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1. Social psychology defined
2. Areas of social psychology
  • Social Cognition
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Influence
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Close Relationships
  • Social Health and Wellness
3. Sources

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1.Social psychology

Social psychology is the study of what people think about, how they influence, and how they relate to one another. It is the examination of perception, cognition, and emotion in a social setting by a psychologist.

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2. Areas of Social psychology

Social Cognition

Social Cognition is the way people think in social situations. It is the area of social psychology that explores how we select, interpret, store, and apply social information. It is closely related to cognitive psychology.

Person Perception

Person perception is the term given to the process by which individuals use social stimuli to form impressions of other people. We use person perception to draw conclusions about and make judgements on other people. It is usually based on the primacy effect, which is essentially the first impression.


A stereotype is a generalization about the characteristics of a group. It does not consider any variations from person to person, but groups all as a whole. Instead of understanding individuals, we simplify the process by grouping them together into categories which we find familiar.

Self-fulfilling Prophesy

This can sometimes work hand in hand with a stereotype. Self-fulfilling prophecies are characterized by expectations, be they positive or negative, that cause an individual to act in ways that make those expectations come to fruition.

Attribution Theory

Attribution is defined as the process by which one comes to understand the cause of others' behavior and form an impression of them as individuals. The Attribution theory a view that states that people are motivated to discover the underlying causes of behavior in their effort to make sense of that behavior. It is characterized by three dimensions:
  • Internal/External Causes
  • Stable/Unstable Causes
  • Controllable/ Uncontrollable Causes

However, this theory is not quite perfect.

Fundamental Attribution Error

An observer might overestimate the importance of internal traits and underestimate the importance of external situations in their attempts to explain an individual's behavior.
False Consensus Effect
When an observer overestimates the degree to which other people think or act the way they do.


Self-esteem is defined as the degree to which we have positive or negative feelings about ourselves. We tend to place high esteem in areas in which we are most successful and low esteem in areas where we are least successful.
Positive Illusions
The positive views of the self that aren't necessarily rooted in reality.

Self-serving Bias

The human tendency to take credit for our successes and deny responsibility for our failures.
When one tends to see one-self as an object in the eyes of others.

Stereotype Threat

When an individual is aware of the stereotypical expectations of them. It is an individual's self-fulfilling fear of being judged based on any negative stereotypes about that individual's group.
Social Comparison
This is how we evaluate our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and abilities in relation to other people. It helps us to evaluate ourselves, shows us our distinct characteristics, and helps us in the construction of our identity. We can even comfort ourselves by comparing ourselves to others who are less fortunate or successful.


Attitudes are defined as our beliefs, feelings, and opinions about people, objects and ideas. Attitudes can guide behavior, and inversely, behavior can guide our attitudes.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

The theory that we feel psychological discomfort when our beliefs are inconsistent with our actions. We move towards consistency and away from inconsistency.

Self-perception Theory

Daryl Bem's theory on the way attitudes are influenced by behaviors. It states that we infer our attitudes by perceiving our own behaviors and the context in which they occur.

Elaboration Likelihood Model

The theory that identifies the two methods of persuasion: central route and peripheral route.
Central Route
The direct approach to persuasion, using sound, logical arguments.
Peripheral Route
Indirect factors, such as reputation, attractiveness, and emotional appeals.

Social Behavior

Social cognition gives way to social behavior. We not only think socially, but behave socially as well. Social behavior is essentially social cognition put into action.


One of the extremes of social behavior. It is the unselfish helping of another person, putting others before oneself. It is represented by selflessness, unlike egoism.


Like altruism, it involves giving to others, but it is far from selfless. Egoism is when we give to others in the hopes of receiving something in return, be it self-esteem or some other sort of reciprocity. People do it to present themselves as powerful, competent or caring, and sometimes only do it in order to live up to society's expectations of them. The main point is, egoism focuses on the self.


Empathy is an important aspect of altruism. It is one's ability to put oneself in another's situation, or rather, a feeling of oneness with another person's emotional state.

Bystander Effect

Quite different from altruism, the bystander effect occurs when more than one person is observing an emergency. An individual is less likely to help if there are others present, usually because they feel that "someone else will take care of it". A bystander is more likely to help if they are the only one around who can help.


Another extreme in the social behavior spectrum, it is the social behavior that has the objective to harm. Aggression can come in physical or verbal form, and can cause physical or emotional damage. Aggression can stem from genetics, microbiological factors, and even psychological influences.
Frustration is the blocking of one's attempts to reach a goal, and it is understood that frustration can easily give way to aggression.
Observational Learning
Individuals can learn aggression through the reinforcement of observational learning. We can even be influenced my violent images in the media, news, movies, and video games.

