SAMPLE Syllabus FOR DEP 4930/6409 — Social Cognition and Aging

This is not the syllabus for the current semester for this course.

Professor: Robin Lea West, Ph.D. Phone: 392-0601 x240
Office: 15c Psychology Bldg. EMAIL: west51@UFL.EDU

Office Hours:

REQUIRED TEXT: Social Cognition and Aging edited by F. Blanchard-Fields and T. M. Hess, Academic Press, 1999. (assigned readings from this text are noted as SCA)

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this class is to give students a broad acquaintance with the theories, empirical evidence, and research methods for social cognitive issues in aging.

Jan. 12 Introduction to the course


Jan. 26 Overview of social cognition, cognition and aging

Required reading: 1) SCA foreword

2) Blanchard-Fields, F. (1996). Social cognitive development in adulthood and aging. In

F. Blanchard-Fields & T. M. Hess (Eds.), Perspectives on cognitive change in adulthood and aging (pp. 454-487). New York: McGraw Hill.

Feb. 2 Stereotypes and aging

Required reading: 1) SCA 8

2) Chasteen, A. L., Schwartz, N., & Park, D. C. (2002). The activation of aging stereotypes in younger and older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P540-P547.

3) Hess, T. M., Auman, C., Colcombe, S. J., & Rahhal, T. A. (2003). The impact of stereotype threat on age differences in memory performance. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 58B, P3-P11.

4) Levy, B. R. (2003). Mind matters: Cognitive and physical effects of aging self-stereotypes. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 58B, P203-P216 [includes commentaries on the Levy paper]

Feb. 9 Impression formation

Required reading: 1) SCA 9

2) Parr, W. V., & Siegert, R. (1993). Adults’ conceptions of everyday memory failures in others: Factors that mediate the effects of target age. Psychology and Aging, 8, 599-605.

(continued on next page)

3) Erber, J. T., Szuchman, L. T., & Prager, I. G. (2001). Ain’t misbehavin’: The effects of age and intentionality on judgments about misconduct. Psychology and Aging, 16, 85-95.

4) Bieman-Copland, S., & Ryan, E. B. (2001). Social perceptions of failures in memory monitoring. Psychology and Aging, 16, 357-361.

Feb. 16 Self-evaluation of memory

Required reading: 1) Cavanaugh, J. C. (1996). Memory self-efficacy as a moderator of memory change. In F. Blanchard-Fields & T. M. Hess (Eds.), Perspectives on cognitive change in adulthood and aging (pp. 488-507). New York: McGraw Hill.

2) West, R. L., Dennehy-Basile, D., & Norris, M. P. (1996). Memory self-evaluation: The effects of age and experience. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 3, 67-83.

3) SCA 3

4) Hess, T. M., & Pullen, S. M. (1996). Memory in context. In F. Blanchard-Fields & T. M. Hess (Eds.), Perspectives on cognitive change in adulthood and aging (pp. 387-427). New York: McGraw Hill. [read only pp. 391-393]

5) Hertzog, C., Park, D.C.,Morell, R. W., & Martin, M. (1999). Ask and ye shall receive: Behavioural specificity in the accuracy of subjective memory complaints. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13, 1-19.

Feb. 23 Control beliefs and attributions

Required reading: 1) SCA 2

2) Hertzog, C., McGuire, C. L., & Lineweaver, T. T. (1998). Aging, attributions, perceived control, and strategy use in a free recall task. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 5, 85-106.

3) West, R. L., & Yassuda, M. (2004). Aging and memory control beliefs: Performance in relation to goal setting and memory self-evaluation. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 59B, 26-35.

4) Kunzmann, U., Little, T., & Smith, J. (2002). Perceiving control: A double-edged sword in old age. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P484-P491.

March 1 TAKE HOME EXAM 1 DUE; no assigned readings, lecture only


March 15 Schemas and representation

Required reading: 1) SCA 11

2) Chen, Y., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2000). Unwanted thought: Age differences in the correction of social judgments. Psychology and Aging, 15, 475-482.

3) SCA 10 — pp. 219-226 only

4) Rousseau, G.K., & Rogers, W. A. (2002). Effects of processing style and age on schema acquisition. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P11-P18.

5) Mutter, S. A. (2000). Illusory correlation and group impression formation in young and older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 55B, P224-237.

March 22 Motivation and cognition

Required reading:

1) Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. American Psychologist, 57, 705-717.

2) West, R. L., Thorn, R. M., & Bagwell, D. K. (2003). Memory performance and beliefs as a function of goal setting and aging. Psychology and Aging, 18, 111-125.

3) Filipp, S-H. (1996). Motivation and emotion. In J. E. Birren & K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of aging (4th ed., pp. 218-235). San Deigo: Academic Press.

4) Lawton, M. P., Moss, M. S., Winter, L., & Hoffman, C. (2002). Motivation in later life: Personal projects and well-being. Psychology and Aging, 17, 539-547.

March 29 Life goals

Required reading: 1) SCA 6

2) Nurmi, J. E., Pulliainen, H., & Salmela-Aro, K. (1992). Age differences in adults’ control beliefs related to life goals and concerns. Psychology and Aging, 7, 194-196.

3) Wrosch, C., Heckhausen, J., & Lachman, M. E. (2000). Primary and secondary control strategies for managing health and financial stress across adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 15, 387-399.

4) Holahan, C. K., & Chapman, J. R. (2002). Longitudinal predictors of proactive goals and activity participation at age 80. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P418-P425.


April 12 Possible selves

Required reading: 1) SCA 5

2) Frazier, L. D., Hooker, K., & Johnson, P. M. (2000). Continuity and change in possible selves in later life: A 5-year longitudinal study. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 22, Special Issue: The social psychology of aging, 237-243.

3) Smith, J., & Freund, A. M. (2002). The dynamics of possible selves in old age. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P492-P500.

4) Cavanaugh, J. C., Feldman, J. M., & Hertzog, C. (1998). Memory beliefs as social cognition: A reconceptualization of what memory questionnaires assess. Review of General Psychology, 2, 48-65.

April 19 Presentations of research proposals


During each class meeting, we will have 1-2 hours of discussion concerning the readings assigned the week before. The remainder of the time will be lecture/discussion of the next week’s topic. There is at least one review paper each week that presents a particular theoretical framework or explanations for the empirical findings in a certain subfield. The remainder of the readings present empirical findings for that particular topic; typically these are more recent than the review, and they give you a flavor for a variety of methodologies.

Class participation is required. I expect every student to complete all of the required readings before class. Students should be prepared to discuss the readings and take an active role in the class discussion each week. For most classes, I will lead the discussion on the articles, but each student will be assigned one week in class when he/she will be responsible for leading the discussion on the articles. In addition, all students will be required to make a class presentation on a research project, which I will work with you to develop.

There will be two take-home exams, 50 points each. The exam questions will be given to you at least two weeks in advance. All exams should be typed and presented with no names (UF ID numbers only) and turned into my mailbox, to ensure objective evaluation. In addition to the exams, each student will be required to complete a written research proposal designed to provide new insights into aging and social cognition (50 points). I will provide written comments and a detailed critique of the written proposal. Students will then revise and improve their proposal before making a class presentation on their research (30 points). The research proposal and exams will be due by 4:00 on the day noted in the syllabus. Late papers will lose 5 points per day. Class participation grades are, of necessity, more subjective, but will be weighted as 1/5 of your grade (~45 points).