Essay on Social Psychology Definition

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In order to understand the meaning and study of social psychology, it is crucial to identify the questions that social psychology seeks to answer. The ultimate goal of this discipline is to analyze how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. This study of our social interactions is a complex one; involving endless trails of concepts, theories, and studies that help better shape the subject itself. Myers notes within the text that we react differently because we all think differently, and with the help of social psychology we are better able to examine the reasons for this.

General psychology attempts to study the mind and its behaviors, focusing more on mental development and the habits of the human mind. This study of general psychology paves the way for every other subtopic, each of them diving deeper into more specific studies. Branching off of the main topic of psychology we see disciplines such as clinical psychology, criminal psychology, child psychology, etc. Each and every one is important and focuses on a different set of questions that people are interested in finding the answers to. Although all of these types of psychology fall under the same category, they differ in practice and study. Social psychology is unique because it takes the external factors of our world and helps link them to our behaviors and attitudes. Myers allows readers to gain insight on how the principles of social psychology are applicable in everyday life by explaining that “Social psychology has the potential to make visible the subtle influences that guide your thinking and acting.”(Myers, 2016) This real life applicability is unique to only some forms of psychology. In context but they differ due to the fact sociology deals more with specific groups within society, rather than the individual within society. The starting point for every category of psychology is different and they’ve all developed at different paces. By examining how we think and feel about ourselves and others, we are able to see why social psychology is so significant. The influence of our situations is in large part a reason for much of what we do. This idea is brought to light by disciplines such as social psychology and can help explain our actions and feelings as individuals in relation to our surroundings.

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One major influence of any psychology is research. Research is vital to the process of studying social psychology as it seeks to take more large scale ideas of society and minimize them into different variables that are able to be observed or tested. The research aspect of this discipline is critical because although we can form theories, they can only be credible if backed by concrete evidence in research. There are many steps that precede research and this is where differing values come into play. One of these steps is the embrace of a research method, the research method determines the strategic plan of gathering information. Research methods allow social psychology to function properly and with organization. Our behavior as humans is often hard to observe within a worldly scope. In order to eliminate this difficulty, social psychologists narrow down the context of the behavior. Often times studies are done to detect the natural associations of our actions, seeing what type of behaviors occur organically and which do not. Other times the research is much more controlled and the environment of the study has more impact on the result. Myers quotes French scientist Jules Henri Poincaré as saying, “Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones, but a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.”(Myers, 2016) This quote goes to show that the science of social psychology doesn’t mean much if there is an absence of research based facts and vice versa. Research often seeks to find how two different factors correlate, such as measuring levels of happiness in relation to exercise habits. By connecting the dots in social psychology we are more equipped to see how we relate with and are influenced by our environments. The different variables involved in research yield varying conclusions. For example, correlational research and experimental research seek to answer different questions and in doing so they involve different methods and factors. Myers defines correlational research as focusing more on the natural association of two or more factors. Experimental research pertaining more towards the manipulation one variable in order to measure its impact on another. Research, although very helpful, can raise questions of ethics among social psychologists. Things like random assignment assist in the output of accurate and unbiased research results by making the chances of exposure to a certain variable equal among the population. By manipulating a variable in research social psychologists can see how an alteration influences the experiment. Both types of research methods attempt to show how we as humans react to our subjective situations, often times contradicting popular beliefs about our self-awareness.

Looking more specifically into the lasting impact of research on social psychology, we are able to see first hand how experiments, like the ones conducted by Solomon Asch, leave lasting ideas on the subject. The conditions one is vulnerable to during research studies differ, but all conditions yield different findings. Solomon Asch, like many others, was attempting to answer the question of groups and how they socially influence our behavior. Group conformity is the idea that we alter our beliefs and actions in order to better fit in with the larger group at hand. This is not an uncommon idea and can be examined closely in everyday situations. Asch conducted a research study that aimed to identify the extent of which an individual could be pressured into conformity by a group. Myers informs readers that unlike Sherif’s darkened-room autokinetic experiments, Asch considered a less ambiguous reality than Sherif. (Myers, 2016) By creating a controlled experiment, Asch is able to view first hand how the common idea of a group with predisposed knowledge of the experiment, influences a single individual within that same group but lacking the knowledge of the circumstance.

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Essay on Social Psychology Definition. (2024, May 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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