PSK 439 Social psychology & cinema


The first social psychologist I ever met was a real looker.

- Elaine Hatfield

PSK 439 Social Psychology and Cinema

Psyche by DK

Social psychology is defined as the scientific discipline that attempts to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behavior or individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others, (Gordon Alport). Social psychology is studied in both psychology and sociology (emphasis on person and society, respectively).

Social psychology should be differentiated from other “social” areas in that the former uses experimental methodology more often. The major aim of the social psychology is to find experimentally gathered evidences (cause – effect relationships) about human behavior in their social environment. If social psychologists are interested in the motion picture Grease (1978) they would examine the perception of Sandra by Danny and his followers, they also try to understand and measure the affect, behavior and cognition of the relationship and the environment in which the love takes place.

Social psychology is not an arm-chaired science; that is social psychologists do not just theorizing about the things surround them. Rather they make systematic analyses of the questions under investigation. Finally, social psychology is a very different and challenging course. It is about you, by “you” I mean “real you”. Next pages summarize how we achieve to find out your “self”.

Hope to enjoy your journey.

Course Format

Students are expected to have read each week’s reading(s), and watch assigned movie(s) prior to class and to contribute to class discussion. Each student is expected to come to class prepared to summarize the key points of the readings and movie(s) to participate in the discussion regarding it.

The purpose of PSK 439 is to use a combination of social psychological theory to explore the psychological determinants of important forms of human social behavior via movies. Feature length films will be integrated with social psychological theory and research to explore the extent and limits of current knowledge concerning topics such as the existential realities of the human, self and identity, obedience, prejudice, attraction, relationships and group behavior. The films will be an important by serving the following functions: a) illustrating specific and significant instances of particular forms of social behavior as they occur in their natural context; b) reminding us in vivid and memorable ways of the real world phenomena social psychological theories and research are intended to explain; c) providing clues as to how various types of social issues are portrayed in the mass media and perceived by audiences; and d) helping us to clarify and assess existing knowledge and remaining questions.

NOTE: Some of the movies you will be required to view may contain instances of violence, sexual content, and/or foul language as would be consistent with an R rating. If this is offensive, or if you are otherwise unable to view such movies, please discuss this with me to determine if there is a possible accommodation.

Reading List
Main Textbook: Kokdemir, D. (n.d.). Readings in social psychology I (v.1.0). Noba. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from
Alternative Textbook: Aranson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2014). Social psychology (8th. ed.). USA: Pearson.

Suggested Journals
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Psychological Bulletin
Psychological Review
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Social Cognition
Behavioral Neuroscience
European Psychologist
Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Türk Psikoloji Dergisi
Türk Psikoloji Yazıları

Evaluation and Grading

I. Film Analysis (%30 of your total grade):
In PSK 439 course, in addition to formal exams, you are going to be asked to present your knowledge in a critical and creative manner. Although the format is similar to standard examinations, the actual performance is dependent on your skills in analyzing, comprehension and written presentation on a movie that you have found to be related to any topic presented in the class. This assignment can be carried out as a group study (2 persons per group at max.). You are asked to choose a film from a list (that I will provide) and analyze the film according to the social psychological theories and research findings discussed throughout the course. You may use additional readings within the field of social psychology of your own choosing if they are readily applicable to understanding why characters in the film behaved the way they did. Submission date: December 21st, 2020.

II. Mid Term Exam (30% of your total grade):
Your mid term exam score will be evaluated by combining the points you get on weekly quizzes and/or assignments.

III. Final Exam (40% of your total grade):
Final exam will be covering material in the assigned readings, lecture notes, required movies, and lecture. Format will be objective test items and short answer. Exam date will be announced later.