Risk and Leadership in Societal and Technological Contexts

Failing leadership and risk communication have recently gained much attention in popular media. An example of disputed risk communication was the low uptake of the HPV vaccine offered to 12-13 year old girls in 2009 in the Netherlands. An alleged important characteristic of the resulting controversy was neither anticipated nor adequately dealt with, viz. the online interaction through social media undermining the trust in the RIVM (health institute) experts. To be able to explain the psychological processes that might have taken place, this course will focus on the many facets of leadership, risk communication and crises against a societal and technological background. Based on a number of recent crises, you will become familiar with leadership and risk communication theories that might provide an explanation for the development of these crises.  

Group Dynamics and Interventions

In most professional situations, people are required to collaborate within and between groups. Such collaboration, however, is often challenging. For instance, think of situations in which employees of different groups and with different interests have to collaborate (e.g., two departments within an organization). Or situations in which external circumstances placing high demands on the group negatively affect collaboration, such as when a group police officers have to intervene at a beach party that has run completely out of control. Challenges for efficient group collaboration also can emerge from within the group, perhaps due to conflicts between group members, or when leaders want to change a troublesome group culture. Dealing with these challenges is important for group productivity, but also for the subjective wellbeing of its members. Social psychologists are frequently asked to address these issues and the related transformation processes. As a social psychologist, you might take on the role of organizational consultant, team leader, trainer, or you might act as a third party in conflict situations. 

In this course, you will learn how to recognize a diverse spectrum of intra- and intergroup processes – such as (sub)group formation, power relations, group conflict, and their consequences for the wellbeing of group members, productivity, decision making and creativity. You will be able to use this knowledge to design and execute concrete interventions. Apart from obtaining theoretical knowledge about group dynamic processes, you will focus on applying this knowledge in practice, while developing group dynamic and intervention skills. 

Psychology and Crime

In our Psychology & Crime course ,the focus lies on understanding the socio-psychological aspects of crime. As a student, you will discuss:

  1. Personality and environmental factors that stimulate criminal and antisocial behaviour;
  2. The dynamics of effective interventions for “crime in action”, such as hostage takings;
  3. The way in which psychological knowledge can contribute to the effective prosecution of perpetrators, specifically with regard to police interviewing, deception detection and dealing with witnesses and victims in the forensic process;
  4. Tunnel vision in the prosecution process;
  5. Recidivism and victim-offender mediation;

Behavioural analysis and interpretation are recurring themes in this course.

Advanced Research Methods for CRS

In this course students get acquainted with (a) current best (and questionable) research practices in the social sciences and (b) acquire skills to use advanced research methods and technology in the domain of Conflict, Risk and Safety. These practices and skills are aimed at facilitating and informing students’ upcoming master thesis research and are relevant for prospective positions after graduation.

Through a lecture, students learn about the current do’s and don’ts in conducting and reporting psychological research (e.g. p-hacking), and are offered examples and tools to follow such best practices. Consequently, in five tutorials, students acquire state-of-the-art research methods and technologies for designing research (e.g. online content analysis, using GPS data) and analysing empirical data (e.g. using R software, propensity-score matching). Based on the tutorials, students complete an assignment to demonstrate that they acquired the skill to use each of these specific research methods offered.

Each lecture and tutorial is offered by a different, experienced lecturer, who together cover a wide range of theoretical approaches, research methods and ecologically valid research problems within the domain of CRS.

Elective courses

Learning and Instruction

In this course, you will be introduced to the psychological principles of learning and instruction, ranging from basic theories of learning reading, writing, math and science to means of fostering learning by means of instruction in the widest sense of the word. Instruction includes giving feedback, design of learning activities, providing examples and supporting collaborative learning and problem solving. Finally, you will discover how these theories can be utilized in the design of learning environments.  

Cognition and Technical Systems

The Cognition and Technical Systems course focusses on the way in which insight in human cognition influences the design of technical systems. This will be elaborated for the domains of Intelligent Systems (Quartile 1A) and Traffic Psychology (Quartile 2A). In the domain of Intelligent Systems, the focus will be on how systems can be made more intelligent, based on knowledge of human cognition. This is increasingly important for the design of systems that access the web, make independent decisions, or that are creative (as is the case with gaming). With respect to Traffic Psychology, the focus will be on how the knowledge we have of cognitive processes, such as perception, attention, learning, memory, decision-making and acting, can be used for designing optimal traffic systems. You will also look at the effects on driving behaviour of telephoning, fatigue, aging and drugs.  

Design of Persuasive Health Technology

In this course, you will gain insight into the possibilities of the latest health technologies, such as personal mobile sensors, virtual coaching applications, serious games, smart glasses and wearables. Special attention will be given to the question of how to reach ‘hard-to-reach’ populations – such as low SES groups, adolescents and illiterates – by applying the strategies of Entertainment-Education (EE). You will also apply the principles of diffusion of innovation.

In this course, you will learn how to design engaging technology for real health problems in a multidisciplinary team. You will apply persuasive design theory and entertainment education strategies to support health and well-being. The project assignments will be linked to the research projects going on at our Centre for eHealth & Wellbeing. Your team will create and evaluate a prototype and substantiate it in a (group) paper covering relevant literature on the design of persuasive system design and strategies for entertainment education. The course will culminate in a Demo Pitch. 

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