Social Psychology

The primary goal of psychologists is to explain an individual’s behavior through the study of the mind.  In order to have a complete understanding of “why” an individual behaves in a certain, one must delve deep into all the makes up that individual.  These areas include, but are not limited to the environment, genetics, learning, cognition and society.  Social psychology is a relatively new field of study in which the impacts of others are considered in the development of certain behaviors an individual adopts (Meyers, 2010).  Social psychology is a discipline of science necessary to understand how behaviors develop and establish individualization among society.

Define social psychology

            Psychologists study the mental processes of the human mind in conjunction with the behavior and culture in order to gather an understanding of the reasons individuals behave in the manners that they portray (Kowalski, 2011).  Sociologists study the thoughts, relationships, and influences of society that impact the people within the society (Myers, 2010).   Social psychology is the scientific discipline aimed at the societal effects on an individual through the use of experimentation (Myers, 2010).  The primary goal is to learn how individuals impact one another by answering questions of perceptions, conformity, and beliefs that may persuade an individual’s development (Myers, 2010).  Social psychologists try to grasp an understanding of how society influences the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and emotions of an individual by studying social interaction, social influences, and social perceptions (Myers, 2010).

Differences from other disciplines

Sociology is primarily geared towards society as whole.  Sociologists are interested in the cultures and institutions that influence social and individualized behavior (Myers, 2010).  Social psychologists are interested in the variables that affect the individual behaviors within a society (Myers, 2010).  Sociologists attempt to explain behavior through little experimentation whereas psychologists look for, research, and conduct experimentation to gather evidence as to a more precise and scientific explanation of behavior (Myers, 2010).  Although the two studies are directly correlated and have similar ideas, both offer a different perspective on human behavior.

Personality psychology is often confused with social psychology as they both try to explain behavior; however they are both different disciplines deserving the same amount of respect.  Personality psychologists are geared toward finding what makes individuals unique, or what causes individuals to think and feel in certain manners that make up their personality.  Social psychologists look for answers about how individuals perceive and influence one another (Myers, 2010).  Personality psychologists focus on the individual differences among others, but social psychologists delve into the societal role that influences individuality (Myers, 2010).

Clinical psychology is the discipline of psychology that focuses on assessing and treating mental illness, behavioral dispositions, and other mental health issues (Kowalski, 2011).  Clinical psychologists refer to all necessary disciplines of psychology in order to establish a proper diagnosis and develop a therapy plan for individuals seeking mental help (Kowalski, 2011).  In this discipline, social psychology, ersonality psychology, cognitive psychology, geneticists, along with others are all utilized properly to treat an individual who experiences mental incapacities or discomfort (Kowalski, 2010).  Social psychology has a primary focus, whereas clinical psychology utilizes a variety of different disciplines to explain individual behavior.

Role of research

Research is utilized to prove a theory.  Social psychologists develop theories from ideas based on the way individuals think, influence, and how individuals feel about one another (Myers, 2010).  There are a number of scientific experimentation methods used in social psychology, all of which allow the theories to be tested in search of relationships between the different variables.  Most research is correlational through the use of surveys that may disconnect or connect two variables explaining the why of the relationship (Myers, 2010).  Another type of research used by social psychologists is experimentation that is usually able to explain the cause and effect between two variables that may influence behavior (Myers, 2010).  Due to the nature of the studies, it is vital that psychologists adhere to strict ethical guidelines and practices.  Adhering to ethical guidelines protects those involved in the research process (Myers, 2010).


Social psychology, although a newer discipline, has aided psychologists in explaining how society may influence an individual’s personality, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.  Although there are many similarities between social psychology and other defined disciplines of the science, social psychology aims to understand and explain the impact that society can have on individuals; the primary focus being how individual’s impact and define one another.  Through the use of ethical research and experimentation, answers are found.


Kowalski, R., & Westen, D.  (2011).  Psychology (6th ed.).  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Myers, D.  G.  (2010).  Social Psychology (10th ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.


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