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Wesleyan University

Social Psychology

Wesleyan University via Coursera


Ever wonder why people do what they do? This course—which includes more than $1,000 of video and reading materials—offers some answers based on the latest research from social psychology. Students taking the course for a Certificate will also receive free membership in Social Psychology Network ( COURSE DESCRIPTION FROM PROFESSOR PLOUS: Each of us is dealt a different hand in life, but we all face similar questions when it comes to human behavior: What leads us to like one person and dislike another? How do conflicts and prejudices develop, and how can they be reduced? Can psychological research help protect the environment, and if so, how? This course offers a brief introduction to classic and contemporary social psychology, covering topics such as decision making, persuasion, group behavior, personal attraction, and factors that promote health and well-being. Our focus will be on surprising, entertaining, and intriguing research findings that are easy to apply in daily life. The course will also draw from the websites of Social Psychology Network, the world's largest online community devoted to social psychology. I hope you'll join me for this course, have fun, and learn some useful information that enriches your life.


  • WEEK 1: Social Perceptions and Misperceptions
    • This week's goals are to: (1) learn what social psychology is and why it's worth studying; (2) take a "snapshot" of your thinking at the start of the course; (3) see how perceptions of reality are psychologically constructed; and (4) witness the shocking speed at which social judgments are made.
  • WEEK 2: The Psychology of Self-Presentation and Persuasion
    • This week's goals are to: (1) learn how people explain their behavior and the behavior of others; (2) explore the link between attitudes and behavior; (3) understand what cognitive dissonance is and why it matters; and (4) gain some practical tips from the science of persuasion and social influence.
  • WEEK 3: Obedience, Conformity, and Deindividuation
    • This week's goals are to: (1) understand the psychological dynamics of obedience to authority; (2) review studies on group pressure and conformity; (3) learn about the dark side of deindividuation; and (4) consider ethical issues related to psychology research.
  • WEEK 4: Group Behavior: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
    • This week's goals are to: (1) examine behavioral dynamics within and between groups; (2) see what happens when people fall prey to the Abilene Paradox; (3) read about social loafing, groupthink, and group polarization; and (4) learn effective ways to reduce prejudice and discrimination in daily life.
  • WEEK 5: Mid-Course Break
    • This week offers a chance to catch up on any course material that you've missed. There are no required videos or readings, but for those of you whose week wouldn't be complete without a little social psychology, please enjoy the optional materials in Week 5!
  • WEEK 6: Helping, Hurting, and Peacemaking
    • This week's goals are to: (1) look at the factors that influence whether people will help one another; (2) examine the roots of aggression, violence, and terrorism; (3) learn psychological techniques to promote peace and sustainable living; and (4) carry out a personal experiment in which you spend 24 hours living as compassionately as possible.
  • WEEK 7: A Happy End to the Course
    • This week's goals are to: (1) consider whether empathy is a "magic bullet" for addressing social problems; (2) learn what the most important ingredients are for a happy life; (3) find out what researchers have discovered about romantic attraction and close relationships; and (4) hear about additional resources and organizations if you want to continue studying social psychology.

Taught by

Scott Plous


4.6 rating, based on 87 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 4776 ratings

