Communication and Social Groups

Module titleCommunication and Social Groups
Module codePSY3413
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Anna Rabinovich (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will extend your knowledge of social psychology of communication. You will gain awareness and understanding of the most recent theoretical advances and empirical research in the area of psychology of communication and social groups. You will further develop your ability to evaluate research critically, and will practice applying your knowledge to practical situations. Learning how to apply the ideas explored during this course in practice, you will also have an opportunity to make your day-to-day communication and decision-making more efficient. PSY1203 or equivalent is a pre-requisite.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to explore what social psychological theory and research has to say about communication in social groups. You will be introduced to theoretical models and empirical research related to communicating information to social groups, as well as to communication processes within and between groups. As a crucial part of the course, the effects of communication processes on group decision making will be explored. In class, you will critically evaluate relevant research, and will be asked to apply theoretical knowledge to practical within- and between-group situations.

Through attending the weekly seminars and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain the social psychological processes behind communication within and between groups
  • 2. Describe traps of inefficient communication, identify its signs and apply a range of methods to improve the quality of communicative process and decision-making
  • 3. Illustrate research methods and measurement techniques involved in communication and decision-making research

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Acquire detailed and systematic knowledge within the discipline
  • 5. Analyse the acquired information critically and arrive at independent conclusions
  • 6. Evaluate published empirical evidence and identify its strengths and weaknesses
  • 7. Structure coherent and logical argument and independently select evidence that supports your argument
  • 8. Present and defend your argument through in-class presentations

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Interact effectively within small learning groups and support each other in the learning process
  • 10. Use a wide range of learning resources, including library and IT resources
  • 11. Develop your presentation skills and communicate ideas in oral and written form
  • 12. Evaluate others’ argument in a consistent way and deliver effective feedback
  • 13. Work and think independently
  • 14. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines and develop your group project management skills

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Introductory meeting, module overview and topics assignment

Theme 1. Communication and decision making within groups

  • Information sampling and effective decision making in groups
  • Polarisation of opinion through communication in groups
  • Communication and group cooperation

Theme 2. Communicating information to groups

  • Audience effects in communication
  • Responses to group-directed feedback

Theme 3. Communication between groups

  • Maintaining social status quo: Linguistic Intergroup Bias
  • Maintaining social status quo:  Order of comparison and asymmetric feature designation effects
  • Communication and intergroup conflict: Contact hypothesis
  • Overview
  • Revision

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Seminars (11 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study80Reading in preparation for weekly seminars, following reading list recommendations linked to ELE module homepage and independently exploring further sources of information using links provided.
Guided Independent Study37Time for essay preparation and revision.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation linked to a particular topic15-30 minutesAllInformal oral comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination603 hoursAllWritten, generic feedback posted on module ELE page
Essay402000 wordsAllWritten, individual feedback on script, generic feedback posted on ELE


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExaminationAllAugust Ref/Def
EssayEssayAllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August/September re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the essay you will be required to resubmit the essay. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Moscovici, S., and Zavalloni, M. (1969). The group as a polarizer of attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 12, 125-135.
  • G. Stasser, and W. Titus (1985), Pooling of unshared information in group decision making: Biased information sampling during discussion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1467-1478.
  • Bouas, K. S., and Komorita, S. S. (1996). Group discussion and co-operation in social dilemmas. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 1144–50.
  • Hornsey, M.J. (2005). Why being right is not enough: Predicting defensiveness in the face of group criticism. European Review of Social Psychology, 16, 301-334.
  • Echterhoff, G., Higgins, E. T., and Groll, S. (2005). Audience-tuning effects on memory: The role of shared reality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(3), 257-276.
  • Maass, A., Salvi, D., Arcuri, L., and Semin, G. (1989). Language use in intergroup contexts: The linguistic intergroup bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 981-993.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Psychology, communication, social groups

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

PSY2203 Social Psychology II or equivalent subject specific study

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date