Psychology 3720F-650 (online)

The Psychology of Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviour

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


The course will consider the social, situational and personality factors responsible for the occurrence of antisocial behaviours such as violence and aggression, and of prosocial behaviours such as helping others in disaster or crisis situations.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810 (or Psychology 2780E or permission of the Department at Huron)

0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll 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.


Instructor:         Melanie MacEacheron, Ph.D., LL. B.     

       Office:  SSC 7440

       Office Hours:  By appointment.                    



  Because this is an internet-based course, possibly the best way to contact the instructor is by email. I will respond to your emails by the next business day after business day received (e.g., if I receive an email from you after 5 p.m. on a Friday, and the following Monday is not a holiday, I will respond on Tuesday). If you would like to meet in person or set up a telephone “meeting”, please email me. Please be sure to include “Psych 3720” as part of the subject heading of your emails, and email from your “” account

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.



All Required:


Dovidio, J. F., Piliavin, J. A., Schroeder, D. A., & Penner, L. A. (2006). The Social Psychology of Prosocial Behavior. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (For Part 1 of the course)


Krahé, B. (2013). The Social Psychology of Aggression (2nd edition). New York, NY: Psychology Press. (For Part 2 of the course)


Online notes and discussion board available on OWL powered by Sakai (  


The objectives of this course are: 

  • To teach students about key theories, methods and findings in the scientific study of prosocial and antisocial behavior
  • To provide students with the adequate tools to generate a research idea and to write a research proposal according to APA standards
  • To encourage students to think critically and apply their knowledge through online discussions with their colleagues


At the end of this course, you should be able to: 

  • Describe theories, research methods and findings regarding the occurrence of antisocial and prosocial behaviours. Measured through exams.
  • Apply theoretical principles and research findings to everyday examples of prosocial and antisocial behaviour. Measured through online discussions with colleagues.
  • Locate and critically evaluate information. Measured through online discussions with colleagues and research proposal (literature review).
  • Generate and develop a research idea. Measured by research proposal.



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%.

        Grade Breakdown



% of Final Grade

Exam 1


Exam 2


Research Proposal






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


Course grades will be based on five online discussions, two exams and a research proposal.


  1. Exams: Each two-hour exam will consist of “short answer” questions that test your ability to identify, conceptualize, and/or apply the course material. Sample questions will be provided in the form of practice questions.


The midterm exam (Saturday, October 21st), worth 25% of the final grade, will cover material from September 7th through October 7th (weeks 1-5).


The final exam (during the final exam period: date, time and location will be available from Registrar’s office), worth 25% of the final grade, will cover material from October 22nd through December 2nd (weeks 8-13). (No new material will be taught in week 14: December 3rd-9th.)


  1. Research Proposal: You are required to write a research proposal, which is worth 25% of the final grade. The maximum length of the proposal is 15 typed, double-spaced pages (excluding references and cover page). It is due in APA format on December 1st at 11:45 p.m.


Your goal is to propose a study (preferably an experiment) that would extend our understanding of any area in prosocial or antisocial behaviour. Note that you will not actually conduct the study. More information about the requirements for the research proposal will be provided on the course website.


  1. Online Discussions: There will be five online discussions worth 25% of the final grade (or, 5% each). The online discussions will take place in weeks 2, 4, 5, 9, and 12 (see schedule below).


There will be a discussion board on the course website, which will list a new question each of these weeks, for students to comment on/discuss. You will be divided into groups of approximately five, and will comment on/discuss the question among yourselves. Do not post any derogatory, sarcastic, or demeaning comments about other students or their postings.


Students are expected to participate in all of these discussions by completely answering each component of each question, posting their own thoughts or observations, and by commenting constructively on other students’ comments. In the Discussion area of the course website, you, as a student, can interact with your classmates to explore questions and comments related to the content of this course. A successful student in online education is one who takes an active role in the learning process. Participation in the discussion should enhance your learning experience throughout the course.


