Tory Higgins

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Mar 2021

Professor Higgins truly is knowledgeable in his field... but it was the most boring class I have ever taken. None of the lecture notes line up with the textbook. I think it was the class I enjoyed the least in the psych dept and I love psych.

Jan 2021

I'll admit, the material taught in class doesn't really match what's in the reading, but I wouldn't let that be a reason not to take this course. Because of the pandemic, I would treat his lectures more like an informational YouTube video (watch while doing chores) and make sure I understood everything in the "lecture X takeaway" document posted after each lecture. His lectures are where most of the essay questions come from. If you put even the slightest bit of effort into connecting the different experiments in class and comparing them prior to the exam, you'll be fine. As for the readings, studying from a simple Quizlet for all the key terms in the margin of the text and reading the chapter & section summaries should suffice. If the TA's mention something in the text during the review session, obviously read the surrounding paragraphs in the text. This should be enough for the multiple-choice. The papers are based on the text. There's really no way around that. Overall, I found the class enjoyable and interesting. The TAs were super approachable and helpful. If you need the Prof. to read an email, ask the head TA to make sure he sees it. For context, I got an A and I think the mean was an A-/B+

Jan 2021

Despite the online format, I really enjoyed this course. Not only is Professor Higgins charming and engaging, but he is also incredibly knowledgeable and humble. (You'd never guess he was so highly regarded in the psychological community based on his personality but his research seems to be important based on being mentioned multiple times in the textbook). He seems to really care about his students and tried to make the Zoom classes as interactive as possible, but was also very adaptive and receptive to students' dislike for breakout rooms. The two one-page paper assignments were graded fairly, and the grading scale for the papers and the exams was more than generous (an 84 was a B+). I'm unsure if this is standard for an in-person class, but if not, I think it proves how willing Professor Higgins is to help students succeed. Like the other reviewer mentioned, the exams required knowledge of the textbook, but the questions mostly required general knowledge, which seemed like they were easy to answer if you did the readings. Not to sound like a jerk, but that is pretty much a basic requirement for most classes you take at Columbia, so it shouldn't be a shock. Also, Professor Higgins told us that the readings would be a large portion of the exam in the first week of class. Overall, if you keep up with the readings (or even read over the key points in each chapter) and watch the lectures, you should do well in this class.

Dec 2020

I'm only writing this review because of the one below. This is a very easy class. Please don't be discouraged. The A+ cutoff was 95... which (as a social science double major) I've never seen in any class before. It's truly very easy to get an A, especially over Zoom because you have access to everything and the exams are multiple-choice (with an essay option) with plenty of time. The material itself is very intuitive. Yes, Professor Higgins is not the best lecturer I've ever had and I never talked to him one on one, but he's very nice and the TAs are quite helpful.

Dec 2020

Loved this professor and the content of this class. I felt that the course was adapted well to online learning, with interactive exercises and break-out discussions. highly recommend!

Dec 2020

I do not recommend this course. While he is very obviously knowledgable in the field and seemingly nice enough, the course is extremely boring. His slow, meandering lectures are almost unbearable to listen to as he continuously repeats himself the entire time. Then when exams roll around you are expected to understand a wealth of information that is never touched on in lecture and is only in the readings, even though they could definitely be included in lecture if Higgins planned well. Also the exams are fairly difficult. Especially over Zoom, I really do not recommend this course.

Dec 2013

Although the class material is interesting and Higgins is a famous researcher, the class was disorganized. There are no practice tests to prepare you for the midterm and final, and the textbook overlaps with the class material in about 50/50% of the times. Mr. Higgins decides what research matters from his own or from the people that best represent his point. Also, he tells the class where he disagrees with the textbook sometimes. Otherwise, you better guess. It is imperative to show up to every single class or you won't have the material that you need for the exams. The exams can have two right answers, but we have to guess the best right answer between them, which I found tricky. The online notes given by the TA's don't have all the material that you need to succeed. They are a poor summary of the lecture. In addition, the tests don't really reflect your knowledge. There is a lot of memorization as expected from a psychology class. This class requires more preparation and time with Higgins than you think for an A .Lastly, he has a good sense of humor, is kind and knowledgeable. Yet,I wouldn't take the class with him again, unless I have more time.

