The current paper outlines the main aspects of social psychology. The main intention is to emphasize the general principles and values of social psychology, which contribute to human development. Moreover, the paper explains the main principles of social psychology, which have a direct influence on human behavior. It clarifies the way an individual develops within society and rapid growth of the environment’s welfare. Finally, the paper offers the reader understanding of the human behavior nature.
1. Discovering the Self – How Do We Perceive Ourselves and Our Interactions with Others?
There are different points of view regarding defining the term of self-concept according to the modern psychological literature. However, it is essential to explain the term in order to make it available for the understanding of all individuals. Self-concept is the element of life of any human being. It is a fact that every person acts according to his/her own worldview and perception of reality. Self-concept is the image drawn in the mind of an individual, which describes the vision of a person as part of the society. It is an element, which arouses from the culture of the country, its values and traditions, habits and principles. Individuals perceive the surrounding world according to the socially influenced worldview. According to the nation’s traditions, the individual creates patterns in which one sees himself/herself and sees others around.
Self-awareness is a part of human psychological development, which means that a person can answer two basic questions – “Where am I coming from?” and “Where am I going?” It means that a person is aware of his/her origin and current surrounding environment. The first question determines the background including experience, values, traditions and principles. It means that a person knows to which ethnic group he/she belongs, knows his/her own origin and remembers ancestors. The second question means that a person knows the direction of one’s activity. The person chooses goals, perspectives of development and aspiration. Self-awareness arouses from personal experience. It builds upon personal interactions with society.
The concept of self-schema has been introduced into social psychology as an element, which contributes to the development of any individual. A self-schema is a belief formed within opinion of an individual based on his/her perception of the surrounding world and experience. It is a fact that a self-schema helps to define the outlining elements of every individual. Beliefs may change during the life, but their influence on human development is unbearable. It is impossible to develop without considering personal beliefs.
The acting self is another psychological concept, which means that a person has the ability to accommodate to the environment. It happens according to the norms, principles and standards of communication, which contribute to the development of communicative patterns. It is impossible for a person to behave and communicate in the same way with family, co-workers, friends and strangers. At home, people feel free to be the way they are while at work they should act according to the norms and principles of society and workplace at the same time. It is unacceptable for an individual to act the same within all areas of social life. The acting self also means that a person realizes the importance of using appropriate methods and techniques of communication. It is important to adjust to the surrounding area and use appropriate communication patterns. It influences on human development and defines peculiarities of behavior and character in general.
Self-esteem is another outlining part of social psychology, which helps to understand the development of human nature. It is an element, which defines the way of thinking based on personal experience, values, appearance, character, education, family and other personal characteristics. Self-esteem defines opinion about personal development and image in general. Self-esteem can also be defined as self-awareness about personal characteristics. There are two types of self-esteem namely low and high. Low self-esteem means that a person has low expectations about his/her personal development and cannot move on without criticizing oneself on different issues. In contrast, a person with high self-esteem is cheerful and positive about his/her development. It performs along with positive thinking and personal confidence. Self-esteem determines whether a person has the ability to develop social skills and grow as a social element.
Self-efficacy is an element of social psychology, which helps to analyze personal character and define ways of development according to the defined problems. It is an essential element in human development related to self-esteem and self-awareness. It means that a person has a healthy ability to accept criticism and make self-analysis. It is an element, which helps a person to develop and to get rid of problems. Self-efficacy is an essential tool, which helps to analyze personal activity. At the same time, it sets goals according to the needs of an individual. For example, if a person has put on weight, self-efficacy along with self-esteem helps to set the goal of losing the weight. Hence, it creates a goal and sets the period of goal achievement.
2. Thinking About Others – What Judgments Do We Make About Other People?
Social psychology takes into consideration many elements, however, attribution is another part. It means that a person has the ability to analyze behavior and events. Moreover, it is possible to evaluate the causes and predict consequences of behavioral patterns and events. Attributions include three types such as internal, external and explanatory style. Every type has its own meaning and can be applied within different situations. Internal attribution means that an individual accepts the world according to his/her own experience. For example, when a person tells a story to someone, he/she tries to show himself/herself from the best side. External attributions help to analyze the consequences of some events. In times of troubles, an individual analyzes consequences, evaluated external factors, which caused the problem, and chooses an appropriate pattern helping to avoid the problem in the future. Explanatory style, in its turn, is a useful pattern of analysis, which helps to perceive the surrounding world and understand the nature of processes running within its boundaries. Many individuals find it useful to explain all events forming the external environment. Explanation helps to predict problems, evaluate consequences and develop a useful plan, which will prevent the problem in the future. All three types of attributions mean that a person develops an appropriate behavioral pattern, which helps to interact with the surrounding world and cope with its performance on the social level.
