Saturday, July 21, 2012

Social Psychology

            How many times has one contemplated why one reacts the way one does?  It seems to be in ones nature to ask various questions and seek answers to the actions.  There are any different aspects of the psychology field that attempt to answer these very questions.  For example biopsychology studies the factors of one’s brain as well as genetic predisposition when addressing human behavior.  Social psychology however, coincides with other branches of psychology does emphasis on different results.  Social psychology centers on a comprehension of human actions.  Social psychology attempts to answer such questions as, why does one pass someone who is struggling with groceries? What caused a man to cruelly kill so many innocent folks on September 11?  Social psychology does not only aid in one’s understanding of psychology, but it has the ability to answer questions that any one may have about him or herself.  Social psychology only scratches the surface when psychology in general is the concentration (Myers, 2010).
Defining Social Psychology
            Social psychology is a science just as astronomy, biology, earth sciences or even chemistry.  As with any of these, there are subdivisions of each of the sciences, and psychology falls the same category.  In other words, social psychology deliberates how one’s thought and behaviors and feelings leave imprints on others.  Social psychology still is relativity new when looking at the history of other fields.  If one researches the beginnings of social psychology, one can look as far back as Rene’ Descartes and Aristotle.  These philosophers were concerned with human socialism, the importance others have in everyday life (Fiske, 2004).
            Social psychology can be related to sociology.  Sociology is the study of social behavior, and in the broad field the study of the human dynamic.  Social psychology takes it a step further and recognizes that social reality is different.  What may be completely normal to one may seem abnormal to another.  Social psychology has pro’s and con’s.  It can easily keep someone from harming himself or herself or someone else, while it can prevent someone from achieving a goal because it may be seen as different.  Either way, social psychology is mindful of its role in social influences.  Since humans are social beings, it can influence the way one behaves or thinks.  Social psychology takes into consideration one’s attitude, and one’s disposition when an attempt is made to analyze the action that will or has occurred.  They are as varied as people are different.  How one will react to a situation may not be the same in the next person in that same situation.  Social psychology agrees that is beginnings come from biology.  How one can be have can be determined from previous ancestors.    It can be stated that social psychology is prevalent in every situation in life.  Psychologists in this field study tactics, and come to conclusions based on questions they have obtained over facts.  Some can testify that social psychologists point out the obvious, but those who study psychology know that obvious is only that once it is researched.  The main focus of social psychology is to study others so there is a comprehension level of why he or she did a certain action (Myers, 2010).
Defining the differences
            It is important to have different avenues that one can use to draw various conclusions.  Since there is often confusion between social psychology and sociology there needs to be a clear definition.  Just as biopsychology plays a role in understanding how the brain works and how the neurotransmitters send and receive information, social psychology is the same way.  Social psychology does not abide by a theory it does however, focus on one’s attitudes and behaviors and how they influence the environment as well as reviewing how the brain manipulates behavior.  One’s values and how they have evolved over time and in what way have those values affected others based on ones reactions are what social psychology is interested in.  Clinical and social psychology are also different in that the attention is focused on the cure and prevention of dysfunctions from various psychological disorders.  This psychology focus on the relationships one has with others.  General psychology is also different as it is studies all practices in a general way rather than going into a deeper perception as is done in social psychology.  It must be noted, that all of the studies of psychology overlap in one form or fashion.  It still needs to be stated that sociology would be labeled as the closest discipline to social psychology as it takes into consideration people and their individuality.  There is a difference between the two.  Social Psychology: Goals in Interaction states:  “that social psychology is the study of thoughts feelings and one’s behaviors that are influenced by others” (Cialdini, Kendrick & Neuberg, 2007 p. 5) and sociology is labeled as “the study of one’s social behavior and human groups” (Schaefer, 2006 p.3).
Social Psychology Research
            Research, as with any subject, is extremely important especially in the field of social psychology, because it confirms what is propositioned and then presumed based on that proposition.  As with any research, a psychologist will begin with a hypothesis.  This gives the research a parameter to work and test data (Schaefer, 2006).  Even though there may be a difference in the way the information is gathered, either by a controlled situation or laboratory or in uncontrolled situation or field study.  Either way, the collection method will vary, but it can be between a correlation or an experimental research.  Correlation research is reveals how two variables occur together.  It is important to know that correlation only leaves suggestions and does not allow someone to draw assumptions about an outcome.  Either research method that is used, the experimental one is the most reliable because it allows for cause and effect (Myers, 2010). 
            It is noted that social psychology plays a significant role in the vast field of psychology along side cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, and biopsychology, just to suggest a few.  Each psychologist will have his or her own preference when approaching an issue.  Regardless of the preference, they must conduct research and verify results.  One cannot say one is more significant than another, as they all are important in various ways.  One just need to understand the preferred methods so we can comprehend why one does what they do.

Cialdini, R., Kenrick, D., & Neuberg, S. (2007). Social Psychology: Goals in Interaction.
            Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Fiske, S. (2004). Social Beings. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Myers, D. G. (2010). Social Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Schaefer, R. (2006). Sociology: A Brief Introduction . New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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