Social psychology is the study of our thoughts, emotions and general behaviour. It largely covers how we humans are influenced or manipulated. Social influences can lead to prejudices, it can influence our perceptions of the world and the people in it, the decisions we make and it can influence whether somebody becomes a leader or follower and generally what type of person they become.
The history of social psychology
During the late eightieth century and early ninetieth century Hegal was realizing the connection between society and peoples thoughts and beliefs.
Mid ninetieth century Lazarus & Steinthal were writing about a human collective mind which is influenced by society and culture.
The first book about social psychology written in English was published in 1908 by McDougall.
Research and study of social psychology increased during the mid twentieth century after world war II. During the war there was much evidence that showed the huge effect that social influence could have on a large scale. Horrific atrocities have occurred and been accepted by people conforming to social or societal influences.
Experiments in SP
Various studies and experiments were conducted in the 1930s. These studies included how people reacted to different methods of leadership, noting which methods were the most influential and successful.
Other studies focused more on the influence of societies and rules. How strongly did people follow societal norms.
Social Psychology Misconceptions
Social psychology is often mistaken for sociology or personality psychology.
Personality psychology looks more at individual personality traits as suppose to social psychology which is more aimed at social and societal influences on the individual or group and how it affects behaviour.
Sociology looks at a wider view of social influence, it focuses more on the cultural influences on people such as religious beliefs. They are similar however they do focus on different areas and types of influence.
- Introduction to social psychology by Miles Hewstone, Wolfgang Strobe and Klaus Jonas.
- Social Psychology by David Myers.
Social psychology is a very interesting subject which affects us all even if we are not consciously aware of it. The truth is it has a massive influence on everyone. It helps people to be social and to get along.
A negative side to social influence is it can be very damaging depending on what is considered normal, plus it can lead to a lack of individuality and free thinking.
So how much are you being influenced by others and society?