Social Emphasis

Social psychology at UNI offers intense exploration into both classic and contemporary social theories and enforces a solid foundation in many other psychological domains. It builds students' knowledge of various research methodologies and statistical analyses. Finally, the social program gives its students a plethora of opportunities to engage in research that fits their interests. Beyond the required thesis, students are encouraged to work on research individually, with fellow graduate students, and/or in faculty research labs.

The Social emphasis is designed for students who are interested in social psychology and would like to complete a master's degree before seeking admission to Ph.D. programs in social psychology or pursuing employment as a research analyst, research associate, or community college teacher.

Helen C. Harton, Ph.D.
Social Area Coordinator/ Graduate Coordinator
Phone: (319) 273-2235 Office: Bartlett 2080

Sample Areas of Research

  • Stereotyping and prejudice
  • Criminal stereotypes
  • Emergence of subcultures
  • Cross-race identification and memory
  • Road rage and aggression
  • Social networking, prosocial behaviors
  • Social influence and health behaviors


A minimum of 45 semester hours and a thesis are required for the M.A. degree. The program is designed to be completed in two full years of study, including two academic years and two summers.

The table below represents a typical program of study.

Fall First Year

Adv. Statistics (3cr) 
Advanced Social Psychology (3cr)
Readings (1cr)
Advances and Developments in Social Psychology (1cr)
Research in Psychology (3cr)

Spring First Year

Research Design (3cr)
Special Topics in Social Psychology (3cr) or Psychometrics (3cr)
Personality (3cr)
Readings (1cr)
Advances and Developments in Social Psychology (1cr)
Research in Psychology (3cr)

Fall Second Year

Elective (3cr) 
Social and Cognitive Development (3cr) 
Thesis Research (3cr) 
Advances and Developments in Social Psychology (1cr) 

Spring Second Year

Evolution, Brain, and Social Behavior (3cr)
Psychometrics (3cr) or Special Topics in Social Psychology (3cr)
Thesis Research (3cr)
Advances and Developments in Social Psychology (1cr)


Social Faculty

(Graduate Students may do research and theses with any of the graduate faculty in the Department of Psychology.)

Helen C. Harton
(Ph.D., Florida Atlantic U.)
Professor and Social Area Coordinator
Primary research areas are attitudes and social influence, particularly using dynamical systems approaches. Specific research projects include how important vs. unimportant attitude change and the implication of those changes for groups and how subcultures emerge within groups of interacting individuals. Another line of research examines the relationship between political orientation and different manifestations of racism. Other research interests include attraction, relationship satisfaction, jealousy, pro-social behavior, cooperative learning, and attitudes toward immigrants.

Mary Losch
(Ph.D., U. of Iowa)
General research interests include attitudes, infant feeding decision-making, health behaviors of mothers during the perinatal period, pregnancy prevention, adolescent risk behaviors, health behavior assessment, and survey research methods.  Dr. Losch has a joint appointment as the Assistant Director of the Center for Social and Behavioral Research.

Kimberly MacLin
(Ph.D., U. of Nevada-Reno)
Her general research interests are in the situated nature of social cognition. Current research focuses on criminal appearance stereotypes, the source of those stereotypes, and how those stereotypes impact memory and decision making in a variety of legal contexts.

Nick Schwab
(Ph.D., University of Wyoming)
Associate Professor
Research interests broadly concern how we affect and are affected by our social networks and how these networks develop internal norms. Current research explores the influence of social networks on social support and self-other goals. A second program of research concerns the interaction between biological and cultural processes that regulate behavior; in particular, the regulation of sexual and cooperative behaviors.

Faculty with related interests:

Adam Butler
(Ph.D., U. of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Occupational health, work-life balance and college student employment

Catherine DeSoto
(Ph.D., U. of Missouri)
Evolutionary psychology, cross cultural investigations of
sex differences. Relationship jealousy and relational aggression.

Carolyn Hildebrandt
(Ph.D., U. California, Berkley)
Current research projects include studies of social and biological reasoning in children and adolescents, children's understanding of physical and psychological harm, and children's and adolescents' representations of pitch and rhythm in music.