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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
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis 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.
Course description 1. Brief intro to policy studies: analysis versus program evaluation.
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 program evaluation and how can behavioural scientists bring evidence to bear in ways that policy makers can use?

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

3. Cooperation, dispute resolution, and negotiation.
a. Motives for cooperation.
b. Na´ve realism and false polarization.
c. Self-other bias.

4. Models of moral judgement, human rights, and mass atrocity.
a. Intuitions and reasoning in moral judgement.
b. Corporate malfeasance and corporate corruption.
c. Psychic numbing & models of apathy toward genocide.

5. Decision biases, debiasing techniques, and behaviourally informed regulation.
a. Risk and harm mitigation and biased decisions.
b. Debiasing by defaults.
c. Choice architecture and behaviourally informed regulation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 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
  2. 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
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.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Policy analysis, scientific writing
Additional Class Delivery Information Attend all lectures as scheduled
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Adam Moore
Tel: (0131 6)50 3369
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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