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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 (


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 4501 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 holiness...
  • Adelyne Chan completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    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, and...
  • 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 workload....
  • 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 I...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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 the...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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.
  • 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.
  • Tyra

    Tyra is taking this course right now.

    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.
  • Mohammad Amir

    Mohammad Amir is taking this course right now.

    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.
  • 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
  • Pedro Henrique Coelho Pinto
    muito bomm, agora irei conseguir me aprofundar ainda mais com outras pessoas, e ate mesmo saber oquqe agir ou falar, curso otimo vi irei ver novamente , recomendo muito
  • Yogesh Adesh Singh
    The periodical of the Social Psychology Section, aims to provide an overview of the key topics and issues of interest to the social psychological community
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    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

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    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.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    is only an advertisement for the professor's website
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    It's a wonderful wonderful course, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested why people (friends, neighbors, colleagues, peoples) behave in a certain way. The lectures are fun and entertaining while providing tons of useful, practical information. I can't recommend this course enough.
  • Zukiswa Mahlangeni

    Zukiswa Mahlangeni is taking this course right now, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    This Is a great course a course that read people's mind and make you understand different people and their issues,emotions and hlep them to understand themselves and find them selves,cause many people they sink in depression where they lost their way out but social psychology rescue them and hlep them to forget and forgive the mistakes and past.
  • Shah Meer is taking this course right now.

    Such initiatives amid the outbreak of pandemic crona virus has fallen on the keen interests of disciples of every discipline . It makes impediments for every youngster to stop thinking freaky. Well done .
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    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.

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