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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social Emphasis

Emphasis: Clinical Science  | Social

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

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.

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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

Spring First Year

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

Fall Second Year

Spring Second Year

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

Required Courses

PSYCH 5606 (3cr) Special Topics in Social Psychology: In-depth coverage of an applied topic in social psychology and the design of social psychology research. Students will be required to complete an individual project, which may or may not include the collection of data, in the topical area. Topics may include, but are not limited to, social cognition, emotion, adolescence, aggression, persuasion, altruistic and helping behavior, and group behavior. Prerequisites: an undergraduate course in social psychology; junior standing.

PSYCH 6202 (3cr) Social and Cognitive Development: In-depth, critical analysis of major theories of developmental psychology and their application to practical situations. Psychoanalytic, ethological, behaviorist, social learning, cognitive, and contextual approaches to development will be discussed. Prerequisites: an undergraduate course in developmental psychology; graduate standing.

PSYCH 6001 (3cr) Advanced Statistics: Review of elementary descriptive and inferential statistics, analysis of variance and covariance models, multiple linear regression and the generalized linear model, and specialized topics in multivariate analysis. Prerequisites: previous courses in statistics; graduate standing in psychology or consent of instructor.

PSYCH 6203 (3cr) Personality: Comparative study of major personality theories and techniques of personality assessment. Prerequisite: graduate standing in psychology or consent of instructor.

PSYCH 6204 (3cr) Advanced Social Psychology: Covers the major areas of classic and current research in social psychology. Students engage in an in-depth, critical analysis of the research in areas including, but not limited to, conformity, obedience, social norms, social cognition, interpersonal relationships, aggression, and helping behavior. Substantial proportion of the course focuses on social cognition. The course also examines the socio-historical context of social psychology and the application of social psychological research. Prerequisites: an undergraduate course in social psychology; graduate standing in psychology or consent of instructor.

PSYCH 6205 (1cr) Advances and Developments in Social Psychology: Seminar involving presentations and discussion of current research in social psychology. May be repeated for maximum of 4 hours credit. Credit/no credit basis only. Prerequisite(s): graduate standing in psychology (Social Psychology emphasis) or consent of instructor.

PSYCH 6285 (1cr) Readings in Psychology: A survey of the psychological literature within a particular area supervised by a faculty member. Designed to lead to a thesis topic. Prerequisite(s): consent of instructor.

PSYCH 6201 (3cr) Evolution, Brain, and Social Behavior: Emphasis on biological foundations of social behavior, importance of natural selection processes and interplay of genes and environment. Functional significance of genetics, hormones, neurotransmitters on personality, pathology and sex differences.

PSYCH 5604 (3cr) Principles of Psychometrics: Exploration of contemporary theories and principles basic to the construction and clinical use of psychological tests. Students will learn how to (a) critically evaluate psychological tests (e.g., self-report and interview methods) and (b) develop and validate self-report instruments, using contemporary psychometric principles and procedures. Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 1001; PSYCH 3002; PSYCH 3003; junior standing.

PSYCH 6006 (3cr) Research in Psychology: Conduct a supervised research project. May be repeated for maximum of 9 hours. Prerequisite(s): graduate standing in psychology; consent of graduate coordinator and instructor.

PSYCH 6299 (3cr) Thesis Research: An independent research project supervised by a faculty advisor and a committee of faculty members, resulting in a manuscript consisting of a substantial literature review, methodology description, statistical report and analysis, and discussion. The thesis is orally defended in a public forum.

Approved Electives

  • PSYCH 5004 History and Systems of Psychology
  • PSYCH 5102 Drugs and Individual Behavior
  • PSYCH 5103 Sensation and Perception
  • PSYCH 5104 Introduction to Neurology
  • PSYCH 5204 Psychology of Aging
  • PSYCH 5303 Health Psychology
  • PSYCH 5304 Organizational Psychology
  • PSYCH 5305 Industrial Psychology
  • PSYCH 5404 Psychology of Human Differences
  • PSYCH 5502 Motivation and Emotion
  • PSYCH 5503 Conditioning and Learning
  • PSYCH 5504 Memory and Language
  • PSYCH 5505 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYCH 5607 Psychological Anthropology
  • PSYCH 5608 Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • PSYCH 5704 Practicum in Teaching Psychology
  • PSYCH 5705 Research Experience in Psychology
  • PSYCH 6003 Graduate Practicum in Teaching Psychology
  • PSYCH 6285 Readings in Psychology
  • PSYCH 6289 Seminar
  • PSYCH 6401 Cognitive and Intellectual Assessment
  • PSYCH 6406 Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 6410 Advanced Child Psychology and Evidence Based Treatment

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.