Social psychology – what´s that?
Social psychology deals with how situational contexts affect human experience and behavior. Above all, the basic psychological functions such as perception, judgment, memory, thinking, emotion, motivation and behavior are considered. What influence does mood have on our thinking, for example? How does physical distance to situations affect their memory? What are the consequences of high or low self-esteem? Social psychology deals in particular with the psychological processes behind important everyday phenomena. How do people form their attitudes? What information do they use to make judgments and make decisions? In particular, the social context is envisaged. Classic topics of social psychology include social perception (e.g., social stereotypes), social behavior (e.g., help behavior, aggression), interpersonal attraction, social influence (e.g., compliance, attitude change), and group processes (e.g., cooperation and competition). Social psychology is basic research, but also provides important implications for the practice, for example for the application areas of advertising and consumption, school, work and organization, environment, disease and health. Social psychological findings can be used to solve problems.
Social Psychology everyday
Social psychology plays a role in the most diverse areas of everyday life. Here are two examples: A famous example in the history of literature is an episode of the character of Tom Sawyer. The character makes all sorts of nonsense and get punished by his aunt Polly again and again painstaking work. One day he is sentenced to cancel the house fence. When his friend Ben strolls by, the ridicule does not last. But Tom is not impressed: Who wants to go swimming, if he gets the chance to paint a fence instead! With all possible enthusiasm, Tom delves into the work, applies here a brush stroke, eyeing there a not yet perfectly whitewashed body. Ben is incredulous – and gets curious. Would not he like to brush a bit? Tom looks skeptical: Can Ben do that well enough? His aunt Polly is very critical in such things … Ben gets nervous. He has an apple he can give to Tom! Tom squirms a bit, finally he agrees. At the end of the day he convinced several of his friends that they would like nothing better than to paint this one fence. He has made his friend an option of recreational tasting that he would not have dreamed of – had it not been so hard to reach. It was only when Tom referred to his critical aunt, subliminally hinting that only the best would accomplish such a task could he convince Ben. Moreover, the friend even paid to do the work. Painting the fence now appears as something very special. With socio-psychological theories such as consistency theories, these processes of social influence can be interpreted.
The expectation that an event will occur is more likely to actually occur. For example, Ulrike F. is convinced that she has no chances in the opposite sex and is uninteresting. So she behaves like someone who has no chances: She stays in the background and does not approach people. Even if someone is interested in them, they do not perceive their advances as such and cause them to flinch or doubt their honest intentions. Ulrike is likely to remain single, confirming her expectations. In social psychology, this phenomenon is called “self-fulfilling prophecy.”