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Article

Adam R. Pearson and Matthew T. Ballew

Environmental sustainability, the long-term management and protection of earth’s resources and ecosystems, is increasingly recognized as a societal challenge shaped by human behavior at every level of social interaction, from neighborhoods to nations. Psychological perspectives on conservation, which have traditionally emphasized individual determinants of proenvironmental behavior (e.g., personal environmental concern), have begun to incorporate a more nuanced picture of the ways in which both individual and group-level processes can influence conservation efforts. In particular, research on social norms and identity-based influences suggests that social perceptions, such as beliefs about what actions are common and socially valued, can be more powerful drivers of conservation behavior than monetary incentives, proenvironmental appeals, or the ease of proenvironmental actions. Additional research has begun to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives and insights from diversity science and intervention science to better understand how different cultural orientations and social identity processes, such as those related to race, ethnicity, and social class, impact environmental decision-making. A new class of “wise” interventions that target psychological mechanisms that shape conservation behavior, such as interventions that incorporate normative feedback, target public behavior, or seek to alter daily routines during major life transitions, have proven especially effective at promoting sustained behavior change. Generally, behavioral interventions are more effective at promoting conservation behavior when they are tailored to the social context in which behavior occurs.

Article

The concept of social representation (SR) was developed by Serge Moscovici in 1961 as a social psychological approach articulating individual thinking and feeling with collective interaction and communication. SRs are conceived as symbolic forms that come about through interpersonal and media communication. They are the ways individuals think, interact with others, and shape social objects in their interaction with the local world. This text presents an outline of the history of social representation theory (SRT), using a four-period model: first, creation and incubation in France starting with Moscovici’s first book; second, the opening to the English-speaking academe around 1980; third, institutionalization and proliferation with the start of the journal papers on SRs and regular conferences in 1992; and, fourth, normalization, approximately from 2000 onwards. The first period (1961–1984) started with Serge Moscovici’s first presentation of his ideas in a French-language volume on “La psychanalyse son image et son public.” This was republished in an updated version in 1976 and translated into English in 2008. The theory postulates cognitive and social factors in the genesis and structure of SRs. These are accompanied by specific styles of communication that reflect the communicators’ identity and ideology. Together these aspects constitute common sense. The first period was a time of incubation because Moscovici and his first PhD students, Claudine Herzlich, Denise Jodelet, and Jean-Claude Abric, tried the concept in different domains. The second half of this period saw Moscovici and collaborators extend SRT’s theoretical frame to include the idea of consensual vs. reified domains. A consensual domain of communication is characterized by the free interchange of attitudes and opinions, while a reified domain is determined by institutionalized rules. Moscovici also postulated a process of cognitive polyphasia. By cognitive polyphasia he described a phenomenon where individuals use different and even contradictory thoughts about the same issue depending on the social setting they are in. The year 1984 marked the publication of a book for English-speaking scholars edited by Robert Farr and Moscovici that collected papers from an international conference in 1979. It was the first book-length collection of works on SRT and highlighted empirical research by a variety of international scholars. The period following 1979 through to 1992 saw a broadening of the base of scholars becoming interested in SRT. The 1980s brought Willem Doise’s conceptualizing of anchoring as a process of social marking, Abric’s theory of core and peripheral elements of a representation, and Hilde Himmelweit’s founding of a societal psychology. Proliferation was boosted 1992 by the founding of the journal Papers on Social Representations and the beginning of a biannual series of International Conferences on Social Representations, starting in 1992. This increased the international visibility of SRT and helped scholars to organize themselves around topics and form cross-national research groups. The period from 1992 to the first decade of the new century was characterized by an increasing number of empirical and theoretical studies. A series of theoretical branches emerged: there was research on the micro-genesis of SRs on the individual level, an extension of the structural theory of SRs, the discussion of the socially constructive aspects and sociopolitical uses of SRT, the design of a dialogical approach to the mind and social life, and Moscovici’s suggestion to consider large-scale themata as a factor in social thinking. If the period after 1992 was a time of institutionalization, the time after the turn of the century can be called a period of normalization. That is, a period when SRT was presented in chapters for handbooks of social psychology and when dedicated handbooks and monographs were published. From this period onward it becomes virtually impossible to give even a superficial account of the most important contributions to SRT’s burgeoning field of research and theory development.

