Behavior Change - Yours and Theirs, From Implicit to Explicit

This course tackles some of the toughest challenges people face: how to change their own and others’ behavior — and keep it changed. Processes it will cover include: resistance and receptivity to change, intentional and unintentional influences, the importance of the self, how emotion can both harm and help, interpersonal vs. intrapersonal efforts, material incentives and punishments (spoiler: they don’t work very well), whether and how to combine interventions, and initiation vs. maintenance. These processes will be levied on topics ranging from healthier living and responding to life with equanimity and egalitarianism, to figuring out and addressing the bottlenecks that prevent others from adopting desired behaviors. Armed with tools well-suited for deliberate self-change attempts as well as other-focused nudges from behavioral economics, this course will demonstrate why it is so hard to change behavior — and how to design the investigations and interventions so as to reveal fresh, new understandings of the mind and enhance the lives of many.  

Instructors: Wendy Wood, Kathleen Vohs

Computational Social Psychology

This course will teach you to construct your own computational models of social and personality related phenomena. Much of the class will be hands on, building and sharing models, rather than lecture. The class will address two different approaches to modeling: Modeling as a way to simulate theory and modeling as a way to capture the structure of data over time. Dr. Read will focus on building neural network models of social and personality phenomena that can be used to test theoretical ideas.  Dr. Bolger will focus on state of the art statistical techniques for constructing models of data over time (e.g., dyadic interaction, intensive longitudinal data (e.g., ecological momentary assessment).  How these two approaches are mutually reinforcing will be highlighted. Students should bring their own laptop and have installed the required software (freely available).  They are also expected to come with ideas about their own models. 

Instructors: Niall Bolger, Steve Read

Psychology of Inequality

This class will explore how socioeconomic inequalities shape patterns of thought, feeling, and action. We will explore the implications of these inequalities in important domains, such as education and health. We will cover varying theoretical perspectives on the sources and impacts of inequality from social psychology, along with frameworks from within other areas of psychology (e.g., cognitive, cultural) and also from related social sciences. The class will also explore theoretically-informed interventions that seek to alleviate inequality. Together, we will propose a forward-looking research agenda in this area – considering innovations and advances that can be made from both a theoretical and applied perspective.

Instructors: Nicole Stephens​, Jean-Claude Croizet


Interventions that attempt to build theory as well as apply it in the context of important social problems are an important part of the field of social psychology, and a cornerstone of the Lewinian approach. This course will review some of the the social psychological interventions and theoretical approaches that have been used to address social issues. A wide range of interventions will be examined, including both construal-shaping wise interventions as well as large-scale multi-pronged theory- based health behavior change interventions. Theoretical, methodological, and practical issues will be discussed in the course to help guide the development of research proposals featuring the testing of interventions.

Instructors: Jeff Fisher, David Sherman

Personality in Context

This course will explore recent advances in personality psychology, in particular personality and individual differences in everyday contexts. We will discuss the basic nature of personality traits, and consider research on the accuracy of personality judgment.  In addition, we will explore both micro and macro contexts ranging from a taxonomy of everyday situations (e.g., Riverside Situational Q-Sort), cross-situational and behavioral consistency, to geography (e.g., mountain-lovers, urbanites), to socio-economic-political environments (e.g., income inequality, dominant political ideology), to culture (e.g., tight-loose).

Instructors: Shige Oishi, ​David Funder