Psychology 3084B : Social Cognition

John Barresi
Department of Psychology
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Office: LSC 2540
Telephone: 494-2443
Email: jbarresi@dal.ca
Time: MWF 10:30-11:30
Room: LSC 5263
Web-site for course: http://jbarresi.psychology.dal.ca


Social Cognition (Psych. 3084B, 2007) 


John Barresi (Rm. 2540; Office Hrs: Wed. 2:35-4:30 p.m.)

E-mail: jbarresi@dal.ca 

Website: http://jbarresi.psychology.dal.ca


Teaching Assistant: Adrienne Girling
Office: LSB
E-Mail: agirling@dal.ca
Office Hours:

Evaluation (Using grade point conversions for psych. 1000; i.e.,  < 50 F; 50-54, D; 55-59 C-; 60-64 C; 65-69 C+; 70-74 B-; 75-79 B; 80-84 B+; 85-89 A-; 90-94 A; 95-100 for A+)

Best 9 of 12 quizzes each worth 5 points = 45 pts. There will be 12 surprise spot quizzes distributed about evenly throughout the course and held at the beginning of classes. They will be based partly on the reading for that class, but will also test material covered in recent classes not previously tested. You are required to take at least 9 of these quizzes (three out of each four-in-sequence) each of which will be worth 5 points, to make a total of 45 points for exams. You may take more of the quizzes if you wish, and the best three of the quizzes that belong in each group of four will count toward your final grade. However, there will be no make-ups for any of the quizzes, so you should insure that you attend the classes necessary to guarantee that you take the required 9 quizzes. The quizzes will typically ask five short answer questions, sometimes with parts; sometimes a single question may be worth several points.

Journal = 25 pts.  The purpose of the journal is to encourage you to reflect on what you are learning about the nature of social cognition and how it applies to your own life and to the lives of others.  Although I am interested in your reflective reactions to course material, I am not interested in reactions of the sort that complain about the length and difficulty of the readings, or explain why you don't have time to attend class, & etc. What you should be doing is thinking about how the material in the course, readings as well as classroom discussion, helps you to understand social cognition in yourself and others. These others should include both people around you and people who live elsewhere and at other times, such as those found in the books, Black Like Me and Stories of Scottsboro. National and international news items, movies, etc. might also be sources of information worth discussing in light of course material. Mainly, what I'm hoping to find in these journals is a growth in self and other knowledge as a result of reflection and consideration of course-related material. So try to stick to the topic. You should write in your journal at least once weekly with a dated entry. Entries do not need to be very lengthy - two or three paragraphs are fine, longer if you wish. You are invited to draw on what you write in your journal during class discussion, but you are not required to do so. During the semester you are also invited to submit one or two journal entries to the TA to get feedback on whether you are on the right track with the general type of entry that you are writing. I recommend that you write your journal on a computer, or, at least, make entries into a computer on a regular basis (and save a disk copy). A printed version of your Journal is due on the next-to-last class (April 2). Please use single spacing within entries in order to conserve paper.

Final Take-home Exam = 30 pts.  On the last class (April 4), you will be provided a take-home examination. It will include one or two questions of a general nature, requiring you to use theories covered during the course to explain phenomena in Stories of Scottsboro, Black Like Me, other materials presented at that time, or world events discussed in class at one time or another. Your answers to these essay questions should be typewritten, and, altogether, should not be more than ten double-spaced pages. You are to work alone on answering the questions. You will have 7 days to complete the exam.


Texts and Printed Readings 

[SS] Goodman, James (1995) Stories of Scottsboro.

[BLM] Griffin, John Howard (1961/96) Black Like Me.

Printed Readings (Available at Secretariat or in class)


Historical Papers

Smith, Adam (1759) ASympathy@ in Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 1, chs 1-3.

Baldwin, James Mark (1897) AThe Self-Conscious Person@ in Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development.

Humphrey, Nicholas (1986) ANatural Psychologists@ in The Inner Eye, Chap 2, pp. 32-51 (London: Faber and Faber) and (1984) ANature=s Psychologists@ in Consciousness Regained, Chap3, pp 29-37.


Self & Social Cognition

[B & M] Barresi, John, & Moore, Chris (1996) AIntentional Relations and Social Understanding@ in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 19, 107-22.

Malle, B. F. (2005). Self-other asymmetries in behavior explanations: Myth or reality? In M. D. Alicke, D. Dunning, &  J. I. Krueger, The self in social perception. New York: Psychology Press.

