Curriculum Guideline

Social Cognition

Effective Date:
Course Code
PSYC 3361
Social Cognition
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 4 hours per week/semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

This course will involve a number of instructional methods, such as the following:

  • lectures
  • small group activities
  • discussion groups
  • guest lectures
  • multimedia presentations
Course Description
This course will provide an overview of the field of social cognition. The focus of the course will be how people interpret, analyze, and remember information about themselves, others, and the social world around them. Topics include concept and schema formation, heuristics and biases, probabilistic reasoning, causal inference, the architecture of memory, automaticity, and trait inference. Such processes are used to understand self-perception, emotions, goal-directed behaviour, impression formation, attitudes and persuasion, stereotyping and prejudice, and cultural differences.
Course Content
  1. Introduction to Social Cognition
  • What is social cognition?
  • Theoretical frameworks
  • Basic Concepts in social cognition
    • Automatic and controlled processes
    • Attention and encoding
    • Social cognition represented in memory processes
  • Self and identity
    • What is "the self"?
  • Attribution processes
    • Theories of attribution
  • Heuristics and Decision Making
  • Accuracy and efficiency in social inference
  • Attitudes and Persuasion
    • Origin and nature of attitudes
    • Cognitive processing of attitude
  • Stereotypes and Prejudice
    • Cognition and bias
  • Affect and Behaviour
    • The influence of affect on social cognition
    • The influence of cognition on affect
  • Social cognition and culture
    • Variations in social cognition from a multicultural perspective


    Learning Outcomes

    At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

    1. Define social cognition, and give examples of different kinds of phenomena that social cognition researchers study.
    2. Identify and describe research methods used to study social cognition.
    3. Read research articles critically.
    4. Evaluate the importance of situations on human behaviour and mental processes.
    5. Describe how our knowledge about the world is represented in the form of concepts or schemas.
    6. Explain the consequences of biases and heuristics in thinking.
    7. Explain theories of causal attribution and attribution biases.
    8. Identify memory systems and explain memory construction.
    9. Describe how motivations and emotions affect cognition.
    10. Describe theoretical perspectives of attitudes and how attitudes relate to behaviours.
    11. Compare and contrast automatic and controlled information processing.
    12. Identify stereotypes as concepts and explain stereotype activation and application.
    13. Identify the various components and functions of the self.
    14. Describe how cultural identity affects social cognition.
    15. Apply principles of social cognition to real-world events.
    16. Demonstrate ability to use APA style in written communication.
    Means of Assessment

    The course evaluation will be in accordance with Douglas College and Psychology Department Policy. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

    An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

    Two midterm exams at 25% each - 50%

    Final exam - 25%

    APA style application paper - 20%

    Attendance and participation - 5%

    Total - 100%

    Textbook Materials

    Textbook(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

    Fiske, S.T. & Taylor, S.E. (2016). Social cognition: From brains to culture (3rd ed.). London, England: Sage Publications Ltd.

    Greifeneder, R., Bless, H., & Fiedler, K. (2018). Social cognition (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge



    Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

    • No corequisite courses

    Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

    • No equivalency courses