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Social Psychology

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Social Psychology

Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.

Social psychology has continued to grow throughout the twentieth century, inspiring research that has contributed to our understanding of social experience and behavior. Our social world makes up such a tremendous part of our lives, so it is no wonder that this topic is so fascinating to many.

Social psychology is the scientific study of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people or by social norms.[1] Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the relationship between mental states and social situations, studying the social conditions under which thoughts, feelings, and behaviors occur, and how these variables influence social interactions.[2]

Although issues in social psychology have been discussed in philosophy for much of human history,[3] the scientific discipline of social psychology formally began in the late 19th to early 20th century.[4]

In the 19th century, social psychology began to emerge from the larger field of psychology. At the time, many psychologists were concerned with developing concrete explanations for the different aspects of human nature. They attempted to discover concrete cause-and-effect relationships that explained social interactions. In order to do so, they applied the scientific method to human behavior.[5] The first published study in the field was Norman Triplett's 1898 experiment on the phenomenon of social facilitation.[6] These psychological experiments later went on to form the foundation of much of 20th century social psychological findings.

During World War II, social psychologists were mostly concerned with studies of persuasion and propaganda for the U.S. military (see also psychological warfare). Following the war, researchers became interested in a variety of social problems, including issues of gender and racial prejudice. During the years immediately following World War II, there were frequent collaborations between psychologists and sociologists. The two disciplines, however, have become increasingly specialized and isolated from each other in recent years, with sociologists generally focusing on high-level, large-scale examinations of society, and psychologists generally focusing on more small-scale studies of individual human behaviors.[7]

By the 1980s and 1990s, social psychology had developed a number of solutions to these issues with regard to theory and methodology.[9] At present, ethical standards regulate research, and pluralistic and multicultural perspectives to the social sciences have emerged. Most modern researchers in the 21st century are interested in phenomena such as attribution, social cognition, and self-concept.[10] Social psychologists are, in addition, concerned with applied psychology, contributing towards applications of social psychology in health, education, law, and the workplace.[11]

In social psychology, an attitude is a learned, global evaluation that influences thought and action.[12][page needed] Attitudes are basic expressions of approval and disapproval or likes and dislikes. For example, enjoying chocolate ice cream or endorsing the values of a particular political party are examples of attitudes.[13] Because people are influenced by multiple factors in any given situation, general attitudes are not always good predictors of specific behavior. For example, a person may generally value the environment but may not recycle a plastic bottle because of specific factors on a given day.

Social cognition studies how people perceiv


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