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Study Materials


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Phase 1: Didactic Orientation
11.1A Definition of the Situation

Sets and Settings

Start of the 9.70/05 Collaborative Learning System Lifecycle

Preliminary Information Form and Benchmark Questionnaire (PDF)

Working Groups (PDF)

Human Systems: A Selection of Developmental Schemes (PDF)

Timesheet (PDF)
21.2The Science of Social Psychology and Vice Versa I: The Modern Scientific Approach: Substantive, Procedural and Ethical Issues


Read carefully all the introductory parts up to and including the detailed syllabus for this class session. Glance through the rest, trying to get some idea of what lies ahead.

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Front Matter," "Back Matter," and "What is Social Psychology?" Chapter 1 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. I-xviii, 453-548, and 1-9. ISBN: 0716759667. Front Matter (pp. I-xviii).

Note the number of the author's publications and the range of his interests. Check out the dedication and the table of contents; read the author's Preface: "Why I Wrote this Book", and Acknowledgments. Reflect on the meaning to you of the epigram that Aronson borrows from Aristotle's Politics...

Additional notes on Aronson text (PDF)

Milgram, Stanley. "The Perils of Obedience." Harper's Magazine (1974).

This text (which appeared in Harper's Magazine - year is not certain) is abridged and adapted from Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram, 1974. In it, Milgram summarizes the essential features of the experiment, and revises his original article "Behavioral Study of Obedience", which was published in The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in 1963... (PDF)

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Social Psychology as a Science." Chapter 9 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 329-347. ISBN: 0716759667.

Baumrind, D. "Some Thoughts on the Ethics of Research: After Reading Milgram's 'Behavioral study of obedienc'." American Psychologist 19 (1964): 421-423.

Milgram, S. "Issues in the Study of Obedience: A Reply to Baumrind". American Psychologist 19 (1964): 848-852.

Aronson, E., and D. Bridgeman. "Jigsaw Groups and the Desegregated Classroom: In Pursuit of Common Goals." Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 5 (1979): 438-446.

As we proceed, we will organize ourselves into a collaborative learning system that enables us to pursue some common learning goals without resorting to deception...

Additional notes on Aronson text (PDF)


Milgram, S. Obedience to Authority. Copyright 1965, renewed 1993 A Milgram. Distributed by The Pennsylvania State University Media Sales. (Black-and-white film of the experiment, shot by Milgram.) Videotape, Viewing time 51 mins.
In this original film Milgram documents the actual participants in a session of the famous experiment. In unit 2.2 we will return to a consideration of the experimental details. For present purposes we want to focus on the study as a rather extreme but not atypical example of experimental social psychological studies based on a version of the modern scientific laboratory model that requires the experimenters to engage in deception of the experimental subjects and fail to obtain fully informed consent of participants.

31.3The Science of Social Psychology and Vice Versa II: Participatory Action Research: An Alternative "Systems" ApproachAmazon logo Chorover. "Paradigms Lost and Regained." In New directions in creative and innovative management: bridging theory and practice. Edited by Yuji Ijiri, and Robert Lawrence Kuhn. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1988, pp. 201-245. ISBN: 088730365X.

Chorover, S. L. "Comparing and Contrasting Scientific Paradigms." Table in Homework - An Environmental Literacy Primer. Cambridge, MA: Collaborative Learning Systems. (From the hardcopy (Workbook) portion of an "electronic book" project intended to promote "sustainability" in a time of human/ecological crisis.) 1995, pp. 36-39.

Amazon logo Melucci, and Chorover. "Knowledge and Wonder: Beyond the Crisis of Modern Science?" In Overcoming the language barrier: problems of interdisciplinary dialogue. Edited by R. G. Flower, T. F. Gordon, N. Kolenda, and L. Souder. Proceedings of an international roundtable meeting, sponsored by the Center for Frontier Sciences at Temple University May 14-17, 1997, pp. 76-90. ISBN: 0963327216.
Phase 2: Collaborative Inquiry
42.1Clinical Application of the "Systems" Approach: Family Diagnosis and Treatment in a Case of Anorexia NervosaHandout 4: "Human Systems: A Selection of Developmental Schemes. (PDF)

Amazon logo Jackson, D. D. "The individual and the larger contexts." Family Process 6, no. 2 (1967): 139-154. Also in Gray, W., F. Duhl, and N. Rizzo, eds. General Systems Theory & Psychiatry. 1st ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., pp. 387-396. ISBN: 0700001530.

Amazon logo Minuchin, Salvador, Bernice L. Rosman, Lester Baker, with a contribution by Ronald Liebman. Psychosomatic families: anorexia nervosa in context. Published/Created: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978. ISBN: 0674722205.

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Conformity." Chapter 2 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 10-45. ISBN: 0716759667.

