Course Description
Readings

EXPLAINING THE SOCIAL WORLD:
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL COGNITION

PSY 630
Seminar in Social Psychology
2nd Semester, 1995
Wednesdays, 7-9:40PM

R. Sherman

Focus & Content
This seminar will explore and critically evaluate an important growing body of research in social psychology that deals with cognitive and motivational factors that influence (and are influenced by) the accounts we give of social events. For example, in explaining the causes of a social behavior the explainer makes assumptions about the world knowledge and motivational states of the listener, and these assumptions influence the form of the explanation, its acceptance, and the inferences the listener makes regarding the explainer. The following will be among the topics to be explored in the seminar: (1) the structure and content of autobiographical narratives; (2) language and implicit causal attribution; (3) social and cognitive aspects of lying and excuse-giving; (4) conversational factors in constructing accounts; (5) determinants of the perception of explanatory coherence.

Format

At each meeting one or more participants will act as session leaders by summarizing the material and leading a discussion of it (you will be called upon to do this several times during the semester. "Summarizing material" does not mean delivering a lecture. Rather, the main issues, concepts, research findings, etc., should be presented in a manner that stimulates discussion and critical thought. Some possible techniques for accomplishing this are given below. The remaining participants are responsible for having read and carefully considered the material, and for preparing an "IP" (Important Point) paper for each of the assigned articles. IP papers are short (maximum 1 page) identifications of something you consider to be one of the article's major points, with a brief explanation of your choice (i.e., why you think it is important). The IP papers will be turned in at the end of each session, and will be graded on a 0/1 (unacceptable/acceptable) scale.

Each of you will also produce a term paper which may be either a research proposal or a critical/theoretical review of literature relevant to some topic related to the seminar. The topic of either alternative need not necessarily be one specifically covered in seminar meetings. The research proposal should follow the general style of an APA manuscript, but with a somewhat expanded introduction section, and a discussion section which explores the possible results, the importance of alternative outcomes, and the implications of the various alternatives. The method section should be detailed enough for you to establish (and me to evaluate) the adequacy of your proposal for answering the questions posed in the introduction. The research should be "do-able" with the resources normally available to graduate students. The review/theoretical paper should be patterned after Psychological Bulletin or Psychological Review papers of the same general type, though I would expect it to be somewhat less ambitious in scope and length. Consult with me no later than March 20th as to the exact nature of your term project.

Evaluation

The basis for evaluating your performance will be (a) the quality of your contributions to weekly discussions, (b) the quality of your presentations and leadership of discussions, and (c) the clarity, thoroughness, rigor , and creativity of your term paper. The IP's are a required component of the course, but will not be used in a formal way to determine your overall grade in the course. The class contributions and presentations will count 50% of your grade, and the term project will count the remainder. Please see me at any time during the semester if you wish interim feedback about your performance. First-year students and students not in social should meet with me at least a couple of times to discuss their progress.

Hints for Leading Discussions

  1. Prepare a set of discussion questions which bring out the main points of the reading, link it to previous material, raise methodological or logical concerns, etc. Either distribute these in advance or at the beginning of the class session.
  2. Prepare overheads and/or handouts in conjunction with #1.
  3. In your own mind have an idea of the major points you would like to see emphasized. However, try to get other people to do the emphasizing.
  4. Despite #3, be sensitive to the way the discussion is going. It may take a very beneficial turn that you had not anticipated.
  5. Try to provide a summary of the discussion at the end. Also, if things seem to be getting disorganized or way off the track, attempt to summarize at various points during the discussion as well.
Hints for Discussion Participants

  1. As you prepare for the session, take notes regarding points that you think are particular salient, relate to other relevant topics, are important or interesting, etc., and be prepared to share these ideas with the class. It is likely this will be the basis for your IP papers, also.
  2. Whenever possible and appropriate, try to move the discussion to some resolution of a point, or to the development of some "researchable" idea.
  3. Assume a mental set that is "constructively critical" toward the material.

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EXPLAINING THE SOCIAL WORLD:
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL COGNITION

