Social psychology is the study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. People tend to change their beliefs and behaviors in response to group pressure. Conforming to a group hinders people from sharing their opinions, which can inhibit diversity and informed decision-making. Social factors that increase the likelihood of forming relationships include proximity and repeated exposure, which make it easier for people to get to know each other. Prosocial behavior and antisocial behavior are respectively associated with helping behavior and aggression. Social groups can influence a person's identity, self-esteem, and prejudices. Attitudes can be influenced by external and internal factors, including cognitive dissonance and persuasion.
At A Glance
Social psychology is the scientific exploration of social interactions, including the causes of social behavior and the impact of social forces on individuals.
- People change their behavior in response to group pressure to fit in, appear correct, or conform to an implied social role. Both individual and cultural factors influence conformity.
- Many people will follow orders given by an authority figure, even if it causes harm to others.
Groups influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in positive and negative ways. Group decision-making can lead to more extreme views and cause people to overlook obvious problems.
- People engage in prosocial behavior even when it causes some risk or loss for them. Social norms and environmental factors influence the likelihood of helping behavior.
- Proximity, repeated exposure, and similarity make relationships more likely to form.
- People are attracted to facial features and body types that indicate health and fertility. Passionate love tends to decline over time, but intimacy and commitment can increase with time.
- Men engage in more direct, physical aggression than women. Women tend to rely on indirect forms of aggression.
- People tend to have limited experiences with people from other social groups, which can lead to misperceptions. Thinking errors and biases lead to prejudice and discrimination.
Social cognition refers to how people select, interpret, and apply information about people and social situations.
- In the fundamental attribution error, people tend to overestimate the impact of personal traits and underestimate the role of situational factors.
- In the central route to persuasion, people evaluate messages carefully and focus on informational content. In the peripheral route, people make snap judgments based on surface aspects, such as attractiveness.
- Effective sales and persuasion techniques use social psychology principles to influence people's choices.