Social Psychology (Sociology): Self and Interaction

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
21 April 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),
BA LCJ8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA LJ8C Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA LJC8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies

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

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.


  • 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
  • Dion, Kenneth L. (2003-04-15) 'Prejudice, Racism, and Discrimination', in Handbook of Psychology, Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Moscovici, Serge. (1986) 'The Discovery of the Masses', in Changing Conceptions of Crowd Mind and Behavior, New York, NY: Springer., pp.5-25
  • 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
  • Milgram, Stanley. (2010, c2004) Obedience to authority: an experimental view, London: Pinter & Martin.
  • Freud, Sigmund. (1926) 'The Question of Lay Analysis', in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. vol. Volume XX (1925-1926): An Autobiographical Study, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, The Question of Lay Analysis and Other Works, pp.177-258
  • 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
  • Tarde, Gabriel de. (2010) On communication and social influence: selected papers, Chicago: University of Chicago.
  • Pick, Daniel. (1989) Faces of degeneration: a European disorder, c.1848-c.1918, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 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
  • Turner, Jonathan H. (2009-10) 'The Sociology of Emotions: Basic Theoretical Arguments', in Emotion Review. vol. 1 (4) , pp.340-354
  • 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
  • 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
  • (no date) Aggression, Social Psychology of - Aggression-Social-Psychology-of.pdf.
  • Group Norms and the Attitude–Behaviour Relationship,
  • 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.
  • Bocchiaro, Piero; Zamperini, Adriano. (2012) Conformity, Obedience, Disobedience: The Power of the Situation.
  • Owens, Timothy J.; Robinson, Dawn T.; Smith-Lovin, Lynn. (1975-) 'Three faces of identity.', in Annual Review of Sociology., pp.477-499
  • Angharad Closs Stephens. (May 22, 2018 10.07am BST) 'Digital commemoration: a new way to remember victims of terrorism', in The Conversation.
  • Thoits, Peggy A. (1995-06) 'Social Psychology: The Interplay between Sociology and Psychology', in Social Forces. vol. 73 (4) , pp.1231-
  • Gilligan, C. (2002) 'Woman's Place in Man's Life Cycle', in Feminisms: A Reader, Harlow: Harvester Wheatsheaf / Pearson Education.
  • 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.
  • (no date) Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases - 1738360.pdf.
  • Eichenbaum, Luise; Orbach, Susie. (1985, c1983) Understanding women, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • The Social Self by George Herbert Mead,
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Harré, Rom. (2006) 'The Developmentalists', in Key thinkers in psychology, London: SAGE., pp.25-44
  • Owens, Timothy J. (2006) 'Self and Identity', in Handbook of Social Psychology: Springer US., pp.205-232
  • Schiermer, Bjørn. (2019) 'Durkheim on Imitation', in Imitation, Contagion, Suggestion: On Mimesis and Society, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.54-72

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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   Reading assignment 1  23/10/2020   
Coursework   Reading Assignment 2   30/10/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 3  09/11/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 4   16/11/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 5  23/11/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 6  30/11/2020   
Coursework   Reading Assignment 7   07/12/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 8  14/12/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 9  21/12/2020   
Coursework   Reading assignment 1 SP  08/02/2021  10% 
Coursework   Reading assignment 2 SP  08/03/2021  10% 
Coursework   Reading Assignment 3 SP  29/03/2021  10% 
Coursework   SP & Film Essay   26/04/2021  20% 
Exam  Main exam: 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Additional coursework information

Please note that assessment information is currently showing for 2018-19 and will be updated in August 2019

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

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 3146 hours, 8 (0.3%) hours available to students:
3138 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

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