Social psychology (psychology)/Assessment/Essay/Topics/Other

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This page lists a "melting pot" of student essay topics which are being developed for future social psychology (psychology) classes/students.

New ideas[edit]

These topics need review and revision. Some may be ready to go, otherwise need work. Consider for 2009 essay topics.

Essay topics
  1. Consensus: What is consensus and what theories/research can understand how consensus in group decision making can be achieved?
  2. Cultural distance and adaptation: Cultural distance refers to the degree of difference between cultures. Research has found that greater perceived cultural distance is associated with lower levels of adjustment. Explain and explore.
  3. Forgiveness: What is forgiveness and what is its role in interpersonal and intergroup relationships?
  4. Integrated Threat Theory: What is it? What research evidence is available about this theory?
  5. Self disclosure: What are the psychological forces for and against self-disclosure? And what are the effects of self-disclosure?
  6. Social distance and social connectedness: Social distance and social connectedness might be thought of as referring to two ends on a spectrum ranging from relative social isolation, distance, and disconnection through to relative social inclusion and connectedness. Explain and explore these constructs and their socio-psychological causes and consequences.
  7. Telecommuting: What are the pluses and minuses of telecommuting and why? What recommendations can be given to employers and employees about telecommuting?
  8. Uncertainty: Uncertainty about one's beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and feelings, as well as others, is generally an aversive state associated with feelings ranging from unease to fear (Fiske & Taylor, 1991), Mullin and Hogg proposed that subjective uncertainty reduction is a fundamental human motivation that can rather well be satisfied by the process of group identification. Explain and explore.
    • Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social cognition (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
    • Mullin, B. A & Hogg, M.A. (1999). Motivations for group membership: the role of subjective importance and uncertainty reduction. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 2, 91-102.
Learning resources
  1. Genocide: Needs development

Topics from 2008 - not taken[edit]

Or taken in 2008, but not submitted.

