Social Psychology Meaning

Introduction to social psychology

Social psychology is the study to understand how people’s actual or imagined interactions with others shape their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and goals in relation to others. In the early 20th century, social psychology came into being at the interface of psychology and sociology. Sociology examines the nature of society, whereas psychology studies the nature of humans. On the other hand, social psychology examines how people interact with one another and with society as a whole. In addition to this, it examines how social context and other people’s behaviour affect human behaviour. Social psychologists investigate the circumstances in which thoughts, feelings, and behaviour take place and how these factors affect social interactions in order to explain human behavior on the basis of the connection between mental state and social situation.

Nature of social psychology

What are three main focuses of social psychology?

Social psychology is also regarded as basic social science as well as a branch of general psychology. To better understand the nature of social psychology three elements are elaborated below:

social psychology as a science

Social psychology is considered as a science Because it analyses and explains human behaviour. The scientific approach involves meticulous and systematic attempts, that are as follows:

  1. The systematic collection of information or data (Methodology).
  2. The systematic integration of these data into theories/hypothesis and scientific laws (Theory Building).
  3. Tests to see if these laws are adequate in terms of their ability to accurately predict future observations (Scientific experiment and observation).

Almost solely, social psychologists rely on two categories of research: basic and applied. Basic research simply seeks to improve our understanding of social behaviour; in contrast, applied research seeks to increase our knowledge of real-world problem, and to find the solution to these problems by present socio-psychological knowledge.

Individual behaviour

Individuals are the ones who have social thoughts and actions. The society may have an impact on them. However, it is individuals, not groups, who decide what to think and do. The goal of social psychology is to understand human behaviour with a heavy emphasis on the individual. Additionally, it makes an effort to grasp the different external impacts on social behaviour, such as culture and social standards. Still, the individual is the centre of the social psychology investigation.

Social behavior and thought

There are numerous factors that influence human social behaviour and thoughts. The purpose of social psychology would be to understand them. The following are some vital factors:

  1.  Characteristics and Behavior of Others
  2.  Basic cognitive processes: memory, reasoning, belief, ideas, and assessments of other people
  3.  Ecological Variables: impacts of the physical environment, both direct and indirect
  4.  The cultural context, including practices and membership with different groups
  5.  Human behavior’s biological aspect and social behavior-related genetic factors.

What is scope of social psychology

In three main ways, social psychology seeks to know the relationship between people, social groups, and behaviour:

  1. It begins by attempting to understand how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are affected by the actual, assumed, or imagined presence of others. It addresses questions like: How do the characteristics of small groups affect thinking and feeling?

How does a group influence individual behavior in psychology

  1. Second, it aims at understanding the impact that individual perceptions and actions have on group behaviour. Examining problems like workplace group productivity and group decision-making is part of this. It examines questions like: What causes diversity, deviation, and conformity?
  2. Finally, social psychology aims at understanding groups as behavioural units as well as the relationships between the affects that one group has on another group. It addresses questions such as: Why are certain groups hostile toward one another while others are neutral or friendly?