The horrors of the Holocaust led researchers to study the effects of social influence, conformity and obedience. The U. S. Government also became interested in applying social psychological concepts to influencing citizens. Social psychology is often confused with folk wisdom, personality psychology and sociology. What makes social psychology different? Unlike folk wisdom, which relies on anecdotal observations and subjective interpretation, social psychology employs scientific methods and the empirical study of social phenomena.
While personality psychology focuses on individual traits, characteristics and thoughts, social psychology is focused on situations. Social psychologists are interested in the impact that the social environment and group interactions have on attitudes and behaviors. The way we perceive ourselves in relation to the rest of the world plays an important role in our choices, behaviors and beliefs. The opinions of others also impact our behavior and the way we view ourselves.
Understanding social psychology can be useful for many reasons. First, we can better understand how groups impact our choices and actions. Additionally, it also allows us to gain a greater appreciation for how our social perceptions affect our interactions with other people. There are some basic aspects of social behavior that play a large role in our actions and how we see ourselves. Social behavior is goal-oriented. Our interactions serve goals or fulfill needs.
Some common goals or needs include the need for social ties, he desire to understand ourselves and others, the wish to gain or maintain status or protection and the need to attract companions. The interaction between the individual and the situation helps determine the outcome. In many instances, people behave very differently depending upon the situation. Environmental and situational variables play an important role and have a strong influence on our behavior. We also analyze and explain the behavior of those around us.
One common factor is the expectation confirmation, where e tend to ignore unexpected attributes and look for evidence that confirms our preexisting beliefs about others. This helps simplify our worldview, but it also skews our perception and can contribute to stereotyping. We often believe that a person’s behavior is a good indicator of their personality. Another influence on our perceptions of other people can be explained by the theory of correspondent inferences. While behavior can be informative in some instances, especially when the person’s actions are intentional, it can also be misleading.