Feb 2013

This was the best class I've ever taken at Columbia. He goes through the material very slowly, so it's a class for students who like depth over breadth. I attended all the lectures and paid attention, not so much because my grade required it but because I got so much out of going. Tory is a leader in the field but he is also an incredible teacher. I highly, highly recommend this class to anyone, whatever you're studying. Attend the first few lectures to see if you like his style, and go from there.

Dec 2012

Lectures were very slow; he never uses Powerpoints unless it's for in-class "experiments," so it's difficult to take notes and pacing is very odd. I took the class with a friend who really liked the slow and repetitive lectures, but I found them exhaustingly boring. Tory also has a tendency to overgeneralize. He's definitely a big name in the field, and his insights into some commonly cited social psych experiments is very valuable, but his gender essentializing ("men are always like this, women are always like this") gets really grating after a while - especially since it seemed taken for granted that these differences were natural or innate. The material is so interesting; I just wish he were a more engaging lecturer.

Dec 2010

I don't know why Higgins doesn't have a gold nugget. He is a bona fide brilliant professor. Higgins is brilliant in the traditional sense, of course. He's an academic bigwig, and his studies and pictures will appear in more psychology textbooks than you can handle. This, to me, is always less important than how good of a teacher someone is (after all, we're at Columbia. I'd at least hope that my teachers were accomplished and intelligent). Higgins is remarkable in this way, too. His lectures are engaging, keep you involved, make you laugh, and blow your mind at times. He relates facts and take-aways easily and runs through the main points and ramifications of every experiment, relating it to the four broad themes of the course. If you have a hard time paying attention in class, I can see why you may have complaints. His powerpoints are bare because he saves almost all of the information for the physical act of lecturing, and though the TAs do a good job with the distributed "take home messages" of each lecture, they're not enough. But I am generally as ADD as they come and I was swept up in all of his lectures. Again, he's an incredibly interesting person to listen to. He makes you want to go and take down every word out of his mouth. Sign up for this class. You'll really like it. But once you're in, commit to it. You'll get so much out of it because you're taking it seriously and you'll enjoy it immensely.

Jan 2010

I write this review not so much to talk about Higgins himself. He's well-established in his field and clearly very, very sharp. He'll challenge standard Social Psych concepts (for example, the mainstream interpretation of Millgram's work) by pointing to their blind-spots; he's not one to merely repeat what the textbook says. In fact, he rarely if ever alludes to it, which I think is a strength of the course. And he's a pretty funny guy, so the material--which is interesting on its own--seems even more engaging. I'm writing because I've noticed that a lot of previous reviewers have complained about the course's grading in ways that seem comically misplaced. I want to set the record straight. You have one midterm (35% of grade), one non-cumulative final (50%), and four short one-page assignments (15%). Each exam is either wholly multiple choice or one part MC and one part essay (each person can pick his/her preferred format). If your essay is way better than your MC, only your essay counts. MC is eminently fair. Some questions were dropped from the midterm because they were later deemed ambiguous. Questions come from both lectures and the book. Those that come from lecture are about the MAIN POINTS discussed in class. There's nothing nit-picky. Moreover, after each class the main points are *given by the TAs!* A "take-home points" document is posted on course-works for each class session. True, sometimes questions required a little bit of imagination--not everything can be answered merely by rote recall of the take-home points--but there are no grounds for reasonable complaint here. For those questions whose answers come from the book, these are similarly main-point oriented. A few are really specific, but these are just to separate the A+'s from the As. If you just want an A, you don't have to go crazy memorizing the book. And even if you want an A+ (which I got), you just have to read the chapter once while paying close attention. Each chapter should take 2 hours to get through, which isn't much if you do one chapter a week. About the take-home assignments. They're graded on a scale of 1-3 corresponding to A/B/C. The reviewer below who claims that Jamil is some malevolent TA who refuses to give As seems not to have considered the possibility that his assignments just weren't that great. He gave me and my friends As. This is anecdotal of course but I don't have anything else to go on. The bottom-line here is that, like the multiple-choice, a tiny bit of imagination is required to do well. This is not Science of Psych or Mind, Brain, and Behavior where you can breeze through just by memorizing everything in sight. Basically, I don't want the reviewers below who have complained about the "difficulty" of this course to scare people away from taking it. Higgins is a really great professor and it would be a shame if you decided not to take this class because some people who didn't do as well as they would have liked decided to write misleading CULPA reviews. It's not that much work and you'll learn a lot.

