Social psychology

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The social psychology is a branch of psychology and sociology , that the impact of actual or imagined presence of others explored the experience and behavior of the individual ( Gordon Allport 1968).

Two fundamental axioms of social psychology are:

  1. People construct their own reality.
  2. The entire experience and behavior is influenced by social relationships .

History of Social Psychology

Two different strands of development can be identified in social psychology:

  • the sociological social psychology, which was developed especially in Europe as a branch of sociology and
  • the psychological social psychology that was developed in the US and has established itself in Europe.

The difference between the two approaches is that sociological social psychology is more focused on group processes , while psychological social psychology is more focused on the individual .

The sociological Social Psychology is operated frequently theorielastig and constituted as humanities and social sciences . Appropriate approaches are z. B. Critical Theory , which also includes psychoanalytic ideas. The psychoanalysts working in social psychology include Sigmund Freud , Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm . Within the Frankfurt School , theodor W. Adorno ( studies on authoritarian character ) and Herbert Marcuse ( instinctual structure and society ) should be mentioned in particular . The works of Slavoj Žižek and others follow on from Lacanian psychoanalysis .

The psychological social psychology explored in the broadest sense, the impact of social interactions on thoughts, feelings and behavior of the individual ( "to attempt to understand and explain how the thought, feeling and behavior of worth individuals are Influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others" , Allport 1968). Quantitative forms of investigation , especially the experiment , confirm their self-image as a natural science . Kurt Lewin is considered the founder of modern social psychology .

However, the boundary between the two perspectives is becoming increasingly blurred due to the application of quantitative and qualitative methods in both disciplines. More recent interdisciplinary efforts to bring the social and natural sciences together in the so-called human sciences reinforce this tendency.

In February 2017, with the retirement of the psychoanalytic social psychologist Rolf Pohl, the opportunity to study social psychology at the University of Hanover ended.

Research areas

The research area of ​​social psychology includes countless different subject areas.

One of these is social perception , the process by which information about a person's individual characteristics is absorbed, collected and interpreted. Social perception also includes attribution theories (which deal with explanations for our own behavior and the behavior of other people), the theory of corresponding inference (which assumes that viewers infer corresponding intentions from observed behavior) and covariation theory (the one Explains how people assess and evaluate different causes of an observed action).

Another central topic within social psychology is social cognition . This tries to understand how we think about ourselves and about other people and how the processes involved influence our behavior and our judgment in social situations. The distinction between automatic and controlled (thought) processes is important in research into social cognition. An automatic process is a process that occurs unintentionally and unconsciously, which does not interfere with simultaneous cognitive processes. A controlled process, on the other hand, is a process that is intentionally brought about, which is very complex and takes place consciously. So-called stereotypes , i.e. cognitive structures that contain our knowledge and our expectations towards other social groups of people, also play an important role in research into social cognition.

Social psychology deals, among other things, with constructions and interpretations of the self, i.e. with the views and knowledge of a person about himself. Here, social psychology is particularly interested in where the self-knowledge comes from and where its social origins lie. Terms such as self-concept , self-schemata (mental structures that help us to organize and guide the processing of self-related information) and self-esteem are central terms in research on the self.

The topic of settings is a key area of social psychology. The term attitude is understood to mean the evaluation of people, groups and circumstances in our social environment. Attitudes have a major impact on how an individual behaves and how they perceive the world. One of the most important models for the concept of attitude is the multi-component model of attitude. This means that attitudes are summarizing evaluations of an object, which are based on cognitive , affective and behavioral bases. Attitude researchers are also concerned with when and how attitudes predict our behavior, i.e. the relationship between attitudes and behavior. Strategies for changing attitudes and behavior and social influence, in which people are influenced by the presence of others without a specific attempt to influence them, are also of central importance in social psychology.

Another subject area of ​​social psychology are social aspects of emotions and moods as a basis for decision-making.

Social psychology also deals with why people form groups, what social roles they take on (what expectations are placed on a person with a certain position in the group), what types of groups there are (task-related group, group with emotional Closeness etc.) and its influence on the individual.

