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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



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current 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:
Alves, H., Koch, A., & Unkelbach, C. (2019). A Cognitive-Ecological Explanation of Intergroup Biases. Psychological Science, 0956797618756862.
Lelieveld, G. J., Harris, L. T., & Van Dillen, L. F. (2020). Jumping on the'badwagon'? How group membership influences responses to the social exclusion of others. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 15(5), 571-586.

Contact information

Mirre Stallen