Social Psychology can be defined as “the scientific study of human behavior and experience in social situations and social context. How human basic functions such as perception, cognition and learning processes are influenced by interaction with others.
Above all, the psychological basic functions such as perception, judgment, memory, thought, emotion, motivation and behavior are considered in Social Psychology . What influence does mood have on our thinking? How does physical distance to situations affect their memory? What are the consequences of a high or low self-esteem?
It also deals with the psychological processes behind important everyday phenomena. How do people make their attitudes? On the basis of what information do they make judgments and make decisions? Particularly the social context is examined. Classical topics of social psychology are social perception (eg social stereotypes), social behavior (eg aid behavior, aggression), interpersonal attraction, social influence (eg conformity, change of attitude) and group processes (eg cooperation and competition).
Social psychology can be used to solve problems and also provides important implications for practice in advertising and consumption, school, work and organization, environment, disease and health. Social psychology can be used here to solve problems.
It gives answers of these questions such as: To what extent do social norms influence the thinking and action of the individual? How can individuals or a minority influence the opinion of the majority, of society? How do people work together in groups? What are the conflicts between groups and political systems, and what can be done to resolve such conflicts? The investigation of these questions reveals many everyday-relevant findings. Sometimes these findings even make it possible to question our present picture of the world.
The aim and task of social psychology is to understand and explain how thoughts, feelings and behavior of individuals change for others. Social psychology therefore deals with structures and processes of social influence in interactions between individuals as well as within and between groups.
What Does Social Psychology Do?
The subject is based by social psychologists and varied by the number of different situations that we live in our everyday social life. Here are the main themes which are studied in this field:
- Building Identity: How do we determine what traits define us?
- Attitudes and social psychology: what drives us to become an ecologist?
- Cognition in social relations: how do we make our judgments about others?
- Communication: what drives us to spread our intimacy on social networks?
- Interpersonal relationships: why do some people attract us and others not?
- Culture from a psychosocial point of view: how do we give collective life to images that influence our emotions?
- Stereotypes in social psychology: why do we say blondes are stupid?
- Conflict: what can push someone to bully or mobbing to another person?
- Helping others: why do some people dedicate their time to volunteering or volunteering?
- The groups: what prompts us to consider ourselves as unconditional fans of a certain team?
Social psychology: characteristics
1. Related to other disciplines
Sociology is the science which is very closest to social psychology. Other disciplines, such as pedagogy, economics, philosophy, political science, history, anthropology or other branches of psychology, have a strong link with social psychology.
2. Concentrated on psychological processes
Social psychology is distinguished from other branches of psychology.It just focus on psychological processes
3. Addressed in a Scientific Way
Social psychology uses scientific methods, such as experiments or methods of correlations (observing how different variables are affected), which allow social psychology experts to develop practical theories.
Applications of Social Psychology
Social psychology has many uses that affect our everyday lives. Applied social psychology aims to improve the quality of life of people at all levels. Here are the main fields of action of social psychology:
- Health: Enhances the well-being of individuals through actions such as encouraging healthy habits or neutralizing stressful social situations.
- Social problems: Unemployment, immigration or gender violence are issues analyzed by social psychologists, who also create contingency plans to resolve these conflicts.
- Education: Focuses on issues such as people’s perception of our education system or how to improve cohabitation between students.
- Environment: Social psychology studies the interactions between people and their environment.
- Legal Matters : Addresses issues related to law and psychology, such as the situation of victims or crime prevention.
- Organization: Explore the notions of leadership , productivity, industrial relations, etc …
- Politics: Intervenes on issues such as the effectiveness of a political discourse or the attitude of the population towards politicians.
- Communication and Consumption: Advertising influences, communicative skills, interpersonal relationships and social networking behaviors are all examples of topics covered by social psychology.
Ultimately, the role of applied social psychology is very unique. Social psychologists are always concerned with demonstrating empirically the validity of the solutions they provide.
Social psychology: how to apply social psychology to everyday life?