Also prejudice and intergroup relations play a major role in social psychology. A social psychologist tries to provide an explanation for the emergence of negative attitudes towards an outgroup and to research their effects on the behavior of an individual.

Other important subject areas of social psychology include:

Differences between social psychology and neighboring fields

Despite various overlaps, social psychology as an independent discipline must be distinguished from other scientific fields:

Differences to personality psychology

In social psychology research, it is common for aspects of the social environment to be manipulated in order to capture the impact of this change on a person's thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In personality psychology, on the other hand, it is less about what influence the social context has on experience and behavior, but more about which personality traits are responsible for different people behaving differently in a similar social situation. The personality psychologist is interested in personality traits, their origin and their effect on behavior and experience, whereas the social psychologist examines the influence of a social situation on individual behavior.

However, since individual behavior is influenced by both social situations and personality traits, it is difficult to differentiate between personality psychology and social psychology.

Differences to Sociology

There are also numerous overlaps between social psychology and sociology. Most sociologists as well as social psychologists share the approach of methodological individualism . Despite the similarities between the two disciplines, there are also differences in the way social behavior is studied. Sociologists tend to see the cause of social behavior in structural variables such as social roles , norms or social classes, while social psychologists attribute social behavior to individual processes, for example to goals, motives and cognitions of the individual.

Well-known social psychologists


  • E. Aronson, TD Wilson, RM Akert: Social Psychology. 6th edition. Pearson Studies, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8273-7359-5 .
  • G. Bierbrauer: Social Psychology. (= Outline of Psychology. Volume 15). 2nd updated edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-17-018213-7 .
  • H. Bless, K. Fiedler, F. Strack: Social cognition. How individuals construct social reality. Psychology Press, Hove, UK 2004, ISBN 0-86377-828-3 .
  • P. Fischer, K. Asal, J. Krueger (Eds.): Social psychology for Bachelor. Springer, Heidelberg 2013, ISBN 978-3-642-30271-8 .
  • D. Frey, S. Greif: Social Psychology. A manual in key terms. 4th edition. Beltz, Psychologie Verlags Union, Weinheim 1997, ISBN 3-621-27219-4 .
  • K. Jonas, W. Stroebe, M. Hewstone (Eds.): Social Psychology. Introduction. 6th, completely revised edition. Springer Heidelberg 2014, ISBN 978-3-642-41090-1 .
  • Thanos Lipowatz: The Politics of the Psyche, an Introduction to the Psychopathology of the Political . Turia & Kant, Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-85132-156-1 .
  • Boris Parygin : Basics of the social psychological theory. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1982, ISBN 3-7609-0186-7 .
  • Manfred Sader : Group Psychology. Juventa, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-7799-0315-6 .
  • Stefan Stürmer: Social Psychology. UTB basics, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-8252-3179-8 .
  • A. Tesser, N. Schwarz (Eds.): Blackwell handbook of social psychology. Intra-individual processes. Blackwell Publishers, London 2001, ISBN 0-631-21034-2 .
  • L. Werth, J. Mayer: Social Psychology . Spektrum Akad. Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8274-1547-9 .
Journals in the field of social psychology

Web links

Wiktionary: Social Psychology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Thematic web links on questions of social psychology


further reading

Individual evidence

  1. ^ ER Smith, DM Mackie: Social Psychology. 2nd Edition. Psychology Press, 2000, ISBN 0-86377-587-X , pp. 14-16.
  2. ^ E. Aronson, TD Wilson, RM Akert: Social Psychology. 4th edition. Pearson Studium, 2004, ISBN 3-8273-7084-1 , p. 17.
  3. Marc Schwietring: a bottle in a stormy sea. Social psychology was recently developed at the University of Hanover. In: new Germany. 8/9 April 2017, p. 24.
  4. Klaus Jonas, Wolfgang Stroebe, Miles Hewstone (ed.): Social Psychology . 6th, completely revised edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2014, ISBN 978-3-642-41090-1 , p. 8-10 .