Article

The discipline of psychology has an extremely broad range—from the life sciences to the social sciences, from neuroscience to social psychology. These distinctly different components have varying histories of their own. Social psychology is psychology’s social science wing. The major social sciences—anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science—all had their origins in the 19th century or even earlier. But social psychology is much younger; it developed both in Europe and North America in the 20th century. The field’s enormous growth over the past century began modestly with a few scant locations, several textbooks, and a single journal in the 1920s. Today’s social psychologists would barely recognize their discipline in the years prior to World War II. But trends forming in the 1920s and 1930s would become important years later. With steady growth, especially starting in the 1960s, the discipline gained thousands of new doctorates and multiple journals scattered throughout the world. Social psychology has become a recognized, influential, and often-cited social science. It is the basis, for example, of behavioral economics as well as such key theories as authoritarianism in political science. Central to this extraordinary expansion were the principal events of mid-20th century. World War II, the growth of universities and the social sciences in general, rising prosperity, statistical advances, and other global changes set the stage for the discipline’s rapid development. Together with this growth, social psychology has expanded its topics in both the affective and cognitive domains. Indeed, new theories are so numerous that theoretical integration has become a prime need for the discipline.

Article

Social psychology represents a scientific approach that fosters advances in both theory and practical application designed to understand and enhance interactions among individuals and groups.

Article

The first Italian social psychologies showed a pluralism of perspectives that disappeared in the subsequent development of the discipline. With the presence of a collective sociological psychology (SP), a philosophical SP, and a psychological SP rooted in the sociocentric dimension, the field appeared variously articulated with a negotiation and a dialogue between different disciplinary approaches for the construction of its identity. This dialogue was destined to be swept away, first, during the fascist period, and then in 1954, with the affirmation of a psychological and experimental SP, sanctioned by the first National Congress of SP. However, in Italy, unlike in the United States, SP maintained strong social roots. These roots had already been evident from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, when three central topics for SP were emerging in Europe: crowd psychology, psychology of public opinion, and race psychology. Each of these topics played a particular role under the totalitarian regimes. In Italy, Antonio Miotto and Paolo Orano were the scholars who dealt with these three themes, developing them to different degrees of involvement with the fascist regime. Antonio Miotto remained relatively autonomous from the political lines dictated by fascism. Thus, he articulated an original positive conception of the crowd, contrasting the vision of passive masses to maneuver in ways typical of fascism. He did not express himself in favor of or against the censorship of the media and the control of public opinion, and only after fascism took hold did he reflect on the role of political propaganda, analyzing examples from totalitarian regimes. He avoided taking strong and clear positions on the theme of race, although a few of his statements on the subject were completely in line with the regime’s racist ideology. Orano, by contrast, had a marginal interest in crowds, sharing the negative prejudice typical of the conservative crowd psychology. However, Orano had a great deal to say on the role of public opinion. His thoughts developed along the lines of fascist totalitarian policy. He was one of the protagonists of this field, and in 1938 he founded the first Italian center of study of public opinion (Demodoxalogy Center). He created the center with the aim of knowing public opinion, guiding it, and controlling it. With respect to the theme of race, Orano was also completely involved in the fascist racist ideology, devoting considerable energy and framing his original contribution according to the historiographic point of view defined as “national racism.” Yet the development of SP that occurred after World War II showed no traces of these different forms of social psychologies and their role during the fascist regime. Postwar Italian social psychology completely removed the contribution of these two psychologists. Only recently has the prewar social psychology begun to be analyzed by a critical history centered on both disciplinary and sociocultural contexts.

Article

D. Vaughn Becker, Christian Unkelbach, and Klaus Fiedler

Inferences are ubiquitous in social cognition, governing everything from first impressions to the communication of meaning itself. Social cognitive inferences are typically varieties of diagnostic reasoning or, more properly, “abductive” reasoning, in which people infer simple but plausible—although not deductively certain—underlying causes for observable social behaviors. Abductive inference and its relationship to inductive and deductive inference are first introduced. A description of how abductive inference operates on a continuum between those that arise rapidly and automatically (and appear like deductions) and those that inspire more deliberative efforts (and thus often recruit more inductive information gathering and testing) is then given. Next, many classic findings in social cognition, and social psychology more broadly, that reveal how widespread this type of inference is explored. Indeed, both judgements under uncertainty and dual-process theories can be illuminated by incorporating the abductive frame. What then follows is a discussion on the work in ecological and evolutionary approaches that suggest that, although these inferences often go beyond the information given and are prone to predictable errors, people are good enough at social inference to qualify as being “ecologically rational.” The conclusion explores emerging themes in social cognition that only heighten the need for this broader understanding of inference processes.

