Social psychologists study how individuals think about, influence and relate to one another and how those interactions affect issues as wide-ranging as prejudice, romantic attraction, persuasion, friendship and aggression.

All About Social Psychology

Social psychology is the study of how individuals affect and are affected by other people and by their social and physical environments. The work of social psychologists allows us to have a better grasp of how group dynamics influence our choices and actions and provides insight into how our social perceptions affect our interactions with other people. 

Social psychologists study interpersonal and group dynamics and social challenges, such as prejudice, implicit bias, bullying, criminal activity and substance abuse. They research social interactions and the factors that influence them, such as group behavior, attitudes, public perceptions and leadership.

What You Can Do

Most social psychologists go into teaching or conduct research at a college or university. A doctoral degree is usually required to become a college or university professor. Employers outside of academia may accept a master’s degree as sufficient in some cases. 

Social psychologists are also employed in the private sector in roles as varied as consultants, researchers, marketing directors, managers, political strategists and technology designers. Social psychologists also work in government and nonprofit organizations, designing and evaluating policy and programs in education, conflict resolution and environmental protection.

Making It Happen

The path to becoming a social psychologist usually begins with a bachelor’s degree in general psychology, social psychology or another related field. Although some social psychologists focus on earning a master’s degree, most seek a doctoral degree. PhD programs in social psychology typically take five years to complete.

What You Can Earn

Salaries for social psychologists depend on geographic location, industry and job experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social psychologists earned an average annual salary of $85,830 as of May 2011.

Helpful Resources

Division 8: Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Members of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology seek to advance the progress of theory, basic and applied research, and practice in the field of personality and social psychology.

Division 9: Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Members of this division include psychologists and allied social scientists who conduct research on the psychological aspects of important social issues. The division works to merge theory and practice to focus on human problems that affect interpersonal group interactions, community relations, and national and global interests.

Society for Personality and Social Psychology
The Society for Personality and Social Psychology promotes scientific research that explores how people think, behave, feel and interact.