Asch, S. E. "Opinions and social pressure." Scientific American 193 (1955): 31-35.
Variables that increased and decreased conformity in Asch’s experiment were group composition, unanimity, prior commitment, self esteem, cultural differences, task difficulty/complexity...

Additional notes on Asch article (PDF)

Jones, S. You Will Do As Directed.

Milgram, Stanley. "The Perils of Obedience." Harper's Magazine (1974).

We have been here before. (The Milgram Experiment) but this time we take a deeper look at how social influences induce conformity in various contexts. We have already seen how ready, willing and able people are to abjure their own responsibility and obey directions from "responsible" and ostensibly legitimate academic/professional authorities.


The Wave. Directed by Alexander Grasshoff. Videotape, Viewing time 44 minutes. 1981.

It is important here to remind you to monitor your own attitudes and take their influence into account: In the 1970s film, The Wave, you are not the young people being more or less unwittingly drawn by their teacher into an informal "experiment" in social influence. There are obvious differences between them and yourselves (e.g. in age, context, dress and deportment, background, etc). These differences might be the reason why you would want to refrain from identifying with them and their predicament...

Additional notes on The Wave (PDF)

Wiener, C. Part 1: The Challenger Disaster. Scientists, Engineers and Public Controversies. Videotape, Viewing time 51 mins.

Aronson discusses the idea that we can understand the behavior of "uninvolved bystanders" as an instance of conformity (e.g. The Case of Kitty Genovese). What is it like for scientists in a situation in which their personal desires to be faithful in fulfilling scientific, technical and social responsibilities is directly contradicted by their corporate superiors enunciating the short term organizational ("bottom-line") imperatives of the company? Lives are on the line. Consider the case of the Challenger Disaster, in which one of your own - your fellow MIT student, Ronald McNair - and six others perished.

62.3Mass Media and Communication

Education and Indoctrination

Propaganda and Persuasion

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Mass Communication, Propaganda, and Persuasion." Chapter 3 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 46-91. ISBN: 0716759667.


Kilbourne, J. S. Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women. Videotape, Viewing time 34 mins. Created by Jean Kilbourne. Directed, edited and produced by Sut Jhally. Copyright 2000. Distributed by the Media Education Foundation.

This is the newest version of Kilbourne's groundbreaking video. In it, she surveys the contemporary advertising landscape to critically examine how corporations and their advertisers use images of girls and women to sell their products. Deconstructing advertisements with the same kind of care and thought that goes into constructing them, Kilbourne sets mass media images of femininity against social reality and advertising fantasy against the actual experience of girls and women. One of Kilbourne's underlying arguments is that advertising media - as the prime storyteller in American culture - have the capacity to both produce and affirm the very fictions about women's desires and identity that advertisers themselves often claim to be innocently tapping into and reflecting back at the public. In keeping with the industry's own selfstated mission to create the markets they pitch to, she argues that there is little that is natural, inevitable or innocent about the stories advertising tells us about women, that cultural standards of "femininity" are less given than made, and that in terms of sheer money, power and cultural presence, the maker that matters most is advertising itself.

Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity. Part 1. Videotape, Viewing time 43 mins. Executive Producer and Director Sut Jhally. Produced by Susan Ericsson, and Sanjay Talreja. Copyright 1999. Distributed by the Media Education Foundation.

While the social construction of femininity has been widely examined (e.g. see above) the dominant role of masculinity has until recently remained largely invisible. This is one of the first films to systematically examine the relationship between images of popular culture and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century. It is argued here that the widespread violence in American society - including the tragic school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and elsewhere - is overwhelmingly a gendered phenomenon, and that any attempt to understand violence therefore requires that we understand its relationship to masculinity and manhood...

Additional notes on Tough Guise (PDF)

72.4Social Cognition and The Social Construction of Reality

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Social Cognition." Chapter 4 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 92-141. ISBN: 0716759667.

Amazon logo Crowe, Beryl. The Tragedy of The Common Revisited. 1969. Reprinted in Hardin, Garrett, and John Baden. Managing the Commons. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman, 1977. ISBN: 0716704765.
Hardin's classic article poses some essential socio-psychological questions about attitudes toward ecological issues... (PDF)

Amazon logo Macy, Joanna Rogers. Despair and personal power in the nuclear age. Published/Created: Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1983. ISBN: 0865710317. (Excerpts)

This important book, now sadly out of print, was written in 1983, in the midst of an escalating nuclear arms race between the US and USSR. In it Macy uses the fear of nuclear annihilation to show precisely how we deal with information that is threatening to our personal security. She offers an explanation of what has been called "the dynamics of inaction." Arguably, her thesis has contemporary relevance. Do you see it as applicable to current events? If so how? If not, why not?