Who has never wished to better understand and predict the behavior of others? Have you ever wondered why you have certain behaviors at some point? Fortunately, social psychology gives us scientific answers to the questions of our everyday life.
Since we live in society and need to adapt to it, social psychology in our lives can help us to know the amoung prejudices obese people.Here are some tips and recommendations that will help you apply the principles of social psychology to your everyday life:
Be attentive to your cognitive biases
Cognitive biases are distortions of reality that occur when we process information. We do not have enough resources to focus our attention to all the things that surround us. This predisposition is natural and happens to us regularly. However, it can sometimes lead us to deceive ourselves, to contemplate our world through inadequate stereotypes or to have unjustified prejudices. That is why it is important to reflect on our opinions and try to be objective.
Learn how to influence others
We all need to influence others from time to time, in order to get something for example. This does not mean influencing or having bad intentions. Simply, we may just want our sister to lend us a dress, make a good impression in an interview or avoid a friend making a bad decision.
Actions such as being pleasant with our interlocutor, doing favors or complimenting others are rather effective strategies to get what we want. Robert Cialdini is one of the world’s greatest experts in social influence and describes how effective it can be to influence someone.
Stay connected with the news
It is true that we do not conform to knowing reality through a single channel. Adopting a strict viewpoint helps us to better anticipate the behavior of others and improve our problem-solving ability . Our knowledge is enriched by listening to the different versions of a story and we try to treat them from different points of view.
Discover the exciting books on social psychology
Some social psychologists, such as Robert Cialdini, Elliot Aronson and Philip Zimbardo, have written really interesting books for both professionals and non-specialists. Their works will allow you to approach in a practical way the understanding of our social behaviors.
Social Psychology: Theorist and Principal Authors
The list of important social psychologists who have made great discoveries and which continue to do so at present is quite broad. Here are the five greatest authors and their main contributions to social psychology.
Kurt Lewin (1890-1947)
This father of social psychology was interested in the interactions existing between each individual and his environment. His thought is very much related to the psychology of Gestalt. He was particularly interested in leading his ideas to practice, and one of his maxims was “to understand a system, we must try to change it”.
Lewin created the theory of fields, which emphasizes the importance of contemplating the living space of people. This dimension consists of the totality of the situations of each individual at a given moment. He insisted on not isolating the various factors that influenced us and focusing on the dynamics that occurred between them.
Solomon Asch (1907-1996) and social psychology
His main field of study was conformity, which is essential for life in society. It is the famous creator of the “paradigm of Asch”, which was demonstrated through a revolutionary experience. This psychologist brought together in 1951 groups of between 5 and 7 people. One of them was the subject studied and the others were collaborators of the researcher.
Asch presented two images, one representing a line and the other three lines of different lengths. Then he asked which line of the second image had the same length as that of the first image. The experiment was designed so that the subject studied is one of the last people to respond. The collaborators gave an erroneous answer on purpose, to see if the subject would follow them.
The answer was easy and obvious. However, Asch discovered with surprise that after many attempts, the subject was “deceived” in 50% of the cases. Asch also showed that the indices of conformity vary from one culture to another, and that collectivists are more inclined to it, for example.
Stanley Milgram (1933-1984)
Milgram realized one of the most terrifying experiences in history. Inspired by the atrocities committed during the Second World War, he studied obedience to authority and decided to explore its limits.
He selected subjects with normal behavior, who were invited to his laboratory. He asked participants about his controversial experience of administering electric shocks by gradually increasing the voltage (although in reality the voltage never exceeded 45 volts) to another person when he was wrong in answering the questions were laid.
The victim was an accomplice of the psychologist and had to simulate progressive pain as the power of the discharges increased. Despite the victim’s cries of pain and despair, the scientist who played the role of the authority insisted that the subjects of the experiment continue to increase the power of the dumps. The frightening result of this experiment is that 65% of the subjects arrived at the maximum level, which supposedly inflicted 450 volts (meaning a lethal discharge) on the other participant, the victim.