Psychology 3720F 650 SU23

The Psychology of Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviour

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.



LONDON               CANADA 

Department of Psychology 

Summer 2023 


Psychology 3720F    Section 650 

The Psychology of Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviour 





The course will consider the social, situational and personality factors responsible for the occurrence of antisocial behaviours such as violence and aggression, and of prosocial behaviours such as helping others in disaster or crisis situations. 


Prerequisite: Both Psychology 2801F/G and Psychology 2811A/B, or the former Psychology 2820E, or both the former Psychology 2800E and the former Psychology 2810 (or Psychology 2780E or permission of the Department at Huron). 


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites. 


3 lecture hours; Course Weight: 0.50 




Instructor: Dr. Corey Isaacs 

Office Hours: via Zoom by appointment 



The best way to contact me is by email. Please send emails only from your Western email account and include “Psych 3720F-650” in the subject line of any email you send. I will always do my best to respond to your email within 48 hours, but during busy times it may take a little longer. 


Time and Location of Classes: Course content will be offered online asynchronously—you will not be required to attend any weekly class sessions. 


Delivery Method: Virtual 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 



Please note: For courses delivered in an online format, include an online component, or are required to pivot online, students must have a reliable internet connection and computer that are compatible with online learning system requirements. Some courses may also require the use of a remote proctoring platform to ensure assessments are taken fairly in accordance with Western’s policy on Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students and Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students. Please refer to the course syllabus for further information. 




NOTE: An ebook version of each of these textbooks is available for free on our OWL course website and via the Western library website. There is no need to purchase physical copies of these books: 


Dovidio, J. F., Piliavin, J. A., Schroeder, D. A., & Penner, L. A. (2013). The Social Psychology of Prosocial Behavior. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (For Part 1 of the course) 


Krahé, B. (2021). The Social Psychology of Aggression (3rd Edition). New York, NY: Psychology Press. (For Part 2 of the course) 


Additional required readings will be made available on OWL (see 7.0 Class Schedule below). 




At the end of the course, students should have an understanding of the basic theories, methods, and findings in the literature on prosocial and antisocial behaviour. Topics include theories prosocial and antisocial behaviour, mechanisms underlying behaviour, and situational influences on behaviour. 




Learning Outcome 

Learning Activity 


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge 


Identify and describe the biological, psychological, and social factors that influence people’s prosocial and antisocial behaviour 


Course readings, Online discussions, Research proposal 


Exams, Online discussions, Research proposal 

Evaluation of Knowledge 


Critically evaluate theories, research methods, and findings from the study of prosocial and antisocial behaviour 


Course readings, Online discussions, Research proposal 


Exams, Online discussions, Research proposal 

Application of Knowledge 


Apply theoretical principles and research findings to examples of social behaviour 


Course readings, Online discussions, Research proposal 


Exams, Online discussions, Research proposal 

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge 


Describe and explain the limits of research conclusions in the context of methodological practices within the field 


Course readings, Online discussions, Research proposal 


Exams, Online discussions, Research proposal 

Communication Skills 


Communicate ideas clearly and concisely, in language accessible to intelligent non-experts 


Online discussions, Research proposal 


Exams, Online discussions, Research proposal 




The evaluation and testing formats for this course were created to assess the learning objectives as listed in section 4.0 and are considered necessary for meeting these learning objectives. 


PLEASE NOTE: Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the grade for your essay must be at least 50%. 


This course is exempt from the Senate requirement that students receive assessment of their work accounting for at least 15% of their final grade at least three full days before the date of the deadline for withdrawal from a course without academic penalty. 


5.1   EXAMS (55% of course grade) 


There will be a midterm exam (worth 25% of your course grade) and a final exam (worth 30% of your course grade). Each two-hour exam will consist of a combination of item formats (e.g., multiple-choice, short-answer, short-essay) that assess your ability to identify, conceptualize, and/or apply the course material. 


Exams will be closed book and linear (i.e., students cannot go back to change answers once they move on to the next question). Material from Lessons 1 to 5 will be tested on the midterm exam, and material from Lessons 6 to 11 will be tested on the final exam. The final exam is not cumulative—that is, you will not be responsible on the final exam for material that was tested on the midterm exam. 


Exams in this course will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded. Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 


5.2 RESEARCH PROPOSAL (30% of course grade) 


You will be required to write a research proposal in APA format, worth 30% of your course grade. The paper should be approximately 10 - 12 typed, double-spaced pages (or approximately 2500 – 3000 words), excluding references and cover page. Your goal is to propose a study that would extend our understanding of any area of research relevant to prosocial or antisocial behaviour. Note that you will notactually conduct the study. More information about the requirements for the research proposal will be provided on the course website. 


