Behavioural Sociology

A.Y. 2019/2020
Lesson for
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/07
Language
English

Course structure and Syllabus

Active edition
Yes
Responsible
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 9
Lessons: 60 hours
Professor: Squazzoni Flaminio
ATTENDING STUDENTS
Syllabus
Lecture 1: What is behavioural sociology (3 slots, 6 hours)
This lecture introduces behavioural sociology as a discipline and presents its epistemological foundations.

Readings
George C. Homans (1969) The Sociological Relevance of Behaviorism. In R. L. Burgess & D. Bushell Jr. (Eds.), Behavioral Sociology. The Experimental Analysis of Social Process, Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 1-24.
Jon Elster (2015) Explaining Social Behavior. More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences, Chapter 1 "Explanation", Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 3-22
Nan Dirk de Graaf & Dingeman Wiertz (2019) Societal Problems as Public Bads, Chapter 2 "Analytical Framework", Routledge, London, pp. 24-48.

Lecture 2: Social evolution (2 slots, 4 hours)
This lecture introduces examples of moral dilemmas, in which different values, motivations and reasons can conflict. It shows the context-specific nature of social behaviour and the tension between individual and collective interests. It discusses "us versus them" categorizations and the role of emotions.

Readings
Joshua Greene (2013) Moral Tribes. Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, Chapter 4 "Trolleyology" and part of Chapter 5 "Efficiency, Flexibility, and the Dual-Process Brain", Atlantic Books, London, pp. 105-141.
Robert Sapolsky (2017) Behave. The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, Chapter 11 "Us Versus Them", Atlantic Books, London, pp. 387-424.

Lecture 3: Social exchange (2 slot, 4 hours)
This lecture presents the social exchange theory with references to classic studies and recent experimental findings. It focuses on reciprocity, solidarity and status.

Readings
Peter M. Blau (1964) Exchange and Power in Social Life, Chapter 4 "Social Exchange", Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, pp. 87-114.
John F. Stolte, Gary Alan Fine & Karen S. Cook (2001) Sociological Miniaturism: Seeing the Big Through the Small in Social Psychology. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, pp. 387-413.

Lecture 4: Cooperation and social norms (2 slots, 4 hours)
This lecture introduces behavioural game theory (BGT) and its explanation of cooperation and collective dilemmas.

Readings
Richard Breen (2009) Game Theory. In P. Hedstrom & P. Bearman (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology. Oxford University Press, Chapter 26, 619-638.
Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis (2007) Human Motivation and Social Cooperation: Experimental and Analytical Foundations. Annual Review of Sociology, 33:43-64


Lecture 5: Punishment and rewards (2 slots, 4 hours)
This lecture uses behavioural game theory (BGT) to examine informal and formal enforcements, punishment and rewards. Variants and forms of Public Goods Games will be used as examples in lab sessions. Attention is also paid on social contexts and crowding out effects of incentives.

Readings
Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis (2007) Human Motivation and Social Cooperation: Experimental and Analytical Foundations. Annual Review of Sociology, 33:43-64

Lecture 6: Inequality aversion, social norms and expectations (2 slots, 4 hours)
This lecture uses behavioural game theory (BGT) to examine social norms and expectations. Variants and forms of Ultimatum games will be used as examples in lab sessions.

Readings
Joseph Henrich et al. (2005) "Economic Man" in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioural Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(6), 795-815.

Lecture 5: Trust, reputation and gossip (4 slots, 8 hours)
This lecture expands on BGT studies using the framework of the Investment Game. It concentrates on reputation and gossip as leaning scaffolds and social control devices. Their implications on trust, solidarity and group identity will be examined.

