We are studying the field of social psychology from an applied perspective. As part of this
approach, your assignment is to write a short (~3 pages, or 900 words) APA-style paper in which
you discuss a pressing social problem, summarize a social psychological theory, and describe
how this theory could be (or has been) applied to help understand or solve this problem. These
papers are worth 50 points each.

Start your paper by describing a pressing social problem (~1 page) and provide at least one
reference. In summarizing the nature of the problem, make sure to link the cause of the
problem to human behavior. I suggest being as specific as possible. For example, rather than
talking about “environmental problems”, it’s better to focus on just one problem such as the
availability of fresh water, and even better, the availability of fresh drinking water in California.
Make sure to link the problem to human behavior, for example the large amount of fresh water
that is used for outdoor irrigation, such as watering grass.

Throughout the course, we’ll cover a range of different social problems. As a starting point,
here’s a short list of possible problems, but feel free to choose others that are not included in
the list below:
• Environmental problems, such as climate change, species extinction, depletion of
natural materials, water pollution, overpopulation, …
• Poverty and economic disparities, prejudice, discrimination, obesity, homelessness
• Educational disparities, unemployment, racial and gender inequality
• Violence and aggression, bullying
• Conflicts in relationships, divorce, child abuse, sex trafficking, dating violence
• Substance use and abuse, vaping, smoking, binge drinking, impaired driving

Second, discuss a social psychology theory or principle (~1 page). You’re free to draw on any
theory or principle discussed in class, or in your course readings. Make sure to describe the
details of the theory, and include at least one reference. Examples of social psychological
theories from this section of the course include: availability heuristic, automatic information
processing, schemas, representativeness heuristic, anchoring and adjustment heuristic, self-
fulfilling prophecies, overconfidence, affective forecasting, …

Finally, write a section in which you use the theory or principle to either understand or solve
the problem (~1 page). It’s also appropriate here to describe a previous attempt to address the
problem, and discuss whether it was effective or ineffective. Include at least one reference.