Psychology 3720G-001

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)

3 lecture/discussion hours, 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:                                                 Dr. Graeme Haynes            

       Office and Phone Number:                      SSC 7440     

       Office Hours:                                             Tues. 10:30 A.M. – 11:30 A.M., or by appointment        



       Teaching Assistant:                                  Laura Johnson

       Office:                                                         SSC

       Office Hours:                                            



Time and Location of Classes:         Tues. 7:00 P.M. – 9:50 P.M., SSC 3014

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.


Dovidio, J. F., Piliavin, J. A., Schroeder, D. A., & Penner, L. A. (2006). The Social Psychology of Prosocial Behaviour, 1st Edition. New York: Psychology Press.


Krahe, B. (2013). The Social Psychology of Aggression, 2nd Edition. New York: Psychology Press.



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 classroom discussions with their colleagues


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 classroom discussions with colleagues.

Review and evaluate past research; formulate a testable hypothesis based on this review; and design a study that would test this hypothesis (measured by the research proposal).


Course Format:

Classes will consist of lectures, short videos, and discussions. Class attendance is your responsibility, and you must attend class if you expect to succeed in this course.  I post the slides from my lectures at least a week in advance of exams; if you happen to miss a class and would like them sooner, please obtain notes from one of your classmates.  During class, I encourage you to ask questions about concepts that are unclear, or to share examples that you think are relevant. Outside of class, I encourage you to meet with me during office hours (or set an appointment) to discuss any questions or concerns. E-mail is the best way to contact me outside of class.


Classroom Etiquette:

I expect that each of you will respect your classmates and me by arriving to class on time, ready to listen and participate.  Please turn off your cell phones when you arrive to class, and be sure to put away all phones and other personal devices (e.g., iPods). Devoting class time to non-academic activities such as texting or listening to music is disruptive and creates a negative impression of the students engaging in such activities.  In addition, please do not disrupt the class by carrying on private conversations during class time.  For students with laptops, please note that your laptop is to be used only for taking notes for this course, not recreational purposes (e.g., Facebook, YouTube) or for doing work for another class.  Inappropriate classroom laptop usage will result in laptop privileges being revoked.



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%.

Grades will be based on the scale presented below. You may wish to record your grades here.

Component                                       Value                                                 Grade

Attendance                                         5%                                                     ____________

Midterm exam                                   30%                                                    ____________     

Research proposal                            30%                                                    _____     ___

Final exam                                         35%                                                    ____________



Attendance will be taken during each class. It is important to me that this class be interactive! Students learn best when they are active and engaged. Thus, class attendance and participation will be worth 5% of your final grade. If you’re going to miss class and you have a valid medical or compassionate reason, please let me know in advance, and I will mark you down as excused.



The midterm exam will take place in class on Tuesday, February 13th, and will be worth 30% of your final grade. The final examination is non-cumulative; it will take place during the April exam period (April 14-30th), and is worth 35% of your final grade. The format for exams may consist of definitions, short-answer questions, and essay questions; more specific breakdowns will be provided prior to the exams.  Material from both the textbook and related lectures will be tested. 


Make-Up Exams:  Tests must be written on the scheduled dates unless you have a legitimate excuse recognized by the university administration.  Valid reasons include medical or compassionate reasons, and must be substantiated by proper documentation (e.g., a medical certificate, which will be verified by the Office of the Dean).  A student who misses a regularly scheduled exam for other reasons, or who cannot justify a claim, will be assigned a 0 for the exam.


Research Proposal


You are required to write a research proposal, which is worth 30% of the final grade. The maximum length of the proposal is 15 typed, double-spaced pages (excluding references). It is due at the beginning of the last class (April 10, 7 pm). Your goal is to propose a study (preferably an experiment) that would extend our understanding of any area in prosocial or antisocial behavior. Note that you will not actually conduct the study.


I suggest that you begin by choosing a topic area that interests you (scan through your textbooks for an overview of possible topic areas). Then, to get ideas for possible studies, conduct a literature review to find out what has been done in this area. PsycINFO will provide an up-to-date listing of published studies in your chosen area, and can be accessed from the library’s website ( Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss your preliminary ideas.


The write-up of your proposal should include (1) an "Introduction", (2) a "Method" section, and (3) an "Anticipated Results and Discussion" section.


