HC 431: Normal People Behaving Badly

(a.k.a., Problem Behaviors)

CRN #32321, Spring 2008

Monday/Wednesday 10:00-11:20, 303 Chapman Hall


Sara D. Hodges, PhD                                                    Karyn Lewis

Associate Professor, Psychology                                   Graduate Teaching Fellow, Psychology

331 Straub Hall, 346-4919                                             408 Straub Hall, 346-4852

Office hours: Mon 1:15 - 3:15                                       Office hours: Wed 1:30-3:30

and by appointment                                                     and by appointment

sdhodges@uoregon.edu                                                klewis3@uoregon.edu


Course Description and Goals:

Although criminals and mental patients may be more colorful, “normal” people (i.e., psychologically healthy and statistically average people) are responsible for producing much of the world’s hostile, selfish, and discriminatory behavior. This course will explore how fundamental aspects of human cognition and motivation, evolutionary pressures, and culture contribute to the roots of everyday social misbehavior. Keeping in mind that many of humans’ nasty habits are side effects of behavioral patterns that are often on the whole adaptive, students in the course will be challenged to consider how some of the bad outcomes can be eliminated without also losing the generally advantageous aspects of these behaviors.

Chief among phenomena studied will be the self-serving biases (i.e., the tendency to view the self in an unrealistically positive light, such as perceiving the self as better than average when that perception is inaccurate or taking more credit for self-behaviors than is merited). In addition, we will consider egocentric and selfish behaviors by people. We will also explore characteristics of intergroup perception that form the roots of stereotyping and prejudice. After touching on gossip and lying, we’ll conclude by looking at some situations where normal people behave at their worst, often because they are trying to obey an authority or blend into the crowd.

Readings will come from a variety of sources. Students will read empirical papers (mostly from the field of social psychology), that tackle how researchers demonstrate these behaviors and identify the mechanisms behind them. Students will also read review papers that summarize the scope and nature of these behaviors. Please note that reading about the empirical results directly can be more challenging than reading summaries of what was found and what it means, but there is no substitute for knowing HOW researchers of a particular topic came to their conclusions if you really want to understand that topic. Students will write regular responses to the readings and once during the term, they will be responsible for writing a summary of one of the articles. Students will work towards a final portfolio on one of the phenomena covered in the course and will give a short class presentation on their topic during the term. In determining the workload in this course, I considered that it is a 400-level colloquium in the Honors College, and thus designed the workload to be less than a first year graduate seminar, but greater than a 400-level lecture course outside the Honors College. I have structured the course in such a way that I think those of you going on to graduate school will find it a useful transitional step towards graduate seminars. (A side effect of this goal is that conceivably a few of you will find the load onerous/too demanding.)

In this course, students will become familiar with recurrent issues and themes in the “darker” side of normal social behavior, along with the empirical techniques and paradigms used in the field of social psychology. Students will be invited to hone their critical thinking skills in critiquing past studies of normal bad behavior, and they will be given the opportunity to identify creative and important new directions for studying this behavior and intervening with the goal of potentially reducing it. In-class meetings will emphasize discussion, reaction and critique of the readings, and ideas for future research and intervention. Ideally, you will read, write, and think a lot in this course.

Grade Breakdown:

Mini-quiz on methods: 5%

Written article summary: 5% (handout with guidelines will be provided)

Participation: 40% (includes reading responses and in-class discussion)

Portfolio (includes turning in first part and peer editing): 40%

Class presentation: 10%


Participation (40%): Your thoughtful contributions to the discussions in this course are an essential part of the course content. In order to facilitate participation, you are required to electronically post responses to the readings on Blackboard (under the “Discussion Board” option) by 10 pm the night before class (so 10 pm Sundays for Monday classes and 10 pm Tuesday for Wednesday classes). Why the night before? Because I will read your comments before class and they will influence my approach as instructor for certain topics. (If you are unfamiliar with Blackboard or need help, please see the instructor or GTF.) Sometimes, you may be asked to address a specific question in your response. You get two free “no response” classes (you should still read, but you don=t need to write a response - please don=t everyone wait to use these in the last weeks of class!). Please bring a printout of your posting (or a draft version of it) with you to class; if discussion wanes, I will call on people to present their reactions to the readings. For those of you who are shy, I will consider weighting the written versions of your comments more in determining your participation grade, but ideal class participation involves sharing your ideas in class, because it allows for dialogue. If participation is uneven, I may occasionally ask more vocal class members to hold back in order to facilitate participation by all class members.

