What Does Social Psychology Focus On?
Social Psychology is the study of how people are influenced by other people. This discipline focuses on the way individuals relate to one another and how the presence of other people can affect individual behavior within groups. In short, the social psychologist is concerned with how people influence other people’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings.
Social psychology is seen as a field that combines sociology with psychology because it combines elements from both fields. Sometimes it is even mistaken for being a sub-field of sociology. However, social psychology and sociology have some very distinct differences. Sociology focuses on group dynamics while social psychology focuses on how groups of people affect individual or group behavior.
Social psychologists conduct their research by watching people in real world environments. They are also known to create replicas of real world situations and observe how people behave. Many social psychologists specialize in a specific area such as leadership, group dynamics, perception, racism, sexism, bullying, criminal activity, community health problems, or other social concerns.
Related: Becoming a Social Psychologist
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not indicate the outlook for social psychology specifically however it does indicate that the related field of sociology as well as the general field of psychology are both expected to grow over the next several years. Sociology is expected to grow 15 percent from 2012-2022 and psychology is expected to grow 12 percent from 2012-2022.
Career Path and Options
Mental Health Counselor
Social psychologists may be hired in numerous settings to counsel individuals who have been impacted by social problems. These counselors might be found in schools, correctional settings, social service agencies and other governmental programs. Counselors generally work with organizations to identify how group dynamics are affecting behaviors within that institution so that appropriate outreach responses can be developed. They also counsel individuals and groups to help them work through any mental anguish or behavioral disturbances that may have occurred.
Related: Becoming a Mental Health Counselor
Professionals in these settings also focus on developing community awareness programs particularly in the school and social service settings. These preventative programs often address issues such as bullying, domestic violence, substance abuse, and other social concerns. Services are often provided by the Social Psychologist in an individual or group format. This is extremely useful in altering individual and group behavior within various settings.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mental Health Counselors earn an average mean wage of$43,990 annually, as of May 2014.
Marketing Director or Manager
Many companies hire social psychologists to manage their marketing research department. By observing behavioral trends, they help companies identify dynamics that influence certain groups of individuals to buy their products and services.
Marketing Directors are concerned with figuring out how to market to particular segments of the population. They identify consumers by factors such as income, ethnicity, and age and determine a marketing strategy to get as many people as possible in that segment of the population to make a purchase. Social psychologists are trained to understand how groups of people are influenced by social dynamics and therefore may make great Marketing Directors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marketing Managers earn an average mean wage of $137,400 annually, as of May 2014.
Social psychologists are employed in a variety of settings to conduct applied research regarding social issues. These professionals are often found in government and nonprofit agencies where their research is used to help develop policies. Their research is sometimes quite influential and often affects policy development in areas such as education and environmental protection.
Social psychologists are also hired to conduct research that will help with the development of programs that are aimed at eliminating the spread of particular social problems. These professionals may also be asked to evaluate the data from existing educational programs to identify alternative strategies to deal with various social problems.
Social psychologists can also be found conducting research in more controlled environments such as laboratories within college and university settings.
Although a specific wage for social psychology researchers was not noted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related field of Social and Community Service Managers earns an average mean wage of $67,730 annually, as of May 2014.
Social psychologists are often hired as Business or Educational Consultants. Business Consultants may work with the human resources department to help with the hiring and training of employees or to develop a conflict mediation procedure. These professionals may also evaluate policies that are in place and make recommendations to improve effectiveness.
Educational Consultants may focus on identifying how group dynamics affect education and are often tasked with developing awareness and preventative programs for school districts.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related field of Human Resource Specialist earns an average mean wage of $62,590 annually, as of May 2014.
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