Principles of Social Psychology

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Principles of Social Psychology

PSY 301

October 14, 2012

Principles of Social Psychology

Social psychology is the understanding of an individual’s behavior in a social context. It is the scientific field that focuses on the nature and causes of that individual’s behavior in social situations. It looks at the human behavior that has been influenced by others and in the social context with which it occurred. Social psychology pays attention to how feelings, thoughts, beliefs, intentions, and goals are constructed and how these factors influence our behavior and interactions with others. This paper will examine the principles of social psychology and help us to understand how these factors lead us to behave a certain way in the presence others (McCleod, 2007). Discovering the Self

How do we perceive ourselves and our interactions with others? Knowing how we view ourselves and other people is necessary in being able to understand how people behave in social situations. From a psychological point of view, there are two components when we talk about social situations. The first component is the way we view ourselves and our beliefs. It is important to understand how we act in social situations. The second component is how we perceive and form opinions about those around us (Saylor.org, n.d.).

Who am I? Self-concept is what you know about yourself. It is your overall mental understanding of who you are. It is formed through many different viewpoints. The main way it is formed is through your own behavior. A person may alter their self-concept around different actions they take. An example might be if you have just helped an elderly person with their grocery bags, you may think of yourself as a kind and helpful person. Another example could be that you saw the elderly person struggling with their groceries and you did not step in to help. Your perception of yourself has now changed to being a uncaring and selfish person. Your self-concept can continually change and mold around your daily actions (Catley, 2009).

Along with self-concept, we have self-schemas. Self-schemas are the structured knowledge of yourself. It organizes our self-concept or what we know about our self. Sometimes the term self-concept and self-schema are viewed as the same, but self-schemas help us to organize and use all the information we have about our self. An example of self-schema might be if you like to play instruments and sing, you would have a musical self-schema. If you had absolutely no interest in music, you would have a non-musical self-schema. If you had no preference towards music, this would be called aschematic which means without schema (Feenstra, 2011, p. 2.1).

While figuring out “who we are”, we develop self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-esteem is the overall evaluation of your qualities and how you feel about yourself. Self-esteem can range from very high to very low. Your self-esteem has a huge influence on your confidence level and your happiness. People with high self-esteem feel better about themselves and are more likely to take more risks and make more friends. They report to be smarter and better looking. They also tend to have more friends and more life opportunities. Those with low self-esteem are more vulnerable to suffering from depression. They are likely to not have as many friends ort take as many risks (Feenstra, 2011, p. 2.2). According the sociometer theory, our self- esteem is based on our social standing.

We evaluate our own ability. What we believe in our ability to do particular things is what makes up our self-efficacy. It is the evaluation of the qualities you possess. Having the belief that you can do something is typically good for us. People with higher self-efficacy tend to be more persistent and productive. An example of high self-efficacy might be if you believe you are a good runner, then you...
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