Why Is a Social Psychology Perspective Needed to Explain Human Thought, Feeling and Behavior?

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Running Head: IMPORTANCE OF A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY PERSPECTIVE

Why is a social psychology perspective needed to explain human thought, feeling and behavior?

Human thoughts feelings and behavior are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. While other branches of psychology tend to focus on understanding an individual’s mind and consequent behavior, social psychology offers a broad perspective on the forces that operate on individuals and cause them to engage in specific examples of social behavior. Social psychology is an attempt to understand and explain how the thought, feelings and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. (Allport,1954). “Imagined” or “implied” suggests that we are prone to social influence even when no one else is present, such as when watching television, or following internalized cultural norms. This essay stands to show how knowledge and understanding of the overarching themes of social psychology, social perception, social influence and social interaction, are needed to explain human thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Everyone invests a great deal in how others perceive and evaluate us. Not always in the same situations, but at some point or another individuals are generally conscious and careful of how they present themselves. Social perception consists of perceptual and cognitive processes that produce and sustain our conceptions of others. Within situations persons may portray different faces which are influenced by interactions. Self presentation then is how an individual wants to be conceived. Two main motives of self presentation are: to please the audience, and to construct a public image. (Baumeister,1982) For example, when we decide to wear a shirt and tie to work even though there is a laid-back dress code, we are probably operating with the motive of constructing the ‘ideal’ image of self we want others to see and evaluate. Even persons...
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