Jan 2010

This is one of those classes where you may not get an A, but you'll walk away understanding the subject and interested in it. If you really care about your 4.0, be prepared to read every chapter in the book, spend hours on the assignments, and study endlessly for the tricky exams. If you just go to the lectures, you'll still learn a lot and walk away with an appreciation for social psych, and probably get a B+. I agree with most of the other reviews about Professor Higgins-- he is an academic heavyweight, really influential scholar in social psychology, and it's truly a privilege to learn with him. He's a GREAT lecturer and makes the material accessible without watering it down. The TA's can be annoying, and the outside assignments were not productive, but the lectures go by so quickly because he's just a great speaker who wrote the book on a lot of this stuff. Great class, highly recommended.

Dec 2009

Prof. Higgins is an engaging lecturer and one of the most respected social psychologists today. His lectures are interesting although somewhat slow. Beware of the grade you will receive in this class, however - he does not curve and what you get is, well, what you get. There are several implications of this: 1) The exams are primarily multiple-choice with the option to write an essay as part of them. The multiple choice was chosen by most people in the class - this means that to get an A you can make no more than 3 or 4 mistakes on a 50-question test. 2) The 4 short assignments WILL impact your grade. There are two TAs, Lexi and Dave, who are very fair graders and reward you for your hard work; the third, Jamil, will give you a 2/3 no matter how well you write your paper - you might as well discover some new social psych principles and will still receive a 2/3. My guess is he doesn't really read any of the papers and just slaps on a mediocre grade for the third of the class misfortunate enough to have him review their assignment. Overall the class was entertaining - but thanks to 1/3 of the TA crew being jerks, don't expect to pull off an easy A.

Oct 2009

Lectures are extremely boring. Although he is a nice and very intelligent man, I did not think I could sit through one more of his extremely boring lectures. I followed the book more closely than his lectures simply because he was so boring I couldn't pay attention. Pulled out a B+ at the end of all the torture.

Jun 2009

This was a highly enjoyable class, one of my favorite classes this past semester. Professor Higgins is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and really passionate about his field. He brings his own perspectives to class and offers interesting readings into a lot of areas in the field of social psychology. While he does not follow the textbook closely, it is a helpful read. The lectures are easy to follow and his TAs put up summaries of each lecture after class that are very helpful. Both Higgins and his TAs are very approachable and always open to answering questions. I really feel this course helped me understand the field of social psychology better while at the same time making me aware of some common pitfalls when dealing with research findings in this area and the importance of always thinking all sides through before making any judgments. I would definitely recommend this class.

May 2009

Professor Higgins is clearly a brilliant man and is at the apex of social psychology as is evidenced by the importance and number of studies and theories that he has put forth. HE can be very engaging, however, he moves through course material at a snails pace and can be very tedious. The material for the course is very interesting and a worthwhile reason to take the class.