[B] Barresi, John (2000) Intentional relations and divergent perspectives in social understanding. In S. Gallagher and S. Watson (Eds.) Ipseity and Alterity, Special Issue of Arob@se: Journal des lettres et  sciences humaines, V. 4, no. 1-2.

Pettigrew, T., (1979) The ultimate attribution error: Extending Allport’s cognitive analysis of prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5, 461-476.

Leary, M.R. (2005) Interpersonal cognition and the quest for social acceptance: Inside the sociometer. In, Interpersonal Cognition (M.W. Baldwin (Ed.), Guilford Press, Ch 4, 85-102.

Aron, A., Mashek, D., McLaughlin-Volpe, T., Wright, S., Lewandowski, G., and Aron, E.N. (2005) Including close others in the cognitive structure of self. In, Interpersonal Cognition (M.W. Baldwin, Ed.), Guilford Press, 206-232.


Social Identity Theory

Reynolds, K. & Turner, J. (2001) Prejudice as a group process: The role of social identity. In, Augoustinos, M. and Reynolds, K. (Eds.) Understanding prejudice, racism, and social conflict, Chap 10, Pp. 159-178 (London: Sage).

Oakes, P., Haslam, S. A., and Turner, J. (1998) The role of prototypicality in group influence and cohesion: Contextual variation in the graded structure of social categories. In, Worchel et al., Social Identity, Chap 6, pp. 76-92.

Reicher, G., The psychology of crowd dynamics. (2001) Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Group processes, Chap 8, 182-208 (Oxford: Blackwell).


Social Representation

Augoustinos, Martha & Walker, Ian (1995) Social Representation. Chap 6, 134-144, 149-153, 179-182 in Social Cognition (London: Sage).

Potter, J. and Wetherell, M. (1998) Social representations, discourse analysis, and racism. In, U. Flick, The Psychology of the social, Chap 9, pp. 138-155 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP)

Oyserman, D. and Markus, H. (1998) Self as social representation. In U. Flick (Ed.) The Psychology of the social, Chap 7 pp. 107-125.

Augoustinos, Martha & Walker, Ian (1995) Social psychological study of ideology. Social Cognition, Chap 11, 288-312 (London: Sage).

Crocker, J. and Quinn, D. (2001) Psychological consequences of devalued identities. In R Brown & S. Gaertner, eds, Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Intergroup processes, Chap 12, 238-257 (Oxford: Blackwell).


Intergroup Processes and Racism

Platow, M., and Hunter, J. (2001) Realistic intergroup conflict: prejudice, power, and protest. Augoustinos and Reynolds, Understanding prejudice, racism, and social conflict, Chap    12, Pp. 195-212 (London: Sage).

Brewer, M. and Gaetner, S. (2001) Toward reduction of prejudice: Intergroup contact and social categorization.  In: R. Brown & S.L. Gaetner (eds.)   Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Intergroup processes, Chap 22, pp 451-472 (Oxford: Blackwell).


Reading Assignments

Week 1 Jan 3-5: Overview; Smith.

Week 2 Jan 8-12: Baldwin; BLM (1-76); Humphrey.

Week 3 Jan 15-19: B & M sections 1-3; BLM (77-164); B & M sections 4-6.

Week 4 Jan 22-26: Malle; BLM (165-200); B (74-92).

Week 5 Jan 29-Feb 2: B (93-96) & Pettigrew; SS chapters 1-6; Monroe Day.

Week 6 Feb 5-9: Leary; SS 7-12; Aron.

Week 7 Feb 12-16: Reynolds (159-168); SS 13-18; Reynolds (168-178).

Feb 19-23: Study Break

Week 8 Feb 26- Mar 2: Oakes; SS 19-24; Reicher (182-192).

Week 9 Mar 5-9: Reicher (192-203); SS 25-30; Social Representation.

Week 10 Mar 12-16: Potter; SS 31-36; Oyserman.

Week 11 Mar 19-23: Ideology; SS 37-42; Crocker.

Week 12 Mar 26-30: Platow; SS 43-48; Brewer.

Week 13 Apr 2-4: SS 49-54 & journals due; take home exam.


