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A Study of Social Psychology

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      Sanderson (2010) defines social psychology as the scientific study of how the feelings, behaviors, and thoughts of people are influenced by imagined, implied, or actual presence of other people. Social psychology involves empirical techniques during the process of investigation (Sanderson, 2010). Feelings, behaviors, and thoughts are the measurable psychological variables in human beings. The implied or imagined presence suggests that human beings are subjected to socialization even without the presence of other people, such as during watching movies, or when an individual follows interiorized cultural norms (Sanderson, 2010). Social psychologists usually explain the behavior of human beings as the interaction between contiguous social situations and mental states (Sanderson, 2010). Social psychology is known as an interdisciplinary field that bridges the gap between sociology and psychology (Craig, Francis, and Robbins, 2007). Characteristics of social psychology, the concept of situation, and the core social motives in the field of social psychology will be considered in this discussion.      

Characteristics of social psychology

      The four key characteristics of social psychology include cultural mandate, search for wisdom, broad scope, and scientific methods (Sanderson, 2010). Social psychology characterized by cultural mandate because it keeps evolving following the changes in culture as well as the change of motives for influence between cultures (Sanderson, 2010). It has been shown by psychological research that culture plays an important role in determining how individuals are going to behave and react in a given set of circumstances (Silver & Miller, 2003). Just like the influence of culture in musical styles, dressing styles, foods, and popular beliefs, culture determines how an individual is affected by the society (Silver & Miller, 2003). Social psychology provides scientific expertise that is required by modern lawmakers, courts, policy analysts, educators, healthcare providers, businesspeople, journalists, and managers (Fiske, 1992). Social psychology is accepted culturally as source of important understanding, just like traditions, fortune-telling, or religions are important other places and time (Fiske, 1992). In the contemporary society, social psychology has been culturally mandated as a form of knowledge that is accepted.        

      Social psychology is concerned with searching for wisdom as an attempt to explain the condition of human beings (Sanderson, 2010). As a science, the ethical goal of social psychology is to improve the condition of human beings. Social psychology is also aimed at looking for the solutions to practical problems such as the groupthink and phenomenon (Silver & Miller, 2003). It is important to obtain knowledge, but wisdom provides social psychology with the platform for the practical application which is necessary to improve the lives of human beings (Sanderson, 2010). Broad scope is a characteristic that is apparent in social psychology because of the fact that social psychology is a topic which covers many aspects of socialization over the behavior of human beings in a society. Since social influence is varied, social psychology can be divided into numerous categories of study.      

      When properly deployed, scientific methods are very crucial in scientific studies such as psychology. Scientists entirely depend on the scientific methods to create theories, apply research practices, and test hypotheses that adhere to techniques, procedures, and standards so as to acquire accurate knowledge on the basis of empirical research. Social psychology just like other kinds of scientific study entirely depends on scientific explanations. Cultural mandate, search for wisdom, broad scope, and scientific methods are considered as the key characteristics of social psychology and it is important to note but they have not been considered as the only characteristics.

The concept of situation    

      In the field of social psychology a situation is defined as the way in which an individual relates to his or her immediate environment (Yang, Read, & Miller, 2006). A situation can be favorable or unfavorable depending on how people perceive their environmental conditions. When an individual socializes well with other people in the society, he or she considers the situation as favorable. Unfavorable situation come into existence when an individual does not socialize with other people appropriately. A society can function in a healthy way when its members develop sound relationships between themselves. In the field of social psychology, it has been found that the presence of socialization agents such as people or television is very crucial (Sanderson, 2010). Situation plays a significant role in the field of social psychology as determining socialization between members of the society.  

Core social motives

      The five social motives include controlling, understanding, belonging, trusting, and enhancing self (Fiske, 1992). Core social motives depict fundamental psychological processes that facilitate people’s feeling, behaving, and thinking in various situations that involve other people (Fiske, 1992).  Fiske (1992) considers belonging as the most significant core social motive while the remaining four core social motives are said to facilitate, or enhance effective functioning within social groups. Sanderson (2010) defines belonging as the need for stable and strong relationships within human society. Individuals are motivated to bond and affiliate with each other. Since in the field of social psychology feelings, behaviors, and thoughts of individuals are influenced by the presence of others, a sense of belongingness positively affects social psychology.  

      As a core social motive, understanding is defined as the ability to possess adequate information about an individual to be able to precisely explain their characteristics and behaviors, accept their differences, or show compassion and tolerance in one’s judgment or actions towards them based on the perceptivity that the possessed information provides into their being (Fiske, 1992). Adequate understanding ensures a stable and strong relationship between individuals within the society (Sanderson, 2010). When people are able to create precise social understanding they will not experience feelings of shame and doubt as far as society functioning and social relationships are concerned. Therefore, understanding contributes to social psychology because it facilitates socialization between people.    

      Controlling is a core social motive that enabled people to be motivated to feel effective and competitive in their relations with the inanimate and animate environment. Therefore, controlling affects social psychology by enhancing socialization between individuals. Enhancing self is a core social motive that enables people to see themselves as worthy socially (Fiske, 1992). Due to self enhancement, people can socialize well without a feeling of shame. Since self enhancement promotes socialization, it positively affects social psychologically. Finally, trusting is a core social motive that enables people to view the society as benevolent and therefore it facilitates participation in various group activities without unreasonable vigilance or suspicion (Fiske, 1992). It is apparent that trust directly affects social psychology because it enhances socialization between individuals.


      It has been found that social psychology is a scientific study of the feelings, behaviors, and thoughts of an individual in the presence of other people in the society (Sanderson, 2010). Therefore, social psychology basically deals with socialization between individuals within their society. Social psychology is characterized by cultural mandate, searching for wisdom, having a broad scope, and employing scientific methods (Sanderson, 2010). In the field of social psychology the concept of situation determines socialization between members of the society (Yang, Read, & Miller, 2006. Social psychology is significantly affected by five social motives, namely controlling, understanding, trusting, belonging and enhancing self.

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