What is the Difference Between Social Psychology and Cognitive Psychology?

Overview

Social psychology is largely about dealing with how people react to the behavior patterns of others during interactive situations. Social psychology helps to direct these psychological variables that are measured within each individual so that it can be maneuvered to take on a positive shape. This makes the core idea behind social psychology a study of attitudes and how it is influenced. The impacts of outside influences are commonly explored through social psychology. Leadership and non-verbal interactions are explored for aggression analysis purposes through this field. Understanding social behavior patterns across various elements through social perception and interpretation is often delved into with social psychology.

As for cognitive psychology, the study would cover the thought processes that people consider when faced with any given situation. Things like perception, interpretation and organization of information would all be part of the cognitive psychology exercise. This particular field  may seem to be rather similar to social psychology, but there is really much more depth in the former type. Cognitive psychology deals with how an individual takes in “outside” information through various sensors and then processes this information within the mind before a reaction to the information is formed. Plainly put it is the process of the “input” and the “output” working simultaneously that concerns the cognitive psychologists. There is also focus on the stored information and how it is used at a later time, unlike social psychology where the focus is on the reaction to the information, which is relatively immediate.

More about Social Psychology

The impact made on the thought process by the social environment and group interactions is what social psychologists would focus on during sessions with people needing help. While some social psychologists would rather spend their time conducting research exercises in the human behavioral patterns, there are others who dedicate themselves to helping people find real solutions to their seemingly very real problems.

By helping an individual or team of people understand their reactions because of certain outwards circumstances, the social Psychologist is able to create a better understanding within the mindset to work better and more effectively.

Related Reading: How to Become a Social Psychologist

In social psychology there is a level of scientific methods along with empirical studies of the social phenomena that is pivotal in how psychologists in this field address the individual’s problems. There are no guesses or wild assumptions made, but rather the effort to design authentic experiments to help in connecting factors about interactions and the different variables involved.

Most of the theories formed within social psychology sessions are based on specifics rather than generalizations. In most settings the influence of social groups plays a very significant role in how an individual’s behaviors are displayed.

More about Cognitive Psychology

Studies have shown that cognitive psychology is considered to be a more goal orientated and long-term process, where the information being processed takes center stage so that the problem can be adequately addressed. This is unlike social psychology, which generally covers a much shorter information process. By examining the reasons behind the reactions, cognitive psychologists will be able to help an individual make the necessary adjustment within the mind set to change the corresponding outcome that would otherwise have been part of the instant reaction process.

Cognitive psychology helps explore practical ways to encourage better memory retention and the processing of information in a more accurate manner, so that any expounding reactions will be more positive, unlike social psychology where the study is mainly on how immediate inputs affects a reaction. Therefore, the internal mental state of an individual is of more interest to the cognitive psychologist then the actual reaction it expounds when faced with various situations. A lot of study is typically put into the mental condition of people seeking to address their problems.

Related Reading: How to Become a Cognitive Psychologist

There is a strong belief that if there are disruptions within the cognitive processing exercise, a person will not be able to address issues and problems in manageable ways, thus giving way to mental breakdowns or even experiencing the beginnings of mental health problems. If left unchecked, the lack of cognitive psychological control can escalate the probability of suffering from severe mental illnesses or diseases.

Cognitive psychology can benefit where team cooperation is commonly needed, such as in office environments, schools, businesses and social settings; while social psychology has a more individual style of focus. The information stored is the key to the unfolding of reactions and psychologists understand the importance in addressing and exploring this very core source.

With all the problems society faces today, there is an urgency to study how the human mind works, so that people can be taught how to deal with their problems in a safer and more effective way. In helping people understand the connection between how and why information is “digested” a certain way, it is hoped that the expounding reactions formed will take on a more positive note.

Related Further Reading

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