What kinds of responses to the readings am I looking for? Here are some possibilities:

a) Questions about the readings - concepts you didn’t understand or question you had for other reasons.

b) Considering alternatives – “what if” questions (with possible answers) or the exploration of related hypothetical situations

c) Questions for future research - what is the next study that needs to be done, why, and how should it be conducted?

d) Methodological and other criticisms - could a study have been conducted better? are the authors justified in drawing the conclusions they do?

e) Applications – “real world” examples of something in the reading; proposed interventions.

Attendance is required. If you must miss a class, speak to me prior to your absence, or as soon as possible after your absence. You are allowed to miss a class, MAYBE two without penalty, although perfect attendance will be looked upon highly favorably. Absences will affect your participation grade. You must have a working email account that you access regularly for this course, and you must have access to Blackboard.

Please note: IF the proposed structure of this course fails to provide sufficient motivation for students to read and respond actively and thoughtfully to the readings, alternate measures (e.g., tests; assigning students to lead discussion) might be taken. (This is not a threat so much as it reflects my desire NOT to waste everyone=s time sitting around in the seminar with nothing to say.)


Portfolio (40%): Each student will become an expert on one of the phenomena covered in the course and will complete a portfolio about the phenomenon. This portfolio will include a thorough description of the phenomenon, a review of some of psychological literature addressing it, a consideration of why this particular form of bad behavior may be useful or adaptive under certain circumstances, and possible means for reducing the “bad” aspects of the phenomenon. In addition, students will provide three of the following:

#1 - A historical example of the phenomenon, or a historical event in which the phenomenon figured centrally (“historical” in this case means something that is over and done with, and happened 2 or more years ago).

#2 - A current events example of the phenomenon, or a current event in which the phenomenon figured centrally (“current” in this case means either ongoing or having occurred in the last 2 years).

#3 - An example of the phenomenon drawn from literature or fictional media.

#4 - An example of the phenomenon drawn from your own life.

#5 - An original illustration of the phenomenon (e.g., a story, film, cartoon or operetta)

#6 – A demonstration/activity that you do outside of class, or that you can do in 15 minutes in class. Please note that for #6, these are “demonstrations” or “activities” – and not “experiments,” “research,” or “studies,” all of which would require approval from the university’s Institutional Review Board. Participation of students enrolled in the class during class time is fine as long as the activity is a valid learning experience. If you involve anyone NOT enrolled in the class, take special care not coerce them to participate, withhold important information about the activity from them, or violate their privacy in any way. Please consult with me if you have any questions along these lines: better safe than sorry – or sued!

#7 - A proposal for a new study to research some aspect of the phenomenon, including a well-supported hypothesis and description of proposed methodology.

Your portfolio MUST include either #1, 2, or 7 above. In describing exemplars #1-6, you must explicitly state how the examples fit the phenomenon. This portfolio must take a “normal people behaving badly” perspective (i.e., examples of the phenomena that are due mental illness or other rare causes are probably not in line with this perspective).

One of the three parts of your portfolio is due MAY 12 – either electronically prior to class or (if not electronically) at the beginning of class. This is in order to help you pace yourself and to get some feedback about whether you are on the right track (we’ll grade the portfolios as a whole at the end of the term).The complete portfolio is due at noon, Thursday, June 5. Your portfolio should be proofread by your peer editor in time to make any changes (e.g., probably no later than Wednesday, June 4). Any part of the portfolio that is in a format that can be read electronically on a basic computer (e.g., a wordprocessing file) should be mailed to both the instructors (sdhodges@uoregon.edu) and the GTF (klewis3@uoregon.edu). All other parts should be turned in to Psychology Office (first floor, Straub Hall).


