Warning! This unit contains mature content and may not be suitable for some students. Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.

Subject details

At the completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  1. Identify how the scientific approach to personality and social psychology differs from common sense or lay understanding
  2. Understand the difference between common research designs used in personality and social psychology research
  3. Conduct an overall critical evaluation of current scientific knowledge of a topic within personality or social psychology
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the principal personality theories, research, and the controversies that arise in this field
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the key theories and research in social psychology
  6. Discuss the concepts attained in the lectures and readings in a small class forum
    • 1. Introduction to the unit; Introduction to Personality Research
    • 2. Post-Freudian Psychodynamic Accounts; Attachment Theory and Personality
    • 3. Neuropsychoanalysis; Trait Approaches
    • 4. Evolutionary Theory and Personality; Humanistic and Positive Psychology
    • 5. Personal Construct Theory; Application and Revision
    • 6. New Directions and Evaluation; Personality Theory and Assessment
    • 7. Introduction to Social Psychology Research
    • 8. The Social Self ; Person Perception
    • 9. Attributions; Errors and Biases in Judgement
    • 10. Emotion; Disgust
    • 11 Group Influence
    • 12. Power and Status
  • Study resources

    • Instructional methods

      • Discussion forum/Discussion Board
      • Podcasting/Lecture capture
    • Online materials

      • Quizzes

You must have successfully completed the following subject(s) before starting this subject:

MAQ-PSYX104-Introduction to Psychology I
MAQ-PSYX105-Introduction to Psychology II

Special requirements

  • OtherDetails -

    Students who have an Academic Standing of Suspension or Exclusion under Macquarie University's Academic Progression Policy are not permitted to enrol in OUA units offered by Macquarie University. Students with an Academic Standing of Suspension or Exclusion who have enrolled in units through OUA will be withdrawn.

This subject is an introduction to theory and research in social and personality psychology. Social and personality psychology are two closely related areas that are concerned with explaining how we think, feel and relate to one another. In general, personality researchers focus on understanding individual differences in behaviour. For example, a personality researcher might investigate how narcissists differ from others (who are low in narcissism) on a range of social behaviours and self-perceptions; or whether there are qualitatively different forms of narcissism. In short, personality researchers focus on those behaviours, traits, and tendencies that remain consistent about the person across different situations. On the other hand, social psychologists tend to focus on how people react, on average, to various social situations. This typically involves the manipulation of situational variables and examining the effects of such manipulations on behaviour. For example, social psychologists have manipulated the number of bystanders witnessing an emergency and then observed the influence this has on helping behaviour. Although social and personality psychology approaches may appear quite distinct, much of the research in these fields incorporates both approaches. That is, it is common for a study to include both experimental manipulations of situational variables in addition to investigating the contribution of personality.

Topics covered in personality and social psychology are appealing because they are relevant to our everyday experiences: When you make predictions about what a friend might do based on knowledge of their personality, or when you attempt to influence someone, you draw on common sense views of personality and social psychology. Personality and social psychology researchers are also keen observers of people, but they make testable predictions and formulate theories based on scientific evidence. As such, the scientific approach to personality and social psychology is a critical overarching theme throughout the subject. Building on the personality and social psychology material introduced in first year, the personality section of the course provides an overview of the prominent theories of personality and examines recent developments in personality research. The section on social psychology covers foundational scientific research focusing on the study of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviours of individuals in social situations.

  • compulsory attendance (Pass/Fail%)
  • Maximum 1500 words (35%)
  • online test (25%)
  • Invigilated examination (40%)

Textbook information is pending.

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