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Social behavior: Insights from evolutionary psychology

  • 7.5 credits

This is a master and postgraduate course in evolutionary psychology with a focus on social behavior.

Both human and animal literatures will be surveyed, and relevant areas covered will include:

  • Central issues and controversies
  • Prosocial behavior and cooperation
  • Parenting and kinship
  • Social influence and group dynamics
  • Aggression
  • Intergroup prejudice and conflicts
  • The evolution of language.
  • Course structure

    This course will be given in the last quarter of the semester.

    Cours syllabus: Social behavior, 7,5 credits. Autumn 2019. (PDF)

    Teaching format

    The course consists of lectures and seminars. Each week, students will read and discuss empirical and review articles germane to understanding basic human social behavior from an evolutionary psychology viewpoint.

    Mandatory parts are

    (a) Submission of three to five questions based on the literature for each seminar

    (b) Active participation in all seminars

    (c) Leadership of at least one seminar during the course

    (d) Review paper

    Expected study results

    Upon completing the course students are expected to:

    • understand, describe and critically reflect on aspects of evolutionary theory as applied in the context of social psychology
    • describe, analyze and critically reflect on theoretical and empirical issues in evolutionary psychology with a focus on areas that relate to human social behaviour
    • demonstrate skills required to participate in research, such as an ability to clearly present and discuss their conclusions and the knowledge and arguments behind them, orally in dialogue with others and in writing.


    To reach the course goals, students need to submit discussion questions to, and actively participate in every seminar, lead 1-2 seminars and receive a grade of E or higher on the review paper.

    See course syllabus for detailed information.


    Course leader: Professor Torun Lindholm, tlm@psychology.su.se

  • Schedule

    This is a preliminary schedule and is subject to continuous change. For this reason, we do not recommend print-outs. At the start of the course, your institution will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Articles and other information for this course will be made available on the learning platform Athena.

    The textbook below will be used, and this is bought by the student.

    Laland, K. N., & Brown, G. R. (2011). Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary perspectives on human behavior. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199586967.

  • More information

    This course is offered as an elective course in the International two-year master’s program in psychology, 120 credits.

  • Contact

    To contact the course leader, see Programme overview => Examiner.

    Student administration

    Study advisor

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