What is social psychology?

Social psychology is a branch of psychology (such asclinical,health,educationalfamilyandwork psychology), whichstudies the behavior of each person and the role they play in society, with special emphasis on how each person can be influenced by the environment where they operate.

In this sense, social psychologyexplains the reasons for each behavior, starting from the psychological principles united with the sociological, thus being the elements such as character, tastes, interests and even thoughts, the objects of study.

Note: This field of psychology seeks to discern the factors and phenomenathat lead a person to act according to the social environment where he operates, in addition to measuring to what extent coexistence with a given social group can influence his decisions and principles.

What are the characteristics of social psychology?

Social psychology has a series of characteristicsthat make it a science designed to understand the attitudes of human beings who live in society. In addition, its particularity to serve as thefield of studyof everything related to people and their social interactions. For this reason, below you will discover the fundamental characteristics of social psychology:

1. It is a branch within psychology

Sociology is based on knowing human societies, be it in the cultural, political, economic or artistic fields, however, when merging with psychology, the field of study expands, creating a field of knowledge that can be broad and complex .

You should know: It becomes a Branch of psychology because it is a specialty that studies the way in which human beings act, its distinction occurs when the object of study focuses on the behavior of an individual belonging to a society.

2. Study the behavior of the human being

A study conducted by psychologist and behavioral researcher Philip Zimbardo, titled The Lucifer Effect” (1) , determined how the behavior of psychologically stable people can be affected by the influence of an adverse environment.

To highlight: In this case, the author carried out the investigation with university students who were imprisoned, everything is based on simulations, however, these were executed as it happens in real life.

In this sense, the results of the investigation concluded that good people can carry out improper and even immoral acts if they are subjected to extreme social environments, in this case prison, thus completely changing their behavior to somehow adapt to the environment. .

3. Analyze social interactions

An experimental study published by the Mexican Journal of Behavior Analysis , aimed at prisoners, aimed to know the Social interactions that are managed according to exchange , sanction and power, provides relevant data for social psychology. (two)

Note: The study determined that Social interactions are closely linked to behavior patterns that individuals adapt and change as they operate in different environments and groups.

All with the purpose of gaining power, some as a method of survival and others just to copy the closest pattern that is presented to them in the group where it develops.

4. Establishes psychological development by age

This is one of the characteristics that is most present in social psychology, since the human being is sociable by nature , however, as the individual develops, this can undergo changes depending on the perspective of life that he has. .

In this sense, social psychology focuses on studying the social behavior of each individual according to their age and the stage of development they are going through.

5. Determine conduct disorders

Psychology alone determines the behavioral disorders of a specific individual , while sociological social psychology studies those same patterns but focuses on the development of said individual in their social environment.

Therefore, problems such as Self -concept , social bullying and in extreme cases, sociopaths, are the conduct disorders that must be Studied by Social Psychologists .

What are the goals of social psychology?

Like any branch of knowledge, social psychology focuses on knowing the reasons why individuals seek to fit into a social group or simply why they attend to the influence of some people without thinking about their well-being. That is why social psychology has a series of objectives that focus on determining and understanding the reasons for some social psychological processes:

1. Study the influence of social relationships on behavior

Social psychology addresses what refers to the influence of social relationships by behaviors often acquired by the individual’s social environment, this stands out mostly during adolescence, however it can occur at any age.

You should know: Social psychology determines that social relationships, behavior and attitudes are influenced but also acquiredtag. However, they may be related toSelf-esteem problems and other Psychological processes in the person who follows the closest behavioral pattern.

2. Analyze people’s mental states

Behavior models are originated by the same individuals despite their life experiences, be they positive or negative, which is why, in order to understand the patterns of a given social group, the people that make it up must first be investigated.

In this sense, social psychology has as its objective, to analyze the Psychosocial processes that the individuals of a population have, in order to later know the mental states of each one and understand the reasons for their behaviors at a social level.

3. Analyze visible psychological and social processes

Psychology has the particularity of studying people beyond what can be observed, however, when it comes to sociology, the psychosocial processes of behavior that are visible must be taken into account.

To highlight: The clothing, the physical condition and the way of expressing himself when he is surrounded by people, this helps researchers to Know some reasons for the attitudes of said individual and how he is influencing other people.

4. Determine the historical context of psychological events

Although it is true, as time progresses, there are new technologies and the human being develops more quickly, therefore, psychological events also undergo changes .

Thus, social psychology has the objective of determining which were the means that influenced society to act in a certain way according to the historical context in which the events occurred, this is of the utmost importance to avoid future problems and social catastrophes.

5. Reduce or prevent situations of social and personal risk

Social psychologists, being observers of human behavior in the social context, aim to study all kinds of adverse situations in order to create prevention and risk reduction strategies on a personal and social level.

Note: Social conflicts between countries, wars and problems such as prostitution or drug addiction, are part of the risk situations under study due to their high crime and mortality rates.

Who are the main representatives of social psychology?

Social psychology, as a branch of study that derives from psychology in particular, has been studied and deepened by several scientists,sociologists, psychologists and researchers, who were interested in structuring the elements that make up social psychology. In this sense, below you will be able to meet the most outstanding authors of social psychology:

1. Auguste Comte

Auguste Comte, born in France in 1798, Considered the father of positivism and the first theoretician to use the term sociology, in addition to his deep passion for philosophy and the study of different sciences.

You should know: His best-known work was the Law of the Three States , where he states that every process of life, science or matter must go through the states: theological, metaphysical and positive , framed in the positivist current that would later give way to the sociology as an experimental science. (3)

Therefore, from there follows the theory that any law that governs the development and structural process of society must go through the three phases, taking into account the aspirations of all humans in order to build a better society.

2. Karl Marx

Born in Germany in 1818, he was a Socialist thinker, sociologist, and economist who developed in the mid-19th century one of the most controversial theories in history, combining economic, political, and social ideas.

To highlight: The Marxist Theory , deals with the modification directly to the social order and the impact that this had with capitalist thoughts, in the face of various events that arose at the beginning of the 20th century, including the first and second world wars. (4)

In this sense, Marxism is based on equality and the implementation of socialism , eradicating social classes and capitalism, where the economy is the main factor that determines wars and internal conflicts in countries.

3. Kurt Lewin

The beginnings of social psychology were thanks to this Polish doctor, biologist and philosopher , who with his “Field Theory”explains that in order to determine the real behavior of an individual. not only the appearance that his behavior gives is enough.(5)

Therefore, what the author proposes is to study the psychological field of each individual , that is, the environment where it develops at a given moment, taking into account the characteristics of the person in a given situation.

4. Frederic Skinner

In addition, the author maintains that to apply behaviorism it is not necessary to use negative reinforcement based on punishments , so his theory is based on the use of cognitive methods that yield better results.

Key Findings

  • Social psychology is a science that deals with the behavior and reasons for being of individuals who operate within a society.
  • Social psychology explains the reasons for each behavior, based on psychological principles united with sociological ones.
  • Social psychology has the objective of knowing the mental states of each individual and understanding the reasons for their behaviors.
  • Social psychology determines what were the means that influenced society to act in a certain way according to the particular historical context.
  • The main representatives of social psychology were Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Kurt Lewin and Frederic Skinner.

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