitutes an ‘identity.’ We will then look at individual attitudes and how they and linked to behaviour, and the shortcuts people use to facilitate judgment of others in an increasingly complex world. We will look at contemporary views of emotion, and attraction and interpersonal relationships. We will then look at social influence, and what motivates people to be obedient and to conform to social norms. We will finish up the module by looking at problems associated with intergroup relationship such as stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and aggression, and what motivates people to be altruistic. Throughout Spring term, we will examine the ways in which quantitative methodology has been used to address issues in contemporary social psychology.

Module aims

1. To provide an overview of the theoretical perspectives, classical and contemporary theories and research in sociological social psychology, critical social psychology and psycho-social studies.
2. To introduce major social psychological concepts and research methods in social psychology.
3. To foster an awareness of the current issues and debates within the field.
4. To broaden understanding of the dynamics and social interaction and social action.
5. To explore how the theoretical perspectives and research methods in social psychology may be applied to the study of social life.
6. To understand how quantitative and qualitative research methods can be applied to social psychological questions.
7. To develop presentational and critical writing skills.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will:

1. Understand how social psychology has developed as a discipline.
2. Understand and reflect upon how social psychological theories can be applied to real life social situations and human behaviour.
3. Understand different methods for studying the social world in a social psychological way.
4. Develop the tools to critically engage with key classical and contemporary social psychological theory and psychoanalytic theory.
5. Reflect upon how social psychology can be used to understand everyday life and how we come to know about ourselves and others.

Module information

Please click on the link below to view the Introduction video to SC213 Social Psychology (Sociology): Self and Interaction

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching approach As there are still restrictions related to COVID-19 in place, some of the teaching on most modules will take place online. Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab. For the majority of modules the lecture-type content will be delivered online – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your class each week. Most classes labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing allows this). This module SC213 will include a range of activities to help you and your teachers to check your understanding and progress. These are: Reading assignments, journal entries evaluating current events in light of social psychological concepts, and a film essay which applies social psychological concepts to popular movies. The lectures provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. The weekly classes will take place face-to-face (unless there is a change in the current COVID safety measures). You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students. The classes will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of classes is at the discretion of the teacher. Please note that you should be spending up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 32 hours in total for four 30-credit modules).


  • Schiermer, Bjørn. (2019) 'Durkheim on Imitation', in Imitation, Contagion, Suggestion: On Mimesis and Society, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.54-72
  • Eagly, Alice H; Steffen, Valerie J. (1986) 'Gender and aggressive behavior: A meta-analytic review of the social psychological literature.', in Psychological Bulletin,. vol. 100 (3) , pp.309-330
  • Buss, David M. U Michigan, Ann Arbor, US. (1989) 'Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures.', in Behavioral and Brain Sciences,. vol. 12 (1) , pp.1-49
  • Bocchiaro, Piero; Zamperini, Adriano. (2012) Conformity, Obedience, Disobedience: The Power of the Situation.
  • Tarde, Gabriel de. (2010) On communication and social influence: selected papers, Chicago: University of Chicago.
  • (no date) Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases - 1738360.pdf.
  • Turner, Jonathan H. (2009-10) 'The Sociology of Emotions: Basic Theoretical Arguments', in Emotion Review. vol. 1 (4) , pp.340-354
  • (no date) Aggression, Social Psychology of - Aggression-Social-Psychology-of.pdf.
  • Pam Ramsden. (June 15, 2020 12.08pm BST) 'How the pandemic changed social media and George Floyd's death created a collective conscience', in The Conversation.
  • Moscovici, Serge. (1986) 'The Discovery of the Masses', in Changing Conceptions of Crowd Mind and Behavior, New York, NY: Springer., pp.5-25
  • Milgram, Stanley. (2010, c2004) Obedience to authority: an experimental view, London: Pinter & Martin.
  • Thoits, Peggy A. (1995-06) 'Social Psychology: The Interplay between Sociology and Psychology', in Social Forces. vol. 73 (4) , pp.1231-
  • Orbuch, Terri L.; Sprecher, Susan. (2003) 'Attraction and Interpersonal Relationships', in Handbook of Social Psychology, New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers., pp.339-362
  • Owens, Timothy J. (2006) 'Self and Identity', in Handbook of Social Psychology: Springer US., pp.205-232
  • Borch, Christian. (2012) The politics of crowds: an alternative history of sociology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hogg, Michael A.; Tindale, R. Scott. (2003) Blackwell handbook of social psychology: group processes, Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Gordon, Peter E. (June 15, 2016) 'Peter E. Gordon — The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump', in b2o: an online journal.
  • Owens, Timothy J.; Robinson, Dawn T.; Smith-Lovin, Lynn. (1975-) 'Three faces of identity.', in Annual Review of Sociology., pp.477-499
  • Eagly, Alice H.; Steffen, Valerie J. (1984) 'Gender stereotypes stem from the distribution of women and men into social roles.', in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,. vol. 46 (4) , pp.735-754
  • The Social Self by George Herbert Mead,
  • Eichenbaum, Luise; Orbach, Susie. (1985, c1983) Understanding women, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Dion, Kenneth L. (2003-04-15) 'Prejudice, Racism, and Discrimination', in Handbook of Psychology, Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Adewunmi, Bim. (2 April 2014) 'Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality: “I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use”', in The New Statesman.
  • Group Norms and the Attitude–Behaviour Relationship,
  • Angharad Closs Stephens. (May 22, 2018 10.07am BST) 'Digital commemoration: a new way to remember victims of terrorism', in The Conversation.
  • Gilligan, C. (2002) 'Woman's Place in Man's Life Cycle', in Feminisms: A Reader, Harlow: Harvester Wheatsheaf / Pearson Education.
  • Pick, Daniel. (1989) Faces of degeneration: a European disorder, c.1848-c.1918, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fahs, Breanne. (2012-11) 'Breaking body hair boundaries: Classroom exercises for challenging social constructions of the body and sexuality', in Feminism & Psychology. vol. 22 (4) , pp.482-506
  • Harré, Rom. (2006) 'The Developmentalists', in Key thinkers in psychology, London: SAGE., pp.25-44
  • Cialdini, Robert B.; Schaller, Mark; Houlihan, Donald; Et al. (1987) 'Empathy-based helping: Is it selflessly or selfishly motivated?', in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,. vol. 52 (4) , pp.749-758
  • Tyson, Alan. (2001, c1953-1962) 'The Question of Lay Analysis', in The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, London: Vintage., pp.177-258

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Reading assignment 3  25/10/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 4  01/11/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 5  08/11/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 6  15/11/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 7  22/11/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 8  29/11/2021   
Coursework   Reading Assignment 9  06/12/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 10  13/12/2021   
Coursework   Reading assignment 1 SP  04/02/2022   
Coursework   Reading assignment 2 SP  04/03/2022  10% 
Coursework   Reading Assignment 3 SP  25/03/2022  10% 
Coursework   SP & Film Essay   25/04/2022  10% 
Exam  1440 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Shaul Bar Haim, email:
Dr Laurie James-Hawkins, email:
Dr Shaul Bar Haim, Dr Laurie James-Hawkins
Jane Harper, Student Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail:



External examiner

Dr Jennifer Fleetwood
Goldsmiths, University of London
Senior Lecturer in Criminology
Available via Moodle
Of 588 hours, 30 (5.1%) hours available to students:
558 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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