Critically Discuss Some Of The Main Features Of Mainstream Social Psychology And Critical Approaches To Social Psychology

1192 words - 5 pages

Critically discuss some of the main features of mainstream social psychology and critical approaches to social psychology.

The most widely recognised definition of social psychology is an effort “to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behaviour of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others” (Allport).

One of the first modern social psychology was an experiment conducted by Norman Triplett on social facilitation. This experiment was based on ‘social developments of the invention of the bicycle was increasing popularity of competitive sport' (pg 151).What Triplett noticed was that the observers of sport made assumptions that ...view middle of the document...

Another point that had an effect on modern social psychology was the 2nd World War. Cartwright put forward the point that the War and the political chaos and confusion of what was happening in Europe in the years prior the War ‘were the most important single influence on the development of social psychology up to the present’ (Pg 152).

During the mid 1960’s social psychology had grown into an established and successful discipline. However some had come to doubt, the kind of disciple it had turned into. Rings 1967 article ‘experimental social psychology: some sober questions about some Frivolous values’, and during the late 1970’s, a number of articles put forward severe questions about the kind of principles that underlie social psychological investigations, the way they went about undertaking the research and the significance ‘of the discipline to social behaviour in real – world settings’. (Pg 153).

Rings article looked at the three types of different social psychology ‘A humanistic, action – oriented psychology, a scientifically oriented social psychology and a “fun-and-games” social psychology. Ring said that the “fun-and-games” approach was having a negative impact on the field of psychology. He stated that no progress was being made. Other critics stated that laboratory and the ‘hypothesis-testing approach to understanding social interaction’ was not a good way to be looking at human social behaviour (Pg 153). Other critics such as (Sampson 1977; Steiner, 1974), stated that social psychology was to ‘individualistic in its approach’ Sampson put forward the argument that social psychology was based around the American idea of “Self-contained individualism” (Pg 153). He argued that this approach didn’t take into consideration how the community and society could affect behaviour, therefore leaving the individual to solve their problems on their own. Sampson put forward another approach to replace the other approach. He argued for an “interdependent” perspective, which took into account the community and society on individual behaviour.

One of the most uncomplimentary criticisms of social psychology during the “crisis” period was that it was just not relevant enough. Social psychological research was loosing its way because it wasn’t put “grounded in significant social problems and social issues” (Pg 154).

Social psychologists such as Augoustinos and Walker (1995), have said that the crisis has now gone away not because the issues were resolved but because no one is interested in looking into it any further. However Reish (1981)...

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