Readings
Francesca Giardini & Rafael Wittek (2019) Gossip, Reputation and Sustainable Cooperation: Sociological Foundations. In F. Giardini & R. Wittek (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Gossip and Reputation. Oxford University Press, Chapter 2, 23-46.
Charles Roddie (2019) Reputation and Gossip in Game Theory. In F. Giardini & R. Wittek (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Gossip and Reputation. Oxford University Press, Chapter 12, 214-229.
Riccardo Boero, Giangiacomo Bravo, Marco Castellani and Flaminio Squazzoni (2009) Reputational cues in repeated trust games, Journal of Socio-Economics, 38, 871-77.
Giangiacomo Bravo, Flaminio Squazzoni and Karoly Takacs (2015) Intermediaries in trust: Indirect reciprocity, incentives and norms, Journal of Applied Mathematics, doi:10.1155/2015/234528

Lecture 6: The strength of social influence (2 slots, 4 hours)
This lecture examines social influence and the social susceptibility of human behaviour in a variety of social contexts. It will focus on outcome unpredictability

Readings
Matthew J Salganik & Duncan J. Watts (2009) Social Influence. The Puzzling Nature of Success in Cultural Markets. In P. Hedstrom & P. Bearman (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology. Oxford University Press, Chapter 14, 315-341.

Lecture 7: Social influence on cultural consumptions (2 slot, 4 hours)
This lecture presents an experiment on cultural consumption. Lab sessions included.

Readings
Giangiacomo Bravo & Flaminio Squazzoni (2019) The Great Equalizer. A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment on Social Influence on Cultural Consumption. Working Paper.

Lecture 8: Threshold models of collective behaviour (2 slot, 4 hours)
This lecture examines the concept of threshold models of collective behaviour. It helps to understand the role of social influence and adaptation to explain the micro-macro link.

Readings
Mark Granovetter (1978) Threshold Models of Collective Behavior. American Journal of Sociology, 83(6), 1420-1443.
Duncan J. Watts & Peter Dodds (2009) Threshold Models of Social Influence. In P. Hedstrom & P. Bearman (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology. Oxford University Press, Chapter 20, 475-497.

Lecture 9: Unintended Consequences of Social Behaviour (4 slots, 8 hours)
This lecture examines the concept of unintended consequences of social behaviour. It helps to understand the intricacy of the micro-macro link. It presents Schelling's residential segregation model and agent-based models as modelling instruments to dissect mechanisms of social interaction when individual behaviour and social constraints are dynamically intertwined. Lab sessions included.

Readings
Thomas Schelling (1971) Dynamic Models of Segregation. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 1, 143-186.

Lecture 11: How to perform behavioural sociology? (2 slots, 4 hours)
This lecture presents the concept of experimental design for behavioural research. Work group challenges and games included.

Readings

Iris Bohnet (2009) Experiments. In P. Hedstrom & P. Bearman (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology. Oxford University Press, Chapter 26, 619-638.639-665.

Lecture 12: Summary and conclusions (1 slot, 2 hours)
This lecture summarises the course and provides self-assessments.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
Syllabus
The courses introduces behavioural sociology as a discipline and presents its epistemological and methodological foundations. The focus is on the following topics:
Behavioural sociology as a discipline and its epistemological foundations;
Social evolution with examples of moral dilemmas, in which different values, motivations and reasons can conflict; the context-specific nature of social behaviour and the tension between individual and collective interests; "us versus them" categorizations and the role of emotions;
The social exchange theory with references to classic studies and recent experimental findings on reciprocity, solidarity and status;
Behavioural game theory (BGT) and its explanation of cooperation and collective dilemmas, with reference to informal and formal enforcements, punishment and rewards, inequality aversion, social norms and expectations;
Trust, reputation and gossip as leaning scaffolds and social control devices;
Social influence and the social susceptibility of human behaviour in a variety of social contexts, with a special focus on outcome unpredictability;
Threshold models of collective behaviour;
Unintended consequences of social behaviour;
Experimental design for behavioural research.
Lesson period
First trimester
Lesson period
First trimester
Assessment methods
Esame
Assessment result
voto verbalizzato in trentesimi
Professor(s)