Social and Organizational Psychology

Professor Amy S. Taylor

Psychology S2635D

Summer 2000


Availability and Meetings 

Professor Taylor

Class Meetings


Office: 222D Main Hall


Mondays and Wednesdays

Phone: 678-3866


Friday June 9th




Office hours: one half hour after


608 Schermerhorn

class, and by appointment




click here for Course Calendar

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the theories and research that underlie the field of Social and Organizational Psychology. It is designed to expose students to methods and concepts of behavioral science applied to the study of human behavior in organizational settings. Social and Organizational Psychology sits at the interface of social psychology (the study of individuals in social settings) and organizational psychology (the study of individual and group behavior in organizational settings). This relatively new field has its roots in both social psychology and organizational theory (the study of organizations as they interact with the environment). The course will be grounded in pertinent historical data from the field of organizational theory, such as the principles of scientific management, the human relations movement, and the study of organizations as organic systems. It will then focus the traditionally defined topics of social and organizational psychology such as motivation, groups and leadership.

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a solid understanding of the theory, research, and practice in Social and Organizational Psychology (S-O). The key objectives of the course are to allow students to:

    1. understand and utilize key concepts areas in the field of S-O psychology
    2. apply S-O theories to a variety of "real-world" organizational problems and issues
    3. learn and utilize specific skills for working in small groups in organizational and academic settings
    4. be knowledge about and able to weigh the pros and cons of career opportunities in the field of S-O psychology

Course Materials

Required Texts and Readings

Robbins, S.R. (1998). Organizational Behavior. (8th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

The textbook, which students are expected to purchase, will be available in the Columbia Bookstore located in Lerner Hall. Students are encouraged to have individual conversations with the instructor if they are interested in reading more about any of these topic areas.

There will be an additional packet of readings which will be on reserve in the psychology library and available for purchase.

Course and Requirements

Grading: Grades will be based on the following three factors: three mini-exams (45%), a reaction paper (10%), team case study (30%), team presentation (10%) and class participation (5%). Attendance and handing in assignments on time are both mandatory due to the nature of the material and to the team work that is expected of students. Students may only miss up to one class session without a penalty to their grade. Attendance at the first class session is mandatory. Exams and assignments must be completed on time.

    1. Mini-Exams. There will be three mini-examinations. The purpose of the mini-exam format is to provide students with an opportunity to synthesize information from the theories they learn in a quick easy to remember format. The questions will be based on the required readings (whether or not they are discussed in class), lectures, in class discussions and exercises. They will allow students to apply these theories to real-world organizational issues.
    2. The potential questions for each of the examinations will be given to the students one class session prior to the session in which the mini-exam will be given. Students must prepare all of the potential mini-exam questions; however, only a subset of these questions will be posed on the actual mini-exam. The mini-exam questions will be graded based on the quality of theory application, including: appropriate understanding and use of the theories in their entirety and explanation of the theory through recommendations and intervention strategies. The logical consistency of the argument, appropriateness and quality of examples, overall clarity and quality of the writing are also key criterion.

    3. Reaction Paper. Students will be asked to write a reaction paper incorporating information from the guest speakers with their career interests and plans. The purpose of these papers is to provide students with an opportunity to respond to the panelists and to integrate their class learning into their own lives and potential career plans. The format and grading for these brief thought papers will be announced well in advance of the due date.
    4. Team Case Study. Working in their small assigned teams, students will prepare a case study on an actual organizational dilemma. They are encouraged to incorporate all applicable aspects of the course in their case analysis. The purposes of the group case study are two-fold: to illustrate and allow for students to integrate their learning on the functioning of work groups, and to simulate a real-world work situation where students can apply their theoretical learning about social and organizational psychology.
    5. Team Presentation. Each of the teams will give a brief presentation about the content of their written team assignments and the various stages of their group process. The purpose of this assignment is to encourage teams to reflect on their ‘process’ and to reflect on how this process affected the content of their work. They will also learn how other teams functioned as a result of their process. The format and grading for the team presentations will be discussed in advance of the due date.
    6. Class Participation. Active participation during class helps the individual students and the class at large. It is therefore rewarded. Good participation includes but, is not limited to, concise and clear contributions to class discussion, and regular attendance.

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This is the tentative syllabus for Summer 2000.

Some aspects of thecourse may change.

An updated syllabus will be distributed on the first class day.