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Using our knowledge of stereotypes we can educate people to be more mindful of the similarities that exist between different groups rather than focusing on the differences - langer et al. The main application of prejudice research in society has been used to reduce prejudice; in the classroom to racial bias in multi-ethnic schools.
However it can also be used to manipulate obedience, if we can understand what conditions create the highest levels of obedience then this knowledge can be used to ensure soldiers obey higher ranking officers, or employees obey their employers.
Understanding what makes us obedient can be used to help educate and prevent blind destructive obedience in the future and help us understand historical events such as mass genocide. Recent developments in social psychology have attempted to investigate the underlying motivation and mental constructs associated with social influence research. Social psychological knowledge is largely influenced by social changes in attitudes and historical events.
However, most personality accounts of prejudice do not ignore nurture as the explain that such traits arise from the way that we are brought up. Inter group dynamic theories focus on the situational conditions that cause conflict which reflect nurture. Personality explanations of prejudice focuses on the type of character that is more or less likely to be prejudice and therefore account for nature.
Group dynamics rarely exist in a social vacuum, they are affected by social, historic and cultural events which continually change. Studies such as Milgram and Sherif have variables which are controlled and carefully manipulated to ensure cause and effect relationships under lab or more naturalistic conditions.
Dispositional and personality explanations of prejudice and obedience are reductionist because they focus only on the character of the individual and disregard the social situations. Social impact theory is reductionist because it ignores the interrelation between individual and social factors.
However cross cultural obedience research is not methodologically comparable which may account for differences in obedience rates found and predicted research has mixed findings. The distinction between collectivist and individualistic cultures may be useful in understanding whether social influence is affected by culture; collectivists work together cooperatively and interdependently so you could predict higher levels of obedience and prejudice.
Social psychologists are interested in the components of attitudes, how attitudes develop, and how attitudes change. Researchers have described three core components of attitude: an effective component, a behavioral component, and a cognitive component.
Often referred to as the "ABCs of attitude," these elements describe how we feel, behave, and understand. What causes violence and aggression? Social psychologists are interested in how and why people engage in violence or act aggressively. Research in this area looks at numerous factors that may cause aggression including social variables and media influences. Researchers often look at the role social learning plays in producing aggressive behaviors and actions.
Prosocial behavior is another major research area in social psychology. Prosocial behaviors are those that involve helping and cooperating. Researchers often look at why people help others, as well as why they sometimes refuse to help or cooperate. The bystander effect is an example of a social phenomenon in the subject area.
Much of the research in this area was prompted by the murder of a young woman named Kitty Genovese. This case captured national attention when reports revealed that neighbors had witnessed her attack and murder, but failed to call the police for help. Research inspired by the case produced a great deal of information on prosocial behavior and how and why people choose—or sometimes refuse—to help others.
Prejudice , discrimination, and stereotypes exist in any social group. Social psychologists are interested in the origins, causes, and effects of these types of attitudes and social categorizations. How does prejudice develop? Why are stereotypes maintained in the face of contrary evidence?
These are just a few of the questions social psychologists seek to answer. Our perceptions of social identities and ourselves are another important research area in social psychology. How do people come to know and understand themselves?
How do these self-perceptions affect our social interactions? Social psychologists are interested in learning more about how this inner life influences our outer lives and social world. Self-awareness, self-esteem, self-concept , and self-expression are just a few of the factors that influence our social experience. The behavior of groups is one of the largest research areas in social psychology.
Most people realize that groups tend to behave differently than individuals. These group behaviors are sometimes beneficial and positive, but they can also be detrimental and negative. Social psychologists often look at topics such as group dynamics, leadership, group decision making, conflicts, cooperation, and group influence.
Social psychologists are also interested in the role that social influence has on behavior and decision making. Topics such as the psychology of persuasion , peer pressure, conformity, and obedience are just a few of those studied in this area of social psychology. Research has helped reveal the power of social influence and has uncovered ways to help people resist influence.
Social relationships play a major role in shaping behavior, attitudes, feelings, and thoughts. Social psychologists study how these interpersonal relationships affect people by looking at the attachment, liking, love, and attraction. How close relationships affect individuals, how important interpersonal relationships are, and what causes attraction are just some of the areas social psychologists look at in depth.
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