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The Social Psychology of Organisational Behaviour


Admission requirements

Master’s students Psychology with specialisation Social and Organisational Psychology or Occupational Health Psychology.


This course aims to integrate recent developments in social psychology with insights derived from organisational and economic psychology. The emphasis will be on the relevance of social psychological insights for the understanding of organisational behaviour.

Topics covered will include:

  • negotiation

  • social dilemmas

  • the functioning of groups and teams

  • relationships and trust

  • rationality of decisions

  • the importance of distributive and procedural justice concerns and norms.

The course meetings are based on classic journal articles as well as reports of applied research, conducted by former S&O-students. On the basis of these readings, students prepare written assignments and oral presentations in which they analyse organisational issues from various theoretical perspectives, develop interventions and thereby apply the theory to practice. The course meetings will provide further explanation and discussion of the relevant theory. Guest speakers will discuss the way in which they apply social psychological theories in their own professional practice in organizations.

This course will be offered twice during the academic year.

Course objectives

  • Students acquire advanced knowledge and insights about social psychological issues in organisational behaviour and about the methodological underpinnings of these insights.

  • Students learn how to refer to primary sources of this knowledge, i.e., articles in international top journals.

  • Students learn how to apply this knowledge by analysing and conceptualizing real-life issues in organisational settings and to present their analyses orally as well as in writing.

  • Students will be challenged to reflect on their academic attitude in anticipation of their work as a professional in organisational settings.


The Social Psychology of Organisational Behaviour (2011-2012):

Mode of instruction

  • ten meetings, two of which will be held plenary (and are listed as “lectures” in the timetable) and the remaining eight will be held in work groups. Attendance of meetings is obligatory

  • oral presentations

  • written assignments

Assessment method

  • Rated oral presentations

  • Written assignments

  • Exam with multiple choice questions

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information available on

Reading list

  • Buunk, A.P., & Van Vugt, M. (2008). Applying Social Psychology. From problems to solutions. London: Sage.

Exemplary Reading List

Meeting 1: Introduction

  • Buunk, A. P., & Van Vugt, M. (2008). Applying Social Psychology: From problems to solutions. London: Sage. (Chapters 1-3) Jordan, C. H., & Zanna, M. P. (1999). How to read a journal article in social psychology. In R. F. Baumeister (Ed.), The self in social psychology (pp. 461-470). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

Meeting 2: Applying Social Psychology

  • Buunk, A. P., & Van Vugt, M. (2008). Applying Social Psychology: From problems to solutions. London: Sage. (remaining Chapters) Staw, B. M. (1991). Dressing up like an organization: When psychological theories can explain organizational action. Journal of Management, 17, 805-819.

  • Sutton, R. I., & Staw, B. M. (1995). What theory is not. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 371-384.

Meeting 3: Decision Making

  • Staw, B. M. (1976). Knee deep in the big muddy: A study of escalating commitment to a chosen course of action. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 16, 27-44.

  • Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. L., & Thaler, R. H. (1990). Experimental tests of the endowment effect and the Coase theorem. Journal of Political Economy, 98, 1325-1348.

Meeting 4: Negotiation

  • Loewenstein, G. F., Thompson, L., & Bazerman, M. H. (1989). Social utility and decision making in interpersonal contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 426-441.
    Morris, M. W., Larrick, R. P., & Su, S. K. (1999). Misperceiving negotiation counterparts: When situationally determined bargaining behaviors are attributed to personality traits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 52-67.

Meeting 5: Contributing to Groups

  • Brewer, M. B., & Kramer, R. M. (1986). Choice behaviors in social dilemmas: Effects of social identity, group size, and decision framing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 543-549.

  • Wit, A. P., & Kerr, N. L. (2002). Me versus just us versus us all categorization and cooperation in nested social dilemmas. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 616-637.

Meeting 6: Group Knowledge

  • Paulus, P., & Dzindolet, M. T. (1993). Social influence processes in group brainstorming. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 575-586.

  • Austin, J. (2003). Transactive memory in organizational groups: The effects of content, consensus, specialization, and accuracy on group performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 866-878.

Meeting 7: Group Knowledge Sharing

  • Gigone, D., & Hastie, R. (1993). The common knowledge effect: Information sharing and group judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 959-974.

  • Steinel, W, Utz, S, & Koning, L. (2010). The good, the bad and the ugly thing to do when sharing information: Revealing, concealing and lying depend on social motivation, distribution and importance of information. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 113, 85-96.

Meeting 8: Relationship

  • Tesser, T. R., Millar, M., & Moore, J. (1988). Some affective consequences of social comparison and reflection processes: The pain and pleasure of being close. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 49-61.

  • Jehn, K. A., & Shah, P. P. (1997). Interpersonal relationships and task performance: An examination of mediating processes in friendship and acquaintance groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 775-790.

Meeting 9
no specific literature to be read in advance

Meeting 10: Justice

  • Lind, E. A., Kanfer, R., & Early, P. C. (1990). Voice, control, and procedural justice: Instrumental and noninstrumental concerns in fairness judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 952-959.

  • Greenberg, J. (1993). Stealing in the name of justice: Informational and interpersonal moderators of theft reactions to underpayment inequity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 54, 81-103.


Master’s introduction and enrolment day

Make a reservation in your agenda so you will not miss any information that you will need during your master’s programme MSc in Psychology. Please consult the Agenda master meetings

Exam registration

Registration for the (re)exam is not automatic. Students, who haven’t registered, cannot participate in the (re)exam

Contact information