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Social Judgment and Decision Making


Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students


A large part, if not all, of people’s judgments, decisions and actions occur in a social context, meaning that they are shaped by the actual or imagined presence of others. In this course students will familiarize themselves with some of the core thematic topics of social judgment and decision-making in the domains of economic and consumer behavior, legal decision-making, health, and politics. We will address questions such as: Why do people base their decisions on their emotions? Why do people undertake actions that go against their own interest? And why do people often fail to accurately anticipate their future mental states? We will discuss the reading material in light of daily practice and will actively seek for real-life implications of the theory covered during the course. But we will also carefully examine the various methodologies involved in decision-making research (ranging from neuroscience techniques to large-scale survey studies), and we will explore how each methodology can help address unique questions and how their combination can open up new research domains.

Course objectives

During the course, students:
1. Gain specialized knowledge of the key concepts, approaches, theories and methods that comprise contemporary research in social judgment and decision making;
2. Learn to analyze phenomena in light of relevant theoretical concepts;
3. Learn to generate new research ideas on the basis of their knowledge of key concepts, theories, and research methodologies;
4. Learn to communicate theoretical insights and ideas in valid ways to others, both in speaking and writing.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in:
Psychology timetables




Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions.
Master’s course registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

7 2-hour work group sessions (attendance of all sessions is mandatory)
No weblectures available.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on:

  • Organization of an interactive thematic seminar (30%; objectives 1, 2 & 4),

  • Four short analyses (30%; objectives 1, 2 & 4)

  • One research proposal (40%; objectives 1, 3 & 4).

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

Selected chapters from Sapolsky, R. (2017). Behave. New York: Penguin press.

Selection of scientific articles; examples:
Caruso, E. M., Burns, Z. C., & Converse, B. A. (2016). Slow motion increases perceived intent. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(33), 9250-9255.
Mutz, D. C. (2007). Political psychology and choice. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Science.
Van Dillen, L. F., Papies, E. K., & Hofmann, W. (2013). Turning a blind eye to temptation: How cognitive load can facilitate self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(3), 427.

Contact information

Dr. Lotte van Dillen