Social Psychology Definition Paper

Last Updated: 28 Mar 2021
Essay type: Definition Essay
Pages: 5 Views: 125

With only the unifying concept of social interaction, social psychology occupies a no-man’s land somewhere between psychology, sociology, physiology, and evolutionary theory in the uncultivated areas of the social sciences (Harold, 2000).

Biology offers up the principles of natural selection and adaptation as causal explanations for everything from human mating practices to index finger length, and sociology offers explanations for social structure and organization; it is to social psychology that falls the task of explaining how people think about, affect, and interact with one another on a psychological, biological, and social level (Myers, 2008; Pinel, 2007).

If genetic and biological predisposition is the violin and environmental factors the violinist, then the bow of social interaction is the instrument by which the two conjugate to create music for example cognition and behavior. Though, in light of an examination of the main ideas and research methods of social psychology—as well as a comparison between related fields—the particular function of social interaction, as it relates to biology and psychology, comes into focus.

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Main Ideas of Social Psychology. Social psychologists study a set of strategies for answering questions related to attitudes and beliefs, the way we construe our world, and conformity and independence; rather than simply an objective compilation of findings. Some of the main ideas that social psychology seeks to address are:

  1. the construction of our social reality;
  2. social intuition;
  3. how social influences, personal attitudes, personality, and biology shape our behavior;
  4. how social psychology’s principles can be applied in everyday life.

The construction of our social reality rests on the materialistic assumption that an objective world exists quite separate from our subjective interpretation of that world, but that we can only view reality through the lens of our beliefs and values. Moreover, it is clear that the mechanism of social intuition—automatic processing, heuristics, and implicit memory—can be very powerful when utilize for fast and frugal snap judgments but it could also be perilous when more reasoned thinking is required.

Our behavior is shape by many influences that can be external and internal. We are a social animal, which means that our cultural predispositions define our circumstances. It is also apparent that our attitudes and personality play a significant role in shaping behavior as well. Sometimes offsetting and sometimes reinforcing social pressures. Above all else, the idea that we are bio-psycho-social organisms operating on several levels and at the bequest of many influences assists in explaining the multi-verse of human behavior.

At last, the practical application of social psychology’s analytical tools and explanations to the subjective beliefs, attitudes, and relationships of everyday life can help people know themselves better, think smarter, and make better decisions. The specific means by which social psychologists ascertain the aforementioned analytical tools and explanations is encapsulate in the implementation of research Methodology Research Methods of Social Psychology.

There is three main avenues through which social psychologists can elucidate the facts of individual social interaction:

  1. correlation research;
  2. experimental research;
  3. survey research.

The very basis of the scientific method is the postulation that a theory can be explain or predicted by means of hypothesis testing, through the medium of observable events. Correlation research seeks to explain naturally occurring relationships among variables, but does not have the ability to differentiate causation between variables.

For instance, Einwohner (1999) could show that personal identification as an activist and collective identification with a group are highly correlate with protest behavior, but that the formers do not necessarily cause latter. However, through the instrument of time-lagged correlations it could be determine. Variables came first in a sequence, but it cannot be determine which variable constitutes the cause and which variable constitutes the effect. On the other hand, experimental research is uniquely design to isolate and manipulate variables to the end of illuminating causation.

Experimental research accomplishes this huge feet by the use of independent variables, the manipulated experimental factor; and dependent variables, the measured factor that changes as the independent variable is manipulate. 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 uses random sample, 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. Comparison between Related Fields The field of sociology overlaps with social psychology in some areas; but sociology is primarily concern with how groups and societies interact at the collectivist level, and social psychology is mainly involved with the individual psychology of social interaction.

Also of consequence, is the general observation that sociology relies heavily on survey research and correlation research; whereas, social psychology takes into account a wealth of experimental methodology as well (Kearl, 2009). On the other end of the spectrum, clinical psychology overlaps with social psychology in that they both depend heavily on experimental research to verify their perspective 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 effect that 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 co relational and survey research, and social psychology differs from personality psychology in the emphasis of individual interaction over individual difference, respectively.

Conclusion In conclusion, the conglomeration of research areas and methodologies that social psychology occupies is cosmopolitan and parsimonious in scope and applicability, meaning that even though social psychology be concern with several areas of research the field is still dedicate exclusively to understand 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 company relational research to confirm hypotheses concerning the abovementioned subjects.

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Social Psychology Definition Paper. (2017, May 09). Retrieved from

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