Social Psychology

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Social Psychology

What is social psychology? Social psychology is the study of how we communicate in the social environment. The environment is influenced by human thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Because social influence in almost everything that people think, feel, and do, social psychology is a very broad and increasingly multidisciplinary subject. With this in mind, a social psychologist is not limited to only focus on the individual, but on processes within individuals, groups, and between groups.

These psychologists examine how individuals interface with society and trends in the society. The largest areas of work are group dynamics, nature of leadership, ways of thinking, and ways of perceiving the world. Social psychologists are helpful in a number of different fields including organizational management, marketing, and designing programs and systems.

The discipline of social psychology began at the start of the twentieth century. A list of landmark moments would have to include the publication of Charles Horton Cooley's "Human Nature and Social Order" in 1902. Cooley's effort sought to explain the social order by use of the concept of a looking glass self, and to explain the notion of the self as essentially the same as the notion of "society".[4]

Journal publications supporting social psychology

There are many publications that can provide information for Social Psychologist. The following contains just a few names of such general Social Psychology Journals. To find the links to each journal, go to the following link:

ASAP: Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (SPSSI e-journal)
Asian Journal of Social Psychology (AASP journal)
Basic and Applied Social Psychology
British Journal of Social Psychology (BPS journal)
Current Research in Social Psychology (electronic journal)
European Journal of Social Psychology (EASP-sponsored journal)
European Review of Social Psychology (an e-first journal)
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Journal of Language and Social Psychology
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (APA journal)
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Journal of Social Issues (SPSSI journal)
Journal of Social Psychology
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (SPSP journal)
Personality and Social Psychology Review (SPSP journal)
Social and Personality Psychology Compass (e-journal)
Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Social Cognition (ISCON journal)
Social Issues and Policy Review (SPSSI journal)

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology publishes original papers in all areas of personality and social psychology and emphasizes empirical reports, but may include specialized theoretical, methodological, and review papers. The journal is divided into three independently edited sections:

Attitudes and Social Cognition

Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes

Personality Processes and Individual Differences

Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology

Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology seeks to publish theoretical, conceptual, research, and case study articles that promote the development of knowledge and understanding, application of psychological principles, and scholarly analysis of social–political forces affecting racial and ethnic minorities.


There are many different paths that one may take within the field of Social Psychology. Because personality and social psychologists combine an understanding of human behavior with training in sophisticated research methods, they have many opportunities for employment. Many psychologists teach and do research in universities and colleges, housed mostly in departments of psychology but also in departments of business, education, political science, justice studies, law, health sciences, and medicine. The research of such individuals may be based in the laboratory, in the field, in the clinic, or in historical archives. Many personality and social psychologists are employed in the private sector as consultants, researchers, marketing directors, managers, political strategists, technology designers, and so on. Personality and social psychologists also work in government and nonprofit organizations, designing and evaluating policy and programs in education, conflict resolution, environmental protection, and the like. [SPSP]

High School Graduates: $31,408 Social Psychologist make a Mean Salary of $64,496, although there is a large variation depending on the subfield you work in.

As a comparison here is a list of other starting salaries with a B.A/B.S. : Starting-income-300x295.gif

Because of the wide array of career opportunities available to social-personality psychologists, it is hard to accurately estimate the median income for these professionals. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), social psychologists and other applied psychologists (such as clinical psychologists) at the doctoral level earned a median income of $92,500. However, social psychologists made up only six percent of respondents to this study. As with most professions, individuals who have earned their doctoral degree command a higher salary than their counterparts with a master's degree. Geographic location will also be a factor in salary level.

How does social psychology differ from other disciplines?

A: Social psychology is closely related to three other disciplines: personality psychology, organizational psychology, and sociology (social work is sometimes confused with social psychology, but it is really more similar to counseling psychology and clinical practice). In general, social psychology differs from personality psychology in that it focuses more on the situational influences of behavior than on individual differences between people; it differs from organizational psychology in that it does not focus specifically on behavior within organizations; and it differs from sociology in that it focuses on the behavior of individuals and small groups more than the behavior of large social systems and societies.

Do social psychologists need to have a PhD?

A: Most social psychologists pursue a PhD rather than a masters degree, and a PhD is usually needed to become a professor at a college or university. In some cases, however, an employer will accept a masters degree as sufficient. Thus, the answer to this question depends on the specific job and employer involved.

What can you do with a degree in social psychology?

A: Because social psychology concerns the study of human behavior, there are job opportunities for social psychologists in virtually every type of employment setting, including educational institutions, non profit organizations, corporations, government, and hospitals.

How difficult is it to get a job in social psychology?

A: For the most part, it is more difficult to find jobs inside academia than outside it. In any given year there are relatively few academic positions in social psychology, and tenure-track openings at universities tend to be highly competitive (according to one job market analysis, 553 social psychology advertisements appeared in the APS Observer Employment Bulletin between 1991 and 1996, or fewer than 100 per year). Because social psychology applies to so many employment domains beyond academia, however, most people with a PhD in social psychology are able to find a job related to their interests.