The discussions will be graded for the quality and content of your contributions. Examples of quality posts include:

  • providing additional information to the discussion;
  • elaborating on previous comments from others;
  • presenting explanations of concepts or methods to help fellow students;
  • presenting reasons for or against a topic in a persuasive fashion;
  • sharing your own personal experiences that relate to the topic; and
  • providing a URL and explanation for an area you researched on the Internet.


It is strongly suggested that you participate in each discussion regularly (i.e., not solely just before the deadline for the submission of each), and multiple times. One reason for this, is that in order to earn a good grade, you are expected to not only to post good comments that completely answer the given question, but also to respond to others’ posts. Your (final) posting for each discussion must be received by OWL by Friday at 11:45 p.m. of the week of the discussion, in order to be marked. 


There will also be an optional, ‘bonus’ discussion, to be completed by December 8th at 11:45 p.m.: Your mark on this discussion, if completed, will replace either your lowest discussion mark or a missed discussion post.


Week    Date     Topic                                                               Readings          Discussions


                                                          Part 1: Prosocial Behaviour


        1               Sep 7-9              Introduction to Prosocial Behavior       Dovidio Ch. 1


        2               Sep. 10-16           The Origin of Prosocial Behavior        Dovidio Ch. 2    Discussion 1


        3               Sep. 17-23                     When will people help?              Dovidio Ch. 3


        4               Sep. 24-30                       Why do people help?              Dovidio Ch. 4    Discussion 2


        5               Oct. 1-7              Being the Helper and Being Helped      Dovidio Ch. 7    Discussion 3


        6               Oct. 8-14            (Fall Study Break: do your own review)


        7               Oct. 15-21          Midterm: Saturday, October 21st, time to be determined

                                          Covers all textbook chapters and lesson materials (notes, additional

                                          readings, activities, and videos) in Part 1 of the course.


                                                Part 2: Antisocial Behaviour-Aggression


        8               Oct. 22-28          Defining and Measuring Aggression     Krahé Ch. 1      


        9               Oct. 29-Nov. 4    Theories of Aggression                                    Krahé Ch. 2       Discussion 4    


        10             Nov. 5-11           Development of Aggression                 Krahé Ch. 3


        11             Nov. 12-18          Situational Elicitation of Aggression     Krahé Ch. 4


        12             Nov. 19-25          Media Violence and Aggression           Krahé Ch. 5       Discussion 5


        13             Nov. 26-Dec. 2   Aggression as Part of Everyday Life    Krahé Ch. 6       Research



        14             Dec. 3-9             (Study Week: do your own review)                                ‘Bonus’



        Exam 2: Sometime between December 10th and 21st (inclusive). Exact date and time will be

        available from Registrar’s Office. Covers all textbook chapters and lesson materials (notes,

        additional readings, activities, and videos) in Part 2 of the course.  



Recommended Schedule for completing the Research Proposal:  

Note: no Research Proposal will be accepted after the date of the final examination (even with late marks taken off, per the assignment description posted on the course OWL website) except with the approval of a UWO Academic Advisor.

-           Weeks 1 – 5:  

o         Find area that interests you (skim readings).  

-           Weeks 6 – 8: 

  • Review past research in this area (PsycInfo).  
  • Review the following material posted in the Research Proposal tab on the website:  
    • Techniques to generate a research idea that extends past research
    • The structure of an outline for your research proposal

o         Develop outline of a research proposal  

 -          Week 9:  

  • Write first draft

-          Week 10:   

  • Review the following material posted in the Research Proposal tab on the website:
  • Writing style/organization
  • Typical problems/sample feedback

o          Keeping materials just-above in mind, write second draft   

 -          Week 11: 

o          Submit draft to Turnitin and check for matches  

 -          Week 12:  

o          Revise and submit final draft (one week before deadline)  

 -          Week 13 (December 1st, 11:45pm): 

  • Research Proposal Due


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.