Presentation (10%): During the class period when the class is discussing “your” phenomenon (the topic you are doing your portfolio on), you will prepare a 10 to 15-minute presentation on the topic, preferably drawing on one of the 7 possible exemplars in your portfolio (described above). If you need audio-visual aids for your presentation (e.g., a laptop for PowerPoint), please let me know in advance. Past experiences suggest that presentations that use novel formats and engage the class will be appreciated by students in the course, and as long as they are also scholarly, they will be appreciated by the instructor in the form of higher grades.


Assigning topics for portfolios and presentations: You will be asked in class to list your preferences from the course topics. I will do my best to assign you a topic that is among your preferences. If you have a time conflict (e.g., you know will not be in class the day your topic comes up), you must let me know when listing your preferences - this may affect assignment of topics, but if we can work around it, we will. If you are desperate to do a particular topic for your portfolio, I may be willing to bargain with you by letting you do that topic for your portfolio but doing your presentation on a topic that no one else chose (more work for you, but a way to possibly get your #1 choice for the portfolio).

Cheating will not be tolerated. Please consult the UO=s student conduct webpage (http://libweb.uoregon.edu/guides/plagiarism/students/) to find out what is considered academic dishonesty and feel free to discuss concerns with me, too.

Cell phone conversations during class will not be tolerated either. Please turn your ringer off before coming to class, too.

If you have a documented disability, please discuss it with me as soon as possible so that accommodations can be made.


Schedule of Topics and Readings

Readings are to be done BEFORE the class under which they are listed. The schedule may change (only for good reasons!); if so, you will be notified. Additional short articles (1 or 2 pages) may be added. Always alert me IMMEDIATELY about any problems with the readings - I am unlikely to consider your inability to access the articles as an excuse for not doing the reading!

Symbols key to readings:

## - Readings are (or will be) available as a pdf, at the course Blackboard site under “Readings

%% - Readings are (or will be) available electronically via a link at the course Blackboard site under “Readings” or via the Knight Library=s webpage, as a journal article in the library=s electronic collection. (You may ask, “why doesn’t she just put pdf’s of these articles on Blackboard?” The answer is because the library doesn’t then know that 25 people are accessing an article from that journal – they only know that I accessed the article once. I want the journals that are used a lot to get “credit” for that usage, so that the library knows how important they are to my class.)


Mon Mar 31      Introduction to class


Wed Apr 2        Social psychology research methods

##Aronson, E., Ellsworth, P. C., Carlsmith, J. M., & Gonzales, M. H. (1990). Chapter 1: An introduction to experiments. In Methods of Research in Social Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 8-39).

##Myers, D. (2002). Chapter 1: Introducing Social Psychology. In Social Psychology (7th ed., pp. 3-33). Boston: McGraw Hill.


Mon Apr 7        Mini-quiz on methods

Beginning thoughts on bad behavior

##Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Four roots of evil. In A. G. Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil (pp. 85-101). New York: Guilford Press.

##Zimbardo, P. G. (2004). A situationist perspective on the psychology of evil: Understanding how good people are transformed into perpetrators. In A. G. Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil (pp. 21-50). New York: Guilford Press.


Wed Apr 9        Better than average effect

%%Klein, W. & Weinstein, N. D. (1995). Resistance of personal risk perceptions to debiasing interventions. Health Psychology, 14, 132-140.

%%Pronin, E., Lin, D. Y., & Ross, L. (2002). The bias blind spot: Perceptions of bias in self versus others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 369-381.


Mon Apr 14      Self-serving attributions

%%Campbell, W. K., & Sedikides, C. (1999). Self-threat magnifies the self-serving bias: A meta-analytic integration. Review of General Psychology, 3, 23-43.

##Herzog, T. A. (1994). Automobile driving as seen by the actor, the active observer, and the passive observer. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 2057-2074.