Start your review of Social Psychology

  • I took this class twice. First I audited it when it was offered first a few years ago. My attraction to attending this class was the 'Day of Compassion' assignment at the end of the class, where the winner was going to be invited to meet his holin…
  • I had really high expectations for this course, and it certainly lived up to the previous reviews I had heard relating to the material and how relevant it is to daily life. Prof Plous has a very gentle and easy to follow way of explaining concepts,…
  • This is the most challenging course I took in 2020 but finally achieved it at the beginning of 2021 with a certificate. With plenty of materials, the course is very close to the Social Psychology course I took 9 years ago on campus in terms of work…
  • I took this course but ended up not doing peer reviewed assignments and not touching reading materials. I started enjoying it from 2nd week till the 4th week. The first week assignment's answers were discussed in upcoming weeks video material and…
  • Anonymous
    Three things make this a great class. (1) Prof. Plous is an engaging, enthusiastic teacher. (2) Social Psychology has immediate application to your life. From the first lecture, you'll see connections between what you're learning and your life as you live it. (3) The class (at least when I took it -- summer 2013) was completely self-contained. Much use was made of David Myers' widely used textbook on Social Psychology. So pdfs of selected chapters were made available to students at no cost. How did Prof. Plous pull that off? So this class is not only engaging, it is also economical. Just give it your time.
  • Anonymous
    The field of social psychology is growing rapidly and is having an increasingly important influence on how we think about human behavior. Newspapers, magazines, websites, and other media frequently report the findings of social psychologists, and th…
  • Tyra
    The material is very engaging and interesting. Most everyone will be able to utilize something they get from this class. There is a lot of work involved - many lectures to watch and a lot of reading. The professor has an agenda with regard to animal rights, be forewarned. If you aren't on the same page, you will feel like either an outsider or a terrible sinner.
  • Anonymous
    The course is excellent. The resources are excellent. The professor is very inspirated.You can really learn a lot about social psychology.
    But: the course works only on a computer without the Coursera app and don't work on an Ipad or a tablet. Because this online course is so well constructed that's a pity that you have to work on a (bigger) computer to make the course more valuable and to become a member of the social psycological association. But that said it is a very interesting course.
    I don't known when and how Coursera will change this lack.
  • Anonymous
    is only an advertisement for the professor's website
  • This is an amazing course and the professor put together such great materials. I recommend not only doing compulsory work but also look at the supplementary materials and check out the entire textbook. It will make your experience even more enjoyable.
  • Anonymous
    I really love how the course gives one the time to understand each and every chapter and making sure that one reviews and repeats chapters they wish to. This is a really good course that anyone can enjoy in enrolling. The information is very educational and it persuades an individual to learn more.
  • Mohammad Amir
    In the field of psychology, social psychology is the scientific study of how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, and implied presence of others.[1] In this definition, scientific refers to the empirical investigation using the scientific method, while the terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors refer to the psychological variables that can be measured in humans. Moreover, the notion that the presence of others may be imagined or implied suggests that humans are malleable to social influences even when alone, such as when watching videos, quietly appreciating art, or even sitting on the toilet. In such situations, people can be influenced to follow internalized cultural norms.
  • Anonymous
    Social psych with Plous is incredible!! Definitely my favorite course I am taking this semester. The lectures are engaging, and homework is minimal. The only hard part about this class is that each test covers a lot of material and you really do need to read the textbook to be successful on exams. Highly recommend to anyone interested in pursuing psychology, social justice, or even if you just have a free space in your schedule that you need to fill.
  • Anonymous
    I hope that the next part of the course isn't revolving around the professor's Website. At first it was okay. But then...... I took the Introduction to Philosophy course by Edinburgh University and I was definitely expecting a lot more from this course but apparently first half lectures of the week just contained 'introductory parts'. If I hear the mention of his site again I am definitely going to dnf this course.
  • Anonymous
    A brilliant understanding in the field of Social Psychology by an eminent professor, who takes all the effort to make sure that all the details are provided. The MOOC is a different way of learning, definitely not for everyone, but it gives a great experience if you have the desire to learn something new, a science as well as something about you.
  • Very nice introduction to social psychology. The lectures are very stimulating and well complemented by supporting documention (articles, videos...) I got caught by the topic and ended up spending quite a lot of time reading supplementary articles (which is why I rate the difficulty as "medium": the mandatory material is easy to cope with, but things get a bit harder if one goes underneath the surface)... I even bought the book, and I truly enjoyed my time!
  • Anonymous
    I wouldn’t recommend this course however there are some interesting studies. It’s a little boring with a lot of verbiage. I’m taking the course for free and I thought about deleting it as there’s so many other courses I’d like to take. However, there’s always something and interesting said that keeps me going. For that I gave it an extra star.
  • Davidicus Schacher
    dense with information, and the tests favored specifics, so i definitely needed to study intensively. surprisingly politically and ideologically biased (ironic given the discussions of bias), and i found that disappointing. also, the instructor promoted his own interests (web site, book etc.) more than i prefer.
  • Profile image for Surya Raya
    Surya Raya
    Psycjological of reality perception are selective.
    Ketika kita kita bermain kartu, kita tidak akan memeriksa kartunya, karena tidak ada alasan, tetapi dalam psikologi, asumsi dan ekspetasi bisa membawa ke dalam masalah. Jadi bukan hamya trntang pertanyaan tetapi juga hedaen yang membuat
  • Anonymous
    Wonderful class! Provides significant knowledge and insights in an Interactive, fun and interesting way. One of the best MOOCs by definitely one of the best professors, especially in terms of knowledge transimission! Fantastic experience from begining to end.

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