Chapter 1 Slide
What is social psychology?
⚫ Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are
influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people.
⚫ Social Psychology :The scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours
are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people
⚫ Construal: The way in which people perceive, comprehend, and interpret the social world. (social
psychology is concerned not so much with social situations in any objective sense, but rather with how
people are influenced by their interpretation, or construal, of their environment.)
Social psychology, science, and common sense
Folk Wisdom (common sense)
◼ Often grossly oversimplified and wrong
◼ Often contradictory
◆ E.g. Absence makes the heart grow fonder vs. Out of sight out of mind.
◆ E.g. Birds of a feather flock together vs. opposites attract
⚫ “birds of a feather flock together”: we like and spent time with people who
shared our backgrounds and interests.
⚫ “Opposites attract”:We tend to be more attracted by people who have
different background than us.
◼ Social psychology can help us test which is correct.
Social psychology VS. sociology
◆ Both share an interest in situational and societal influences on behavior
◆ They differ in their level of analysis.
◼ Social psychology studies individuals, with an emphasis on the psychological processes
going on in their hearts and minds.
◆ E.g. social psychologist focuses on the specific psychological processes that trigger
aggression in specific situations. To what extent is aggression proceeded by a state
of frustration? If people are feeling frustrated, under what conditions will they vent
their frustration with an overt, aggressive act?
The goal of social psychology: is to identify universal properties of human nature
that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or
◼ Sociology examines broad societal factors. Thus, the focus is on topics such as social
class, social structure, and social institutions.
◆ E.g. why a particular society (or group within a society) produces difference levels
and types of aggression in its members. Why the murder rate in the US is so much