Social Cognition
Additional Course Materials


Mirror experiences in Griffin's Black Like Me

November 7, 1959: Just after heavily blackening himself and shaving his head
(pp. 15-17, John's edition)

"Turning off all the lights, I went into the bathroom and closed the door. I stood in the
darkness before the mirror, my hand on the light switch. I forced myself to flick on the
In the flood of light against white tile, the face and shoulders of a stranger - a fierce,
bald, very dark Negro - glared at me from the glass. He in no way resembled me.
The transformation was total and shocking. I had expected to see myself disguised,
but this was something else. I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an
unsympathetic one with whom I felt no kinship.
. . . . I knew now that there is no such thing as a disguised white man, when the
black won't rub off. The black man is wholly Negro, regardless of what he once may
have been. I was a newly created Negro who must go out that door and live in a world
unfamiliar to me.
The completeness of this transformation appalled me. . . . I became two men, the
observing one and the one who panicked, who felt Negroid even into the depths of his
I felt the beginnings of great loneliness, not because I was a Negro but because the
man I had been, the self I knew, was hidden in the flesh of another. If I returned home to
my wife and children they would not know me. . . . .
I had tampered with the mystery of existence and I had lost the sense of my own being.
This is what devastated me. The griffin that was had become invisible.
The worst of it was that I could feel no companionship with this new person. I did not
like the way he looked. Perhaps, I thought, this was only the shock of a first reaction.
But the thing was done and there was no possibility of turning back. For a few weeks I
must be this aging, bald Negro; I must walk through a land hostile to my color, hostile to
my skin. . . .
With enormous self-consciousness I stepped from the house into the darkness.

November 8th: Room by the YMCA in New Orleans (p. 37)

"I returned to my room and wrote in my journal. My landlady lit the fire and brought a
pitcher of drinking water for my night stand. As I looked up to thank her, I saw the
image in the large mirror of the wardrobe. Light gleamed from the elderly Negro's head
as he looked up to talk to the Negro woman. The sense of shock returned; it was as
though I were invisible in the room, observing a scene in which I had no part."

November 14th: Room in 'shanty structure' in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (pp.

"Canned jazz blared through the street . . . . I switched on the light and looked into a
cracked piece of mirror bradded with bent nails to the wall. The bald Negro stared
back at me from its mottled sheen. I knew I was in hell. Hell could be no more lonely or
hopeless, no more agonizingly estranged from the world of order and harmony.
I heard my voice, as though it belonged to someone else, hollow in the empty room,
detached, say: 'Nigger, what you standing up there crying for?'
Then I heard myself say what I have heard them say so many times. 'It's not right. It's
not right.'
Then the onrush of revulsion, the momentary flash of blind hatred against the whites
who were somehow responsible for all of this, the old bewilderment of wondering. 'Why
do they do it? Why do they keep us like this? What are they gaining? What evil has
taken them?' (The Negroes say, 'What sickness has taken them?') My revulsion turned
to grief that my own people could give the hate stare, could shrivel men's souls, could
deprive humans of rights they unhesitatingly accord their livestock.
I turned away from the mirror. . . . .
I took out my notebook . . . and attempted to write . . . . I tried to write my wife - I
needed to write her, to give her my news - but I found I could tell her nothing. No words
would come. She had nothing to do with this life, nothing to do with the room in
Hattiesburg or with its Negro inhabitant. It was maddening. All my instincts struggled
against the estrangement. I began to understand Lionel Trilling's remark that culture -
learned behavior patterns so deeply ingrained they produce involuntary reactions - is a
prison. My conditioning as a Negro, and the immense sexual implications with which
the racists in our culture bombard us, cut me off, even in my most intimate self, from
any connection with my wife. . . .
The visual barrier imposed itself. The observing self saw the Negro, surrounded by the
sounds and smells of the ghetto, write 'Darling' to a white woman. The chains of my
blackness could not allow me to go on. Though I understood and could analyze what
was happening, I could not break through.
Never look at a white woman - look down or the other way.
What do you mean, calling a white woman 'darling' like that, boy?

Stories of Scottsboro

Focal Point of View for each Chapter

1. The black boys from start through early period
2. The local white Alabamans
3. The white girls' public image as rape victims
4. Communist party - first there "legal lynching"
5. NAACP - Walter White and problems with Communists
6. Hollace Ransdall and ACLU "all innocence"

7. White Alabaman officials receiving "vicious literature" from outsiders across the
8. Other progressive white Alabamans in CIC and ASWPL
9. Black middle class in the South - newsmen, Adams and Johnson
10. Northern Black elite response to communists and NAACP
11. Southern heroic blacks who got involved with communists: Hudson and Cobb
12. Mothers of the boys and communists versus NAACP

13. Supreme court decision to overturn first trials.
14. Boys in their cells.
15. Leibowitz and his idea of the south based on reconstructed history.
16. Attorney General Knight and the 'buzzards' from the north 'again'.
17. Leibowitz's surprise at 'unconscious' southern white prejudice.
18. The new trial and evidence against rape.