Readings

January 18:
Hilton, D. (1990). Conversational processes and causal explanation. PB, 107, 65-81.
Read, Stephen J. (1987). Constructing causal scenarios: A knowledge structure approach to causal reasoning. JPSP, 52, 288-302.
Read, S.J. (1992). Constructing accounts: The role of explanatory coherence. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context (pp. 2-20). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
January 25:
Bennett, L. (1992). Legal fictions: Telling stories and doing justice. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context (pp. 149-166). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1988). Explanation-based decision-making: Effects of memory structure on judgment. JEP:LMC, 14, 521-533.
Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1992). Explaining the evidence: Tests of the story model for juror decision making. JPSP, 62, 189-206.
February 1:
Howard, G.S. (1991). Culture tales: A narrative approach to thinking, cross-cultural psychology, and psychotherapy. AP, 46, 187-197.
Russell, R., & Luciariello, J. (1992). Narrative, yes; narrative ad infinitum, no!. AP, 47, 671-672.
Baumeister, R., & Newman, L. (1994). How stories make sense of personal experiences: Motives that shape autobiographical narratives. PSPB, 20, 676-690.
Ross, M. (1989). Relation of implicit theories to the construction of personal histories. PR, 96, 341-357.
Heatherton, T. & Nichols, P. (1994). Personal accounts of successful versus failed attempts at life change. PSPB, 20, 664-675.
February 8:
Murray, S. & Holmes, J. (1994). Storytelling in close relationships: The construction of confidence. PSPB, 20, 650-663.
Murray, S., & Holmes, J. (1993). Seeing virtues in faults: Negativity and the transformation of interpersonal narratives in close relationships. JPSP, 65, 707-722.
Holmberg, J.D., & Holmes, J. (1994). Reconstruction of relationship memories: A mental models approach. In N. Schwarz & S. Sudman (Eds.), Autobiographical memory and the validity of retrospective reports, (pp. 267-288). New York: Springer- Verlag.
February 15:
Gonzales, M, Haugen, J., & Manning, D. (1994). Victims as "narrative critics": Factors influencing rejoinders and evaluative responses to offender's accounts. PSPB, 20, 691-704.
Baumeister, R., Stillwell, A., & Wotman, S. (1990). Victim and perpetrator accounts of interpersonal conflict: Autobiographical narratives about anger. JPSP, 59, 994-1005.
Gonzales, M., Manning, D., & Haugen, J. (1992) Explaining our sins: Factors influencing offender accounts and anticipated victim responses. JPSP, 62, 958-971.
Lamb, R., & Lalljee, M. (1992). The use of prototypical explanations in first- and third- person accounts. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context (pp. 21-40). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
February 22:
Ohbuchi, K., Kameda, M., & Ararie, N. (1989). Apology as aggression control: Its role in mediating appraisal of and response to harm. JPSP, 56, 219-227.
Gonzales. M., Pederson [Haugen], J., Manning, D., & Wetter, D. (1990). Pardon my gaffe: Effects of sex, status, and consequence severity on accounts. JPSP, 58, 610- 621.
Snyder, C., & Higgins, R. (1988). Excuses: Their effective role in the negotiation of reality. PB, 104, 23-35.
Weiner, B. (1992). Excuses in everyday interaction. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context (pp. 131-146). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Weiner, B., Figueroa-Munoz, A., Kakihara, C.(1991). The Goals of Excuses and Communication Strategies Related to Causal Perceptions. PSPB, 17(1), 4-13.
March 8:
Saarni, C. & von Salisch, M. (1993). Deceit and illusion in human affairs. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp.1-29). New York: Guilford.
DePaulo, B., LeMay, C., & Epstein, J. (1991). Effects of importance of success and expectations for success on effectiveness at deceiving. PSPB, 17, 14-24.
DePaulo, B., Epstein, J., & Wyer, M. (1993). Sex differences in lying: How men and women deal with the dilemma of deceit. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp. 126-147). New York: Guilford.
[Spring Break]
March 22:
Kumon-Nakamura, S., Glucksberg, S., & Brown, M. (1995). How about another piece of pie: The allusional pretense theory of discourse irony. JEP:General, 124, 3-21.
Fiedler, Klaus, Semin, G., & Koppetsch, C. (1991). Language use and attributional biases in close personal relationships. PSPB, 17, 147-155.
Brown, R., & Van Kleck, M. (1989). Enough said: Three principles of explanation. JPSP, 57, 590-604.
Semin, G. & Marsman, J. (1994). "Multiple inference-inviting properties" of interpersonal verbs: Event instigation, dispositional inference, and implicit causality. JPSP, 67, 836-849.
March 29:
Hilton, D., Mathes, R., & Trabasso, T. (1992). The study of causal explanation in natural language: Analyzing reports of the Challenger disaster in The New York Times. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context (pp. 41-60). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Turnbull, W. (1992). A conversation approach to explanation, with emphasis on politeness and accounting. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context(pp. 105-130). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
April 5:
Sigmon, S., & Snyder, C. (1993). Looking at oneself in a rose-colored mirror: The role of excuses in the negotiation of personal reality. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp. 148-165). New York: Guilford.
Baumeister, R. (1993). Lying to yourself: The enigma of self-deception. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp. 166-183). New York: Guilford.
April 12:
Bies, R., & Sitkin, S. (1992). Explanation as legitimization: Excuse-making in organizations. In McLaughlin, M.L., Cody, M.J., & Read, S.J. (Eds.), Explaining Oneself to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context (pp. 183-198). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Mitchell, R. (1993). Animals as liars: The human face of nonhuman duplicity. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp. 59-89). New York: Guilford.
April 19:
Lewis, M. (1993). The development of deception. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp. 90-105). New York: Guilford.
Saarni, C., & von Salish, M. (1993). The socialization of emotional dissemblance. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and Deception in Everyday Life (pp. 106-125). New York: Guilford.
April 26:
Discussion of Term Projects [Papers due 5pm, April 28th]

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