What Is Social Psychology? Definition, Theories and Examples

social psychology and influences affect our behavior


Social psychology is the study of how social psychology interactions, relationships, and other external factors can impact people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which in turn can influence interpersonal relationships and society at large. In this example of social psychology, we’ll look at an experiment that illustrates how the behavior of one person can affect the behavior of another, even when they’re not directly interacting with each other.

what is social psychology and example?

One of the best examples of how social psychology influence can profoundly impact an individual’s decision-making is the Milgram experiment. The study originally started as human learning and memory experiment, but quickly turned into a study about obedience.

The procedure for the experiment was to test how an individual could be ordered to give electric shocks of increasing voltage to another human being, who in reality was just a hidden actor pretending to react with increasing distress.

At no point did the researcher ask if they wanted to stop, instead they asked them what they should do next or said please continue. For some participants, this meant administering electrical shocks up to 450 volts even though it was clear that the person receiving them was not only suffering greatly but actually seemed to die at one point.

social psych

The concept of the power of social psychology influence to lead to a change in attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors is pervasive and one that most people are not aware of. Social psychologists have identified four ways in which the power of society can be expressed as well as the outcomes they can produce. These principles are conformity, compliance, obedience, and internalization.

Conformity can occur when an individual changes their opinion because they want to fit in with others. Compliance occurs when someone gives up their will because they want to please another person. Obedience happens when someone obeys orders from an authority figure without thinking about it too much. Internalization takes place when an individual accepts societal values and adopts them as their own without considering alternatives.

sociocultural psychology

Sociocultural psychologists examine the ways that different aspects of society, such as cultures and subcultures, shape our thoughts and behaviors. These types of sociocultural factors could include religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, educational background, gender roles, etc. Even as people are shaped by their culture and subculture, they often use this sense of belonging to create a sense of self.

They also use it to identify other members of their culture or subculture who share similar values and beliefs. Social psychologists and social psychology have studied how various aspects of society can influence one’s attitudes, preferences, emotions, and behaviors – for instance through peer pressure.

The very nature of being human is social psychology l; we depend on others for survival from birth onward. From infancy through adolescence we learn about the world from interactions with other people in our families, communities, schools, organizations or places of worship.


Solomon Asch

In 1951, in a classroom of eight males, American psychologist Solomon Asch conducted an experiment to test the influence of group norms on a person’s judgment. He instructed participants that they were participating in a perceptual task where they would be viewing lines of different lengths and had to identify which one was the longest. They were seated at a table facing their peers who made up the experimenter that led them through the exercise.

psychology social science

In 1978, Solomon Asch conducted a study that is still one of the most well-known examples of social psychology influence. A participant would be seated in a room with what they believed to be other participants but were actually just lab assistants working for Asch.

They were then shown two cards, one with three lines on it labeled A, B, and C, and the other with just one line labeled D. The person was told to say which line matched the length of the first card.

Read Also>>What are Cognitive Psychology, 9 Great ideas, and behavioral therapy and How Does it Help Us in Our Everyday Lives?

Asch’s research found that under certain circumstances, about 33% of people will answer incorrectly even though they are sure they are correct – because everyone else before them answered incorrectly too. When no one else was in the room or only two or three people were present, this effect disappeared entirely.

Milgram study

In the 1960s, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment that has come to be known as the Milgram Experiment. The purpose of the experiment was to determine how close a person will go to carrying out instructions even if they don’t want to in order to please others.

social-cultural psychology

Often, people think that culture is what matters when explaining a person’s behavior. This simply isn’t true. In fact, research has shown that culture only accounts for 10% of a person’s behavior–with the other 90% coming from personal factors such as genetic tendencies or self-control.

However, culture does play an important role in shaping our knowledge about what is acceptable in society. For instance, if you live in a culture where most people drive cars to work and you were taught how to drive at a young age, you are more likely to buy and drive your own car.

On the other hand, if you live in a place where most people walk to work and there was never any instruction on how to operate a car at school, you are less likely to buy one.

social behavioral science

There are a number of experiments that have demonstrated the effects of social psychology influence on behavior. One such experiment conducted by Claude Steele and his colleagues, from Stanford University, involved a woman called ‘Brenda’ who was required to take a difficult, real-time math test.

On one occasion she believed her male opponent was really good at math, whereas on another occasion she thought he had no ability whatsoever. Her own performance in the tests differed according to what she had been led to believe about her opponent’s abilities.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that people have a natural tendency to seek consistency among their beliefs, feelings, and actions. The theory also states that when confronted with evidence of inconsistency, people will experience discomfort and then work to reduce this dissonance. According to this view, there are 3 main ways in which we try to reduce cognitive dissonance.

Buyer Behavior

In some sense, this question is what sets the entire field of social psychology apart from other branches of psychology. In contrast to cognitive, developmental, or biological psychologists who look at how a person’s life experience affects his or her current thought process and behavior.

A social psychologist and social psychology look at how external forces like society and culture have an impact on what people think and do. A good place to start would be to look at your own surroundings.

Social Norms

In the late 1960s, psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley set out to determine what it takes for people to get off the sidelines and offer help when there’s an emergency. They conducted a series of studies that demonstrated how the very presence of other people has a profound effect on whether we offer assistance.

For instance, if you’re alone and see someone trip in front of you, you’ll likely stop to offer help. But if you’re with five or six other people, chances are good that no one will step forward because everyone assumes someone else will take care of it.

5 4 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] Read Also>> What are social psychology examples 10 Great How do social influences affect our behavior? […]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x