Social Influence

Social influence is defined as change in an individual’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behaviors that results from interaction with another individual or a group. Social influence is distinct from conformity, power, and authority.
When a person or group uses any type of social power to change the attitudes or behavior of others in a particular direction, they have used social influence. For example, a persuasive argument might be even more effective if your teacher (an authority figure with social power) is an expert on a topic as opposed to just having some knowledge about the topic. If the teacher is able to change your attitude in the direction of the argument, they have used a type of social influence.
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The discipline of social psychology began at the dawn of the twentieth century. Landmark moments include the publication of Charles Horton Cooley's "Human Nature and Social Order" in 1902, which sought to explain the social order by use of the concept of a looking-glass self. The first textbooks in social psychology would be published six years later by E. A. Ross and William McDougall.
John Stuart Mill, Auguste Comte and others laid the foundation for social psychology by asserting that human social cognition and behavior could and should be studied scientifically like any other natural science.

Intergroup Relations

Intergroup emotions theory seeks to understand and improve intergroup relations by focusing on the emotions engendered by belonging to, and by deriving identity from, a social group (processes called self-categorization and identification). Intergroup emotions are shaped by the very different ways in which members of different groups see group-relevant objects and events. These emotions come, with time and repetition, to be part and parcel of group membership itself. Once evoked, specific intergroup emotions direct and regulate specific intergroup behaviors. This approach has implications for theories of emotion as well as of intergroup relations. Because intergroup emotions derive from self-categorization and identification and because they strongly influence intergroup behavior, intergroup emotions theory provides an innovative framework for attempts to reduce prejudice and improve intergroup relations.


Muzafer Sherif's view of science derived from early works, such as Einstein's and Infeld's The Evolution of Physics published in 1942. Sherif held that his concern focused on the how rather than the what in regards to cognition. Although probabilistic thinking influenced Sherif, he seldom found opportunities to apply statistical tests to his data because the data tended to be overwhelmingly conclusive even without statistical evaluation (Koslin, Sills [ed], 1979).
The research of Sherif built a base for most of the understanding we have today about the nature of groups and its members. One famous theory, developed by Sherif in 1961, became known as the Realistic Conflict Theory which accounts for inner group conflict, negative prejudices, and stereotypes as a result of actual competition between groups for desired resources. Sherif validated his theory in one his most famous experiments, "The Robber's Cave (Cialdini, Kenrick, Neuberg,1999)."

Social Wellness and Close Relationships

The process of creating and maintaining healthy relationships through choices we make. It embraces relationships at home, work, through friendships, and all the people in our present and future. This social dimension encourages the human race. It contributes to our human and physical environment for the common welfare of our community. There are seven aspects of wellness. Social wellness is one of the major of them.

How can we balance our social life and personal life?

Maintain healthy relationships. It is vital to how we feel and plays an important part in our lives. It is vital to expressing how we feel.
Important? Why?

  1. It helps us vent to others. (friends, family, co-workers etc.)
  2. Supports us through hardships. (deaths, in search of work, life changing events etc.)
  3. Helps us share joy. (new baby, new home, advances in life etc.)
  4. Helps us share sorrow and grief. (deaths, loss of income, loss of stability etc.)

*If we can balance and keep a healthy wellness our relationships will grow, prevail and bring happiness to others.
Including: family, all loved ones, co-workers, and people we interact with on a daily basis. We can avoid loneliness
and depression and live healthier lives. Some pointers to follow are to be constantly learn new healthy life skills,
always be aware and conscious of our own decisions and address the negative and positive aspects of our lives.

*Stress and anxiety can interfere with our social wellness. This includes, economics (lack of money or excess of money).

Some of these relationships include attraction and love and intimacy.

Mere Exposure Effect
The phenomenon that the more we encounter someone or something, the more probable it is that we will start liking the person or thing even if we do not realize we have seen before.
Our proximity, acquaintance, and similarity we have with someone is what attracts them to us. The more we see someone on a constant level the more likely we will become attracted. Our acquaintance with someone could lead to attraction along with having things in common or sharing similarities with others. Being alike with our friends and lovers validates our actions. behaviors and emotions.

If attraction continues it is likely we move in stages in friendships and love.

As our love matures, passionate love tends to give way to affectionate love.
Bellow are considered two types of love.

Romantic love- also called passionate love; love with strong components of sexuality and infatuation, often dominant in the early part of a relationship.
Affectionate love- also called passionate love; love that occurs when individuals desire to have another person near and have a deep, caring affection for the person.

This is based on the notion of social relationships as involving in an exchange of good, the objective of which is to minimize costs and maximize our benefits.

3. Sources
The Science of Psychology, edition 2. King, Laura A.