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Social Judgment and Decision Making


Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students


A large part, if not all, of people’s judgments, decisions and actions occur in a social context, meaning that they are shaped by the actual or imagined presence of others. In this course students will familiarize themselves with some of the core thematic topics of social judgment and decision-making in the domains of economic and consumer behavior, legal decision-making, health, and politics. We will address questions such as: Why do people base their decisions on their emotions? Why do people undertake actions that go against their own interest? And why do people often fail to accurately anticipate their future mental states? We will discuss the reading material in light of daily practice and will actively seek for real-life implications of the theory covered during the course. But we will also carefully examine the various methodologies involved in decision-making research (ranging from neuroscience techniques to large-scale survey studies), and we will explore how each methodology can help address unique questions and how their combination can open up new research domains.

Course objectives

During the course, students:
1. Gain specialized knowledge of the key concepts, approaches, theories and methods that comprise contemporary research in social judgment and decision making;
2. Learn to analyze phenomena in light of relevant theoretical concepts;
3. Learn to generate new research ideas on the basis of their knowledge of key concepts, theories, and research methodologies;
4. Learn to communicate theoretical insights and ideas in valid ways to others, both in speaking and writing.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis.
You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from early August. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December. The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC)

By registering for a course you are also automatically registered for the Brightspace module. Anyone who is not registered for a course therefore does not have access to the Brightspace module and cannot participate in the first sit of the exam of that course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

7 2-hour work group sessions (attendance of all sessions is mandatory)
No weblectures available.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on:

  • Organization of an interactive thematic seminar (30%; objectives 1, 2 & 4),

  • Four short analyses (30%; objectives 1, 2 & 4)

  • One research proposal (40%; objectives 1, 3 & 4).

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

Selected chapters from Sapolsky, R. (2017). Behave. New York: Penguin press.

Selection of scientific articles; examples:
Caruso, E. M., Burns, Z. C., & Converse, B. A. (2016). Slow motion increases perceived intent. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(33), 9250-9255.
Mutz, D. C. (2007). Political psychology and choice. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Science.
Van Dillen, L. F., Papies, E. K., & Hofmann, W. (2013). Turning a blind eye to temptation: How cognitive load can facilitate self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(3), 427.

Contact information

Dr. Lotte van Dillen