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Defining Social Psychology

By Rachael37 Oct 23, 2014 1414 Words

Defining Social Psychology
Social Psychology is the foundation, framework, and structure in which one’s world exists. Its understanding coupled with the relational values applied to the human race allow for the success and coexistence of each other. Fiske 2010, uses the example in the textbook of how the author instructed his students to fold his or her syllabus a certain way. The students complied because they were instructed to do so and because they were in a classroom with an instructor watching them. Those who have online instructors and textbooks probably would not have done as the textbook requested. Social psychology does affect trivial and important behavior. Actual presence is when a person does or does not partake in an action. For example, say that 3 out of 4 children are taunting another child. The actual event of the children bullying another child may result in the 4th child joining in. This is when an actual event is happening and it influences another’s reaction to do or not to do. Imagined presence can be in the form of a well-known real estate agent showing commercial property to investors who include Donald Trump. The agent could have anxiety anticipating negative vibes from Donald Trump. “People are influenced by their imagination and they monitor their own behavior against the imagined reactions of other people” (Fiske, 2010, p. 4). Implied presence of others can take on forms of social artifacts that imply the interests of a person, (Fiske, 2010). At a table setting, a person’s purse and plate of food could imply someone is occupying the space. By seeing the visuals it directs one’s thinking that the place setting is occupied. Key Characteristics of Social Psychology

According to Fiske (2010), there are four key characteristics of social psychology. The first characteristic deals with a broad scope of topics within social psychology. These topics include the human concern for conformity, aggression, love, attitudes, and actions yet it cannot be limited as it addressed human behavior, and the role of certain individuals who are connected either personally, spiritually, or through business. Next is cultural mandate which helps an individual understand who he or she is to become in his or her life as well as understanding the role he or she plays within the culture. Cultural mandate plays a major role in personality development as it translates from the older language to a more modern and sophisticated language. Allport tells us that in the not too distant past, if we wanted to predict what someone would do or explain why they would do it, we would speak in religious terms or in terms of tradition (Allport, 1947), allowing the individual to develop based on what others believed he or she would become. Another characteristic is scientific method; it is used in social psychology to gain a reliable measure of knowledge (Fiske, 2010). The scientific method presents facts in regards to human behavior and how it relates to the environment they are in. The last characteristic of social psychology is wisdom. Wisdom brings together the other characteristics by compiling all the knowledge, facts, and understanding of social psychology and builds behavior. According to Allport, (2010), wisdom comprises knowledge about people and the world, combined with enduring moral, intellectual, and social concerns that together make sense in the social context of people’s lived experience. The four characteristics as outlined by Fiske are interdependent upon in which society changes the characteristics and methods may change as well. The scientific methods used years ago for research have evolved as society’s wisdom and knowledge have evolved. The cultural mandate influences this as well. For example, in the late 1800s women were institutionalized for hysteria, or given a hysterectomy as a cure for hysteria. Concept of Situationism

Situationism is the theory in which individuals behave according to the situations he or she experienced or are experiencing. Despite the individual’s moral values or personal traits, when faced with a situation, he or she may conform to the situation or environment they are exposed to. Individuals need other people in their lives and because of this need, this will influence how they think, feel, and behave. Because social psychology involves one’s internal and external environment, researchers need to study an individual’s situation to better understand how one responds to various situations. Situationism also gives people the insight to understand the how and why people behave a certain way. People usually explain other’s behavior in terms of personality (Fiske, 2010). There are many examples of situationism. One that comes to mind is a person who may appear to be odd to others because the person is always in their house and never does anything social. They go to work and rarely talk to coworkers and then migrate to their home. To many that is odd behavior because of the social nature in today’s society but they may be as happy as the next person who meets out for drinks and goes to entertainment events. It is just a choice by that person to live that lifestyle. Social psychologists emphasize situations as opposed to personalities for four reasons: ordinary people rely too much on personality in explaining behavior, ordinary people underestimate or overlook the power of situations, the nonscientists think personality is easy to assess and routinely use it to predict and explain behavior and last, the common people reliant on personality instead of the power of situations in explaining behaviors can be right but is incomplete (Fiske, 2010). Situationism or the belief in the power of social contexts, and the five core social motives, both contribute major intellectual bases for social psychology. Core Social Motives

By nature, people want to belong when they are with groups. They are willing to connect with others by adapting and changing their own behaviors in order to conform. This allows them to gain a sense of understanding, control, trust, and self-enhancing. These motives help people develop their personalities through a sense of social survival. The core social motives fit social evolutionary pressures that locate people in relationships, groups, and communities (Fiske, 2010). Self-enhancing and trust are codependent and couple the understanding and controlling in the social framework. They allow the individual to survive the new social environment by taking his or her self- worth and security and trusting their self and those around. The effect of these core attributes in social psychology are extremely important so that the clinician may evaluate these attributes along with any defense mechanisms and guide the client with the proper tools and understanding in developing cognitive skills so that the client may adapt and function. Within the realm of social psychology understanding these five attributes provide for the development of policies and principles to be implemented within a social framework such as a workplace, school or community. The motive of self-enhancement is to maintain self-esteem or become motivated for self- improvement. Kamtekar, (2004) explains that the idea that we need other people is for basic survival that underlies the development of some core social motives that interact with the social situations to help people survive in groups (p. 464). Self-enhancement is an effort to become recognized as a member of a specific group. The motive of self-enhancement underlies the fear of rejection by group one belongs and assurance that membership to the group is maintained (Fiske, 2010, p. 23). People who view the world as tenderhearted are more apt to involve themselves with group activities with little fear of suspicion. People coming from this perspective pervade cognitive, emotional, and behavioral outlook that is implemented by trust. Conclusion

There are many fields of psychology that have been designed and implemented for the understanding of human behavior and actions. These fields are ultimately for the betterment of an individual so she or she may cope, adapt, and overcome obstacles and environmental defense mechanisms that may prevent a quality of life. Social psychology serves as the catalysts that enable individuals, to act and react to other individuals, and the environment in which they are in. Many times people rely on others to find happiness, love, support, and to live. References

Fiske, S. T. (2010) Social beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Allport, G. W. (1947). Scientific models and human morals. Psychological Review, 54(4), 182-192. Kamtekar, R. (2004). Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character. Ethics, 114(3), pp. 458-491.

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