Learn Social Psychology

Understand How People Think, Feel, and Behave in this Complete Introduction to Social Psychology
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  • Lectures 68
  • Length 5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 6/2015 English

Course Description

Your life will change for the better once you better understand yourself and the people in your life. This course will teach you the ins and outs of human psychology in a fun and comprehensive guide to the mind.

You'll Learn Psychology from Every Angle

In this course, we cover five core areas of social psychology:

  1. Thinking Socially - How we think about other people, make judgments, and explain others' behavior
  2. Thinking About Ourselves - How people come to know who they are, deal with information about themselves, and situate their self-concepts in the culture they've grown up
  3. Social Influence - How and when we conform to what other people think and do, how authority has such power, and the elements of effective persuasion
  4. Cognitive Dissonance - A classic topic in social psychology dealing with how people grapple with inconsistent beliefs
  5. Working with Others - How people deal with others in everyday interactions, including relationships, group decisions, aggression, and helping

Through comprehensive videos, slide presentations, exercises, and quizzes, you will learn about the fascinating science of social psychology. This course is modeled on university curricula that you could spend thousands of dollars on.

You'll Learn from an Expert

This course was designed, top to bottom, by an experienced instructor who is an expert in the field of social psychology. The information is presented in an engaging, easy-to-understand format, and you will be able to connect these concepts to your everyday life. I'm also on call to answer any questions you have as you move through the course.

This course features more than 5 hours of video content, including helpful thought exercises, outside resources, and quizzes to keep you on track.

It's Time to Change the Way You See People

If you're interested in psychology, this is the course for you. If you are currently taking a social psychology class and want to see the same material from a different perspective, this is also the course for you! You're bound to come away with a new appreciation for for your social world after learning about the compelling research in this field of psychology.

What are the requirements?

  • A willingness to learn and apply research in psychology to your own everyday life.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Understand research in psychology
  • See social influences on everyday behaviors
  • Develop greater understanding of other people
  • Implement psychological research to meet one's own goals
  • Perform better in a social psychology class

Who is the target audience?

  • Salespeople, teachers, customer service representatives...if you work with people, an understanding of psychology is essential.
  • If you are currently taking a class in social psychology, this course could help you do better by providing a secondary instructor with an engaging teaching style.
  • Anyone who is interested in people and power of social situations should take this course to better understand their social world

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

In this quick lecture, I'll give you a sense of what this course is like and how it's organized.


In case you were curious about whether I'm at all qualified to teach this course, allow me to explain myself.

Accessing Links and Bonus Resources
A Quick Word About Reviews

To get us started, we'll go through Gordon Allport's classic definition of social psychology to give us a sense of what this field of study is all about.

Section 2: PART I: Thinking Socially

What I call "Thinking Socially" other psychologists call "Social Cognition." Before we get to deep into it, let me explain what this section is all about.

Section 3: Schemas & Accessibility: The Structure of the Mind

A schema is a "mental framework" that organizes social information into easy-to-remember and easy-to-use chunks. In this lecture, we discuss more about what schemas are, why we have them, and what effects they can have.


We see schemas at work all the time. In the last lecture, I briefly mentioned the kinds of effects that schemas can have, but in this follow-up video, I'll describe the one particularly pervasive consequence of schemas: self-fulfilling prophecy. I'll go over a classic study that showed how the self-fulfilling prophecy indirectly changed the grades of real students in the 60s and mention a few other instances of this effect at work.

If you're interested in knowing more about the study about self-fulfilling prophecy and attractive (vs. unattractive) people, you can find more details in a free course I have on Udemy featuring 5 experiments in social psychology.


Different schemas come to mind for various reasons. Here we'll discuss what it means for a schema to be "accessible" and how a schema can become accessible. Through this, we'll come to understand the phenomenon of "priming."


To further understand the power of priming a particular schema, we'll look at some classic studies in social psychology that demonstrate how simple priming can be and what effects it can have.


Although I mentioned in the previous lessons that priming can be "subliminal," you may wonder how that works, exactly, and whether it's really effective. In this video, I explain how psychologists have been able to prime schemas subliminally and document the subtle, real effects that it can have.

