The field of social psychology
Social psychology is a scientific discipline that is aimed at understanding how individuals’ behaviour, motivations, thoughts, and feelings are influenced by other people, real or imagined. What is special about social psychology as compared to other (social) sciences is its strong focus on the study of the underlying, psychological mechanisms that intervene in social phenomena. Based on scientific research, social psychologists have advised policymakers in numerous projects at national, regional and organizational levels, addressing a large array of problems in the domain, for example, of health, politics, work and organizational behaviours, law, education and the environment. The potential contribution of social psychology in these areas is enormous. For instance, a great number of illnesses are due to human behaviour, as are the majority of environmental problems. Social psychology offers the potential to help improve human behaviour in these and other areas.
Common themes that are examined by social psychology include, for example, the workings of stereotyping and impression formation (e.g., how people form impressions and judgments about others), implicit influences (e.g., how social behaviour is influenced unconsciously), attitudes and persuasion (e.g., how one can change attitudes in others), interpersonal relations (e.g., what makes relationships healthy and stable), human cooperation (e.g., what are the determinants of selfish versus other-regarding behaviour), need for approval and affiliation (e.g., how people deal with social exclusion), intergroup processes (e.g., what are the causes of intergroup conflict and prejuduce), power differences (e.g., how do power differences affect social behaviour), and social performance (e.g., how others can promote or undermine our task motivation and behaviour). Importantly, social psychology shares interests for specific themes and methods with other disciplines and fields, such as cognitive science, experimental economics, consumer science, evolutionary science, neuroscience, organizational psychology, management science, marketing, sociology, political sciences, anthropology, educational sciences, and sport psychology and movement science.