82.5Evaluation: "Us and Them": Justifying Ourselves and Judging Others

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Self-Justification." Chapter 5 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 142-199. ISBN: 0716759667.

Haney, C., C. Banks, and P. Zimbardo. "A study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison." Naval Research Reviews 30 (1973): 4-17.
This is the original published report of a famous (infamous?) social psychology experiment conducted at Stanford University in 1971. The experiment raises important scientific and ethical questions about research involving human subjects.

The Stanford Prison Experiment. This Web site presents a more graphic version of the actual experiment with links to related sites.

Murray, Bridget. "Film Criticized as Irresponsible." Monitor on Psychology 33, no. 3 (March 2002).

In 2001, a group of German movie-makers, apparently seeking to capitalize on "the reality TV" aspect of the Stanford study, made a movie "adaptation" of it full of gratuitous sex and violence. In this website, Zimbardo responded to the distortions involved.

Osherow, N. "An Analysis of Jonestown." 1964.

In November 1978, close to 1000 members of a settlement in Guyana, under the direction of the Reverend Jim Jones, fed a poison-laced drink to their children and drank it themselves. Their bodies were found lying together, arm in arm. How could such a tragedy occur? The images of an entire community destroying itself, of parents killing their own children, appears incredible. The media stories about the event and full-color pictures of the scene documented some of its horror. Here, a social psychologist endeavors to illuminate the causes and to explain the processes that led to the deaths. Does this event teach us anything of contemporary relevance?

92.6"In our Genes?" - Biological Determinism as a Social Excuse

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Human Aggression." Chapter 6 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 200-239. ISBN: 0716759667.

In Aronson's view, how is aggression best defined?...

Additional notes on the Aronson text (PDF)

American Academy Of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education, "Media Violence,"Pediatrics 108, no. 5 (November 2001): pp. 1222-1226.

The classic study of the influential effects of TV violence on the aggressive behavior of children, "The Effects of Observing Violence" by L. Berkowitz, was published in Scientific American in 1964. Since then, numerous authoritative inquiries have confirmed his basic findings and drawn additional attention to the problem. A well-documented recent example is the November 2001 report of the Committee on Public Education of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

These following two texts present a contrasting view...

Amazon logo Chorover, S. L. From Genesis to Genocide: The Meaning of Human Nature and the Power of Behavior Control. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1979, pp. 1-10, 77-109, and 135-174, chapters 1, 5, and 7. ISBN: 0262530392.

Sociobiology Study Group of Boston, ed. Biology as a Social Weapon. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess, 1977.

Additional notes (PDF)


Your (study group's) choice of a contemporary tv show that has a well-established reputation for extreme violence (e.g. action movies, wrestling, etc.).

As you prepare to watch the program, try to assume the identity of a human-like alien from the far-off planet Pacifica where people are accustomed to living in relatively violence-free societies. Pretend that you have just arrived on earth on a mission to learn about conditions of human life here and that, based on what you are about to see on tv, you must shortly transmit a preliminary report describing your observations and conclusions thus far relating to the behavior and "human nature" of earthlings and how they think and feel and act and why they behave the way they do. After watching the program, prepare some notes for your report...

Additional notes (PDF)

Trivers, Robert, and Irven DeVore. Sociobiology: Doing what comes naturally? Viewing time: 20 minutes. 1976. [It is a somewhat garish and extreme version of the argument.]

102.7Overcoming Prejudice and Discrimination

Amazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Prejudice." Chapter 7 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 240-287. ISBN: 0716759667.

PBS "Frontline". A Class Divided. Videotape, Viewing time 54 mins. First broadcast on Frontline March 26, 1985. Produced and Directed By William Peters.

This video deals with what began in 1968 as an Iowa elementary school teacher's idea for a classroom "experiment" intended to teach her all-white and relatively socioeconomically non-differentiated students a lesson about prejudice, using a seemingly trivial aspect of human diversity (eye color) as a basis for distinguishing between two groups. Some highly instructive extensions of the work into other institutional contexts are also described.

112.8Dealing with Differences: Unity and DiversityAmazon logo Aronson, Elliot, ed. "Liking, Loving, and Interpersonal Sensitivity." Chapter 8 in The Social Animal. 9th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2004, pp. 288-327. ISBN: 0716759667.

Aronson, E., and D. Bridgeman. "Jigsaw groups and the desegregated classroom: In pursuit of common goals." Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 5 (1979): 438-446.
Phase 3: Final Projects
123.1Identifying and Organizing End-of-term Projects

Refining Evaluation Criteria
133.2Working on Projects

Production and Distribution of Evaluation Forms
143.3Presenting Final Projects

Completing Evaluations and Final Grading Concluding the 9.70/05 Collaborative Learning System Lifecycle


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