EXERCISE: Priming Experience
Section 4: Heuristics & Biases

Moving right along in our social thinking patterns, in this lecture we bring up the notion of "heuristics," which are mental shortcuts that ease social judgments and decisions. In particular, we discuss the availability heuristic, the representativeness heuristic, and the anchoring heuristic. I'll give an example of each and talk about how they can bias our judgments of other things and people even though they're generally helpful.


When we estimate how much something happens in the world, the availability heuristic can make us come to irrational conclusions. This heuristic is all about using how easily things come to mind as a signal for how frequently they occur in the world.


The availability heuristic can be a little tricky to get a grasp on. Here's another example of how people depend on this heuristic to make judgments, and it comes from my own life.


You can think of representativeness as a kind of "reverse stereotyping." This heuristic is how we judge the probability of something being true. Because people use this heuristic, they often ignore real probability information and instead rely on simple stereotypical cues to make estimates.


As with a lot of heuristics, representativeness becomes easier to understand with some examples. In this quick video, I use the example of a coin toss to show you how people depend on the representativeness heuristic to make judgments.


Although anchoring can be useful, people often come to biased answers because of it. This heuristic is how people make numerical estimates, and surprisingly, they over-rely on meaningless "anchor" numbers when making their final guesses.

EXERCISE: Anchoring Experience
Section 5: Attribution

"Attribution" is all about how we explain other people's behaviors. In this lecture, we'll see that people can explain behavior by looking for personal causes ("dispositional attributions") or by looking for envrionmental causes ("situational attributions"). According to the fundamental attribution error, people are pretty quick to go the route of drawing dispositional attributions.


We can understand the fundamental attribution by looking at some relevant examples, including people's perceptions of actors. Because people tend to mistakenly assume that actors have the same qualities as the characters they play, it's further proof of how automatically people draw dispositional attributions.


Now that we know the two main types of attributions that people can draw, we'll ask the question: do people always draw dispositional attributions? Surely people can see that there are external influences on behavior! Yes, that's true, and in this lesson we'll look at Gilbert's 3-Stage Model to understand which conditions are most liklely to bring out situational attributions. Then we'll cover two common biases in attribution that can sometimes lead people to account for the situation: the actor-observer effect and self-serving attributions.

4 questions

Let's review what we've covered in section 1.

Section 6: PART II: Thinking About Ourselves

I'll take a quick second to introduce the idea of social psychological research on "the self."

Section 7: The Self-Concept

Before we get started talking about psychological research on "The Self," let's do a quick exercise so you can know what it's like to think deeply about yourself.


We'll discuss what the previous exercise was all about and then launch into an understanding of the "self-concept."


The "self-concept" is really just a schema we have about ourselves. It includes the various bits of self-knowledge that we've come to understand. In this lesson, we talk about what a self-concept can be and how a self-concept originates over one's early development.


In this lesson, we go further in understanding the self-concept by looking at some ways in which people come to know information about themselves. How do our self-concepts come to contain all of that information? We'll look specifically at the role of introspection, self-perception, and social comparison.

Section 8: Self-Esteem

No doubt you've heard of "self-esteem" before. In this lesson, after quickly defining how psychologists think about self-esteem, I'll let you in on two key attributes of a person's self-esteem that you may not have considered before. The first of these is the stability of self-esteem, and the other is the contingencies (or bases) of self-esteem. Each of these is important to understand when it comes to knowing how people react to negative things that happen in their lives.


A person can say that he has high self-esteem but at a more implicit, "subconscious" level, he might have lower self-esteem than he expressed. And he might not even know it consciously! In this video, I explain the notion of implicit self-esteem, how psychologists can measure it, and how something as simple as how much someone likes her name can signal implicit self-esteem.

Section 9: Self-Motives

Although it would be great if people always looked objectively for information about themselves, people tend to be motivated by a need to maintain high self-esteem. We'll talk about a handful of behaviors that people engage in so that they keep a positive self-view: downward social comparisons, self-serving attributions, self-handicapping, basking in reflected glory, and outgroup derogation. We'll also talk about self-verification which can happen when someone with low self-esteem really just wants to confirm his or her pre-existing negative self-view (rather than hear good things about him/herself).


My own personal experience may shed light on "Basking in Reflected Glory" and show you just how pervasive it is. What's an experience from your own life in which you felt that you were BIRGing?


