What is Social Psychology?

Social Psychology

Social psychology is a subfield of psychology that examines the nature and the reasons of the human social behavior. Social psychology’s basic field of interest is the human’s social behavior and these social behaviors include the behaviors of individuals in the society, the interaction between two individual, the behavors of individual when s/he is in th

Secondly, social psychologist examines not just the nature of the social behaviors, they also examine the reasons of these behaviors. Causal raletions between variable is so important for the basic of theories. At the same time, these theories have really important roles to control and to predict the social behavior.

Thirdly, social psychologist uses a systematic methods when they examine the social behavior. These methods consist of experiments, structural observations and sample surveys.

Social Psychology Has 4 Basic Research Field

1)The effect of individuals on individuals

Every individual is effected by another individuals in many ways. In daily life, the interaction with others can effect the individual to make sense of social world. Persuasion of others can change the person’s beliefs about world and the attitudes toward another person, groups or things. For example, John tries to persuade Lynne that people should use public tranportation rather than personal car because of environmental conditions. If successful, Lynne will start to use public transportation. Beyond the effect and persuasion, in daily life person can effected by different people. For example, when a person can injure another one, another person can help the injured person. So, different people have different behaviors and attitudes, and social psychologist investigates the origin and feature of these behaviors. In addition that, one individual may have strong positive attitudes to one group and strong negative attitude toward another one. Social psychologist also examines the underlying reasons of that situation.

2)The effect of group on individuals

Indıviduals belong to a lot of different groups; family, clubs, work groups, schools etc. And they spent a lot of time with them. Groups can effect and regulate the induvidual’s behaviors and attitudes with norms and rules. The result of these normas and rules, individual accommodate the group and behave according to these rules ans norms. There are some formal and informal rules. For example, it is a formal rule to wear uniform when go to school but it is not a formal rule to wear finery when go to the party. Groups have a long lasting influence on their members through socialization. Socialization makes individual to adequately learn their roles in the society. On the other hand, other  outcomes of the socialization are language skills , political and religious beliefs and attitudes, conception of self etc.

3)The effect of individuals on groups

As a group effect the individual behavior, an individual also can effect the group’s productivity and development. For example, individuals contribute group’s productivity and process such as decision making. In addition that, certain individuals take on tasks such as leadership, planing, organization, control and to do things for a successful group performance. Without an effective leader or without a strong coordination between members, the group generally drift or fail. Moreover, group structure and procedures are regenerated by individuals and group coalitions. But leadership and innovation geneally depend on the ability of risk taking, initiative and insight of the individuals. As a result, individuals can influence a group’s features in a lot of diffent ways.

4)The effect of groups on groups

The interaction between two groups can be friendly or hostile, cooperative or competitive. These relationships may depend on the personality and identity of the members  and it may result with group prejudice. These prejudice can effect the structure and activities of two groups. In addition that, conflict and violence can occur between two group. For example, two person who are from opposite groups can fight and this fight can effect the relationship between two groups in a bad way. Social psychologist researches the emergence, persistence and resolution of the conflicts between and within the groups.

Other Fields and Social Psychology

Social psychology is related with a lot of science such as sociology and psychology. Sociology examines human society and social structures such as family, politics etc. In addition that it also studies basic social processes and stratification. On the other hand, psychology examines human, human behavior, learning, perception, memory, feelings and motivations.

Social psychology is a bridge between sociology and psychology. Both sociologist and psychologist contribute the social psychology. Social psychologists have two tradition; first one is sociological tradition and the second one is psychological tradition. Social psychologist who works in the sociological tradition uses sample surveys and observational methods to gather data. They focus on the relationship between individuals and groups to which they belong. They emphasize social interaction, cooperation, conformity, self presentation, socialization and competition etc. On the other hand, social psychologist who works in the psychological tradition uses laboratory experiment. Their interest is to examine how individual’s behavior and internal states are effected by  social situations. They emphasize on social learning, modeling, aggression etc.

As a result, social psychologist differs in orientation and research methods. So, they produce different theories. But different views are complementary rather than conflicting. So, social psychology is a rich science.


DeLamater, John and Myers, Daniel. Social Psychology, Chapter:1

Sosyal Psikoloji

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