Wed Apr 16      Egocentrism

##Gilovich, T., Kruger, J., & Savitsky, K. (1999). Everyday egocentrism and everyday interpersonal problems. In R. M. Kowalski & M. R. Leary (Eds.), The social psychology of emotional and behavioral problems: Interfaces of social and clinical psychology (pp. 69-95). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

%%Keysar, B., & Henly, A. S. (2002). Speakers= overestimation of their effectiveness. Psychological Science, 13, 207-212


Mon Apr 21      Prejudice and stereotype formation

##Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (1998). On the nature of contemporary prejudice: The causes, consequences and challenges of aversive racism. In J. L. Eberhardt & S. T. Fiske (Eds.), Confronting racism: The problem and the response (pp. 3-32). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

##Hamilton, D. L., & Gifford, R. K. (1976). Illusory correlation in interpersonal perception: A cognitive basis of stereotypic judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 12, 392-407.


Wed Apr 23      Ingroups and outgroups

##Rothbart, M. (2004). Category dynamics and the modification of outgroup stereotypes. In M. B. Brewer & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Social cognition, 142-160. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

%%Maass, A., Ceccarelli, R., & Rudin, S. (1996). Linguistic intergroup bias: Evidence for in-group-protection motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 512-526.


Mon Apr 28      Discrimination in response to threat

%%Fein, S., & Spencer, S. J. (1997). Prejudice as self-image maintenance: Affirming the self through derogating others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 31-44.

%%Parks-Stamm, E. J., Heilman, M. E., & Hearns, K. A. (2008). Motivated to penalize: Women's strategic rejection of successful women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 237-247.


Wed Apr 30      Blaming the victim

##Branscombe, N. R., Owen, S., Garstka, T. A., & Coleman, J. (1996). Rape and accident counterfactuals: Who might have done otherwise and would it have changed the outcome? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 1042-1067.

%%Kaiser, C., R. & Miller, C. T. (2003). Derogating the victim: The interpersonal consequences of blaming events on discrimination. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 6, 227-237.


Mon May 5       Scapegoating and stigmatizing

##Glick, P. (2002). Sacrificial lambs dressed in wolves= clothing: Envious prejudice, ideology, and the scapegoating of Jews. In L. S. Newman & R. Erber (Eds.), Understanding Genocide: The social psychology of the Holocaust (pp. 113-142). London: Oxford.

%%Crandall, C. S. (1994). Prejudice against fat people: Ideology and self-interest. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 882-894.      


Wed May 7       Shallow perceptions?

%%Black, K. A. & Gold, D. J. (2003). Men's and women's reactions to hypothetical sexual advances: The role of initiator socioeconomic status and level of coercion. Sex Roles, 49, 173-178.

##Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (1986). What is beautiful is good: The myth. In E. Hatfield & S. Sprecher, Mirror, mirror: The importance of looks in everyday life (pp. 34-67). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

%%Park, J. H., Faulkner, J., & Schaller, M. (2003). Evolved disease-avoidance processes and contemporary anti-social behavior: Prejudicial attitudes and avoidance of people with physical disabilities. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 27, 65-87.


Mon May 12     Selfishness & Spite

%%Brucks, W. M., & Van Lange, P. A. M., (2007). When prosocials act like proselfs in a commons dilemma. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 750-758.

Spite reading TBA

**First part of portfolio DUE either electronically prior to class or (if not electronic) at the the beginning of class!**


Wed May 14     Gossip

%%Baumeister, R. F., Zhang, L., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Gossip as cultural learning. Review of General Psychology, 8, 111-121.

%%Wert, S. R., & Salovey, P. (2004). A social comparison account of gossip. Review of General Psychology, 8, 122-137.


Mon May 19     Lying & hypocrisy

%%Batson, C. D., & Thompson, E. R. (2001). Why don=t moral people act morally? Motivational considerations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 54-57.

##DePaulo, B. M. (2002). The many faces of lies. In A. G. Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil (pp. 303-326). New York: Guilford Press.