Topic Query-road.png Question Categories Notes Author
Abundance mentality What is it (and what is a scarcity mentality)? Explore these concepts from a socio-psychological viewpoint. How can an abundance mentality be fostered in communities? Social cooperation no author yet
Academic cheating How widespread is academic cheating by students and what forms of cheating are most common? Why do students cheat? What are some social psychological strategies which could be applied to improve academic integrity in education? Educational psychology [1], [2] no author yet
Adages For which of these adages is there the most support in social psychological theory and research? Use a max. of 10, with explanation and justification for each. General no author yet
Anti-psychiatry What is it? Consider within the context of social psychology. Mental health no author yet
Asset-Based Community Development What is ABCD? Explain its approach from a theoretical and research-based point of view, with examples. Community development, Positive psychology [3] no author yet
Attitudes towards Indigenous Australians Summarise socio-psychological research about non-Indigenous Australians' attitudes towards Indigenous Australians? Prejudice, Racism [4] no author yet
Australian's social identity What is the social identity of Australians? (i.e., describe how Australians' see themselves - or what distinguishes and characterises Australians' self-identity?). Refer to recent research and relevant theory, with international comparisons where available. Social self Australian social psychology [5] no author yet
Cliques What are cliques (in socio-psychological terms). What socio-psychologies can be used to explain the formation, maintenance, and function of cliques. In what kinds of cultures and environments are cliques most likely to be found? Group processes no author yet
Conflict resolution Negotiation and conflict resolution skills appear to be in greater demand than ever. What socio-psychological principles and negotiation techniques can be used for effective conflict resolution? Conflict resolution No author yet
Constructivism What is it? Consider within the context of social psychology. Social constructionism [6] No author yet
Critical discourse analysis What is it? How is it useful? Explain and discuss with examples. Discourse analysis no author yet
Critical mass What is "critical mass" (in social psychological terms)? What theories and research are able to explain examples of human critical mass phenomena (e.g., riots)? Group processes no author yet
Cultural mapping What is cultural mapping? Use an example of a cultural map you've developed and explain possible uses of cultural mapping. Culture [7] no author yet
Dependence versus independence What should we be striving for? Social dependence or social independence? Consider this question in light of this quote. General no author yet
Depersonalisation and war How is depersonalisation used as psychological influence technique in war? Aggression no author yet
Dunbar's number What is Dunbar's number? And what basis is there for such a number in theory and research? Social cognition, Relationships Dunbar's number no author yet
Eastern versus Western self Discuss the main differences between Western and Eastern conceptions of the self. Social self, Cross-cultural [8] no author yet
Environmentally sustainable behaviour How can social psychology be used to help change human behaviour so that it becomes more ecologically sustainable? Environmental psychology [9], [10] no author yet
Ethnocentrism What is ethnocentrism? Why does it occur? Under what conditions is ethnocentrism likely to be maximised? Attitudes, Intergroup relationships [11] no author yet
Field dependence vs. field independence What is field dependence / independence and what does research indicate about people who are field dependent / independent. General no author yet
Field theory What is it? Discuss with examples. Group processes no author yet
Flashmobbing What is it? Why do people do it? What are its socio-psychological causes and consequences? What are its risks and benefits? Crowd behaviour previous author didn't find enough material no author yet
Followership There is often a lot of focus on leaders and leadership, but relatively little on followers and followership. Explain the social psychology of followership. What is active versus passive followership? Leadership no author yet
Genocide consequences What are the most typical socio-psychological consequences of genocide and how might these issues be addressed? Genocide no author yet
Global brain and singularity Explain and critique Global Brain theory (also known as the Gaia hypothesis) and the prospect of singularity. Evolutionary psychology no author yet
Gordon Allport What were Gordon Allport's key contributions to social psychology? General no author yet
Group development Compare, contrast, and critique at least two models which describe the development of groups. Group processes [12] no author yet
Groupthink What is it? When and why does it occur? Include examples. Group processes [13] no author yet
Growth groups What is the theory underlying the social psychological phenomena of "growth groups" such as Encounter Groups, T-Groups, and Marathon Groups? What elements make for a successful group developmental/therapeutic experience? Group processes no author yet
Harming What goes through people's heads when they say or do something deliberately cruel and hurtful to another person? Why might they do something like that? What is their social reasoning? Aggression no author yet
Henri Tajfel What has he contributed to our understanding of social psychology? Use examples to illustrate key theories and principles in action. Social identity no author yet
Interpersonal attraction across cultures In what ways do the "rules" of human attraction vary or hold constant across cultures (and time)? Relationships previous author couldn't find enough material no author yet
