Social Psychology

Gaither holding black & white cut-outs

Research in social psychology includes work on attitudes, the self, self-regulation, social motivation, emotion, stereotyping, gender, interpersonal relationships, and the link between personality and social behavior.


Additional Information

In addition to P&N requirements, Students in the social program must complete the following requirements:

  • Attend weekly Social Brownbag
  • Complete 2 advanced statistics courses
  • Identify a secondary area of emphasis and complete a minimum of two courses in that area. The secondary area may involve another subdiscipline of psychology, another social science discipline, or quantitative methods. Below are sample emphases and courses:
Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 321 Lifespan Social Development
  • PSY 205A Children's Peer Relations
  • PSY 322 Advanced Cognitive Development
  • PSY 214S Development of Social Interactions
  • PSY 221S Ethnicity, Culture, and Family Processes
Consumer Behavior
  • BA562 Seminar in Consumer Behavior
  • BA525 Behavioral Decision Theory
  • BA591 Special Topics in Consumer Behavior
  • BA563 Marketing Models Seminar
  • PSY 270S Emotion and Health (required; also fulfills a social seminar requirement)
  • PSY 218S Personality, Stress and Disease
  • PSY 227S Behavioral Physiology: Basic Systems
  • ECON 356 Health Economics
  • SOC 227BS Social Behavior and Health
  • PUPOL 264S Poverty and Health
  • Behavioral Medicine at UNC: Risk Communication for Health Promotion (UNC: I. Lipkus)
Political Science
  • POLSCI 320 Political Psychology
  • POLSCI 306 Public Opinion
  • POLSCI 239S American Mass Political Behavior
  • POLSCI 304 Classics in American Politics
  • LAW 388 Social Science Evidence Class (required)
  • Any three of the following:
  • LAW 140 Criminal Law
  • LAW 180 Torts
  • LAW 110 Civil Procedure
  • LAW 245 Evidence
  • SOC 299S Theories and Research in Social Psychology
  • SOC 299S Role, Self and Identity
  • SOC 299S Sociology of Emotion

One of the following:

  • SOC 227BS Social Behavior and Health
  • SOC 299S Social Psychology of Occupations and Work
  • SOC 217FS Field Methods
Education (or complete the Certificate Program in Education Science)
Seminar in Education Science and Policy
  • Social Science Models in Educational Research
  • SOC 299S Sociology of Education
  • ECON Economics of Education
Quantitative Methods
  • PSY 369 Research Synthesis
  • PSY 368 Applied Structural Equation Modeling
  • PSY 370 Applied Multilevel Modeling
  • ECON 239 Introduction to Econometrics
  • POLSCI 233 Intermediate Statistical Methods
  • SOC 215 Basic Demographic Methods
  • STA 214 Probability/Statistical Models
  • STA 215 Generalized Linear Models

Although each student fashions a program of study to meet his or her educational objectives, a typical student's schedule of coursework and research might be as follows:

  Fall Spring
Year 1
  • First Year Seminar
  • Core Class 1: Social
  • Practicum Project 1
  • Statistics: ANOVA
  • Optional additional course
  • First Year Seminar
  • Core Class 2
  • Practicum Project 2
  • Statistics: Regression
  • Research Methods
Year 2
  • Secondary/Core Class 3
  • Advanced Statistics requirement
  • TAship 1
  • Secondary/Core Class 4
  • Advanced Statistics requirement
  • TAship 2
Year 3*
  • Stat or Method Course
  • TAship 3
  • Defend MAP
  • TAship 4
  • Secondary Course
Year 4
  • Defend Dissertation Proposal


Year 5


  • Defend Dissertation

This sample assumes that one of the courses for the secondary area of emphasis overlaps with another requirement.

NOTE: Our program has made the GRE General Test optional for admission to the fall 2024 class. You may submit scores if you have them, and they will be considered by the admissions committee. Applications without GRE scores will be given equal consideration. 

Faculty from other areas of P&N or other departments may be involved in some way in graduate student training. However, only the following faculty will be reviewing applications to admit Ph.D. students directly to this training program for Fall 2024:

If you wish to be in the Social area but your desired mentor does not appear on this list, please contact Sarah Gaither to discuss your application.

Duke has a long and distinguished history as a center for research and training in social psychology.

The Department of Psychology was founded by William MacDougall, who is widely acknowledged as having written the first American textbook in social psychology (MacDougall, 1908). MacDougall predicated his social psychology on theories of instinct, need, and sentiment as the formative properties of human social behavior. While instinct theory itself has proven to provide only a limited perspective on the complexity of social behavior, thought, and emotion, MacDougall's legacy to the field and to Duke was his firm belief that even the most complex mysteries of "social nature" were knowable through inventive theory building and systematic inquiry. We continue to share MacDougall's faith in the science of social psychology and strive to share that enthusiasm for inquiry with our students. Between MacDougall and our present emphases in social psychology, some compelling and significant milestones in the development of social psychology as a discipline emanated from the distinguished faculty scholars and superb graduate students at Duke University.

In the late 1950's and the late 1970's, under the creative stewardship of Edward E. Jones and Jack W. Brehm, Duke became a major wellspring of contemporary models of thought and research in social psychology. Ned Jones and Jack Brehm were almost perfectly complementary in the focus of their scholarship. Ned was a prime mover of the meteoric growth of the social-cognitive perspectives in social psychology with his prodigious research and theory building in attribution theory and ingratiation theory. Jack was a major force in theories relating to the motivational properties driving social behavior. In particular his extensive work expanding cognitive dissonance theory and his creative proposal of reactance theory as a major determinant of choice and attitude are most noteworthy. Along with these two important scholars, the Duke social psychology program was fortunate to attract some of the finest young assistant professors and occasional postdoctoral students to join Ned and Jack in the program. However, Duke's greatest legacy of this fecund era was the superb graduate students it placed in the field. Many have become major contributors to the growth of social psychology as a discipline over the past 30+ years.