Social psychology

The study of the manner in which the personality, attitudes, motivations, and behavior of the individual influence and are influenced by social groups http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/social%20psychology According to psychologist Gordon Allport, social psychology is a discipline that uses scientific methods “to understand and explain how the thought, feeling and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of other human beings” (1985).

Social psychology looks at a wide range of social topics, including group behavior, social perception, leadership, nonverbal behavior, conformity, aggression and prejudice. It is important to note that social psychology is not just about looking at social influences. Social perception and social interaction are also vital to understanding social behavior. Brief History of Social Psychology While Plato referred to the idea of the “crowd mind” and concepts such as social loafing and social facilitation were introduced in the late-1800s, it wasn’t until after World War II that research on social psychology began in earnest.

The horrors of the Holocaust led researchers to study the effects of social influence, conformity and obedience. The U. S. government also became interested in applying social psychological concepts to influencing citizens. Social psychology has continued to grow throughout the twentieth century, inspiring research that has contributed to our understanding of social experience and behavior. How Is Social Psychology Different From Other Disciplines? It is important to understand how social psychology differs from other disciplines. Social psychology is often confused with folk wisdom, personality psychology and sociology.

What makes social psychology different? Unlike folk wisdom, which relies on anecdotal observations and subjective interpretation, social psychology employs scientific methods and the empirical study of social phenomena. While personality psychology focuses on individual traits, characteristics and thoughts, social psychology is focused on situations. Social psychologists are interested in the impact that the social environment and group interactions have on attitudes and behaviors. Finally, it is important to distinguish between social psychology and sociology.

While there are many similarities between the two, sociology tends to looks at social behavior and influences at a very broad-based level. Sociologists are interested in the institutions and cultures that influence how people behave. Psychologists instead focus on situational variables that affect social behavior. While psychology and sociology both study similar topics, they are looking at these topics from different perspectives. http://psychology. about. com/od/socialpsychology/f/socialpsych. htm By Kendra Cherry, About. com Guide Sociocultural Perspective Stresses the importance of social norms and culture.

Proposes that children learn behavior through problem-solving interactions with other children and adults. Through these interactions, they learn the values and norms of their society. Evolutionary Perspective Argues that social behaviors developed through genetics and inheritance. Emphasizes the role of biology and gene transmission across generations to explain current behavior. Social Learning Perspective Stresses the importance of unique experiences in family, school, community, etc. According to this viewpoint, we learn behaviors through observing and mimicking the behavior of others.

Social-Cognitive Perspective Supports an information processing model of social behavior, where we notice, interpret, and judge the behavior of others. New experiences can either be assimilated (using already held beliefs to interpret the event), or accommodated (which involves changing existing beliefs in response to the event. ) By understanding how information is processed, we can better understand how patterns of thoughts impact behavior. http://psychology. about. com/od/socialpsychology/f/socpersp. htm By Kendra Cherry, About. com Guide PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY Defining Personality:

Personality is made up the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make a person unique. Personality arises from within the individual and remains fairly consistent throughout life. Theories of Personality: A number of different theories have emerged to explain different aspects of personality. Some theories focus on explaining how personality develops while others are concerned with individual differences in personality. The following are just a few of the major theories of personality proposed by different psychologists: http://psychology. about. com/od/personalitydevelopment/p/personality. htm By Kendra Cherry, About. com Guide Almost everyday we describe and assess the personalities of the people around us. Whether we realize it or not, these daily musings on how and why people behave as they do are similar to what personality psychologists do. While our informal assessments of personality tend to focus more on individuals, personality psychologists instead use conceptions of personality that can apply to everyone. Personality research has led to the development of a number of theories that help explain how and why certain personality traits develop. Components of Personality

While there are many different theories of personality, the first step is to understand exactly what is meant by the term personality. A brief definition would be that personality is made up of the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that make a person unique. In addition to this, personality arises from within the individual and remains fairly consistent throughout life. Some of the fundamental characteristics of personality include: Consistency – There is generally a recognizable order and regularity to behaviors. Essentially, people act in the same ways or similar ways in a variety of situations.

Psychological and physiological – Personality is a psychological construct, but research suggests that it is also influenced by biological processes and needs. It impacts behaviors and actions – Personality does not just influence how we move and respond in our environment; it also causes us to act in certain ways. Multiple expressions – Personality is displayed in more than just behavior. It can also be seen in our thoughts, feelings, close relationships and other social interactions. http://psychology. about. com/od/overviewofpersonality/a/persondef. htm By Kendra Cherry, About. com Guide