Article

John Drury and Stephen Reicher

The challenge for a psychology of crowds and collective behavior is to explain how large numbers of people are, spontaneously, able to act together in patterned and socially meaningful ways and, at the same time, how crowd events can bring about social and psychological change. Classical theories, which treat crowd psychology as pathological, deny any meaning to crowd action. More recent normative and rationalist models begin to explain the coherence of crowd action but are unable to explain how that links to broader social systems of meaning. In both cases, the explanatory impasse derives from an individualistic conception of selfhood that denies any social basis to behavioral control. Such a basis is provided by the social identity approach. This proposes that crowd formation is underpinned by the development of shared social identity whereby people see themselves and others in terms of membership of a common category. This leads to three psychological transformations: members perceive the world in terms of collective values and belief systems; they coordinate themselves effectively; and hence they are empowered to realize their collective goals. These transformations explain the social form of crowd action. At the same time, crowd events are intergroup phenomena. It is through the intergroup dynamics between the crowd and an out-group (typically the police)—more specifically the way the social position of crowd members can change through the way police officers understand and respond to their actions—that change can occur. The social identity framework helps make sense of a range of phenomena beyond conflict crowds, including behavior in emergencies and disasters and the psychology of mass gatherings. The practical adequacy of the social identity approach is demonstrated by its use in a number of applied fields, including “public order” policing, crowd and emergency management, mass gatherings, health, and pedestrian modeling.

Article

Tuomas Laine-Frigren

Marxist ideas influenced and inspired psychological thinking and practice in the 20th century in a range of ways. In different parts of the world, unique versions of Marxist psychology emerged as answers to questions and problems raised by specific historical contexts. As shown in the early 21st century scholarly interventions in Lev Vygotsky studies, the Soviet psychologist’s work was deeply embedded in the sociopolitical, cultural, and ideological context of early Soviet Russia. In countries such as Brazil and Italy, Marxism had a more indirect influence as an emancipatory discourse. In the wider framework of Latin American liberatory ideas and struggles, the educational philosopher Paulo Freire and psychologists Ignacio Martín-Baró and Maritza Montero wanted to increase the autonomy of those in poverty with their radical ideas and practices. In Italy, mental health reformers Franco Basaglia and Franca Ongaro Basaglia wanted to end the social alienation of psychiatric patients by allying with contemporary Italian Marxists and members of other social movements to change institutions from within. In the communist countries of Eastern Europe, psychology and Marxism had a complex relationship. Marxist psychology could be used rhetorically to make psychology somehow safe for socialism, but there were also psychologists who were truly inspired by Marx and used his work to further their wider social and educational agendas. These cases all highlight the importance of the interplay between local, regional, and global aspects in the history of Marxist psychology. Taken together, they show how Marxism has been a discourse utilized for various social, cultural, and scientific ends within psychology. Rather than existing in a purely political form, Marxist ideology and thinking has often manifested in the field as (re)interpretations, traveling ideas, and conceptual hybrids. The history of Marxist psychology can be regarded as a continuous effort to reinterpret and reprocess Marx’s ideas about the human condition. The history of Marxism and psychology also reveals an inner contradiction between control and emancipation, between the ideological aim of molding “collective men” and encouraging individual autonomy.

Article

Thekla Morgenroth and Michelle K. Ryan

Understanding gender and gender differences is a prevalent aim in many psychological subdisciplines. Social psychology has tended to employ a binary understanding of gender and has focused on understanding key gender stereotypes and their impact. While women are seen as warm and communal, men are seen as agentic and competent. These stereotypes are shaped by, and respond to, social contexts, and are both descriptive and prescriptive in nature. The most influential theories argue that these stereotypes develop in response to societal structures, including the roles women and men occupy in society, and status differences between the sexes. Importantly, research clearly demonstrates that these stereotypes have a myriad of effects on individuals’ cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors and contribute to sexism and gender inequality in a range of domains, from the workplace to romantic relationships.

