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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Psychology and Public Policy (PPLS11006)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits10
Home subject areaPhilosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course will cover the intersection of psychology and public policy. We will focus on current research in prejudice and discrimination, cooperation, cognitive biases, and heuristics and how what we know about these issues from a scientific perspective can inform a range of policy issues including employment regulation, mass atrocities and human rights issues, jurisprudence, environmental preservation, conflict emergence, and socio-political divisions. Students will be encouraged to think of real world problems / issues that they care about and how the science of psychology can be used to help design policy to address them.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Block 4 (Sem 2), Not available to visiting students (SS1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 24/02/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will learn how both social and cognitive psychology have informed public policy issues, both as a successful lever of change and in addressing how and why policy initiatives have failed. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with the main streams of research on several such issues including, but not limited to, discrimination, criminal deterrence, self vs other bias, and cognitive heuristics.
Assessment Information
Final take-home essay (minimum word length 2,000; maximum word length 5,000) in which students identify a policy area, initiative, or concern, summarise / evaluate the current relevant research, and propose an experiment that addresses an aspect of debate or informs current policy with respect to it. This should be formatted as a formal scientific proposal with an evaluation of the anticipated benefits of the proposed work.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus 1. Policy analysis and program evaluation, the policy cycle, and the role of research in policy formulation.
a. What is policy analysis? How is it used?
b. What distinguishes this from program evaluation?
c. What is the role of scientific evidence in each and how can researchers bring evidence to bear in ways that policy makers can use?

2. The psychology of stereotyping, implicit and unexamined prejudice, and employment regulation.
a. Racism, stereotype threat, intergroup bias
b. Gender discrimination, subtle bias, automatic stereotyping

3. Cooperation, dispute resolution, and self-other bias.
a. Motives for cooperation
b. Naive realism, false polarization
c. Self-other bias

4. Human rights, moral judgement, and moral behaviour
a. Intuitions and rationality in moral judgment
b. Psychic numbing
c. Just deserts, moral outrage, and moralization
d. Decision biases, hazard prevention, and natural disasters

5. Harnessing psychology to change behaviour and improve decision making
a. Decision biases, pensions, and retirement savings
b. Poverty and decision making
c. Psychology and education intervention
d. Behaviourally informed regulation
Transferable skills Policy analysis, scientific writing
Reading list Example reading list:
Fetherstonhaugh, D., Slovic, P., Johnson, S. M., & Friedrich, J. (1997). Insensitivity to the value of human life: A study of psychophysical numbing. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 14, 283-300.
Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., & Glick, P. (2007). Universal dimensions of social perception: Warmth and competence. Trends in Cognitive Science, 11, 77-83.
Ross, L. & Ward, A. (1996). Naive realism in everyday life: Implications for social conflict and misunderstanding. In T. Brown, E. S. Reed, and E. Turiel (Eds), Values and knowledge. The Jean Piaget Symposium Series (pp. 103-135). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Slovic S., & Slovic, P. (2004). Numbers and nerves: Toward an affective apprehension of environmental risk. Whole Terrain, 13, 14-18.
Small, D. A. & Loewenstein, G. (2003). Helping a victim or helping the victim: Altruism and identifiability. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 26, 5-16.
Sunshine, J. & Tyler, T. R. (2003). The role of procedural justice and legitimacy in shaping public support for policing. Law and Society Review, 37, 555-589.
Sunstein, C. R. (1991). Why markets don't stop discrimination. Social Philosophy and Policy, 8, 22-37.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Adam Moore
Tel: (0131 6)50 3369
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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