Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other people.
In other words, Social Psychologists try to understand the mental processes that determine how we think about ourselves and other people and how those other people influence our own behavior. This is more difficult than it sounds because we all have our own subjective intuitions and experiences, and all our beliefs are influenced by the cultures we grow up with (e.g., nations, religions, race, gender, political ideologies).
In many cases those assumptions turn out to be wrong, and in other cases the research helps us more fully understand why the assumption was correct all along.
There is a tremendous reason to study social psychology… the more we understand about ourselves and those around us the more effective we can be at achieving our own personal goals (e.g., having healthy relationships, improving your academic performance, protecting your safety) and advancing society (e.g., reducing violence, increasing productivity, facilitating cooperation between groups).
At the end of this course, you would be able to
(a) Gather and critically evaluate research findings in the existing research literature,
(b) Integrate those findings into coherent and testable theories that explain objective observations,
(c) Design and conduct valid research that tests those theories and extends your knowledge, and
(d) Effectively communicate your theories and findings to a wide range of audiences.