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Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Social psychology involves the scientific study of how individuals perceive, influence, and relate to others.  The field relies on laboratory as well as field-based research methods in order to generate theories of social behavior.  Social psychologists study a wide range of topics and questions including:

Social perception: What affects the way we perceive ourselves and others?  Self and identity, attributions, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination

Social influence: How do we influence each other?  Attitudes, persuasion, conformity, group processes

Social relations: What causes us to like, love, help, and hurt others?   Attraction and close relationships, prosocial behavior, aggression

Social psychologists take an interactional approach to human behavior that emphasizes how both an individual’s internal characteristics (biology, personality) and external environment dynamically shape behavior in everyday settings.  Because behavior often has multiple causes, social psychologists use biological, neural, cultural, and environmental perspectives to unravel the mysteries and complexities of human social interaction. 

Social psychology has applications in many real-world domains, for example, education, business, government, health and well-being, sports, politics, law, and community development.

Professional Organizations in Social Psychology

Division 8 of the American Psychological Association – the Society for Personality and Social Psychology seeks to advance the progress of theory, basic and applied research, and practice in the field of personality and social psychology. Members are employed in academia and private industry or government, and all are concerned with how individuals affect and are affected by other people and by their social and physical environments.

The Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP):


The Society for Social Neuroscience:

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