In this quick video, I'll give you another example of "self-handicapping," and once you hear it, you'll start seeing instances of it everywhere.

Section 10: Culture & the Self

There's a whole world out there--does "psychology" look the same everywhere? A lot research has shown that the culture we live in plays a huge role in social psychological outcomes. One of the big ones is "the self." We'll talk about two broad types of cultures that exist in the world: individualist and collectivist cultures. Then I'll describe some evidence that these two cultures encourage very different kinds of self-concepts in the people who grow up in them. In particular, these are independent and interdependent self-concepts.


In this lecture, you'll find a link to a TED Talk by Alana Conner, who co-wrote the book "Clash!: How to Thrive in a Multicultural World." If you want to know more about independence vs. interdependence, you can check out that video or her great book on the topic.

4 questions

Let's review what we've covered in this section with a quick quiz.

Section 11: PART III: Social Influence

I'll give you a quick overview of what we mean by "social influence."

Section 12: Conformity

One form of social influence is conformity, which involves adopting the thoughts and behaviors of people around you. In this lesson, I'll describe two very early studies that have become classics in psychology. In one study by Muzafer Sherif, emerging group norms shape people's perceptions of an optical illusion. In the other study, by Solomon Asch, group pressure is so strong that people knowingly give wrong answers to questions.


See the attached links for YouTube videos that illustrate the power of conformity. In this video, I'll give you more information on what to expect in those video clips.


Not all conformity is the same. In this lesson, we'll distinguish between informational influence and normative influence and connect those two ideas to the two studies we talked about in the last lecture.


In this video, I give you two examples of social influence, and your job is to think about which one is a case of "informational" and which one is a case of "normative" influence.

EXERCISE: Social Influence Experiences
Section 13: Obedience

Obedience is yet another form of social influence, and it's distinct from conformity. Obedience refers to the influence that an authority has on people, simply by making demands. In this lesson, we'll dive into a classic social psychology study: Stanley Milgram's controversial studies in obedience. I'll describe the early studies and their surprising results. We'll conclude by considering whether obedience is a universally strong force or whether it's culturally specific.


To really understand how these classic obedience experiments played out, it's helpful to see participants engaged in the procedure themselves. I introduce these clips in this quick video--see the added resources for links to relevant YouTube videos.

Section 14: Persuasion

My personal expertise is in the realm of persuasion--that must be why this lecture is longer than the others. We'll take a close look at the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) to understand when certain variables persuade others or have no influence. We'll talk about what those variables are, how elaboration determines whether each will be influential, and what prompts a person to think or not while seeing a persuasive message. Through example studies, we'll develop a deeper appreciation for the complexities surrounding persuasion.

EXERCISE: Persuasion Generation
4 questions

Let's review what we've learned in this section with another quick quiz.

Section 15: PART IV: Cognitive Dissonance

To kick off this section on cognitive dissonance, I'll describe a classic study by Leon Festinger, described in the book "When Prophecy Fails." Through this surprising example, I'll introduce the first elements of cognitive dissonance theory.


Cognitive dissonance has become a popular term, but do people really know what it refers to? In this lesson, we'll unpack what it really means to experience "dissonance," and I'll give you some examples of what dissonance can look like. We'll also briefly mention a few ways in which people deal with cognitive dissonance.

Section 16: What Causes Dissonance?

There are plenty of things that can cause dissonance to happen. In this lesson, we'll discuss one that's often used in experimental studies of dissonance, counter-attitudinal behavior. This just means doing something that conflicts with what you believe. For example, if I throw some garbage out my car window, that conflicts with my belief that we need to protect the environment. The result is dissonance. We'll look at one classic psychology study that established the power of dissonance and discuss why it produced the results that it did.


Dissonance doesn't just happen in contrived situations like telling a research participant about their upcoming task. In this quick video, I'll relate a recent experience from my own life that illustrates the power the counter-attitudinal behavior as a way of inducing cognitive dissonance.


Another simple everyday occurrence that can cause dissonance is making a difficult decision. We'll see that deciding between two things that you like almost equally can create dissonance, which people resolve by "spreading alternatives."


