Social Psychology Date Introduction Psychology can generally be defined as an applied academic discipline that entails the scientific study of an individual’s mental behaviors and functions (Rogers, 2011)…
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This paper focuses on social psychology as a branch of psychology. As a branch of psychology, social psychology concerns itself with the understanding of individual’s mental behaviors, functions and processes within a social context (Vala and Costa-Lopes, 2012). Myers and his co-authors (2010) also define social psychology as the scientific field that aims at understanding the causes and nature of the behavior of an individual in social situations or contexts. Therefore, it looks at the behavior of an individual as influenced by the social context and other people around where this takes place. In other words, social psychology can be described as a discipline that employs scientific methods in understanding and explaining how the feeling, behavior, and thought of an individual are influenced by the implied, imagined, or actual presence of other people in a particular context, or different situations (Letitia, et al., 2005). While the discipline also relates with sociology by looking on group factors such as socio-economic class and race, it relates to psychology in the sense that it looks at these factors by focusing on an individual. The discipline focuses on a broad range of social topics such as social perception, non-verbal behavior, prejudice, conformity, leadership, aggression, and group behavior, among others (Funder and Krueger, 2004). Apart from looking at the social influences, this discipline also looks at the issues to do with social interaction and social perception, all of which are essential in understanding an individual’s behavior within a social context (Rogers, 2011). Like other disciplines, social psychology has developed over years to become an acceptable and scientific field of study and practice around the world. While the influences of social psychology can be traced to early centuries, it started to develop as a discipline in the wake of the twentieth century (Vala and Costa-Lopes, 2012). The earliest influences of this discipline came from such philosophers as Aristotle and Plato. Aristotle held the belief that human beings are naturally sociable creatures, a feature that allows them to live together. His view was considered as an individual-centered approach because it considers an individual essential in a social context. On his part, Plato believed that the state was critical in controlling individuals and encouraging social responsibility through social situations and contexts. Plato’s view came to be known as the socio-centered approach (Letitia et al, 2005). In the 1800s, there was the introduction of social psychology concepts such as social facilitation and social loafing. This discipline developed further at the dawn of the twentieth century when texts in the field started to emerge, the most notable text being “An Introduction to Social Psychology,” which McDougall wrote in 1908. The writing of texts in the field in subsequent years greatly contributed to the development of this discipline (Myers, et al., 2010). The period after the Second World War is credited for the substantial development of social psychology and research in social psychology. The horrors of the war led several researchers to develop interest in researching various social psychology topics such as conformity and social influence (Vala and Costa-Lopes, 2012). Some of the research focused on how individual behaviors and attitudes are shaped by social context, how they are formed, and how they can be measured in order to ascertain if change
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The paper has discussed that social psychology offers a great insight into understanding human behavior. The paper has discussed various contemporary theories in social psychology that tends to explain various ways that behaviors can be acquired and observed thus, creating great insight on social behavior.
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