Inter-galaxial species field guide By 3000 AD, travel between solar systems and galaxies is becoming a common event. To aid understanding between species, a field guide is produced, describing "intelligent" species on each planet and how to get along with them. Write a section about how to interact effectively with homo sapiens. Culture 1 Kstoker
Interpersonal communication What are the key elements of effective interpersonal communication? Communication [14], [15] no author yet
Kurt Lewin What did he contribute to our understanding of Social Psychology? Group processes [16] no author yet
Leadership need Why do groups of people seem to need leaders? Even amongst small groups leaders emerge. On a larger scale all nations have leaders and the ideal communism never seemed to take off, nor has anarchy or any other idea of a leaderless society. Leadership [17] no author yet
Leadership style Compare and contrast at least two leadership style theories/models, with a review of available research evidence. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each theory/model? Leadership no author yet
Life games Explain Robert S. de Ropp's conceptualisation of life games which people play (from The Master Game) using examples. Social behaviour no author yet
Nature-deficit disorder Richard Louv recently coined this term to refer to individual, family, and societal physical and psychological ills arising from a lack of direct contact with nature. With 50% of the world's population now living in cities, how can we prevent a potential epidemic of NDD? Environmental psychology [18] no author yet
Parasocial contact hypothesis What is the PCH? Explore the PCH in the context of socio-psychological theory and research. Prejudice no author yet
Personal construct psychology Explain George Kelly's PCP with emphasis on its relevance to socio-psychological theory and research. Social cognition no author yet
Playing hard to get Does "playing hard to get" make a human female more attractive to males? Relationships author found a lack of info no author yet
Primates What have social psychologists learnt from the study of primates? Evolutionary psychology no author yet
Radical constructivism Do you agree with the views of radical constructivism? Why or why not? Social constructionism no author yet
Relative deprivation Describe the socio-psychological theory of relative deprivation. Include examples. Social comparison no author yet
Rumour Summarise the social psychology of rumour. Social perception no author yet
Second positioning What is it and what effects does it have? Describe recommended steps for training someone to become more effective at second positioning. Communication no author yet
Sensory deprivation What happens when humans are deprived of sensory input for an extended period of time and why? What are the socio-psychological implications of SD research and related theory? Social contact no author yet
Shame and embarrassment What is the difference between shame and embarrassment? Emotion no author yet
Social animal Why are humans so engrossed in social interaction? Why is social interaction so important to humans? Why are humans largely social creatures? Evolutionary psychology no author yet
Social disengagement What is it and how can it be measured? Note that social alienation and social isolation might be synonymous terms. Social contact no author yet
Social dominance orientation What is this construct, how does it relate to other socio-psychologies, and what are the main research findings about SDO? Social influence no author yet
Social perception: Thin slices Explain and summarise Nalini Ambady's "thin-slices" research. Relationships no author yet
Social psychology of advertising What socio-psychological principles are used in advertising? Marketing psychology no author yet
Social psychology of birth order What are the socio-psychological effects of birth order? How do these effects play out in the context of modern families (e.g., stepfamilies)? Family no author yet
Social psychology of fundraising What socio-psychological techniques are used in fundraising? Marketing [19] no author yet
Social psychology of inflation Consider socio-psychological aspects of (economic) inflation, including causes and consequences. Crowd behaviour [20] no author yet
Social psychology of work What aspects of social psychology can be usefully applied in the workplace? Organisational psychology Bon Bon
Social support What is it and how can it be measured? Social support no author yet
Sociobiology of indigenous Australian communities Offer a sociobiological perspective on the cultural, physical, and psychological health of indigenous Australian communities. Evolutionary psychology, Indigenous psychology no author yet
Spiral dynamics Analyse and describe yourself in terms of the main principles advanced in Spiral Dynamics. Social development no author yet
Stress inoculation What is it and should our society be doing more of it? Culture, Social development no author yet
Technology and social (dis)connection What are the social implications of the rise of popular mobile technology (e.g., ipod and mobile phone) with regard to social isolation and social connection? Psychology of technology no author yet
Touch Explore the social psychology of touch. What would you put on the "touch menu" (any why) for attaining maximum psychological health? Relationships no author yet
Transactional analysis Explain TA and how it can be used to improve relationships. Relationships no author yet
Trust What is it and how can it be fostered? Consider Margaret Betz's view that trust "is directly opposed to both self-centered arrogance which runs roughshod over other people and the kind of self-distrust which cripples human development". Relationships no author yet
Waist-to-hip ratio Consider evolutionary perspectives on research about the relation between female waist-to-hip ratios and attractiveness. Attraction no author yet
Web2.0 What is Web2.0? Explore from a social psychological perspective. Psychology of technology no author yet

