Social psychology (or the social approach) is interested in studying individuals in a social context, such as family, friends, institutions, and wider society. Social behaviour may involve activity within a group or between groups.
One of the debates in social psychology is whether an individual's behaviour is a result of their personality or their social context.
As you will see from looking at the four studies in this section of the course, the authors of the studies emphasise the importance of the social context in shaping behaviour.
The social influence which the Milgram study (1963) is concerned with is the demands of an authority figure. The study by Haney, Banks and Zimbardo (1973) demonstrates the importance of how social roles influence our behaviour. The field experiment carried out by Piliavin, Rodin and Piliavin (1969) examines the social influences on the decisions we make about whether we help people in emergency situations. The study by Tajfel (1970) is concerned with the social influence of group membership and how this can lead to discrimination.
· be able to describe and evaluate the social approach in psychology;
· be able to evaluate studies of social interaction in the light of their social and cultural context;
· consider the concepts of conformity, obedience and affiliation;
· consider the ways in which behaviour is structured by social roles and other situational variables;
· understand the effects of inter-group discrimination;
· be able to discuss the issues around ethnocentrism;
· consider the implications of research in social psychology.
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- Cognitive Psychology
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Below are the latest articles in the excellent BPS Research Digest.