Psychology 3445G-001

Social Development

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


Human survival and reproduction depends on the ability to form and maintain social relationships with others. This course reviews biological, cognitive, social, and contextual processes that enable human children to 丙get along丹 with others, and processes associated with social maladaptation. Topics include attachment, emotion regulation, aggression, prosocial behavior, and gender.

Antirequisites: Psychology 3781F/G


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit.  So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810, and one of Psychology 2040A/B or 2410A/B


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.

3 seminar hours, 0.5 course


       Instructor:  Dr. Lynne Zarbatany            

       Office and Phone Number:  WH 322, 519-661-3664     

       Office Hours: by appointment                  



       TA: Mr. Kunio Hessel

       Office: WH 34

       Office Hours: by appointment



Time and Location of Class: Wednesday, 12:30-3:30, Westminster Hall 20F (East Wing, Basement)

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Underwood, M. K., & Rosen, L. H. (Eds., 2011), Social development: Relationships in infancy,    childhood, and adolescence. NY: Guilford.

Other required readings will be posted on the course website.


Human survival and reproduction depends on the ability to form and maintain social relationships with others. In this course, we will explore the development of processes that enable human children to 丙get along丹 with others.  We will examine how the foundational processes (physiological, social cognitive, emotional, behavioral) that underlie relationship skills emerge and are shaped by relationships with family members, peers, and other significant relationship partners, as well as the larger cultural context. We also will examine consequences of adaptive and maladaptive relationships for infants䷹, children䷹s, and adolescents䷹ social and psychological adjustment.

The course will be conducted in a seminar format. Each week, we will read and discuss a set of assigned readings, plan PSAs, and/or listen to presentations.


By the end of this course, successful students will be able to

  • Memorize, describe, critically evaluate, and apply main concepts and findings of research and theory on social development
  • Locate and critically evaluate scholarly research that pertains to a real world problem in social development
  • Create an effective evidence-based 30- to 120-sec videotaped Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise public awareness and/or encourage action to remedy the problem.
  • Orally present prepared material in a formal academic setting using visual aids, and make in-the-moment contributions to scholarly discourse.
  • Demonstrate courage to use their scholarly voice in a public setting.
  • Write papers demonstrating correct use of the English language and adherence to discipline-specific (APA) writing requirements.



Class Participation (20%)

Each week we will meet in seminar format to discuss scholarly readings and other class activities. You will be marked on a scale from 0 to 4 for participation each week (0 = absent, 1 = present but silent, 2 = minimal participation, 3 = moderate participation, 4 = made an important substantive contribution to the scholarly discourse), and your participation marks will be averaged to form 20% of your final mark. To facilitate discussion, you must bring at least one discussion topic or question to class each week. Note that class attendance is required, and absences will be excused only if requested by your academic counselor.


Weekly Quizzes (20%)


You will complete weekly quizzes on the assigned readings for the week, each consisting of 10 multiple choice questions. Quizzes will be administered at the beginning of each class. The two lowest quiz marks will be dropped, and the remaining scores averaged to form 20% of your final mark.


Public Service Announcements (60%)


The major assignment is an evidence-based 30-120 sec videotaped public service announcement (PSA) geared to children or their relationship partners (parents, teachers, peers) on a topic relevant to the course. The purpose of a PSA is to motivate action to remedy a problem; the action required may be ceasing, increasing, or altering a behavior or set of behaviors. Before undertaking this project, we will review research assessing qualities that enhance the effectiveness of PSAs.


This project will be undertaken in stages, each of which will be marked separately. Both content and style will be taken into account for marking purposes.


Depending on final class size, PSAs will be developed in pairs or groups of three students. For presentations, each group member must share presentation time equally. All written products must be completed individually.


PSA Proposal Presentation (5%) and Written Prospectus (10%)


First, your group will generate and present (20 min) a proposal for your PSA that includes a statement of the problem (e.g., aggression occurs in a nontrivial number of adolescent romantic relationships), a brief literature review on the topic, including remediation strategies that have been attempted (including previous PSAs on the topic if available), and a story board for an evidence-based idea for a PSA topic. You will also prepare a  written prospectus of your plan (3-page maximum plus references). The class will provide feedback on the ideas.


Completed PSA Presentation (15%)


Second, you will create a script, film and edit your PSA and present it to the class in a second 20-30 min) presentation. As part of the presentation, you will describe the strategy underlying your approach and why you believe it will be effective for the targeted age group. Note that you must take into account the social and cognitive abilities of the target audience when developing your script; what works for one age group may not work for another. Show your PSA to members of the targeted group, if possible, or other students not in the course, and include their feedback in your presentation.


Final Paper (30%)


Third, you will individually write a 10-12 page paper that includes a statement of the problem, a literature review, including a description of previous intervention attempts made, a description of your PSA, and an evidence-based rationale for your approach to your PSA.


