can social psychology be studied as a science

can social psychology be studied as a science

jimmy petruzzi




can social psychology be studied as a science, in this article i will discuss a personal experience and one of which social psychology has been used to study a social phenomenon. Having draw upon the perspectives of the following authors understanding and addressing social problems ( Schneider,F.W.,Gruman, J.A., & Coutts,L.M 2012) and an introduction to Social psychology ( Myers,D.G.,& Twenge,J.M.2013) I began reflecting on an experience i was delivering a training course. The course was in London, the course had commenced the 9th of September 2001. The group had arrived from all over the world. All with aspirations to learn new techniques to improve aspects of their businesses and life.The group had gelled really well and every body was getting on. It was a beautiful and sunny day which carried on through out the duration of the course.As we drew on the final day of the course it was the 11th of September.Delegates were exchanging numbers and contact details. It was an emotional morning as people had traveled from all over the UK and the world, it was an electric atmoshpere a fun few days though some great learnings. People had made friends and possibly friends for life. Two people who were getting on well, i shall use the following names for confidentially John from Qatar and Paula from London. The had got on really well on the course, had lunch together and  went to dinner together, they ran similar businesses had a similar out on life had travelled to many of the same places, and shared many common interests from cars, to holidays, and both at one point in their lives at a similar time had lived in the same place in the USA. Paula was originally from Israel though was living in London, and John was from Palestine living in Qatar.

We had got some news coming in though out the day that  aeroplanes had smashed into the world trade Center buildings in New York, though were  not clear about the situation, though we suspended the course as it had a big impact on the delegates. We still had half a day left to complete the course and my thoughts were under the circumstances it might be best suspending. The group wanted to know if i knew anything about what had happened and i told them as much as i knew from watching tv. When i proceeded to tell the group they many were in tears, and disbelief. There was a group on the course from New York and on of the members of the group had broke down in hysterics and said her husband works in the vicinity. At the back of the room there was a large shout from a hugely popular member of the group John, though his perception was going to change in one statement. John yelled this is retribution for what the Americans have been doing in the middle East. There was a sudden silence and  Paula had turned around to John and said how dare you amongst other things and a full blown heated conversation had erupted. At that point i was not sure what to do. So i called for order and my thoughts were let both parties who were at the heart of the furuous intarection have their say.If you want to know what happens next you will have to read the next part of the article which will elaborate how Social psychology has been used scientifically sucessfully and not so successfully.


(article above continued due to problems with the portal) Can social psychology be studied as a science, if you had a a set of tools on the floor, different  shapes sizes, the tools had different usages, you had spanners, hammers, saws, screw drives and many other tools scattered on the floor all mumbled up and mixed up with not items divided in no categories. Just as its important to organize the tools, organizing can be crucial. In my experience in the world of CBT, the emotions and thoughts of a person can be measured by empirical research. Social Psychology is defined as the science of human thought, feeling and behaviour, as the are influenced on other and have an influence of others ( Hogg and Vaughn). Each person as  uniquely different psychologically as their finger print, We all see the world differently and we perceive the world differently. People perception of an event or events is based on many permutations their beliefs, values, schema’s, experiences and it is a perception of that event that has an impacts on a person’s behavior and emotions, Social Psychology focuses on understanding behaviour and actions of people within a social context and environment. Through the efforts of Plato, the concepts of social facilitation  and social loafing were  introduced to people during the late 19th century. It is likely world war two had a significant impact on social psychology, governments taking a keen interest to measure the impact on various situations. With that researchers and scientists decided that empirical would be be best way to understand and assess human behaviour.

The famous Milgram experiment,, Milgram,S.( 1963 ) examine  the nature of human behaviour, the experiments were controversial  and likely never to be repeated again. What the experiment did indicate these potentially cruelty of people, The Milgram was interested as to how the Nazis could of committed such atrocities. The experiment gathered a group of students, to see just how far and how much punishment they would inflict on each other through electric shocks. The Milgram experiment highlighted the effects of obedience. People carried on doing the shocks on the commands of the authority. With a high proportion going to the highest level of shocks. That said the 40 subjects had volunteered to do the experiment, from a newspaper advert, Although the educational levels academically were variable. Milgram experiment variations, Milgrams experiment was carried out on different situation with several different permeations and produced  variable results. You could argue whether the experiment done in a laboratory controlled setting would have been different to  a real life scenario. I would argue the experiment did high light some important points such as the obedience of peoples under certain situations, All said and done they administered  shocks to people. Though i would argue if the original intention of the experiment had any validity. Completely different scenario,  different circumstances, and different situation.  My conclusion is the extent to which we conform to someone is based on there other persons position of authority in the group and the set of circumstances. The persons status in the group, how similar the peoples shared interest is and values and beliefs, the motivation to conform.  In the scenario which i discussed at the beginning  of my discussion i had taken the time to find out about both delegates on the course, and i put myself, or at least a moment to imagine what is was like to have experienced what they did. I felt a sense of empathy for both, both had lost family, both had to flee their homes, and both lives would never been the same. Both delegates said they wanted to stay and complete the course and i said it would be a good idea if they remained to diffuse the tension. So i let them tell there story with out interruption, Put themselves in one and others shoes with deep empathy, and whilst we did not solve the worlds problems to people had become reunited in a friendship again. Social Psychology can play a big part in our growth. Understanding each over better and ourselves playa big role in determining  our behaviour and interactions with others





Milgram,S.(1963), Behavoural study of obedience.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67,371-378

Scheider,F.W, Gruman, J.A.,Coutts, L.M.( 2012). Applied Social Psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems ( 2nd ed,pp 3-21, 39-59,217-244


Schneider,F.W.,Gruman,J.A.,& Coutts,L.M. ( 2012) Applied Social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems ( 2nd ed).London, England, Sage.