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Social Psychology. “an attempt to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others” (Allport, 1954). Journals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP)

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Social Psychology

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Social psychology

Social Psychology

“an attempt to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others” (Allport, 1954)



  • Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP)

  • Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB)

  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (JESP)

  • Psych Bull, Psych Review, PSPR, AESP



  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)

  • Society of Experimental Social Psychologists (SESP)


Brief history of social psychology

Brief history of Social Psychology

Greek philosophers

Psychology begins in 1800s

1864 Cattaneo uses “social psych” for group emergence

1871 mentioned in Linder’s textbook

1876 Ringlemann study

1898 Triplett study

Social psychology

First textbooks—1908 (McDougall, Ross)

Floyd Allport’s text in 1924

Experiments are king—The psychology of groups is the psychology of the individuals

Journal of Abnormal Psych becomes J of Ab Psych and Social Psych in 1921

More history

More history

  • vs. behaviorism and psychoanalysis

  • WW2 and Nazis

    • Gestalt psych

    • Practical applications

  • Kurt Lewin

    • GI Bill, boom time for social psychologists

  • First handbook 1954

  • Leon Festinger—experimental revolution

Social psychology

  • 1947 SPSP starts, 1965—JPSP and JESP

  • 70’s cognitive revolution

    • Paper and pencil are king!

  • 70’s crisis of confidence

    • Gergen, social psych as history

    • McGuire—need more diverse methods

    • IRBs, better data analysis techniques

  • 80’s new topics like love and relationships, evolutionary psychology

  • 90’s decade of the brain

Social psychology

  • 80’s new topics like love and relationships, evolutionary psychology

  • 90’s decade of the brain

    • Evolutionary psych

    • Social neuroscience

  • 00’s influence of culture

    • Multidisciplinary

    • Nonconscious approaches

    • internet

00 s and beyond

00’s and beyond

  • Broadening 5 ways

  • “You can never have too many social psychologists.”

Broadening topics

Broadening topics

Positive psychology

Evil, terrorism

Motivated social cognition


Unconscious, automaticity

Construals, socially shared cognition


Intergroup relations, prejudice

Funding issues

Broadening the discipline

Broadening the discipline

Social neuroscience

Emphasis on culture and how it evolves

Spatial analyses

Links to other areas (business, law, health…)

More multidisciplinary research

Broadening perspectives

Broadening perspectives

Evolutionary psychology

Social identity theory

Terror management theory

Dynamical systems

Broadening methods

Broadening methods

Advanced statistics, going beyond ANOVA

Computer simulation

Internet data collection

Broadening globally

Broadening globally

Influencing and being influenced by other social psychologies (European = more sociological)

Growth! 2800 to >7000 members of SPSP in less than 20 yrs from all over world

Controversies and resolutions

Controversies and resolutions

Social psych continues to respond to zeitgeist

Construal vs. behaviorism

Basic vs. applied

Person vs. situation

Evolution vs. culture

Still going on: IAT, free will, how to give psych away

Mcguire s 1973 koan

McGuire’s (1973) koan

  • We put too much emphasis on testing hypos, not enough on generating them

  • We need to get away from simple, linear models

  • We need to remember that data come from people

  • We need to put together more data archives and do more longitudinal studies

  • We should use ANOVAs less and other techniques that let us deal with messier data more.

  • See the advantages of decreased funding (get more personal with your research, think about it more)

  • It’s okay that some of these recommendations conflict with each other.

Analysis from leaders in the field

Analysis from leaders in the field

  • Don’t build enough

  • Shouldn’t only build

  • Need more activism

  • Too narrow

  • Need more links to other fields/ cultures

  • Blame it on social cognition

  • Need bigger theories (cog, evo, soc ident)

  • Too negative and problem-focused

  • Not enough emphasis on time

Other criticisms

Other criticisms

  • Ellsworth

  • Henrich et al.

    • Sears

  • Why are things this way?



  • What makes a good theory?

  • What do theories do for us?

  • At what level should we theorize?

  • Theory-driven research vs. HARKing

Public skepticism

Public Skepticism

  • Is it a problem? If so, why is it?

  • 6 myths

    • Psych is common sense

    • Psych doesn’t use scientific methods

    • Can’t generalize b/c everyone is unique

    • Psych doesn’t yield replicable results

    • Psych can’t make precise predictions

    • Psych not useful to society

Why are people skeptical

Why are people skeptical?

  • We do some bad stuff.

  • Our public face isn’t necessarily scientific

  • See psych as another helping profession

  • Hindsight bias in findings

  • Think they are experts too

  • Look for biological explanations

  • Explain results they don’t like as nonscientific

  • Don’t see value in basic research

What should we do differently

What should we do differently?

  • Communicate better w/ the public

  • Don’t look down on “popularizers”

  • Explain why it’s not just obvious

  • Use evidence-based practice

  • Organizations should promote more, show what against

Climate change

Climate change

  • How can (social) psych contribute to this area?

  • Do we have an ethical obligation to do so?

  • What are some particular problems with getting into applied areas such as this?

B f persons

B/F “persons”

  • Consistency seeker

  • Self-esteem maximizer

  • Terror manager

  • Info seeker

  • Foolish mistake maker

  • Nondifferent individual

  • Impression manager

  • Naturally selected animal

  • Cultural animal

  • Group member

  • Benighted layperson

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