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Group Processes and Intergroup Relations


Admission requirements

MSc Psychology (research) students.


In the scientific literature, different theoretical perspectives on the same issue are often proposed, or different studies seem to yield contradictory results. In this course students will therefore learn how to systematically compare and integrate different theoretical perspectives on a selection of topics in group processes and intergroup relations.

With the course assignments and through discussions and presentations in the course meetings, students will gain an overview of classic work as well as more recent theoretical and empirical advances in the area of group processes and intergroup relations. The course meetings aim to provide more in-depth insight by asking students to set up a debate between different competing perspectives, to critically assess research methods that are used, or to apply what they have learned about theory and previous research to analysing a concrete problem.

In this way students will learn how to integrate different scientific contributions and practice applying this knowledge to conduct a theory-based analysis of concrete problems. On the basis of relevant assigned readings and students’ selections of additional literature, written assignments, oral presentations, and work during the meeting students will thus not only learn about different theoretical approaches and insights in the domain of group processes and intergroup relations; They will also learn to critically assess empirical support for each view, to integrate these different insights, and to practice analysing real-world problems in terms of their underlying psychological processes.

Course objectives

  • Students will acquire advanced knowledge of classic approaches and recent developments in theory and research on group processes and intergroup relations.

  • Students will learn how to systematically compare and combine different theoretical perspectives

  • Students will learn to critically assess research methods that are used in the literature and to develop ways to extend and improve existing research paradigms

  • Students will learn how to analyse societal and organisational problems in terms of their underlying psychological processes.

  • Students will practice in presenting theoretical debates and problem analyses orally and in written form.


Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (2014-2015):



Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions. Please consult the Instructions registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date; students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination. Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

Three main methods of instruction will be used during the course meetings. One way is by preparing and conducting a debate in which students will argue for different theoretical positions as a means to determine the extent to which different approaches are compatible, to specify the ways in which they are incompatible, and to learn to defend a particular point of view based on the scientific literature. The second way is by summarizing and critically reviewing theoretical perspectives. The third is by critically assessing a particular research method or measure, and proposing an alternative or improved approach. Fourth, students will examine and systematically analyse particular practical problems using different theoretical perspectives. During the course meetings students will present their position in the debate, the methodology they devised, or their theoretical analysis, and receive feedback from the instructor as well as from the other participants in the course.

Assessment method

In order to successfully complete the course, students are expected to attend and actively participate in all meetings, and to complete all course assignments. Half of the final course grade will be determined by their performance during the course (quality of oral participation, grades for written assignments).

The other half of the final course grade is determined by the end paper, in which students have to provide:

  • a description of a selected societal or organizational problem

  • a description of one or more theoretical approaches relevant to that problem

  • a systematic analysis of the problem in terms of the selected theory

  • the specification of a theory-based intervention that can be used to address the problem that is selected.

After the final meeting, students have six weeks to complete and submit their end paper.

The Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud


Information on

Reading list

The reading list will be made available before the course commences.

Contact information

Dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn
Office: 2A34 (Mon-Thurs)
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 3749