Social Psychology Definition Paper Sinthia Brye PSY/ 400 August 30, 2010 Joyce Willis Social Psychology Introduction Social psychology it observes as the influence of our situations with special attention on how we view and affect one another. Social psychology perceives the way we think, influence people, and relates to others. Social psychology lies at psychology’s boundary with sociology, which sociology is the study of people in groups and societies? Social psychology is all about life ??? your life: your beliefs, your attitudes, your relationships.
Definition of Social Psychology Social psychology is a discipline that uses scientific method “to understand and explain how the thought, feelings and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagines or implied presence of other beings” (Allport, 1985). Social psychology is also the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. Social psychology includes a broad range of social topics, including group, social perception, leadership, non-verbal behavior, conformity, aggression and prejudice.
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It is important to note that social psychology is not just about looking at social influences. Social perception and social interaction are also vital to understanding social behavior. Some of the main ideas that social psychology seeks to address are: the construction of our social reality, social intuition, how social influences, personal attitudes, personality, and biology shape or behavior, and how social psychology principles can be applied in everyday life (Myers, 2008).
How social psychology differs from other disciplines It is important to understand how social psychology differs from other disciplines. Social psychology is often confused with folk wisdom, personality psychology and sociology. Unlike folk wisdom, which relies on anecdotal observations and subjective interpretation, social psychology employs scientific methods and empirical study of social phenomena (Allport, 1985).
In general, social psychology differs from personality psychology in that it focuses more on the situational influences of behavior than on individual differences between people; it differs from organizational psychology in that it does not focus specifically on behavior within organizations; and it differs from sociology in that it focuses on the behavior of individuals and small groups more than the behavior of large social systems and societies. Personality psychology focuses on individual traits, characteristics, and thoughts, social psychology is focused on situations.
Social psychologists are interested in the impact that social environment and interaction has on attitudes and behaviors. Clinical psychology overlaps with social psychology in that they both depend heavily on experimental research to verify their prospective hypotheses. The branch of general psychology usually referred to as personality psychology differs from social psychology by its emphasis on the difference between individuals rather than the affect those individuals have on each other.
So to summarize, sociology overlaps with social psychology on the left because they both study social interaction, clinical psychology on the right because they both make heavy use of experimental research to validate their hypotheses, and personality psychology in the main because they both seek to understand the individual. Furthermore, sociology differs from social psychology because the former is more dependent on correlational and survey research, and social psychology differs from personality psychology in the emphasis of individual interaction over individual difference, respectively.
Finally, it is important to distinguish between social psychology and sociology. While there are many similarities between the two, sociology tends to look at social behavior and influences at a very broad-based level. Sociologists are interested in the institutions and culture that influence social psychology. Psychologists instead focus on situational variables that affect social behavior. While psychology and sociology both study similar topics, they are looking at these topics from different perspectives. Explain the role of research in social psychology
There are three main avenues through which social psychologists can elucidate the facts of individual social interaction: correlational research, experimental research, and survey research. The very basis of the scientific method is the postulation that a theory can be explained or predicted by means of hypothesis testing, through the medium of observable events. Correlational research seeks to explain naturally occurring relationships among variables, but lacks the ability to differentiate causation between variables.
For instance, Einwohner (1999) was able to show that personal identification as an activist and collective identification with a group are highly correlated with protest behavior, but that the formers do not necessarily cause latter. However, through the instrument of time-lagged correlations it can be determined which variable came first in sequence, but it cannot be determined which variable constitutes the cause and which variable constitutes the effect.
On the other hand, experimental research is uniquely designed to isolate and manipulate variables to the end of illuminating causation. Experimental research accomplishes this great feet by the use of independent variables, the manipulated experimental factor; and dependent variables, the measured factor that changes as the independent variable is manipulated. By keeping the dependent variable constant and changing only the independent variable, social psychologists can isolate the exact effect that the first has on the second.
Finally, survey research utilizes random sampling, a method by which every member of a group has equal chance of inclusion, to extrapolate the results of a representative group onto a population. It is important to note that survey research is only meant to describe present variables and opinions, rather than predict the future likelihood of variables and opinions. Also, the effect of question ordering and wording, response options, and unrepresented samples shows the possible pitfalls of bias that can affect survey results.
Conclusion In conclusion of social psychology research areas and methodologies that social psychology occupies is cosmopolitan and parsimonious in scope and applicability, meaning that even though social psychology might be concerned with several areas of research the field is still dedicated exclusively to the understanding of how people think about, affect, and interact with one another on a psychology, biological, and social level.
The practical working out of the field of social psychology in the area of research specifically encompasses the subjects of social intuition, the applicability of the field’s principles on everyday life, the construction of our social reality, and what forces influence and shape our behavior. The field of social psychology takes advantage of experimental research, survey research, and correlational research to confirm hypotheses concerning the above mentioned subjects. References Allport, G. W. (1985).
The historical background of social psychology. In G. Lindzey, and E. Aronson, (Eds. ) Handbook of Social Psychology, 1, (3), 1-46. Cherry, K. (2010). What Is Social Psychology? Retrieved on August 26, 2010 from: http://psychology. about. com/od/socialpsychology/f/socialpsych. htm Einwohner, R. L. (1999). The social psychology of collective action: Identify, injustice, and gender. Social Forces, 77 (4), 165. Retrieved August 26, 2010 from: ProQuest Database. Myers, D. (2008). Social Psychology (9th ed. ). New York: McGraw Hill.