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Social Psychology

Social Psychology


Psychology meets Sociology


Social psychology is the study of the mind and mental processes with emphasis on social interactions, focusing on the ways our actions influence others, and vice versa.


Social psychology is a hybrid discipline, a combination of psychology and sociology.  Psychology is the microscopic study of human mental and emotional patterns at a personal level.  Social psychologists will take those findings, assumptions, theories and behavior models and study how they cause people to interact with their social environment and how psychological makeup can affect a person’s social environment.


Basic research in personality and social psychology tends to focus on fundamental questions about people and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  What causes us to fall in love, hate our neighbor, or join with others to clean our neighborhoods?  How does culture shape who we become and how we interact with one another? Questions such as these are fundamental to the functions of humans as social animals


 Social Psychology – Research and Practice


Social psychologists examine people’s interactions with others and with the social surroundings as a whole. Some of the career choices in the field include organizational consultation, marketing research, systems design, or other applied psychology fields. Prominent areas of study include group behavior, leadership, creation of collective attitudes, etc.


When basic research in personality and social psychology is applied it focuses on more narrow arenas of human life, such as health, business, and law. By employing the lessons learned from basic research, and by searching for insights specific to particular domains, social psychologists get involved in some very pragmatic issues involving improving our working and social environments.


Personality and social psychologists contribute to areas as diverse as health, business, law, the environment, education, and politics. For example, personality and social psychologists have become major players in the human resources field; designing and implementing programs to help employers hire and train better workers. Other applications include to making it easier for people with cancer to cope successfully with their challenge; to increase the likelihood that people will reduce pollution by relying on public transportation; to reduce prejudices and intergroup conflict both in the classroom and in international negotiations; and to make computers and other technologies more user-friendly.


The fact that social psychologists have been called on in the research and development phases of these diverse areas of endeavor make it clear that the this particular segment of psychology has become a valued component in business, product development, public service and diplomacy.  That is a remarkable range of consumer-level applications, so to speak, of an academic and clinical discipline.  Psychologists are thought of as counselors and researchers.  The reach that social scientists have made into, for example, building a better Graphical Use Interface for a computer speaks to the sophistication of today’s product development and marketing teams in the corporate world.


Academic Requirements for Social Psychologists


Psychologists are licensed by the state and are held to rigorous standards of clinical hours to be spent during the course of study and post-doctoral internship.  There is an exam as well.  There are a couple of recognized certification bodies for social psychologists, which might be of some value to a psychologist beginning in the field and soliciting corporate clients.  About sixty percent of all psychologists are self employed.
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