Eötvös Loránd University

Faculty of Social Sciences

Department of Social Psychology

Academic year of 2007-2008, Spring Semester

Course title

Introduction to Social Psychology


György Csepeli

Time and Place

Friday, 10.00-11.30 am, Room 6.85

Course Description

Social psychologists have accumulated  significant knowledge of  belief and illusion, love and hate, conformity and independence. Considering that we have barely begun, we can now offer partial answers to such questions as: Will people act in other ways if we can first persuade them to adopt new attitudes? Do males and females differ? When are people most likely to help or hurt each other? Learning even tentative answers to such questions can stimulate our thinking about social behavior. Moreover, becoming sensitive to the forces at work upon as can help free us from susceptibility to manipulation and alienation. This course will present social psychology as an intellectual adventure leading into ourselves living in the Western world.

Basic concepts, theories, authors and empirical results will be presented with a special emphasize on experimental social psychology.

The course aims to be reasonably comprehensive in its coverage of the discipline, yet it wants to be stimulative. The course will provide a summary of important phenomena of everyday life, and of how such phenomena have been investigated and explained. It would cultivate student’s abilities to think like competent social psycholigists- to inquire, to analyse, to relate principles to theis real life experiences.


Class attendance. Active participation. Oral exam.

Required reading

Myers, D.G. 1987. Social Psychology. Second edition. McGraw Hilll Book Company. 1-150, 183-361, 441-569

Csepeli, Gy. 2000. Transition Blues. The Roots of Pessimism. The Hungarian Quarterly. Vol. XLI.No.158.Summer. 64-72

Csepeli Gy. 2007. Between two worlds. The discrepant roles of secret agents of past regimes. In Poppe, E., Verkuyten, M. (eds) Culture and Coflict. Amsterdam:Aksant. 69-74.

Suggested Reading

McGarty, C., Haslam, S.A. (Eds.) 1997. The Message of Social Psychology. Perspectives on Mind in Society. London: Blackwell

Course Schedule

II.15. The Scope of Social Psychology

Everyday knowledge and social psychology. „De te fabula narratur”. Long past and short history if the discipline. Western culture and the study of human relations. Social psychology accross cultures. The place of social psychology between sociology and psychology. Man in society and society in man. System, unconscioussness and lifeworld. Authentic communication.

II.22. Social psychology of the Self

The sarting point of our departure into the realm of social psychology will be the self, which is related to the Other. I, me, self.

Film presentation: The Birthday of the Infanta. (dir: János Szász based on the tale of Oscar Wilde)

II.29. Social Interaction

Existence of human beings can be interpreted only in social settings. There are many differential effects due to mere presence of each other. Interactions are forms of coexistence between people varied by different levels of co-dependence.

III.07. Communication

Men as social beings cannot not communicate with each other. Major means of communication are sign, code, meaning, channel. Major actors in communication are senders and receivers. Communication, however, does take place on two levels simultaneously. Analog and digital means of communication should be distinguished. Language has special place among means of human communication. Speech is much more than simple exchange of meanings.

III.14. Person perception

Persons are highly unusual stimuli. In the process of person perception attribution of raits, intents, motivations, identities takes place which makes the process extremely dynamic. Morever, due to the nature of interaction perception  of persons cannot be separated from the self. Projections and aversions interfere. Person perception is influenced by patterns of culture as well.

III. 21. Spring break

III.28. Social Games

Games people play

Presentation of the film based on Albee’s Don’t be afraid of Virginia Woolf.

IV.04. Social roles

A role is a set of norms associated with a given social position. The expectation associated with a role sometimes conflicts as do some roles as well. Consequently, .intrarole and interrole conflicts can be distinguished. Discrepant roles such the „secret agnet” will be discussed as well.

IV.11. Interpersonal Relations

Who likes whom, and why? Few of social psychology’s questions have elicited more paramount interest. Major powerful influences upon liking will be discussed such as physical attractiveness, similarity of attitudes, balance of social exchange, social distance and proximity and self-narrative.

IV. 18. Group Influence

Much of our lives we spend in groups, without knowing the influences which groups tend to exert upon us. Major dimensions of small group life are solidarity and productivity which can exert influence of the group helped by norms, roles, leadership and communication patterns.

Presentation of the film of Judit Vas on leadership styles formulated by Kurt Lewin.

IV. 25. Social Cognition

We are living in a socially constructed reality which provides us with means of cognition such as opinions, beliefs, probabilities, attitudes, prejudices, stereotypes and values. These contents are structured by the principles of cognitive balance, congruence and consonance fending off contradiction and conflicting information, maintaining order within.

V.02. Pázmány Day

V.9. Behavior and Attitudes

Our attitudes will predict our behavior provixded that there is a connection between we think and feel and what we fo. Theories of self-presentation, dissonance and self-perception will be discussed.

V.16. Intergroup relation and prejudice

The differentiating criterion of collective behavior is that it is behavior of participating individuals interacting under out-of-the-ordinary conditions, outside the daily routine of events in social life prevailing in a social setting. Crowd are dominated by irrationality and overwhelming emotionality sweeping away individuality.