Psychology of Behaviour and Opinions (2014/2015)

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Course code
Monica Pedrazza
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
Parte 1 2 Sem. IIB Monica Pedrazza
Parte 2 4 Sem. IIB Elena Trifiletti

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

This course focuses on attitudes and social behaviour. The aim is to provide students with a good understanding of the major theories and research trends on this topic. Specifically, the course will address two main themes. The first concerns the distinction between automatic and controlled components of attitudes and their influence on behaviour. The second concerns the pervasive effects of death awareness on affect, cognition, and behaviour. This topic will be held by Professor Tom Pyszczynski from the University of Colorado (Colorado Springs), who has developed with his colleagues Jeff Greenberg and Sheldon Solomon the Terror Management Theory, one of the most influential theories in Social Psychology. The course is research based, namely the contents of the course are mostly derived from empirical research in Social Psychology. Therefore, students will be asked to study not only theories, but also experimental and correlational studies that demonstrate the validity of these theories. By the end of the course students will develop intellectual skills, such as critical reflection, analysis, and interpretation of human behaviour, as well as practical skills, such as critical analysis of dysfunctional behaviors.


Readings include five social psychology articles, which can be downloaded from Three articles concern the basic concepts of the course:
1. Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., & Solomon, S. (1999). A dual-process model of defense against conscious and unconscious death-related thoughts: An extension of Terror Management Theory. Psychological Review, 106(4), 835-845.
2. Gawronski, B. (2009). Ten Frequently Asked Questions About Implicit Measures and Their Frequently Supposed, But Not Entirely Correct Answers. Canadian Psychology, 50 (3), 141-150.
3. Armitage, C. J., & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the Theory of Planned Behaviour: A meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 471-499.

Two articles will be on a topic of student's choice. The student can choose among the three following topics:
A. Attitudes and health behaviours
4a. Goldenberg, J. L., & Arndt, J. (2008). The implications of death for health: A Terror Management Health Model for behavioral health promotion. Psychological Review, 115(4), 1032-1053.
5a. Friese, M., Hofmann, W., & Wanke, M. (2008). When impulses take over: Moderated predictive validity of explicit and implicit attitude measures in predicting food choice and consumption behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 47, 397-419.
B. Attitudes and political preferences
4b. Galdi, S., Arcuri, L., & Gawronski, B. (2008). Automatic mental associations predict future choices of undecided decision-makers. Science, 321(9), 1100-1102.
5b. Landau, M. J., Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., Cohen, F., Pyszczynski, T., ... Cook, A. (2004). Deliver us from evil: The effects of mortality salience and reminders of 9/11 on support for President George W. Bush. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1136-1150.
C. Attitudes and intergroup relations
4c. Castano, E., Yzerbyt, V. Paladino, M. P., Sacchi, S. (2002). I belong therefore I exist: Ingroup identification, ingroup entativity, and ingroup bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(2), 135-143.
5c. Dovidio, J. F., Kawakami, K., & Gaertner, S. (2002). Implicit and explicit prejudice and interracial interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(1), 62-68.
Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., & Pyszczynski, T., (2015) The worm at the core: On the role of death in life. New York: Random House

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam

Teaching aids
Title Format (Language, Size, Publication date)
1. Course overview  pdfpdf (it, 799 KB, 21/04/15)
5. Implicit Measures  pdfpdf (it, 797 KB, 29/04/15)
8. Choices of undecided decision makers  pdfpdf (it, 434 KB, 14/05/15)
9. Implicit and explicit prejudice  pdfpdf (it, 621 KB, 14/05/15)
syllabusIIpart  pdfpdf (it, 121 KB, 03/06/15)
TMTDay1  pdfpdf (it, 681 KB, 05/06/15)
TMTDay2  pdfpdf (it, 1222 KB, 05/06/15)
TMTDay3  pdfpdf (it, 1083 KB, 05/06/15)
TMTDay4  pdfpdf (it, 1286 KB, 05/06/15)