May 2009

This was a great class. The subject matter is very interesting and Professor Higgins is a star in the field, so it is great to hear his perspective. His lectures are clear and engaging, he has a wonderful sense of humor and the classes are a joy to attend. One thing to beware of though: as easy as the lectures and (boring) book reading make the class seem, it isn't THAT easy. You really need to go to class and have done the reading to get a good grade on the tests (but if you do the work, you'll do well) and while the exercises are a joke, as many other reviewers have said, they are strangely graded harshly (they are graded with either a "Pass" or a "Pass Plus," and most people receive a "Pass"). Though they are only 15 percent of the grade, they could come back to bite, as in my case. I got an A minus on both tests, but because I got only a "Pass" on the exercises, I got a B plus in the class.

Apr 2007

everyone was pretty bored, and a lot of people decided to not come to class most of the time because the slides/main points are on courseworks. i would go to class becuase the information that he posts on the internet is not easily understandable if you dont go to class. i have moderately smart friends who are also in the class and the average is about a b-. he is nice, and a brilliant guy, and a great person to have a contact with, but not my favorite teacher.

Dec 2005

I always looked forward to going to Prof Higgins' class. He is an engaging lecturer- funny, EXTREMELY intelligent and well versed him social psychology, answers all questions. The subject matter was also extremely interesting- explains how people function in society and as individual members of society. The class was not particularly challenging. I read all of the text book assignments in the week before the midterm and final- though I regret not keeping up with it, as it would have added to his lectures. BUT his lectures are not simply a recap of the text book. Don't expect to do well on the exams if you don't go to class and take notes- theyre about half text book/ half lecture. Exams seemed tricky as I was taking them- but I ended up doing really well. Go figure.

Jan 2005

Professor Higgins is a decent lecturer and a pretty entertaining guy, BUT he is far from the amazing professor that everyone makes him out to be. Every now and then he'll tell funny little anecdotes and make jokes about Canada, but mostly his lectures can be so tedious and monotonous that I find myself (and many other classmates) wishing that I had just skipped class. He has a magical way of talking about a simple concept for 45 minutes and answering every single person's question--no matter how irrelevant or unintelligent the question is. Plus, watch out for Eric the TA!!! Do not subject yourself to any of his "review sessions". These "review sessions" consist of Eric preaching his reasons why he disagrees with everything Professor Higgins has taught during the semester. I don't know why Higgins puts up with Eric. Bashing Eric aside, the topics taught in the textbook and in class can be very interesting. But why not just buy the textbook and not have to put up with boring lectures and an incredibly obnoxious TA?

Jan 2003

I must say that I intially walked into Tory's class and just felt like "blah. What in the world am I doing here? This class is damn boring!" However, I was interested in the subject and ended up attending classes. Though he is monotonous and has the power to put an anxious person to sleep, he is interesting, engaging, and the more you get involved in the class, the more interesting it becomes. The textbook is a great read in its entirety; while somewhat redundant, there is a fascinating world of psychology surrounding us. And it's very cool to see that Higgins's research is mentioned. Yes, his lectures are NOT a repetition of the book, and you DO need to attend every lecture and to take notes in order to do well on his exams (which are roughly 50% lecture based and 50% book based). His multiple choice questions are tricky, regardless of what the TA tells you, and if you opt to do the essay instead of the remaining multiple choice questions on the final, you better be prepared to write a bible. The exam says that "Details are generally good," but no, I disagree -- details are mandatory. Detail is required and will be the only way for you to get a somewhat decent grade in the course.

Jan 2003

Most interesting class and best professor I ever had at this school. He's really funny and he picks great experiments to study in class. Even the reading he assigned was good, and I usually hate reading psych textbooks.

Nov 2002

Tory is possibly the best professor I have had at Columbia... he is engaging, interesting, and doesn't just lecture from the book -- which means you actually have to go to class and take notes on what he says, but you would be a moron not to go to class, since that is the whole reason to take this course. Tory gives you a whole new way of looking at the world and at people. I can't remember a class when I didn't say to myself, "so THAT'S why that happens". He's an inspiring professor who made me wish I had another five years here at Columbia to do more of the research I now am interested in doing. Do not miss the opportunity to take this class.