Recommended Schedule for Completing the Research Proposal: 


  • May: Find a research area that interests you (skim readings, textbooks, etc.). 
  • June: Review research in this area (PsycINFO, Google Scholar). How can past research be extended? Develop outline of research proposal (Introduction, Method, Anticipated Results & Discussion). Discuss ideas with me at any time. 
  • July: Write first draft (July 1 - 10). Write second draft (July 11 - 20): Focus on style/organization, submit draft to OWL Assignments page and review TurnItIn report, revise as needed and submit final draft well in advance of 11:55 PM on July 22. 
  • Note: No research proposal will be accepted more than five days after the deadline (even with late marks taken off), except with the approval of your Academic Counselling office. 


Note that Saturday, July 22 is the LAST POSSIBLE day on which you can submit your proposal without a late penalty, not the day on which you should be aiming to submit your work. Aim to submit your work at least a week before the deadline, then you will have plenty of flex time should you fall behind your schedule. I will NOT extend your deadline because you didn’t plan accordingly or because you had last-minute problems. 


5.3   ONLINE DISCUSSIONS (15% of course grade) 


There will be five online discussions throughout the course, and your best four out of five discussion grades will comprise the 15% Participation component of your course grade. There will be an online discussion during each of the following lessons/weeks: 

  • Lesson 3 (May 21 – 27)
  • Lesson 5 (June 4 – 10)
  • Lesson 6 (June 18 – 24)
  • Lesson 8 (July 2 – 8)
  • Lesson 9 (July 9 – 15)


Forum grades will be earned based on the quantity and quality of your contributions to these discussions. A successful student in online education is one who takes an active role in the learning process. You are therefore encouraged to participate actively in the discussions to enhance your learning experience throughout the course.  


Discussions will be graded for the quality and content of your contributions. Quality posts may include: 

  • providing additional information to the discussion 
  • elaborating on previous comments from others 
  • presenting explanations of concepts or methods to help fellow students 
  • presenting reasons for or against a topic in a persuasive fashion 
  • sharing your own personal experiences that relate to the topic 
  • providing a URL and explanation for a topic you researched on the Internet 


For each discussion, you will be assigned a grade out of 4 based on your discussion posts. Grades will be assigned as follows: 

0 = Incomplete (no participation) 

1 = Unsatisfactory (minimal contribution, did not meet the requirements) 

2 = Satisfactory (discussion topic addressed, minimal contribution to discussion) 

3 = Excellent (posting meets all criteria, provides a valuable contribution to discussion) 

4 = Outstanding (posting(s) go beyond basic requirements, present additional information from outside the textbook, and interact well with the other students) 

-1 = Penalty for not posting a question prior to the deadline of midnight on Monday. 


Each discussion will be open for seven days, from 12:05 AM on Sunday until 11:55 PM the following Saturday. You will be required to post at least one question to your group (before midnight on Monday) about the previous week's topic as a starting point for discussion. You will also be required to respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts before 11:55 PM on Saturday. Once the discussion closes, no more posts can be made. Please post early in the week to avoid last-minute problems, and always back up your work (screenshots of your forum posts are ideal), as “technical difficulties” is NOT an acceptable excuse for missing a discussion deadline. 




Exams. If you are unable to write an exam at the scheduled time, you must request permission from your faculty to write a makeup exam by submitting documentation to your faculty academic counselling office to receive academic considerations. A student who misses an exam without permission from their faculty will be assigned a grade of zero for that exam. If a student is unable to write the midterm exam and the makeup midterm exam and has received academic considerations for both, the weight of that exam may be reassigned to the final exam. 


Essay. The essay is due by 11:55 PM on Saturday, July 22. There is a 10% per day late penalty, and the absolute latest that it can be submitted (without academic considerations) is Thursday, July 27. If you receive academic considerations from your faculty academic counselling office (e.g., due to illness), that deadline will be extended accordingly.  


Online Discussions. If a student fails to participate in at least four of the weekly online discussions, they will receive a grade of zero for each of the incomplete discussions. If a student receives academic considerations from their faculty to be excused from an online discussion and they are unable to complete at least four discussions as a result, their participation grade will be based on the discussions in which they did participate. Once a discussion closes at 11:55 PM on Saturday each week, further contributions cannot be made. 




The expectation for course grades within the Psychology Department is that they will be distributed around the following averages: 

70% 1000-level to 2099-level courses 

72% 2100-2999-level courses 

75% 3000-level courses 

80% 4000-level courses 


The Psychology Department follows Western’s grading guidelines, which are as follows (see: 

A+ 90-100 One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level 

A 80-89 Superior work that is clearly above average 

B 70-79 Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory 

C 60-69 Competent work, meeting requirements 

D 50-59 Fair work, minimally acceptable 

F below 50 Fail 


Note that in the event that course grades are significantly higher or lower than these averages, instructors may be required to make adjustments to course grades. Such adjustment might include the normalization of one or more course components and/or the re-weighting of various course components. 


Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 




Online Discussions Sunday – Saturday; multiple weeks (see section 5.3) 

Midterm Exam (Lessons 1 – 5) 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Saturday, June 17 

  • Makeup Midterm Exam 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Saturday, June 24 

Research Proposal Before midnight on Saturday, July 22 

Final Exam (Lessons 6 – 11) During final exam period (TBA; July 31 – Aug. 3) 

  • Makeup Final Exam 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Saturday, August 12 








May 8 – 13 

Lesson 1 

Dovidio Chapter 1 

Introduction to Prosocial Behavior 

May 14 – 20 

Lesson 2 

Dovidio Chapter 2 

McAndrew (2002) 

Origins of Prosocial Behavior 

May 21 – 27 

Lesson 3 

Dovidio Chapter 3 

Prentice & Miller (1993) 

Levine et al. (2001) 

When will people help? 

May 28 – June 3 

Lesson 4 

Dovidio Chapter 4 

Penner et al. (2005) 

Why do people help? 

June 4 – 10 

Lesson 5 

Dovidio Chapter 7 

Ryan et al. (2001) 

Being the Helper and Being Helped 

June 11 – 17 

No New Lesson This Week – Just Review/Study for the Midterm Exam 

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Saturday, June 17                    MIDTERM EXAM (Lessons 1 – 5) 

June 18 – 24 

Lesson 6 

Krahé Chapter 1 

Ritter & Eslea (2005) 

Defining and Measuring Aggression 

June 25 – July 1 

Lesson 7 

Krahé Chapter 2 

McAndrew (2009) 

Bushman (2002) 

Theories of Aggression 

July 2 – 8 

Lesson 8 

Krahé Chapter 3 

Twenge & Campbell (2003) 

Development of Aggression 

July 9 – 15 

Lesson 9 

Krahé Chapter 5 

Vandello & Cohen (2003) 

Situational Elicitation of Aggression 

July 16 – 22 

Lesson 10 

Krahé Chapter 6 

Media Violence and Aggression 

July 23 – 29 

Lesson 11 

Krahé Chapter 7 

Jonah et al. (2001) 

Aggression as Part of Everyday Life 

TBA (July 31 – August 3)                                      FINAL EXAM (Lessons 6 – 11) 




We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. 


With this, we respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation, as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service. 




Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offences. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offences because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offence are described at the following link: 


As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offences. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and ( 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams will be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 


In classes that involve the use of a personal response system (PRS), data collected using the PRS will only be used in a manner consistent to that described in this outline. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make every effort to ensure that data remain confidential. However, students should be aware that as with all forms of electronic communication, privacy is not guaranteed. Your PRS login credentials are for your sole use only. Students attempting to use another student’s credentials to submit data through the PRS may be subject to academic misconduct proceedings.  


Possible penalties for a scholastic offence include failure of the assignment/exam, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University. 




Tests and examinations for online courses will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded.  Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 

In the event that in-person exams are unexpectedly canceled, you may only be given notice of the use of a proctoring service a short time in advance. 



Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 


If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation. 


Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on OWL for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
  • please use your computer and/or laptop if possible (as opposed to a cell phone or tablet) 
  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
  • to minimize background noise, kindly mute your microphone for the entire class until you are invited to speak, unless directed otherwise 
  • In classes larger than 30 participants please turn off your video camera for the entire class unless you are invited to speak 
  • In classes of 30 students or fewer, where video chat procedures are being used, please be prepared to turn your video camera off at the instructor’s request if the internet connection becomes unstable 
  • Unless invited by your instructor, do not share your screen in the meeting 


The course instructor will act as moderator for the class and will deal with any questions from participants. To participate please consider the following: 

  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
  • Please remember to unmute your microphone and turn on your video camera before speaking. 
  • Self-identify when speaking. 
  • Please remember to mute your mic and turn off your video camera after speaking (unless directed otherwise). 


General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
  • Be courteous toward the instructor, your colleagues, and authors whose work you are discussing. 
  • Be respectful of the diversity of viewpoints that you will encounter in the class and in your readings. The exchange of diverse ideas and opinions is part of the scholarly environment. “Flaming” is never appropriate. 
  • Be professional and scholarly in all online postings. Use proper grammar and spelling. Cite the ideas of others appropriately. 


Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 




Office of the Registrar:   


Student Development Services:  


Psychology Undergraduate Program: 


If you wish to appeal a grade, please read the policy documentation at: 

Please first contact the course instructor. If your issue is not resolved, you may make your appeal to the Undergraduate Chair in Psychology ( 


Copyright Statement: Lectures and course materials, including power point presentations, outlines, videos and similar materials, are protected by copyright. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own educational use. You may not record lectures, reproduce (or allow others to reproduce), post or distribute any course materials publicly and/or for commercial purposes without the instructor’s written consent. 


Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.