Socially Intelligent Artificial Technologies in Society 4H PSYCH4092

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Psychology
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course explores society and human psychology in an era of ever-evolving technological innovations. It is designed specifically to investigate the impact of socially intelligent artificial technologies in an ever changing societal setting: How do interactions with immersive human-inspired social technologies, whether the internet, social media, smart phones, virtual reality or social robotics, (re)shape human life? Students will dissect the risks and benefits in different but interrelated areas of psychological inquiry, from memory, social perception, cognition and interaction, to reward learning and decision-making, to achieve a coherent and integrated assessment of the functional changes.


10 hours over a 5 week block

Requirements of Entry

To enter level 4 honours, a satisfactory performance in level 3 honours is required as well as the fulfilment of College regulations

Excluded Courses



Assessment will be one writing assignment consisting of two parts: one group research proposal and one individual essay reflecting on the research proposal. Students will work together in groups of four and write a proposal (1,500 words, 30% of final grade) for an adversarial collaboration on the impact of socially intelligent artificial technologies on society and human psychology. An adversarial collaboration is an experiment conducted by two groups of scientists with competing hypothesis. The groups will be created during the first class meeting. The proposal will include an individual essay (1,500 words, 70% of final grade) of the student reflecting on the adversarial collaboration and the intended or unintended impact of findings from psychology on the development of immersive social technologies.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Besides an understanding of social technology's impact on society and human psychology, the course will explore how psychological research and innovation influence and change such socially intelligent artificial technologies. Topics will range from exploring the bidirectional link between reward learning/decision making and screen time (e.g. Netflix), to the implementation of research on distilling personality characteristics such as trustworthiness and sexual orientation from facial features in artificial intelligence algorithms (e.g. Facebook). Each week one aspect of technology and an area of psychology will be reviewed. Special emphasis will be given to emerging issues of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as a training towards the adoption of practices informed by ED&I principles.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Evaluate the impact of socially intelligent artificial technologies on different aspects of society and human psychology. 

■ Outline theoretical frameworks and mechanisms that explain the functional changes in human psychology in an era of social technology.

■ Formulate how insights from psychological research and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion shape developments of socially intelligent artificial technologies.

■ Evaluate the consequences of psychological research and theory beyond the laboratory into the realm of technology.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.