Article

Chi Yue Chiu, Anand Benegal, and Peter Hays Gries

Globalization refers to the growing economic, political, social, and cultural interdependence of countries ensued from cross-border trade, technology, investment flow, information and knowledge diffusion, and migration. It is an ongoing historical and multidimensional process characterized by increasing integration and interaction between people, companies, and governments of different nations worldwide. Globalization presents abundant opportunities for intercultural contacts, increases diversity of cultures within geopolitical entities, and has created cultural hybridities. The psychological study of globalization aims to investigate the psychosocial ramifications of globalization and intercultural relationships on the level of the individual. Several avenues of exploration have revealed insights into how individuals react to different culture-mixing phenomena, and how individuals hailing from different cultural backgrounds and holding different cultural ideologies respond differently or similarly to different situational cues and culture-mixed circumstances. First, globalization has sparked debates on the nature of and how people should respond to the characteristic cultural traits of a group: Should people be blind to the distinctiveness of these traits, treat these differences as the group’s defining essences, or view them as malleable qualities ensued from intercultural learning? These different perspectives have had important policy implications for intercultural relations. Second, lay people generally believe that although globalization fosters economic growth, it often leads to disintegration of traditional communities. Third, exposures to multiple cultures in the same space at the same time tend to accentuate perceived cultural differences and polarize positive or negative responses to foreign cultural inflow. Fourth, culture mixing experiences may evoke an exclusionary reactions (exclusionary responses) to foreign cultural inflow or heighten the motivation to learn from foreign cultures (integrative responses). Exclusionary responses are likely when (a) local cultural identities are salient, (b) foreign cultural influence is perceived to be intrusive, and (c) existential or epistemic anxiety is heightened. Integrative responses are likely when people (a) have strong learning motivation, (b) contemplate upon cultural complexity, and (c) are open to experience. New topics of psychological research of globalization that have emerged include (a) the ramifications of globalization for the conceptualization of cultural competence, (b) construction of multicultural identities, (c) consumer responses to international marketing, and (d) health and well-being in global contexts.

Article

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an important topic for both academics and practitioners because it potentially influences all aspects of an organization—from relationships with stakeholders to strategy to daily routines and practices. Thus, scholars have explored CSR for close to one hundred years. Prior research has been primarily conducted at the organizational and institutional levels, but has largely overlooked the individual-level of analysis, which is a major gap considering that CSR is enacted by and influences people. Recently, this gap has been addressed by an increased focus on the individual level of analysis—also known as “micro-CSR.” However, CSR is a multilevel construct, so even when focusing on the individual level, all levels need to be taken into consideration at the same time. Moreover, CSR is cross-disciplinary. Prior research has often focused on disciplines such as strategy, but fields such as psychology have much to offer—especially because CSR is conducted through and affects individuals. Moreover, due to the historical focus of CSR on the organizational level of analysis, most studies have aggregated CSR to the firm level. These studies have shown mixed results of the effects of CSR. One reason is that when CSR is aggregated, the variance at the individual level of analysis is lost. Employees might react both positively and negatively to CSR. For example, CSR is often extra-role (e.g., volunteering, being part of committees) and can have a negative effect of role strain and stress. For other employees, they might find tension with the way that CSR is carried out. Future research could dive more deeply into the psychology of CSR and how, when, and why employees might react to CSR differently.

Article

Peter Hegarty and Emma Sarter

Between the late 1960s and early 1980s, gender became an important topic in U.S. social psychology, raising questions about the conceptual relationship between “sex” and “gender.” A second-wave feminist project to describe differences between women and men as previously exaggerated and currently changeable was aligned with social psychology’s emphasis on the distorting power of stereotypes and the strong influence of immediate situations on human behavior. Feminism and social psychology both suggested psychology could foment social transformation, and the authors and participants of psychological research have undoubtedly become far less “womanless” in the past half-century. By the late 1980s several incommensurate social psychologies of gender existed, creating debates about the meaning of emphasizing gender differences and similarities and the gendered social psychology of psychological science itself. However, psychology remained largely a “white space” in the 1970s and 1980s, which were also “difficult decades” in transgender history. The increasing recognition of intersectional feminism and trans-affirmative perspectives in the 2010s set the context for regarding this history from different contemporary standpoints.

Article

Cecilia L. Ridgeway

Sociology is the social scientific investigation of groups, organizations, and societies and the interaction of people within social contexts. Psychology is typically defined as the study of mind and behavior. Despite the disciplines’ contrasting emphases on groups and collectivities versus the individual, there is an inherent overlap between their domains. The human species is distinctively characterized by individuals who think and act with a view to their own agency but do so in the contexts of groups and relationships upon which they depend for their very survival, let alone their well-being. Because of the dual primacy of the group and the individual that characterizes human life, there are few questions in either psychology or sociology that do not involve in some degree the concerns of the other discipline. This overlap in domain comes to the fore in social psychology, which exists as a long-standing subspecialty in both disciplines. The history of relations between sociology and psychology takes place through the entangled origins of the subspecialty of social psychology in each discipline and the subsequent post–World War II joint PhD programs and departments in social psychology and social relations. Driven by growing disciplinary competition and differentiation, this institutionalized cooperation between the disciplines collapsed at the end of the 1960s. Although the two social psychologies have since developed largely in parallel, the inherent overlap of subject matter has led to more informal cross-disciplinary dialog and mutual influence over a changing set of substantive topics of mutual concern. Sociological social psychology can be divided into symbolic interactionism and the self, social structure and personality, and structural social psychology and group processes. Although different in substantive focus, each of these approaches examines linkages between various levels of social structure and individual action, with emphases on how structures and groups shape behavior in ways that reproduce societal structures but also potentially change them. Examples of recent substantive topics about which social psychologists in sociology and in psychology have engaged in substantial informal dialog are social identity theory and intergroup behavior, gender stereotypes and inequality, and status dynamics and status inequality among individuals and groups in society.

