The way we perceive ourselves in relation to the rest of the world influences our behaviors and our beliefs. The opinions of others also affect our behavior and how we view ourselves. Social psychologists are interested in all aspects of interpersonal relationships and the ways that psychology can improve those interactions. For example, their research helps us understand how people form attitudes toward others and, when these are harmful — as in the case of prejudice, for example — provides insight into ways to change them.
Social psychologists study how social influence, social perception and social interaction influence individual and group behavior.
Some social psychologists focus on conducting research on human behavior. Others focus on the practical application of social psychology by helping organizations hire and train employees; evaluating educational programs to determine if intervention strategies are working; searching for ways to encourage people to reduce pollution; or offering advice to businesses or employees who need help with conflict mediation.
Because social psychologists are trained to combine their knowledge of human behavior with scientific research methods, job options and work settings are diverse. Many social psychologists choose to work in educational environments such as colleges and universities where they conduct research, teach classes and run social psychology laboratories. Other social psychologists work for government offices, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, social service agencies and private corporations. The range of career options for a social psychologist is so varied it may include research, marketing, politics or even technology design.
Social psychologists study how a person’s life is shaped by interactions with other people.
Resources to help you pursue a career in psychology
A degree in psychology can lead to a fulfilling career that makes a difference in people’s lives.
Find out what it takes to become a social psychologist
Social psychologists use psychological science to understand how we perceive ourselves in relation to the rest of the world and how this perception affects our choices, behaviors and beliefs.