nl en

Social Animals at Work


Entry requirements

This course is only available for Master’s students in Psychology


Humans are social animals and much of their remarkable evolutionary trajectory has been attributed to their capacity for work in relatively cohesive groups of genetically unrelated others. It is in groups that humans perfected ways to disseminate knowledge, insights, values, and preferences, that negotiation and economic trade evolved, and the social and technological innovations were designed, disseminated, and implemented that have influenced, and continue to influence, the life of many. Nowadays, groups are core building blocks of almost every society, and crucial in almost any organization. Here we examine the core drivers of group performance, with specific focus on creativity, innovation, and group decision-making. We examine distal explanations derived from evolutionary theory and biology, and more proximal explanations derived from social and organizational psychology. Throughout implications for (designing) team work in organizational settings will be highlighted.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, a student will be able to:

  • explain evolutionary, (neuro)biological, and social psychological determinants of group performance, in particular group decision-making and group creativity and innovation;

  • diagnose whether and when groups are expected to perform poorly, to make bad decisions, and fail to innovate; and

  • design high-performance teams in organizational and work settings.


For the timetables of your lectures, workgroups, and exams, select your study programme.
Psychology timetables


Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions. Master’s course 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

7 2-hour lectures

Assessment method

The final grade is based on a written exam, consisting of:

  • essay questions (50%)

  • multiple choice questions (50%)

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural 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.

Reading list

Readings will be (mainly) research and review articles. The list with references and links will be announced.


Prof. Dr. Carsten de Dreu (for questions about the content)

Karin Blijleve (for questions about logistics and administrative matters)