(1) The Introduction should introduce your topic area (the general issue or problem). Past research that is directly relevant to your proposed study should be reviewed to show what has already been done. Then you should explain why another study is necessary (i.e., you should explain how your study will extend past research in this area). Finally, state the specific predictions of your proposed study. Note that your predictions should follow logically from the literature reviewed (e.g., "given [this set of findings] and [this set of findings] we can predict [this new finding]"). Avoid proposing an "exploratory study" where no firm predictions can be made. I strongly encourage you to contact me if you wish to discuss these issues in more detail.


**It would be very helpful to read the introduction sections of several articles to get a better idea of how an introduction is supposed to flow**


(2) The Method section should present details about how the study would be conducted. To facilitate the organization of this section, you should include two major sub-sections. The "Participants" subsection should include a brief description of who the participants are and where they would be obtained. The "Procedure" sub-section should include a detailed description of the procedures you would use, including (a) specific instructions that would be provided to participants, (b) how the independent variable(s) would be manipulated, and (c) how the dependent variable(s) would be measured. Except in rare circumstances, you should not include a separate "Apparatus/Materials" section that describes your measures; instead, integrate this material into the procedure sub-section. A useful rule of thumb: Your procedures should be presented in the order that they will occur (e.g., don’t mention “debriefing” before you’ve presented the independent and dependent variables). If you have any questions about this section of your proposal, please see me.


(3) The Anticipated Results and Discussion section should present the anticipated results, including a Table or Figure that illustrates all of your conditions and clearly shows how the conditions are expected to differ (use hypothetical numbers for purposes of exposition). Do not include inferential statistics (e.g. Fs, ts or standard deviations). Including these statistics would make it look like you actually conducted the study (which you didn’t). Make sure that you describe the contents of any Tables/Figures in the text of your paper. Note that you do not have to explain how you would analyze the results. You should then relate your predicted findings back to the material in the Introduction and reiterate how the findings would extend past research in this area. You should also discuss “specific limitations” of your study, 6 and speculate about “directions for future research” (again, be specific).


Finally, a list of "References" (which includes the sources of all material cited in your paper) should be appended. Current journal articles will provide useful examples of how to structure the various sections of your proposal. If you are majoring in psychology, you should use this opportunity to practice following the guidelines that are set forth in the APA Publication Manual (6th Edition).


Additional resources with tips for writing research proposals will be posted on OWL.


The deadline for submitting the research proposal (Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 7 pm) is firm. Three marks out of 30 will be deducted if the paper is not handed in on time; the penalty will increase by 3/30 each day that the paper is late (weekends count as two days). Please note: Problems with printers and computers will not be considered legitimate reasons for extending the deadline. You should anticipate (and avoid) these problems in advance (e.g., ensure that you maintain a backup copy of your work; regularly scan your computer for viruses; finish the paper before the deadline). In any event, papers will not be accepted after the Final Exam, which will be scheduled by the Registrar during the Final Examination Period.


Recommended Schedule for completing the Research Proposal:


January: Find area that interests you (skim readings; intro textbooks, etc.).


February: Review past research in this area (PsycInfo). How can past research be extended? Develop outline of research proposal (Intro, Method, Anticipated R&D) Discuss ideas with me (any time).


March: Write first draft (March 1 - 15). Write second draft (March 16 - 31); focus on writing style/organization. Submit draft to Turnitin and check for “matches” (March 31). Revise, print, and submit Final Draft by April 7 (3 days before deadline).
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




Midterm Exam

Feb. 13 (in class)


Final Exam

Apr. 14-30






Jan. 9

An Introduction to Prosocial Behaviour

Dovidio, Chapter 1

Jan. 16

The Origins of Prosocial Behaviour

Dovidio, Chapter 2

Jan. 23

The Context: When Will People Help?

Dovidio, Chapter 3

Jan. 30

Why Do People Help?

Dovidio, Chapter 4

Feb. 6

Being The Helper and Being Helped: Causes and Consequences

Dovidio, Chapter 7

Feb. 13


Feb. 20


Feb. 27

Defining and Measuring Aggression

Krahe, Chapter 1

Mar. 6

Theories of Aggression

Krahe, Chapter 2

Mar. 13

Development of Aggression and Individual Differences

Krahe, Chapter 3

Mar. 20

Situational Elicitation of Aggressive Behaviour

Krahe, Chapter 4

Mar. 27

Media Violence and Aggression

Krahe, Chapter 5

Apr. 3

Aggression as Part of Everyday Life

Krahe, Chapter 6

Apr. 10

Study day – no class

April 14-30 (TBA)



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.