Social psychology

Social psychology is a branch of psychology that studies the interaction between the individual and social groups. The earliest study of social psychology can be considered The Psychology of Peoples (Völkerpsychologie) by Wilhelm Wundt, from 1900 and 1920. However, it established itself as a discipline in its own right in the U.S. from the early 20th century with Norman Triplett and William McDougall. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior in terms of the interaction between mental states and immediate social situations. In Kurt Lewin’s (1951) famous heuristic formula, behavior (C) is seen as a function (f) of the interaction between the person (P) and the environment (A), a concept summarized by Lewin as C = f(P,A).

The adjective “social” represents an interdisciplinary domain that bridges psychology and sociology. During the years immediately following World War II, there was frequent collaboration between psychologists and sociologists (Sewell, 1989). In recent years, the two disciplines have become increasingly specialized and isolated from each other, with sociologists focusing on “macro variables” (social structure) with much broader scope. Nevertheless, sociological approaches to social psychology remain an important counterpart to psychological research in this area.

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