Checking date: 15/07/2023

Course: 2023/2024

Behavioral Theories in the Social Sciences
Master in Computational Social Science (Plan: 472 - Estudio: 375)

Coordinating teacher: TORRE FERNANDEZ, MARGARITA

Department assigned to the subject: Social Sciences Department

Type: Compulsory
ECTS Credits: 3.0 ECTS


- Knowledge of the main theories of social behavior. - Ability to formulate explanations of behavior based on the underlying cognitive mechanisms - Ability to evaluate compatibilities and incompatibilities between various mechanistic explanations of behavior - Ability to hypothesize about social behaviors under various social conditions. - Ability to construct theoretical models that relate micro-level behaviors to macro-level outcomes. - Ability to generalize specific behaviors to explain social action.
Skills and learning outcomes
Description of contents: programme
1. Sociological explanation and social mechanisms. - Intentional explanation and its problems. - Interpretation vs explanation. - Classical models: behaviorism, culturalism, role theory, structuralism, interactionism, habitus theory. 1. Rational choice theory and rationality of behaviour. - Strategic interaction and game theory. - Collective action and social cooperation. - Social dilemmas and their solutions. 3. DBO theory. - Composition effects and unintended social outcomes. - The "Coleman's boat": methodological individualism and the micro-macro problem. - The debate on "analytical sociology". 4. Behavioural social science. - The "behavioural enrichment" of rational choice. - Limited rationality, cognitive biases, and social heuristics. - Pro-social motivations, reciprocity, and altruism. 1. Social influence, contagion, imitation, and diffusion. - Social trust. - Signalling theory and apparently irrational behaviour. 6. Social norms and conventions. - Suboptimal norms and pluralistic ignorance. - Falsification of preferences. - Power, status and status hierarchies. - Inequality. 7. Biology vs. socialization and culture as explanatory factors. - Evolutionary social science and cultural theory. - Biological basis of social behaviour.
Learning activities and methodology
Training Activities: - Theoretical classes - Group work - Individual student work Teaching Methods: - Presentations in the professor's lecture room with computer and audiovisual support, in which the main concepts of the subject are developed and a bibliography is provided to complement the students' learning. - Critical reading of texts recommended by the subject professor: Press articles, reports, manuals and/or academic articles, either for later discussion in class, or to expand and consolidate knowledge of the subject. - Presentation and discussion in class, under the moderation of the professor, of topics related to the content of the subject, as well as practical
Assessment System
  • % end-of-term-examination 0
  • % of continuous assessment (assigments, laboratory, practicals...) 100
Basic Bibliography
  • Bearman, P. & Hedström, P. (eds.) . The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology. Oxford University Press.. 2009
  • Coleman, J. . Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge (Mass.), Belknap Press. 1990
  • Elster, J. . Explaining Social Behavior. New York, Cambridge University Press. 2007
  • Hedström, P. . Dissecting the Social. Oxford University Press. 2005
  • Noguera, J.A. (ed.) . Analytical Sociological Theory.. Revista de Sociologia, 80. 2006

The course syllabus may change due academic events or other reasons.