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Social Psychology

What is Social Psychology?
Social Psychology is a branch of psychology that mainly focuses on understanding human feelings, behaviors, and thoughts in the presence of others. While clinical psychology focuses on mental disorders and their treatment, it focuses on the functioning of social groups, social status, influences of culture and other processes involving two or more people. Although the term can be understood to include laboratory animals and wildlife, social psychology is purely about human social behavior.

What is Social Psychology?
Social Psychology is a branch of psychology that mainly focuses on understanding human feelings, behaviors, and thoughts in the presence of others. While clinical psychology focuses on mental disorders and their treatment, it focuses on the functioning of social groups, social status, influences of culture and other processes involving two or more people. Although the term can be understood to include laboratory animals and wildlife, social psychology is purely about human social behavior.

This kind of psychology has become an active form of empirical research over the years. The amount of research literature increased rapidly after 1925. The main theories and methods are mentioned below.

Related topics to Social Psychology

Social psychology covers a wide variety of topics, such as:

  • Group behavior (group dynamics by Kormanski & Mozenter)
  • Group development (group dynamics model by Bruce Tuckman)
  • Leadership
  • Non-verbal behavior
  • Aggression
  • Bias
  • Conformity
  • Social perception

Social Psychology Definition

Social psychology is defined as the scientific study of how thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are affected by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other people.

Social psychologists explain human behavior as a result of the relationship between mental state and social situations. They study the circumstances and how these variables can influence social interactions.

Researchers conduct empirical studies to answer very specific questions, such as:

  • How do people change their thoughts and decisions based on contact with others?
  • Is human behavior an indication of personality? If so, how exactly?
  • How goal-oriented is modification based on group-behavior?
  • How does the social perception of people influence behavior?
  • How do destructive attitudes, such as prejudices, arise?

Examples of Social Psychology

This type of Psychology focuses on the individual in relation to others. A group is usually two or more individuals connected by social relationships. Groups tend to interact and influence each other to form a common identity.

Groups are important not only because the members in the group provide each other with social support, or resources, but also because they complement the self-image of the individual. People largely define themselves based on the group they are part of. This shared social identity influences intra-group behavior.

Social psychologists investigate precisely these things: group-related phenomena such as group behavior. An important concept that has been developed for this purpose is de-individualization. This is a reduced state of self-awareness caused by feelings of anonymity in groups. The phenomenon often occurs in crowds and groups, but can also occur due to alcohol, poor environments, online anonymity, or a uniform/disguise.

William Shakespeare on Social Psychology

One of the earliest known examples of social psychology is a complex play by William Shakespeare, Hamlet. In this play, the beleaguered prince of Denmark explains why he sees his native country as a prison rather than a paradise: ‘Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.’

This portrays very accurately what social psychology is concerned with. Is it a trick of the mind? Or is it an exploration of everyday actions and thoughts? Social psychology is concerned with explaining the deepest mysteries in human relationships and behavior.

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Other theories

Aristotle believed that humans are social beings by nature. This means a certain necessity to live together with others. However, Plato believed that the state controls the individual and encouraged social responsibility through a social context.

Hegel argued in the nineteenth century that a society is linked to the development of the social mind. This led to the concept of group identity and group spirit. These terms were and still are very important in the discipline of social psychology.

Gordon Allport supports thinking about social psychology today. He recognized that social behavior stems from interactions between people. He developed a methodological approach for social contact with his contact hypothesis.

In the 1930s, many Gestalt psychologists fled to the United States from Nazi Germany. They were then in the midst of the development of social psychology as a separate discipline of the dominant behavioral and psychoanalytic studies at the time.

Another example of a theory in which social psychology is discussed is the social identity theory of Henri Tajfel and John Turner from 1979. Erving Goffman is also a frequently recurring name in social psychology. Together with Robert Freed Bales, he is regarded as the founder of social interaction theory.

Max Weber

September 21st, 2022

Max Weber (1864 – 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher and scientific management theorist. Next to his great work on modern sociology, Max Weber also became famous with his scientific management approach on Bureaucracy and his Bureaucratic Theory and the…

Erving Goffman

September 15th, 2022

Erving Goffman was a Canadian-American sociologist, writer and social psychologist. He is known for his strong influence on American sociology of the twentieth century. In ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’ (1959), he sketched the dramaturgical perspective he…

Social Defeat

August 23rd, 2022

Social Defeat: in psychology, Social Defeat is a form of stress. It can be caused by bullying or other forms of abuse from peers, family members, or superiors in the workplace. It is just as damaging to one’s mental health…

Social Intelligence (SI)

August 18th, 2022

Social Intelligence: this article explains the concept of Social Intelligence, developed by Karl Albrecht in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful communications skills theory. What is Social Intelligence? the definition In…

ASE model (De Vries)

August 2nd, 2022

ASE model: this article explains the ASE model in a practical way. After reading it you will understand the basics of this powerful psychology tool. What is the ASE model? The ASE model is a model that shows how behavior…

Psychoanalysis

July 27th, 2022

Psychoanalysis: in this article you will find a practical explanation of psychoanalysis. After reading, you will understand the basics of this powerful psychology tool. What is Psychoanalysis? Psychoanalysis is a method of treating various mental disorders. It is formed…

Erik Erikson

July 27th, 2022

Erik Erikson (born June 15, 1902 – died May 12, 1994), in full Erik Homburger Erikson, was an American psychoanalyst known for his works on social psychology, individual identity, and psychology’s interactions with history, culture, and politics. Erik Erikson first…

Erikson’s Stages of Development

July 27th, 2022

Erikson’s stages of development: this article explains Erikson’s stages of development in a practical way. After reading it you will understand the basics of this powerful psychological theory. What are Erikson’s stages of development? Erikson’s psychosocial theory on the stages…

Stereotype Content Model (SCM)

July 17th, 2022

Stereotype Content Model: this article provides a practical explanation of the Stereotype Content Model (SCM). After reading, you’ll understand the basis of this powerful psychological and communication theory. What Is the Stereotype Content Model (SCM)? The definition The Stereotype…

Conflict Theory

July 13th, 2022

Conflict Theory: this article explains Conflict Theory in a practical way. After reading it you will understand the basics of this powerful sociology theory. What is the Conflict Theory? Conflict Theory is a theory that states that every society is…

Social Identity Theory (SIT)

July 11th, 2022

Social Identity Theory: this article explains the Social Identity Theory in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful psychology theory. What is Social Identity Theory? Social identity is the part of an individual’s self-image…

Impression Management (Goffman)

July 4th, 2022

Impression Management: this article provides a practical explanation of Impression Management, developed by Erving Goffman. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful sociology and psychology theory. What is Impression Management (IM)? The definition Impression Management (IM), also…
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