Think Social Psychology

WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Psychology is the study of an individual's behaviour, and sociology is the study of cultural behaviours; social psychology combines the two. Social psychology approaches discussing individual behaviours within the context of the individual's environment and culture, as well as many other factors. Concepts that are integral to the study of social psychology include social perception, social influence, and social interaction.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY?

  • The four main perspectives that social psychologists may take are the sociocultural perspective, the evolutionary perspective, the social learning perspective, and the social cognitive perspective.

  • The sociocultural perspective focuses on the relationship between social behaviour and culture.The evolutionary perspective emphasizes the biological bases for universal mental characteristics that all humans share. The social cognitive perspective builds on behavioural theories and demonstrates
    how an individual's cognitive process influences and is influenced by behavioural associations. And the social learning perspective stresses that social rewards and punishments are responsible for
    the way people act.

IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY JUST COMMON SENSE?

  • Common sense is our natural understanding of things. We sometimes assume that social psychology is common sense because the subject matter is often personal and familiar. We believe that we are naturally knowledgeable about human behaviour, but many of our common beliefs have been disproved by social psychologists.

  • Social psychologists cannot rely on common sense because they must base their conclusions on evidence that is achieved through careful and deliberate study. In these studies, social psychologists form theories that predict behaviour before it occurs. Avoiding relying on common sense helps researchers avoid bias.

WHAT ARE THE ROOTS OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Social psychology is a relatively new discipline within the larger field of general psychology. Two of the earliest formal studies in social psychology were Norman Triplett's social facilitation experiment and Max Ringelmann's social loafing study.

  • Soon after, social psychology textbooks began to be published, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) was established. Social psychology studies became particularly prominent in the wake of World War II, when people questioned how someone like Adolf Hitler was able to exert his influence over so many.