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Social Psychology in Action Paper
Purpose: The subfield of social psychology focuses on understanding human behavior in daily life and can explain why
people do what they do. The purpose of this paper is to help you apply concepts from the subfield of social psychology
to understand everyday human behavior.
Task: Your task is to select a personal experience from your daily life or a recent current event and interpret the
situation through the lens of a social psychological construct or theory discussed in class. You will provide a detailed
analysis or interpretation of the example using at least one concept or theory from the list of concepts below.
Length: 3 – 4 pages
Formatting: double-spaced, no Title Page – just put your name at the top.
Bystander effect
5 steps that deter helping
Pluralistic ignorance
Diffusion of responsibility
Types of Conformity:
Normative Social Influence (to fit in)
Informational Social Influence (to be right)
Private acceptance
Minority influence
Obedience to Authority
Interpersonal Attraction:
Mere Exposure Effect
Misattribution of Arousal
Sternberg’s Triangle of Love
Equity Theory of Relationships
Communal vs. Exchange-based relationships
Stereotyping & Prejudice:
Social Identity Theory
ingroup favoritism vs. outgroup derogation
Automatic/Controlled Processing
Social categorization/Schemas
Implicit Bias
Structure of Paper
Opening Paragraphs: Description of Example (Personal Experience or Current Event)
1. Provide sufficient details to explain what happened in your situation or in the current event. End the
paragraph with a thesis statement that describes which social psychological theory or construct(s) you
will use to explain what is happening in your example.
Body Paragraphs: Define your concept(s), then justify and defend your analysis
2. Your primary goal is to demonstrate that you understand the concept(s) you are using and can correctly
apply the concept(s) to a real life scenario. Successful papers first define the concept and clarify the
meaning in their own words. (Remember to use APA citations if you use direct quotes from the text or
lectures.) Please note that some theories have multiple components; you are responsible for defining or
describing all relevant components in order to adequately defend your analysis.
3. Once you have defined what your concept means, you should then elaborate or explain how your
chosen example fits the definition of the concept. Your goal is to convince the reader (me) why the
concept you chose correctly explains what is happening in your example. To do this effectively, you will
need to reference various aspects of the example you’ve provided and then tie that example to the
definition of you provided.
Conclusion: Final Reflection
4. What are your personal thoughts on what happened in this situation or event? Were you initially
shocked or surprised by your or the other person’s behavior/event?
5. How has learning about this concept affected you? Has it changed your thoughts, attitudes, or possible
future behaviors? Discuss.
Criteria for success:
Length: 3-4 pages
Formatting: double-spaced, no Title Page – just put your name at the top.
Sources: You should reference the lectures and textbook readings for additional details on the psychological
concepts. You are not expected to conduct outside research for this paper. However, you should use APA
citations if you do.
Grading Rubric:
Components of Paper
– Thoroughly describes situation or event; provides necessary details
– Uses a clear thesis statement identifying which concept will be discussed.
– Detailed definition of concept; helps the reader fully understand the concept.
– Analysis shows extensive critical thinking and understanding of concept.
– Writes clearly, uses APA citations and reference page, has no grammatical errors or runon sentences
– Adequate description of situation or event; some details missing
– Adequate definition of concept; could elaborate more to explain concept
– Analysis has minor problems; shows basic understanding of concept but could elaborate
– Minor issues with summary, citations, or writing style (e.g., missing components)
– Shallow description of situation or event; needs to provide more detail
– Identifies which concept is selected, but poorly defines concept
– Concept selected generally relates to chosen example, but analysis is underdeveloped
– Moderate issues with summary, citations, or writing style (e.g., no thesis or conclusion)
– Basic description of situation or event; missing key information
Improvement – Identifies which concept is selected, but does not include definition of concept
– Provides minimal or incorrect analysis; shows little to no understanding of concept.
– Major issues with summary, citations, or writing style (e.g., no thesis or conclusion)

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