Article

Jeanne Marecek and Eva Magnusson

Qualitative inquiry is a form of psychological research that seeks in-depth understanding of people and their social worlds. Qualitative researchers typically study the experiences of people as meaning-making agents, relying on verbal material. Qualitative inquiry has a long history in psychology, beginning in the 19th century with founders of psychology like William James and Wilhelm Wundt. However, for much of the 20th century, qualitative inquiry has occupied a marginal position in the discipline. This marginalization is best understood in relation to the discipline’s early struggle to be regarded as legitimate. Adopting the methods of the natural sciences—notably quantification and measurement—was a means to that end. Qualitative approaches, though suppressed for much of the 20th century, were not entirely eliminated from the field. Personality theorists, for example, continued to make use of them. The 1970s marked the advent of new forms of qualitative inquiry in psychology, which drew from a variety of intellectual and philosophical movements. These developments continued to gain acceptance and adherents. Since the turn of the 20th century, national and international organizations of qualitative researchers in psychology have been established. Venues for publishing qualitative research in psychology have increased. Nonetheless, qualitative inquiry is still marginalized in many academic psychology departments, and training in qualitative methods is seldom part of the methods curriculum.

Article

Vanessa L. Burrows

Stress has not always been accepted as a legitimate medical condition. The biomedical concept stress grew from tangled roots of varied psychosomatic theories of health that examined (a) the relationship between the mind and the body, (b) the relationship between an individual and his or her environment, (c) the capacity for human adaptation, and (d) biochemical mechanisms of self-preservation, and how these functions are altered during acute shock or chronic exposure to harmful agents. From disparate 19th-century origins in the fields of neurology, psychiatry, and evolutionary biology, a biological disease model of stress was originally conceived in the mid-1930s by Canadian endocrinologist Hans Selye, who correlated adrenocortical functions with the regulation of chronic disease. At the same time, the mid-20th-century epidemiological transition signaled the emergence of a pluricausal perspective of degenerative, chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis that were not produced not by a specific etiological agent, but by a complex combination of multiple factors which contributed to a process of maladaptation that occurred over time due to the conditioning influence of multiple risk factors. The mass awareness of the therapeutic impact of adrenocortical hormones in the treatment of these prevalent diseases offered greater cultural currency to the biological disease model of stress. By the end of the Second World War, military neuropsychiatric research on combat fatigue promoted cultural acceptance of a dynamic and universal concept of mental illness that normalized the phenomenon of mental stress. This cultural shift encouraged the medicalization of anxiety which stimulated the emergence of a market for anxiolytic drugs in the 1950s and helped to link psychological and physiological health. By the 1960s, a growing psychosomatic paradigm of stress focused on behavioral interventions and encouraged the belief that individuals could control their own health through responsible decision-making. The implication that mental power can affect one’s physical health reinforced the psycho-socio-biological ambiguity that has been an enduring legacy of stress ever since. This article examines the medicalization of stress—that is, the historical process by which stress became medically defined. It spans from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, focusing on these nine distinct phases: 1. 19th-century psychosomatic antecedent disease concepts 2. The emergence of shell-shock as a medical diagnosis during World War I 3. Hans Selye’s theorization of the General Adapation Syndrome in the 1930s 4. neuropsychiatric research on combat stress during World War II 5. contemporaneous military research on stress hormones during World War II 6. the emergence of a risk factor model of disease in the post-World War II era 7. the development of a professional cadre of stress researchers in the 1940s and 50s 8. the medicalization of anxiety in the early post–World War II era 9. The popularization of stress in the 1950s and pharmaceutical treatments for stress, marked by the cultural assimilation of paradigmatic stress behaviors and deterrence strategies, as well pharmaceutical treatments for stress.