Social Psychology (formerly Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie)
Social Psychology Quarterly (ASA journal)

Master Degree programs topics

Topics learned in masters ( :

Impact of social facets on human development and behavior

Apply psychological concepts to global issues and social change

Analyze and evaluate psychological theories

Multicultural issues

Global perspectives in understanding psychological theories, research and practice

Principles of statistics and research design

Cognitive psychology

Relation of self and culture

Concepts of persuasion, conformity, attraction, prejudice, aggression, group dynamics, and multiculturalism

Social inequalities and psychology behind efforts toward reformation

Experiments within the field: Social-psychology-experiments 175x175.jpg


The aftermath of World War 2, lead to interest in what to made people "following orders" even though the orders were horrible. The Stanley Milgram Experiment showed that also non-nazi populations would follow orders to harm other persons. It was not a German phenomenon as many thought.


The Abu Ghraib prison-episode was yet another example on the power of predefined roles. The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo, demonstrated the powerful effect our perception of expectations in roles have.


Solomon Asch wanted to test how much people are influenced by others opinions in the Asch Conformity Experiment.


Behaviorists ruled psychology for a long time. They focused on how individuals learn by trying and failing. Albert Bandura thought that humans are much more than "learning machines". He thought that we learn from role models, initiating the (bandura) social cognitive theory. It all started with the Bobo Doll Experiment.


Knowing the story of the Good Samaritan makes you wonder what made the Samaritan help the stranger, and why did he not get help from the priest or the Levite? The Good Samaritan Experiment explores causes of not showing helping behavior or altruism.


People lie all the time even to themselves and surprisingly, it does work! This is the finding of the Quattrone and Tversky social psychology experiment that was published in the Journal of Personality and Psychology

Read more:

Key research areas

1. Social Cognition:

Social cognition is concerned with the processing, storage and application of social information. This research area is closely related to the field of cognitive psychology, this research area focuses largely on the concept of schemas. Schemas are our general ideas about the world, how things are and how things work. These mental shortcuts allow us to function without constantly stopping to interpret everything around us. We also develop associations between related schemas, which plays an important role in the thought process and social behavior.

2. Attitudes and Attitude Change:

Another major research area in social psychology involves the study of attitudes. Social psychologists are interested in the components of attitudes, how attitudes develop and how attitudes change. Researchers have described three core components of attitude: an affective component, a behavioral component and a cognitive component. Often referred to as the "ABC's of attitude," these elements describe how we feel, behave and understand.

3. Violence and Aggression:

What causes violence and aggression? Social psychologists are interested in how and why people engage in violence or act aggressively. Research in this area looks at numerous factors that may cause aggression including social variables and media influences. Researchers often look at the role social learning plays in producing aggressive behaviors and actions.

4. Prosocial Behavior:

Prosocial behavior is another major research area in social psychology. What is prosocial behavior? Prosocial behaviors are those that involve helping and cooperating. Researchers often look at why people help others, as well as why they sometimes refuse to help or cooperate.

Much of the research in this area was prompted by the murder of a young woman named Kitty Genovese. This case captured national attention when reports revealed that neighbors had witnessed her attack and murder, but failed to call the police for help. Research inspired by the case produced a great deal of information on prosocial behavior and how and why people choose - or sometimes refuse - to help others.

5. Prejudice and Discrimination:

Prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes exist in any social group. Social psychologists are interested in the origins, causes and effects of these types of attitudes and social categorizations. How does prejudice develop? Why are stereotypes maintained in the face of contrary evidence? These are just a few of the questions social psychologists seek to answer.

6. Self and Social Identity:

Our perceptions of social identities and ourselves are another important research area in social psychology. How do people come to know and understand themselves? How do these self-perceptions affect our social interactions? Social psychologists are interested in learning more about how this inner life influences our outer lives and social world. Self-awareness, self-esteem and self-expression are just a few of the factors that influence our social experience.

7. Group Behavior:

The behavior of groups is one of the largest research areas in social psychology. Most people realize that groups tend to behave differently than individuals. These group behaviors are sometimes beneficial and positive, but they can also be detrimental and negative. Social psychologists often look at topics such as group dynamics, leadership, group decision-making, conflicts, cooperation and group influence.

8. Social Influence:

Social psychologists are also interested in the role that social influence has on behavior and decision-making. Topics such as the psychology of persuasion, peer pressure, conformity and obedience are just a few of those studied in this area of social psychology. Research has helped reveal the power of social influence and has uncovered ways to help people resist influence.

9. Interpersonal Relationships:

Social relationships play a major role in shaping behavior, attitudes, feelings and thoughts. Social psychologists study how these interpersonal relationships affect people by looking at attachment, liking, love and attraction. How do close relationships affect individuals? How important are these interpersonal relationships? These are just a few of the questions social psychologists seek to explain.


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