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Social Judgment and Decision Making


Admission requirements

MSc Psychology (research) students


This course provides an overview of findings in (social) psychological research on social judgement and decision-making. We will review work regarding diverse topics, including feelings and decision making, positive illusions and optimism, regret and disappointment, affective forecasting, power and consumption, empathy, and morality. In the meetings students will present empirical papers on one of the topics, which will be followed by a discussion. On the basis of the seminar meetings and relevant readings, students will develop two research proposals, in which they have to provide a specified research question, hypotheses with rationale based on literature reviews, and a proposed research design to test their hypotheses.

Course objectives

The course is designed to: a) enhance students’ understanding of the concepts, methods, and research findings central to the study of social judgement and decision making; b) enhance students’ scientific thinking through reviewing, evaluating, and discussing existing literature on social judgement and decision making; and c) enhance students’ students’ research skills through writing a research proposal.


Social Judgment and Decision Making (2012-2013):

Mode of instruction

Seminars (attendance of meetings is obligatory).

Assessment method

Assessment is based on

  • Presentations

  • Discussion questions

  • Research proposals

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 on

Reading list

  • Armor, D. A., & Taylor, S. E. (1998). Situated optimism: Specific outcome expectancies and self-regulation. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 30, pp. 309-379). New York: Academic Press.

  • Bar-Anan, Y., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2009). The feeling of uncertainty intensifies affective reactions. Emotion, 9, 123-127.

  • Brosnan, S. F. & de Waal, F. B. M. (2003). Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature, 424, 297-299.

  • Carlsmith, K. M., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). The paradoxical consequences of revenge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1316-1324.

  • De Quervain, D. J.-F., Fischbacher, U., Treyer, V., Schellhammer, M., Schnyder, U., Buck, A., & Fehr, E. (2004). The neural basis of altruistic punishment. Science, 305, 1254-1258.

  • De Waal, F. B. M. & Berger, L. M. (2000). Payment for labour in monkeys. Nature, 404, 563.

  • De Waal, F. B. M. (2004). On the possibility of animal empathy. In A. S. R. Manstead, N. Frijda & A. Fischer (Eds.), Feelings and emotions, the Amsterdam symposium (pp. 381-401). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • De Waal, F. B. M. (2005). How animals do business. Scientific American, 292, 73-79.
    Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature, 415, 137-140.
    Fischhoff, B., Gonzalez, R. M., Lerner, J. S., & Small, D. A. (2005). Evolving judgments of terror risks: Foresight, Hindsight, and Emotion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 11, 124-139.

  • Fredrickson, B., L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 300-319.

  • Galinsky, A. D., Magee, J. C., Inesi, M. E., & Gruenfeld, D. H. (2006). Power and perspectives not taken. Psychological Science, 17, 1068-1074.

  • Gilbert, D. T., Lieberman, M. D., Morewedge, C. K., & Wilson, T. D. (2004). The peculiar longevity of things not so bad. Psychological Science, 15, 14-19.
    Griskevicius, V, Goldstein, N. J., Mortenson, C. R., Sundie, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., & Kenrick, D. T. (2009). Fear and loving in Las Vegas: Evolution, emotion, and persuasion. Journal of Marketing Research, 46, 384-395.

  • Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., & Van den Bergh, B. (2010). Going green to be seen: Status, reputation, and conspicuous conservation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 392-404.

  • Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814-834.

  • Han, S., Lerner, J. S., & Keltner, D. (2007). Feelings and consumer decision making: The appraisal-tendency framework. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17, 158-168.

  • Keltner, D., & Lerner, J. S. (in press). Emotion. In: S. T. Fiske & D. Gilbert (Eds.). The handbook of social psychology (5th ed.). New York; Wiley.

  • Lerner, J. S., Small, D. A., & Loewenstein, G. (2004). Heart strings and purse strings: Carry-over effects of emotions on economic decisions. Psychological Science, 15, 337-341.

  • Loewenstein, G. & Lerner J. S. (2003). The role of affect in decision making. In R. Davidson, H. Goldsmith, & K. Scherer (Eds.), Handbook of Affective Science (pp. 619-642). New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2002). Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1-20.

  • Rucker, D. D., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Desire to Acquire: Powerlessness and Compensatory Consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 257-267.

  • Rucker, D. D., & Galinsky, A. D. (2009). Conspicuous consumption versus utilitarian ideals: How different levels of power shape consumption. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 549-555.

  • Schnall, S., Roper, J., & Fessler, D. M. T. (2010). Elevation leads to altruistic behavior. Psychological Science, 21, 315-320.

  • Shepperd, J. A., Ouellette, J. A., & Fernandez, J. K. (1996). Abandoning unrealistic optimism: Performance estimates and the temporal proximity of self-relevant feedback. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 844-855.

  • Singer, T., Seymour, B., O’Doherty, J. P., Stephan, K. E., Dolan, R. J., & Frith, C. D. (2006). Empathic neural responses are modulated by the perceived fairness of others. Nature, 439, 466-469.

  • Sivanathan, N., & Pettit, N. C. (2010). Protecting the self through consumption: Status goods as affirmational commodities. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 564-570.
    Sundie, J. M., Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Vohs, K. D., & Tybur, J. M. (forthcoming). Peacocks, Porsches, and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous consumption as a sexual signaling systeem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

  • Tangney, J. P., Stuewig, J., & Mashek, D. J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior, Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345–372.

  • Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, Science, 185, 1124-1131.

  • Tykocinski, O. E. (2001). I never had a change: using hindsight tactics to mitigate disappointments. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 376-382.

  • Van Dijk, W. W., & Van Harreveld, F. (2008). Disappointment and regret. In N. M. Ashkanasy & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Research companion to emotions in organizations (pp. 90-102). London: Edward Elgar Publishers.

  • Van Dijk, W.W., Zeelenberg, M., & van der Pligt, J. (2003). Blessed are they who expect nothing: Lowering expectations as a way of avoiding disappointment. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24, 505-516.

  • Van Kleef, G. A., Oveis, C., Van der Löwe, I., LuoKogan, A., Goetz, J., & Keltner, D. (2008). Power, distress, and compassion: Turning a blind eye to thesuffering of others. Psychological Science, 19, 1315-1322.

  • Wilson, T. D. & Gilbert, D. T. (2005). Affective forecasting: Knowing what to want. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 131-134.

  • Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). Explaining away. A model of affective adaptation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 370-386.

  • Zeelenberg, M., & Pieters, R. (2004). Consequences of regret aversion in real life: The case of the Dutch postcode lottery. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 93, 155-168.

  • Zhong, C. B. & Liljenquist, K. (2006). Washing away your sins: Threatened morality and physical cleansing. Science, 313, 1451-1452.

Contact information

Dr. W. W. van Dijk
Room 2A-21
Tel: 071 5276844