Topics which need more work[edit]

These need some more development before being appropriate as essay questions e.g., because they don't clearly enough relate to social psychology, require rewording or refocusing, etc. May have been tried in the past or be incomplete.

  1. Culture jamming: Explore the social psychological aspects of culture jamming. Illustrate with examples. [21]
  2. Cyberspace: Explore and explain the social psychology of cyberspace. [22]
  3. Eccentricity: Explain eccentricity from a socio-psychological perspective. [23]
  4. Ecofeminism: What is it? Explore and critique its socio-psychological implications. [24]
  5. Environmental attitudes and behaviour: Is there a gap between environmental attitudes and behaviour? If so, why and what can be done about it?
  6. Gender equality: To what extent has gender equality been achieved? What gender biases persist and why? [25]
  7. Gestalt psychology: What is it? Explain the main ideas and principles using your own examples. [26]
  8. Healthy suburbs: Summarise and explain Anne Kavanagh's recent VicLANES research on developing healthy suburbs. [27]
  9. In-group bias: What is it, why does it occur and under what conditions does it increase? [28]
  10. JOHARI window: Describe the JOHARI window and describe what is analyses from a socio-psychological point of view. [29]
  11. Kindness paradox: Discuss Benjamin Franklin's claim that "he that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged." [30]
  12. Love and relationships: Attachment theory: Using examples from your personal life, "case studies", or other people, explain Attachment Theory. Your response can be written in the first person. [31]
  13. Love and relationships: Investment model: Using examples from your personal relationships, explain the Investment Model. Your response can be written in the first person. [32]
  14. [Love and relationships: Triangular theory of love]]: Using examples from your personal relationships, explain the Triangular Theory of Love. Your response can be written in the first person. [33]
  15. Media: Influence of mainstream (commercial) television in shaping our culture/society.
  16. Moral equivalent of war: Is William James' classic essay from the early 1900's still relevant today? Reconsider James' arguments in light of social psychological theory and research which has ensued. [34]
  17. Natural environments: What are the psychological effects of exposure to natural environments?
  18. Obesity: Describe the social psychology of obesity. You might consider issues such as:
    • To what extent is obesity attributable to culture, society, community and family, and to what extent is it attributable to individual physical and psychological factors?
    • How are obese people treated by society and why?
  19. Overpopulation and democracy: Discuss Isaac Asimov's claim that "democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters."
  20. Peer popularity: A significant issue for many people during adolescence is negotiating peer popularity at school. What are the psychological and social characteristics of popular versus unpopular school students (amongst peers) (e.g., attractiveness, personality, etc.)? And what dynamic social psychological variables also contribute to popularity (e.g., social influence, social categorisation, etc.)? Where possible, discuss in relation to Australian society, although international research is likely to be relevant. Note that some of the bullying literature may be useful.
  21. Political psychology: Provide an overview of the main theories and research in this area.
  22. Psychoevolutionary perspectives on sport: Explain the phenomenon of sport from a psychoevolutionary perspective. [35]
  23. Publication bias: Publication of journal articles: Control, dominance and pressures applied (overt & covert)
  24. Relationship stages: Describe and critique relationship stage theories using your own relationship(s) as examples. [36]
  25. Religion: What proportion of people ascribe to a religion? Why? Explore from a social psychological perspective. [37]
  26. Risky shift: What is it, when does it occur, and why does it occur? [38]
  27. Social Competence: What skills, attitudes and behaviours are exhibited by people whom we understand to be socially competent? To what extent can social competence be learned and to what extent is it innate? What are the most effective methods for training people in social skills and enhancing social competence? [39]
  28. Social psychology of education.
  29. Social psychology of food:
    • What is the role of food, or more particularly socio-cultural practices around food, in meeting human's social needs? To what extent are these practices similar across cultures, and in what ways to these practices vary between cultures?
    • What social environments influence different eating habits? For example, predispositions, the avaliability of food and food advertising.
  30. Social exchange theory: What is it? Explain with reference to examples from your own life. [40]
  31. Social norms: How social values (norms or standards?) develop / evolve / change or influence culture
  32. Solitary confinement: What are the psychological effects of solitary confinement? Why do these occur and what does knowledge about the psychological effects of solitary confinement reveal more generally about human social psychology? [41]
  33. Solitude versus loneliness: What is the difference between solitude and loneliness? Describe with reference to examples from your own life, people you know, and well-known others. [42]
  34. Terrorism: Discuss the social psychology of terrorism in relation to this image.
  35. War and love: Discuss this picture in terms of the social psychology of war and love. Relationships
  36. You just get me: Conduct a personal experiment by joining http://www.youjustgetme.com. You should earn at least 25 credit points by making your own profile available and by guessing the personalities of other members. Describe your experience of this website with respect to social psychological aspects of personality and social perception. [43]

Topics suggested by students[edit]

Topics suggested by students but no essay was submitted.

APA and torture What has been the involvement of the APA and its members in the design and facilitation of interrogation and torture procedures and why? Discuss how these events illustrate important aspects of socio-psychological theory and research. Social influence, Military psychology, Ethics Vfrankel

Topics completed[edit]

For these topics, a sufficiently good essay seems to already exist (from the 2007 blogs). However, permission would need to be sought for re-use.:

  1. Deindividuation: What is it? When is it desirable or undesirable? How can it be prevented or facilitated? [44]
  2. Digital divide: Donsider the socio-psychological causes and consequences of the digital divide. What do you think the consequences of experiments such as the hole in the wall and one laptop per child will be?
  3. Family systems theory: What is family systems theory? Explore connections between family systems theory and social psychology. [45], [46]
  4. Friendship: What factors influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person? Discuss in relation to your own relationships and friendships. [47]
  5. Psychodrama: What is it, where does it come from, and how does it work? Discuss from a social psychological viewpoint. [48]
  6. Self-enhancement by social comparison: Describe and explain the phenomenon of social comparison for self-enhancement. What is it and why does it occur? Include examples. [49]
  7. Suicide: Explore suicide from a socio-psychological perspective. [50]
  8. Volunteerism: Summarise Clary and Snyder's theory and research on the psychology of volunteerism. [51]

Other sources for topics[edit]

Looking for ideas? Look through the topics still to be transferred to here:

Topics which have been transferred to Wikiversity:

External links[edit]