An Analysis Of Social Psychology

1190 words - 5 pages

An Analysis of Social Psychology

People have been curious since the dawn of time and this curiosity has driven us to learn from and to understand the world around us. In order to fully understand our world, it was necessary for people to develop a method of study to explain what they experienced through the application of evaluation and analysis. Social psychology is the study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by other people (Kenrick, Neuberg & Cialdini, 2010). Social psychology is a division of psychology that analyzes the individual and their mental processes and how this can be applied to that persons interactions with society and also how ...view middle of the document...

According to research by Kenrick et al (2010), “social psychological theories have been influenced by intellectual developments ranging from the discovery of DNA to the emergence of artificial intelligence.” Due to the broad array of disciplines that social psychology can be applied to, there are different perspectives, or families of theories that have emerged. These are, sociocultural, evolutionary, social learning, and social cognitive (Kenrick et al. 2010). Each of these perspectives attempts to explain or categorize human interactions from slightly different viewpoints.
In 1908, sociologist Edward Alsworth Ross wrote one of the first psychology textbooks, in which he stated that he viewed the source of social behaviors as originating from the social group as opposed to the individual (Kenrick et al. 2010). This became known as the sociocultural perspective or the view that the group an individual is associated with has the ability to influence the preferences and desires of that individual. This perspective helps to explain the tendency for people who get caught up the actions of large groups, or the mob mentality and also helps to explain the rational that people have for joining gangs in order to feel a sense of belonging. Sociocultural psychology focuses on social norms and the concept of culture and how they influence the perception of right and wrong. Culture, or the beliefs, customs, habits and language shared by the people living in a particular time and place (Kenrick et al. 2010) has a profound influence on the actions and desires of the individual and consequently, when someone is confronted with a culture that they are not familiar with the sociocultural perspective can help to explain the reasons for these differences and help people understand them.
William McDougall, who was trained in biology, wrote the second social psychology text book in 1908 and focused on the view that “human social behaviors are rooted in physical and psychological predispositions that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce” (Kenrick et al. 2010). This view became known as the evolutionary perspective. This perspective attempts to explain human behavior from the point of view that human social behaviors are the byproduct of natural selection and learned experiences. At one time, evolution was thought to only produce inflexible instincts that were unchangeable, but we now understand that the environment has a huge influence on how those instincts are displayed. For example, wild animals learn to hunt and behave as wild animals, but when those same animals are raised in captivity they lose some of those instinct that allow them to be successful in the wild. The evolutionary perspective also helps to explain the reasons that some people are fearful of...

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