Hypocrisy is the last cause of dissonance that we'll discuss. Basically, this is when someone publicly advocates for a behavior but realizes that he or she doesn't always engage in that behavior. This can cause dissonance, and people resolve it by changing their future behavior.


In another quick video, I give you a concrete example of hypocrisy-related dissonance. It's a case in which I eventually noticed that a change in my own behavior was due to motivations to reduce dissonance that came about through an act of hypocrisy.

Section 17: Why Dissonance Creates Change

In more than 50 years of research, it's clear that cognitive dissonance occurs and that people are motivated to resolve it...but why? What is it about having inconsistent thoughts that necessarily drives people to do something in response? In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at the key mechanism of dissonance: feeling discomfort. Dissonance theory has always said that dissonant thoughts make people feel uncomfortable, which is why they're driven to address the dissonance...but is it true? We'll look at three ways in which psychologists have shown that dissonance actually is uncomfortable.

2 questions

Quiz time! Let's review what we know about cognitive dissonance with this quick quiz.

Section 18: PART V: Working with Others

I'll quickly describe why the following topics matter and are of interest to social psychology.

Section 19: How Things Change in the Presence of Others

Do you do things better when you're all alone or when people are watching? The answer depends on social facilitation. At first, we'll look at some early research (including the "first" study in social psychology) that showed increases in performance when other people were present. Next, by considering a bizarre study using cockroaches, we'll get the bigger picture and understand that sometimes having people around can make performance suffer. By the end of this lesson, you'll be able to identify when other people will improve vs. inhibit performance.


Similar to the previous lesson, we'll spend some time discussing the possibility that people can work less hard when they're doing something in a group. I'll describe some research showing that to be the case, and we'll come to understand when and why it happens. We'll conclude by thinking about when social facilitation is likely to occur and when social loafing is instead more likely to occur.


Let's test your understanding of the previous two concepts. I'll give you two examples, and your job is to figure out whether social loafing is likely to happen or whether social facilitation is likely to happen (and what that means for the person's performance).

EXERCISE: Social Loafing & Facilitation

A critical way in which people work together is to come to a decision, but are decisions any better when they're made in groups than when they're made by individuals? We'll talk about two ways in which group decisions can actually be worse than individual decisions. The first is through groupthink and the second is through group polarization.

Section 20: Relationships and Interpersonal Interactions

We all know that relationships can be tricky, and it turns out that it's just as tricky to study them. Nevertheless, we'll discuss some of social psychologists have come to understand about close relationships and what produces the greatest relationship satisfaction. In particular, we'll discuss two early theories of relationship satisfaction: Social Exchange Theory and Equity Theory. Finally, I'll describe two kinds of relationships that have been identified (i.e., exchange and communal) and try to convey what all is different about them.

EXERCISE: Relationships
Section 21: Helping and Hurting: The Psychology of Altruism & Aggression

Clearly, people are not always nice to each other. In fact, they can be downright mean. In this lesson, we'll discuss some of the existing research on the psychology of aggression. When do people behave aggressively toward each other and for what reason? We'll talk about three instigators of aggression that have been identified in social psychology: the frustration-aggression hypothesis, the role of negative affect, and the weapons effect (or, ways of priming aggression automatically).


Ever been frustrated with technology? In this quick video, I walk through how this illustrates the "frustration-aggression hypothesis." See the added resource for a fun illustration of someone's frustration and aggression...toward a computer.


Let's end on a high note by seeing how people can actually help each other out...when the conditions are just right. We'll cover a range of findings in the science of prosocial behavior, including the role that empathy plays in determining helpfulness. I'll also cover several other classic studies and findings having to do with helping behavior, including research on time pressure, positive mood, bystander apathy, and more.

Helping Behavior - The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis
Helping Behavior - Mood, Time Pressure, & Bystander Apathy
4 questions

Final quiz! Let's review the last section.

Section 22: CONCLUSION
Bonus Lecture: More Social Psychology from Andrew Luttrell
Bonus: Get a Free Psychology PDF Ebook

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Instructor Biography

Andrew Luttrell, Ph.D., Social Psychologist

I am a social psychologist. My expertise is in the domain of attitudes and persuasion, but I have extensive experience with all corners of the social psychology world. The research in this field is so interesting that I can't help but want to share it! I look forward to the chance to share the world of social psychology with you.

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