By: Virginia Gabbard
University of Phoenix
April 2, 2012
Kimberly Kinsey, PhD
Social psychology is the understanding of individual behavior in social environments. Per McLeod (2007) “the scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior in social situations.” Social psychology studies how human behavior is influenced by other individuals and within the social environment in which the behavior takes place (McLeod, 2007). This paper will provide the definition of social psychology. There will be an analysis of the four key characteristics of social psychology. Included will be an explanation of the concept of situationism and the role that it plays in social psychology. Lastly, will be the five core social motives and the explanation of how each core social motive affects the field of social psychology (University of Phoenix, 2010). The Four Key Characteristics
There are four key characteristics within the field of social psychology Per Fiske (2010) consists of most things in an individual’s life. S. Fiske (2012, p32) states that social psychology “is broad in scope, constitutes a culturally mandated source of knowledge, follows scientific methods, and reflects an ongoing search for wisdom,” which was the result of experiments conducted by Philip Brickman. Broad Scope of Social Psychology
Social psychology covers a broad amount of material and human concerns like conformity, deviance, altruism, and aggression, love and hate, self and groups of people, attitudes, and actions (Fiske, 2010, p32). Social psychology involves things in an individual’s life from emotions to trials in a public court room. Social psychology uses information obtained from economists, political scientists, researchers, health, legal scholars, education and other psychologists from other areas of psychology; this is why social psychology is such a broad field (Fiske, 2010).
Nonverbal behavior is a way to communicate with other people through body language and is taught to another person by mimicking the other individual’s body language. It is through nonverbal behavior that married couples begin to look alike after years of marriage as they begin to imitate the other spouse’s expressions, facial habits, and muscle groups. Another way to imitate another individual through nonverbal communication is by smiling or doing something that makes another person feel good; if individuals’ smile, the person being smiled at feels better as a smile reflects feeling good (Fiske, 2010). Culturally Mandated Source of Knowledge
The most important part of social psychology is thought to be cultural mandate which is the translation of our own understanding of behavior from a source of older language to a new one. Old language is thought to be from “religion, customs, laws, and etiquette (Fiske, 2010, p33). As individuals we need to have our explanation of behavior spoken in language we can understand which makes the language of science.
Social psychology is an accepted type of greater understanding much like the traditional ways of religion and fortune-telling did in past times. Social psychology provides the way of understanding and appreciating other cultures and its exercises. In some cultures, knowledge is accepted because it is culturally mandated while in other cultures, knowledge is only accepted by someone that has expertise in the area in question; such as psychology (Fiske, 2010).
Scientific methods are a vital part of social psychology in three ways: 1) Develop systematic theories and investigate the validity of the theory in order to advance scientific understanding in the areas of predicting why, logic, a way of avoiding excess and assist in more investigation (Fiske, 2010). 2) Social psychology depends on scientific...