Wed May 21     Not so innocent bystanders

##Cialdini, R. B. (1998). Cause of death: Uncertain(y). In M. Davis (Ed.), Annual editions: Social Psychology (pp. 197-201). Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.

##Staub, E. (2003). The psychology of good and evil: Why children, adults, and groups help and harm others (pp. 325-335, 341-350, 360-367). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Mon May 26     MEMORIAL DAY (no class)


Wed May 28     Obedience to authorities who would have us do evil

##Browning, C. (1998). Ordinary men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland (pp. 55-87). New York: Harper Perennial.

##Miller, A. G. (2002). What can the Milgram obedience experiments tell us about the Holocaust?: Generalizing from the social psychology laboratory. In A. G. Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil (pp. 193-239). New York: Guilford Press.   


Mon Jun 2        Deindividuation and going along with bad

##Abelson, R. P., Frey, K. P., & Gregg, A. P. (2004). Hooded hoodlums: The role of deindividuation in anti-social behavior. In Experiments with people: Revelations from Social Psychology (pp. TBA). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

%%Fiske, S. T., Harris, L. T., & Cuddy, A. J. C. (2004). Why ordinary people torture enemy prisoners.  Science, 306, 1482-1483.

##Miller, M. (1998). Secrets of the cult. In M. Acker (Ed.), Perspectives: Social Psychology (pp. 102-107). Boulder: Coursewise Publishing.


Wed Jun 4        The evil of labeling evil, and final thoughts on the good or evil nature of humanity

##Ellard, J. H., Miller, C. D., Baumle, T., & Olson, J. M. (2002). Just world processes in demonizing. In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life (pp. 350-362). New York: Cambridge University Press.

##Staub, E. (2002). The psychology of heroic helpers. In L. S. Newman & R. Erber (Eds.), Understanding Genocide: The social psychology of the Holocaust (pp. 32-36). London: Oxford.


You should have a version of your portfolio ready no later than today to give to your peer editor!


Thu June 5       Portfolios DUE at NOON - send electronically to sdhodges@uoregon.edu and klewis3@uoregon.edu. Parts of the portfolio not easily converted or read electronically should be turned into the Psychology Office, first floor of Straub, at NOON.


Finals Week    No final, see above for portfolios



How to read for this class, especially empirical articles (write-ups of particular studies):

It is very important that you always read the required reading. The readings will provide us with a common ground. There is no textbook, only the readings which come from a variety of sources. Some are book chapters, and others are journal articles. The chapters are often integrated reviews of a wide range of studies, and therefore are densely packed with a lot of information. Skimming them will not be sufficient.

You may find journal articles harder to read than other sources. Keep in mind that the authors are trying to tell you not only what they found and why it is important, but how they found it. It is the methods and results that often make journal articles difficult to read, but it is essential that you read and understand these sections.

As you read a journal article, make sure you can answer these questions:

- What is the research question? What do the researchers hope to show?

- What are the theoretical independent and dependent variables? How did the researchers operationalize them? (How did they manipulate the independent variable? How did they measure the dependent variable?) We will go over these concepts during the first week of class/

- What kinds of analyses did the researchers use? What form were their results?

- What do the results mean, both at the level of the study and on a broader level? Try to restate the findings as a general statement.

- Was there anything wrong with the methods the researchers used? Are there logical flaws in their arguments? Can you think of an alternative explanation for their findings?


I will expect you to know the answers to these questions when we are discussing the articles.

It may be helpful to skip around while reading a journal article, BUT MAKE SURE YOU READ THE WHOLE THING. Try reading the abstract first, to give you some idea of what the article is about and where the authors are going. However, be prepared for there to be unfamiliar terms and/or concepts in the abstract. Don't get discouraged--these should be explained in the body of the paper. It may be helpful to read the intro and then peek at the discussion before tackling the methods and results. You may also find that you have to read some sections twice – knowledge you have gleaned from another part of the article may help you to make sense of something that was unclear at first.

For all of the readings (not just journal articles), think about reading as if you have to explain what you have read to someone else.