My main specialties are in the areas of social psychology and cross-cultural psychology. I regularly teach undergraduate lecture courses and graduate seminars in social psychology. We cover topics such as persuasion and social influence, conformity, the self, attitude change, group influence, prejudice and racism, aggression, attraction and intimacy, altruism and helping. Students are engaged in a number of active learning experiences, such as exercises which require them to break social norms, track down family histories, and design their own social psychological studies.
Persuasion and Mind Control
In addition, since 1984 (inspired by the pivotal Orwellian year) I have been teaching a course on "The Psychology of Persuasion and Mind Control." We cover the psychology of persuasion from the normal to the pathological, from simple acts of social influence to dramatic cases of totalistic mind control through lectures, readings and experiential projects. Part of the course is devoted to the basic psychological principles underlying persuasion and mind control. We then apply this knowledge to a variety of real-world settings, including diverse areas such as salesmanship, advertising, brainwashing, ideological indoctrination, and hypnosis. Finally, we study terrorists, cults and other dark examples of this psychology.
Supervised Field Experience in Psychology
The purpose of this course is to provide psychology students with the opportunity to learn about psychology in its various applied forms through hands on experiences at field agencies. This course allows students to use, integrate, and expand their classroom knowledge in real life situations. Students this year have been placed in such organizations as Head Start, Footsteps (child bereavement center), Stone Soup (Southeast Asian immigrant center) and Comprehensive Youth Services.
Other new courses I have previously created and taught :
• The Psychology of Diversity
• The Psychology of Close Relationships
• Consciousness and Awareness
• Psychology of 1984
• Seminar on the Social Psychology of Aging
• Freedom and Authority (a 15-unit lower division team taught course in -conjunction with the departments of Political Science, Philosophy and English).
• Psychological Issues through Literature (interdisciplinary team taught course in conjunction with a member of the department of English).
Independent Study/Thesis Supervision
Finally, I supervise several independent studies and master's theses for select students each semester. Some of these independent studies are empirical research projects (e.g. a project last semester focused on gaining charitable contributions; another on the psychological effects of exploitive manipulation); other projects concern subject matter not covered in a regular course offering. Students wishing to discuss their ideas are encouraged to come by and talk.
Robert V. Levine
Professor of Psychology
Social Psychology writer, speaker, consultant