19. View of second trial by jurors and other local whites.
20. View of second trial outcome by Leibowitz and Northern whites and blacks.
21. The black boys in prison in their new special roles.
22. Black perception of reconstruction and aftermath, the trial, NAACP and ILD; plans
for a march on Washington.
23. 'Quality' - southern white perception of the cause of the trial and bad results in the
'pathology of women.'
24. Judge Horton and his decision to overturn jury's decision.

25. "Women of the character shown in this case" - male and female views of Price and
26. Points of view of Price and Bates.
27. "Thinking people of Alabama" - conflicting response to Horton's decision.
28. Callahan as judge for third Patterson trial and Leibowitz' perspective of the trial.
29. Callahan's view of the trial.
30. The jury's perspective of the trial.

31. The boys in jail after third trials; some individual stories.
32. Conflict and eventual reconciliation of Liebowitz, ILD and other groups for
presentation before Supreme Court on third trials.
33. Mainly black view of Supreme Court decision to reverse Alabama decisions
based on exclusion of blacks from the jury.
34. Fourth trial of Patterson with 75-year sentence and "escape" attempt.
35. North versus South conflicting interpretations of the "escape" attempt and Powell
being shot by the Sheriff.
36. Problem of the boys being in jail for six years.

37. "Loving one's enemies" - Chalmers [SDC] meets white Alabaman newsmen and
turns the tide toward settlement.
38. Leibowitz and possible deal with Knight, who dies.
39. Hall [Montgomery Advertiser] meets Chalmers and tries to help make another deal
with At. Gen. Carmichael.
40. Compromise fails, probably due to Callahan, followed by new trials for Norris, Andy
Wright, Weems; all found guilty - Norris, death, Wright - 99 years, Weems - 75;
Remaining accused have rape charges dropped.
41. Chalmers and negotiations with Governor Graves for pardons ending in final
42. How Hall, Graves and other involved southern whites viewed the failure - due to
pre-pardon interviews.

43. Mainly Hall's perspective on the events surrounding Grave's decision and
subsequent events until his death.
44. Perspective of the Scottsboro men who were released.
45. Norris's view after being put back in jail.
46. Andy Wright and Weems back in jail.
47. Patterson's troubles back in jail.
48. The Grave interviews and decision as viewed by the prisoners.

49. Olen Montgomery's subsequent life.
50. Haywood Patterson's life at Atmore.
51. Weems, Norris, and Andy Wright at Kilby and subsequent developments after
52. Patterson at Kilby again; his escape, and rest of life.
53. The rest of Norris's life including pardon and visit to Alabama in 1976.
54. Norris's memorial service presenting Butts's sermon.

Realistic-Group-Conflict Theory (RGC Theory)

1. Real conflict of group interests causes intergroup conflict.

2. Real conflict of interests, overt, active, or past intergroup conflict, and /or presence
of hostile, threatening, and competitive outgroup neighbors, which collectively may be
called 'real threat,' causes perception of threat.

3. Real threat causes hostility toward the source of threat.

4. Real treat causes ingroup solidarity.

5. Real threat causes increased awareness of own ingroup identity.

6. Real threat increases tightness of group boundaries.

7. Real threat reduces defection from the group.

8. Real threat increases punishment and rejection of defectors.

9. Real threat creates punishment and rejection of deviants.

10. Real threat increases ethnocentrism.

11. False perception of threat from an outgroup causes increased ingroup solidarity
and hostility toward the outgroup.

Quotes from Stories of Scottsboro for Discussion

Chap 25: p. 188-9 Labor journalist Mary Heaton Vorse "used the testimony of Carter
and Bates to try to imagine the circumstances in which the behavior that sickened
most observers…. riding freights, drinking hard, making love in the company of other
couples, … -- was understandable, even sane. Their amusement, Vorse wrote, were
their promiscuous love affairs; their playgrounds were hobo swamps and the unfailing
freight cars:

Why not? What was to stop them? What did Huntsville or Alabama or the US offer a
girl for virtue and probity and industry?…

If, among all the people sympathetic to the Scottsboro defense, it was only two
northern women [Ransdall & Vorse] who tried to put the allegations about Price and
Bates within the context of their lives, it was only a few southern women who argued
that those allegations were irrelevant [to the issue of rape].

