Chapter 1: Introduction
We are social beings and we forge our social identities not alone but in the context of other
What is Social Psychology?
Defining Social Psychology:
is the scientific study of how individuals think, feel, and behave in regard to
other people and how individuals´ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other
Scientific Study: many approaches (we can learn human behavior e.g. from novels, films, history
etc.) Difference is, that social psychology is a science and applies the scientific method of
systematic observation, description, and measurement to the study of human condition.
How individuals think, feel, and behave: social psychologists investigate a wide variety of
attitudes and contexts. Social psychology typically focuses on the psychology of the
Other people- the social element: its empasis on the social nature of individuals makes social
psychology (s.p.) unique. Attempting to establish general principles of human behavior,
social psychologists sometimes examine nonsocial factors that affect people´s thoughts,
emotions, motives, and actions.
Social Psychological Questions and Applications:
Table 1.1 / page 7
The value of social psychology´s perspective on human behavior is widely recognized.
We can think of no other field of study that offers expertise that is more clearly relevant to so
many different carrer paths.
The Power of Social Context: An Example of a Social Psychology Experiment:
The social nature of people runs so deep that even which seems so personal an unique to
ourselves can be influenced subtly but significantly by merely thinking about other
Experiment by Emily Pronin and colleagues (2004); they called it
experiment illustrates the power of thinking about others, female undergraduate students
who cared about math disavowed aspects of their feminine identity that were relevant to
negatvie stereotypes about women and math if they had just read about the
underperformance on a math test of a number of seventh- and eighth-grade girls relative
The social context can have subtle and profound effects even on individuals who might
otherwise seem well protected against it.
Social Psychology and Related Fields: Distinctions and Intersections:
Table 1.2 / page 10
Social psychology and Sociology
Share an interest in many issues, such as violence, prejudice, cultural differences, and marriage.
Sociology tends to focus on the group level <-> social psychology tends to focus on the
Sociologists most often study the relation between people´s behaviors and societal variables,
such as social class <-> social psychologists are more likely to study the relation between
people´s behaviors and more specific, immediate variables, such as manipulations of
mood and exposure to particular models of behavior.