Social Thinking

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

Focusing on how individuals create their social reality and use this construction to provide a normative context for their engagement with each other, this seminar explores the major theories, methodologies, and content areas of social cognition. We look at classic studies in social psychology to apply the knowledge thus gained to contemporary issues of general interest, gaining in the process both a historical and a theoretical perspective. We want to examine, in particular, three areas of interest. The first concerns the role of unconscious processes in our interpretations and explanations of the social world, especially emphasizing here our mistakes in judgment and our misperceptions of causation. Then, we take a closer look at the individual as a social “cognizer” to see how we derive interpretations for our own behavior in comparison to those attributed to the behavior of others. Finally, we analyze the issue of attitude as the first epistemological inquiry of social psychology to understand better how it has given impetus to the cognitive revolution.