University of Houston Downtown Social Conformity on Opinion Change Discussion

PSYC 2302: Social Experience Assignments

In this course, you will write a series of short (no more than two double-spaced pages) Social Experience assignments. The purpose of this assignment is: 

  1. to point out the relevance of social psychology to everyday life 
  2. to stimulate critical thinking about social psychology 
  3. to give you an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of course concepts

Guidelines 

You must complete three of these SE papers over the course of the semester. You can do one over any chapter, but you must submit the paper during the week we cover that chapter. I will not accept papers over topics from previous week’s chapters! You should choose one specific major concept that you would like to write about from the chapter we are covering that week. You are free to select any process, phenomenon, theory, or psychological tendency that is relevant to the material we’re currently covering in class that week in class. Your textbook and the material discussed in lecture will be helpful in generating ideas for you to write about. Be more specific than the title of the chapter. For example, if you want to discuss aggression, you need to be more specific.

Once you’ve selected a concept, your assignment is to write about how it relates to a recent event in your life. The body of each entry should begin with a description of an event or experience in your life in four or five sentences. A page-long story about how you spent your weekend is too long, and one line reading, “I went out with my friends” is insufficient. You should pick a specific event or interaction and describe it in enough detail so that your subsequent discussion will make sense to someone who was not there. If you can’t apply the concept to an event in your own life, you can also write about events you’ve heard about from other people, current events in the news, or even interactions that you watched on TV. Next you should describe how the social psychology concept you have chosen is relevant to this event. Once you’ve made the connection between the experience you described and the concept you’ve chosen, the rest of your discussion should address some (but not necessarily all) of the following questions: 

  • How does your current awareness of this psychological phenomenon change the way you interpret what happened during this event? 
  • If you (or others) had been aware of social psychological research about this phenomenon during the event, how might the outcome of the interaction have been changed? 
  • How will your learning about this phenomenon influence your attitudes/behavior/perceptions in the future? 
  • What questions do you now have after considering the event in light of psychological theory? 
  • What type of experiment(s) might help address these issues? Don’t be too formal – just a couple of sentences about research idea will be sufficient. 

You can also discuss an event that seems to be inconsistent with the topic you have chosen to write about.  In such cases, you might also want to consider some (but not necessarily all) of the following questions: 

  • How was this interaction inconsistent with the theory or phenomenon you have chosen? 
  • Why do you think the outcome of this interaction seems to be inconsistent with the phenomenon you chose? 
  • What aspects of the situation, if changed, would have resulted in a less surprising outcome? 
  • What type of experiment(s) might help answer these questions? 

Format 

Here are some general guidelines you should keep in mind in order to get full credit for your work: 

  • The top of your entry should list the specific concept you’ve chosen to write about
  • Your entry should be typed, spellchecked, and absolutely no more than one single-spaced page. One shorter paragraph summarizing the experience and one longer paragraph of discussion is a good model to follow. 
  • Don’t change margin widths, font sizes, or line spacing. These are really obvious attempts to make your work seem longer than it really is, and I’m very experienced at spotting them. 

You can use the Sample SE Assignments I’ve posted on Blackboard as a template for your writing. If you’re concerned about formatting issues, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to show you what an acceptable entry should look like. 

Late/Emailed Assignments

You can always turn SE assignments in early (in the week, not weeks ahead of when we cover a chapter), but late/emailed assignments will not be accepted. If your paper is late (or emailed) it will not be accepted. To ensure that you are able to post your assignment before the window is closed, DON’T WAIT TILL THE LAST MINUTE to complete your submission. Keep in mind that the likelihood of technical failures seems to be positively correlated with waiting till the last minute to submit an assignment. If you run into technical difficulties (laptop battery dies, computer crashes, Blackboard is down, etc) at the last minute, you will be unable to submit your assignment. YOU are responsible for getting these turned in and doing what is necessary to ensure that you can overcome any technological obstacles you may face. Late assignments will not be accepted.

Final Remarks 

I look forward to reading about your experiences with social psychology! I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about yourself and about social psychology. Be creative and challenge yourself.These SE assignments will give you a chance to process the course material on a deeper and more meaningful level, which is a good way to practice the critical thinking skills you’ll need to succeed on the exams. 

“Nothing relevant happened to me this week” is not an excuse for not writing. Remember, you can always write about something that happened to you previously or about something that happened to someone you know. If all else fails, watch any TV sitcom or reality TV show for a half-hour and you’re bound to find good material to write about. Fiction is full social psychological material. 

Make sure the topic you choose is specific and interesting enough to be useful to you and your learning about social psychology. Something like “this interaction is relevant because I made an attribution” is not informative or very sophisticated. Writing “in this interaction I made a self-serving attribution that allowed me to maintain high self-esteem” conveys more information, deals with a more specific phenomenon, and is more interesting to read.

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