Note: All papers must be written using APA 6th Ed. formatting rules. Papers must be submitted electronically in two ways: (1) on the course website to Turnitin, and (2) emailed to


Note: The final paper is due by 5:00 pm on Apr. 13, or 9:00 am on Apr. 16 for students who present on Apr. 11. Late papers will incur a penalty of 3% per day (out of 100%).



Course Requirement

% of Final Mark

Due Date

Class Participation






PSA Proposal Presentation

PSA Proposal Prospectus





Final PSA Presentation




PSA Paper



Apr. 13, 5 pm,, or Apr. 16, 9 am, for those who present on Apr. 11


PLEASE NOTE:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows Western's grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


     Other than weekly quizzes, there are no exams in this course.



Tentative Topics/Readings



Jan. 10


Organizational Meeting






Jan. 17


Readings on PSAs:


2.      Kansas Association of Broadcasters: How to Write a Public Service Announcement (see course website for link)


Ch. 1 Underwood & Rosen


Quiz 1

Bring your favorite PSA to class. What䷹s the message? Why do you like it?



Jan. 24



Biological foundations of social behavior


Chs. 2 & 3 Underwood & Rosen


Quiz 2


Bring at least one idea for a PSA message





Jan. 31




Ch. 5 Underwood & Rosen


Gunnar, M. R. (2017). Social buffering of stress in development: A

     career perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12,






Quiz 3





Feb. 7


Families, Parenting, Discipline


Ch. 6 Underwood & Rosen


Bornovalova, M. A. et al. (2014). Understanding the relative

    contributions of direct environmental effects and passive geno-

    type environment correlations in the association between

    familial risk factors and child disruptive behavior disorders.

    Psychological Medicine, 44, 831-844.






Quiz 4


PSA Proposals




Feb. 14


Peer Relationships


Ch. 7 Underwood & Rosen


Albert, D., Chein, J., & Steinberg, L. (2013). The teenage brain:

    Peer influences on adolescent decision making. Current

    Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 114-120.




Quiz 5


PSA Proposals


Feb. 21


Reading Week









Feb. 28


Social Cognition


Ch. 4 Underwood & Rosen


Tomasello, M., & Moll, H. (2013). Why don䷹t apes understand

    false beliefs? In M. R. Banaji & S. A. Gelman (Eds.),

    Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other

   species can teach us (pp. 81-87). NY: Oxford University Press.


Hirschfeld, L. A. (2013). The myth of mentalizing and the primacy

    of folk sociology. In M. R. Banaji & S. A. Gelman (Eds.),

    Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other

    species can teach us (pp. 101-106). NY: Oxford University









Quiz 6


PSA Proposals




Mar. 7




Ch. 9 Underwood & Rosen 


Hawley (2014). The duality of human nature: Coercion and

    prosociality in youths䷹ hierarchy ascension and social success.

    Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 433-438.




Quiz 7





Mar. 14


Morality and Prosocial Behavior


Chs. 10 Underwood & Rosen


Davidov, M., Vaish, A., Knafo-Noam, A., & Hastings, P. D.

    (2016). The motivational foundations of prosocial behavior from

    a developmental perspective亙Evolutionary roots and key

    psychological mechanisms: Introduction to special section.

    Child Development, 87, 1655-1667.





Quiz 8






Mar. 21




Ch. 12 Underwood & Rosen


Udry, J. R. (2000). Biological limits of gender construction.

     American Sociological Review, 65, 443-457


Quiz 9


PSA Presentations




Mar. 28


Cultural Influences on Social Development


Ch. 15 Underwood & Rosen


Belsky, J. (2008). War, trauma, and children䷹s development:

     Observations from a modern evolutionary perspective.

     International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32, 260-271.


Quiz 10


PSA Presentations


Apr. 4


 PSA Presentations




Apr. 11


 PSA Presentations



Example PSA Topic Areas

Emotional/cognitive/behavioral self-regulation and relation to child-rearing practices or peer relationships


Role of aggression and prosocial behavior in social and material resource control within groups (i.e., how to get what you want).


Implications of in-group preferences and out-group avoidance for intergroup relations; racial/ethnic prejudice; intergroup relations.


Functions of secure attachment and benefits of sensitive parenting for attachment security


Coping with the challenges of difficult/anxious child temperament


Consequences of harsh parenting tactics, including physical punishment and psychological manipulation


Sibling influences; sibling aggression


Friend/peer group influence on risky behavior (e.g., alcohol and drug use; unprotected sex; criminality; dangerous driving).


Gender-role constraints on behavior


Implications of peer relationship problems for academic performance at school.


Implications of electronic media for social behavior



Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn䷹s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western䷹s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.