[The voices of these women were 'faint' and not distinguished from the dominant
northern and southern voices...]

Chap 26: p. 192 It was common for white people to accuse black people of crimes to
conceal or divert attention from their own transgressions. It was acceptable and
reasonable, and it was done by women as well as by men. Rape was the most serious
accusation a white person could level against a black person, and as women, Price
and Bates were the victims of the ideas that gave the accusation its power: ideas
about the bestial nature of black men and corresponding danger of integration and
equality; ideas about the powerlessness and vulnerability of white women and the
corresponding precondition of personal safety, complete deference and submission to
white men….

Victoria Price had a choice between her own well-being and the well-being of a bunch
of black teenagers…She made the choice that most southern whites would have
made, thinking that blacks were inferior and knowing that they were vulnerable: she
chose her own well-being.

Chap. 27: p. 200- 201 In the South, the greatest effect of Horton's decision was to
reinforce convictions previously held. …[E.G.] Moseley [ in an angry letter to an Editor
who praised the decision] :The judge had sat idly by while his courtroom was turned
into a circus. He allowed photographers to take flash pictures and "that Jew lawyer to
say and do what he pleased." When Leibowitz ordered Knight to address a Negro
witness as "Mister," Horton "sat there and said nothing." Had you been in the attorney
general's place, Moseley asked the editor, would you still have called him "brave" and
said his "behavior" won "the praise of all thoughtful obsverers?" Moseley concluded
that Horton simply sought notoriety and had "no more backbone than an angle worm."

Chap. 33: p. 248-249 Only Patterson and Norris would have gone to the chair if, for
whatever reason, the Court had ruled the other way. But Norris v. Alabama touched
many other black Americans profoundly, in ways that lawyerly talk of
precedents and rights (rights that the person talking usually enjoyed) could not
convey. It touched black Americans as mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers,
for they knew that the blight that had struck those boys could just as easily have struck
their kin. They celebrated the decision as if it had been their own boys the Court
had spared and given another shot of justice.

The decision also touched them, particularly black southerners, as citizens without
legal power. They experienced the law not as something that black and white people
did to one another, as the Constitution and democratic common sense said it out to
be, but as something that white people did to black people. White champions of the
defendants and white advocates of civil rights understood that the South's laws
and criminal justice system were unjust and could list a dozen reasons why.
But to know injustice as black people knew it, it was necessary to know it in the
parts of the body that produced nausea, chills, sweat, and tears, to have it
knock the wind out of you and triple the beat of your heart.

Knowledge of southern justice came in part from the fear of it, and the fear
came from the knowledge that the color of your skin made you a suspect - a
suspect that looked just like the prime suspect - every time the police were looking
for a black man. It came from the knowledge that if arrested, you were likely to be
subjected to the third degree; if indicted you were likely to be unrepresented; if
convicted, sentenced to a longer term in prison or on the chain gang than a white man
convicted of the same crime. The fear came from the near inescapability of the
danger . . . no matter how prosperous you were or how well placed, no matter how
unshakable your alibi, you were not immune from false accusation, mistaken
identity, wrongful conviction, and punishment.

The fear of southern justice came from the knowledge that in the organized
hysteria that so often followed reports of assault, murder, riot, insurrection, and rape,
you might be beaten or killed because white men suspected you committed a
crime. Or because, in the absence of a suspect, they thought the punishment of
any black person, as an example to all, would be better than the punishment of


(Augoustinos & Walker, Social Cognition, Chapter 11)

We define the social psychological study of ideology as the study of the social
psychological processes and mechanisms by which certain representations and
constructions of the world serve to legitimate, maintain and reproduce the existing
institutional arrangements, social and power relations within a society. (p. 288)

[We define] ideology as beliefs, representations, discourse, etc., which function to
legitimate the existing social, political and economic relations of dominance within a
society, irrespective of their 'truth' status. Gramsci's notion of hegemony can be
viewed as referring to a dominant and pervasive ideological outlook within a society.
(p. 295 revised)

We have adopted a specific definition of ideology which referred to beliefs, values,
representations, discourses, interpretive repertoires and behavioural practices which
contribute to the legitimation and reproduction of existing institutional arrangements,
power and social relations within a society. . . .
The task for a social psychology theory of ideology is to understand the interface
between social, economic and historical structural forces and the everyday functioning
of individuals and groups. . . . . The study of ideology needs to be contextualized
within a framework which sees the individual as being in a dialectical relationship with
society, both as a product of society and as an active agent who can effect change in
society. (p. 311)