Experimental Methods in Psychology

By Gustav Levine; Stanley Parkinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
Social Psychology I: Testing Theories When Internal Events Can Be Monitored or Manipulated

Social psychologists study the effects of one individual on another individual, and the relationships between individuals and groups. For example, social psychologists study altruistic behavior, which is an interaction between an individual and at least one other individual. They also study how one person can affect another person's attitudes, or what kind of general messages are more effective than others in changing people's attitudes. When looking at the influence of messages we might appear to be focusing on single individuals, but the influence of other individuals is implicit in the message. Social psychologists also study cognitive processes that are concerned with other individuals. For example, how are impressions formed of other people?

In addition, social psychologists examine cognitive processes that are less obviously socially interactive. For example, they study the factors that contribute to a person's perceptions of himself or herself, and how a person's self-perceptions affect his or her behavior. Factors affecting self-perceptions often include other people's responses, or even assumptions about other people's opinions. Thus it can be useful to view self-perceptions as products of social interactions, as well as offering predictions of future interpersonal responding.

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