PSYC 413 (3 cr): Social and Personality Development

Welcome to Psychology 413!

This course will give you a comprehensive overview of the psychological processes in the social and personality developments of infants, children and adolescents.

Course Overview

Each week we will read short empirical articles (no more expensive text books) and discuss their findings and implications. We focus on a range of topics from intergroup bias to social dominance hierarchies to the development of culture and cultural learning, to theory of mind and more. In pursuit of this specific goal, course evaluations will focus on assessing your ability to critically read and evaluate research reports, and to develop written and oral summaries of those articles. No more multiple-choice exams or tests that just measure your ability to memorize facts!

While many of you will likely not pursue a career in social or developmental psychology, the critical thinking, reading and writing skills we aim to develop in this course will be beneficial to many professional career paths you may ultimately pursue. While these skills certainly require more than a semester to develop, we hope to provide a very strong foundation upon which you can continue to build beyond PSYC 413.

As a 400-level course, some background in social, cognitive and developmental psychology is required. The readings for this course will be based on primary sources, specifically empirical and theoretical peer-reviewed articles. As an advanced 4th year course, a textbook will not be used—all readings will be available electronically through UBC’s online library for free. The selected readings are brief and generally written for a wide audience which makes them particularly good sources to aid in developing critical reading and thinking skills.

Course Goals

There are two primary goals for this course. The first goal of this course is to further develop your understanding of contemporary topics in social cognitive development from infancy through late childhood and early adolescence. Reflecting the natural interconnections between areas of social, cognitive and developmental psychology, this course draws on behavioral, neuroimaging, genetic and comparative studies to examine the phylogenetic (evolutionary) and ontogenetic (developmental) origins of social cognition. We will focus on a variety of topics including infants’ understanding the social world, social categorization and intergroup bias, theory of mind, personality development and social learning. These topics were chosen to be engaging and informative while also building (albeit in greater depth) on concepts you have had some exposure to in 100, 200 and 300-level courses.

The second (and equally important) goal of this course is to develop critical thinking skills through improving your ability to read empirical reports, identify critical parts of research studies and communicate your ideas in multiple formats (written summaries and verbal reports).


Either (a) PSYC 100 or (b) all of PSYC 101, PSYC 102 or (c) 6 credits of 200-level Psychology (but not 205 or 263). At least one 300-level course is strongly encouraged, and two or more are preferred.


A detailed breakdown can be found in the course website.

  • Reading exercises: Two online exercises focused on identifying ability to read a journal article and identify key points from it. Worth approximately 32% of the final course grade.
  • Writing exercises: Two summary abstracts will be written synthesizing the readings from a given week in the course (approximately 200-250 words each). Worth approximately 26% of the final course grade.
  • Final exam: The final exam consists of a video abstract (where the student uploads a video presentation on a series of papers they’ve read) and a shorter written summary of those papers. The final exam will make up the remaining 42% of the final course grade.


There is no assigned textbook for this course. Instead, all readings will be available on the course website electronically for free.


Technical Requirements for Courses

This is an online course. Click here for more information on technical requirements.


The course outline is subject to change. The official outline for this course can be found in the course materials.