Dr. Daniel Nadolny wants his students to deeply understand the theories and findings of social psychology through applying these concepts to problems or issues on campus.
Psychology 3125: Contemporary Topics in Social Psychology (Social Psychological Interventions) is designed to teach recent findings in social psychology that have been used to change the world and ourselves. Dr. Nadolny gives the students the flexibility and freedom to look at a social issue that affects them directly.
"This type of activity provides a real-life application for what they are learning in the classroom. They become actively involved, identifying a real problem and working to change it," said Dr. Nadolny. "We look at actions or behaviours and try to understand the social forces that affect behaviour, such as littering, in an effort to reinforce and use the concepts taught in the course."
Through this course, students have looked at a variety of social topics and behaviours including:
- Increased recycling: New blue boxes purchased for some of the classrooms, allowing for separate collection of paper and other recyclables. This project used the concept of "dynamic social norms" to create messages encouraging people to recycle.
- Gratitude intervention (increasing happiness/general well-being): An event where participants were provided the tools and opportunities to write gratitude letters to people in their life, as well as start gratitude journals. This utilized the research on gratitude and happiness
- Volunteering/Social connection/Drug-abuse reduction: An event where participants were informed about different volunteer opportunities, got to see some cats from the SPCA, and learned about different aspects of drug abuse. This activity was based on the research suggesting links between sense of contentedness to others in the community (for example, through volunteering), and reductions in drug abuse.