Chapter 13. Psychology in Our Social Lives
One of the largest areas of psychology is social psychology, which aims to understand how other people influence our lives – from the way we see the world, what we think and feel, to how we love and break up, how we make peace, and how other people can influence our behaviour. In this chapter, you’ll learn about some of the major areas of social psychology.
First, we’ll discuss social psychology as a science and how social psychologists conduct their research and an overview of some of the major topics that fall under social psychology’s study of group processes like attraction, attitudes, peace and conflict, social influence, and social cognition. Social cognition is a topic we’re going to cover in more detail. It examines how people influence our thinking and how we think about our social environment. One way that we simplify this thinking is by various heuristics, or thinking shortcuts. In this section we’ll discuss lots of various heuristics and how they influence our social thinking.
Conformity and obedience are two of the oldest areas of research in social psychology and have some of the most famous research studies. We’ll discuss why and how we conform to others’ behaviours – even when we know they are wrong! We’ll also discuss under what conditions we are more and less likely to obey others and some of the research controversy in this area. We’ll then turn to review another major area of study in social psychology: Prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping. Last, we will discuss the ways in which humans help one another and how altruism influences us.