Attitude and behavior form other elements of social psychology. Attitude is a category, which includes personal evaluation techniques of events and external processes based on beliefs, experience and worldview. Every individual share his own attitude towards publicly shared events and processes. McLeod outlined an ABC model, which lies in the basement of attitude (McLeod, 2012). This model means that ‘A’ stands for ‘affective component.’ This part includes personal feelings and emotions. ‘B’ stands for ‘behavioral’ and prescribes the way an individual acts under the influence of his personal attitudes. ‘C’ stands for ‘cognitive’ and means that a person creates his/her attitude according to experience and knowledge. This model is the main one outlining the main aspects of attitude. Behavior, in its turn, is an element, which an individual can hardly control. It is defined by a majority of factors, which can hardly be changed. The individual obtains behavioral patterns in childhood and may transform them along with growing and enriching experience. Behavior is mainly prescribed by influence of environment. An individual learns how to act in terms that would be socially acceptable at all levels.
Prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination are related to each other. These elements form another part of social psychology, which penetrate activity of every social group. Prejudice usually means that an individual has an unjustified attitude towards other people (McLeod, 2008). Mainly, it means that a person relates his/her point of view to stereotypes. This form of social behavior arouses when a society spreads the idea or point of view without its justification. Stereotypes usually have no basement, and nobody is willing to make a controversial. Mainly, individuals are used to adhering to certain stereotypes without ensuring in their fairness. However, there are cases when individuals strive to break stereotypes and change the perception of the environment of the whole society. Discrimination falls in the third element of behavioral patterns. All three elements usually have a negative character. It means that an individual tends to make conclusions about another individual based on one’s race, gender, religion, class or any other personal peculiarities. Discrimination is an issue that takes place today in any country.
3. Influencing Others: Persuasion – How Do We Use the Power of Persuasion?
It is a fact that contemporary world performs according to the variety of persuasion techniques. Persuasion techniques aroused from the concept of human behavior and reaction to the processes running within the environment. For example, business field is built on the principles of persuasion, which help to understand the nature of customer’s needs. Douglas Kenrick, a professor of social psychology at Arizona State University, claims that persuasion techniques are related to six principles of human nature. Persuasion includes such behavioral patterns as authority, likeability, reciprocity, consistency, consensus and scarcity (Kenrick, 2012). In brief, it means that a person is willing to believe in the tendency of the development of the surrounding world. An individual is most likely to fall under influence of an expert. Moreover, an individual believes someone, who meets his/her own beliefs. Another aspect is that it is possible to persuade an individual if he/she believes that he/she makes a choice, which is popular. In general, persuasion techniques are based on trust, personal experience and tendency of the surrounding world development.
The main persuasion techniques include setting the mood of the target audience, claim trustworthy relations, ensure that the target audience is interested, enhance personal confidence, and to be enthusiastic and unique. The main approach is to involve the audience. The persuader should be confident, friendly, straightforward and fair. People should see that it is worth to trust persuader and follow his/her opinion. The message of the persuader should be short and simple. The audience should clearly understand the message and associate it with a certain object. Finally, the audience takes the final element in persuasion. The persuader should not forget about peculiarities of the target audience, which may have its own patterns of behavior and perception of information. In any persuasion, it is necessary to make an orientation on the target audience and adjust the message according to its characteristics. This technique is usually used in advertisement and business fields.
4. Influencing Others: Obedience and Conformity – What Factors Lead Us to Conform and Become Obedient?
Aggression takes another form of behavioral patterns. Society cannot get along without negative forms of behavior. Aggression manifests physical or verbal abuse of the individual intended to hurt another individual. There are different ideas regarding the nature of aggression. Health care professionals believe that it has its roots the human organism including neural, genetic and blood chemistry influences. In psychological aspect, this is an element, which takes place on a regular basis. Aggressive behavior is the result of violence, which penetrates society in different aspects. Aggression arises from the frustration (Kelvin, 2012). It is the element of human behavior, which means that an individual cannot achieve the goal according to some reasons. Frustration is possible to cause aggression along with violence, which lead to unpredictable consequences. At the same time, frustration arouses anger. There are many cases, when the sight of weapon causes aggression. Contemporary mass media is filled with stories and movies involving weapons. It is the first trigger of making individuals socially aggressive. Leonard Berkovitz offered a theory, which means that aggression arises from socially learnt cues (Kent, 2007). He stated that an individual acts according to the experience of interaction with environment and society in general. Berkovitz also claimed that in certain environmental conditions, an individual I most likely to manifest aggression and be violent towards others. In general, there is a significant relation of social processes towards behavior of separate individuals. It is undeniable that these two elements are connected.
Prosocial behavior is an element of social psychology opposite to aggression. While aggression destroys the welfare of society, prosocial behavior takes care of it. Individuals belonging to this direction usually work hard at helping others. It means that they develop appropriate patterns of behavior able to enhance the development of the society. Mainly, these people ensure that all individuals of the society are treated equally with empathy and concern. This type of behavior takes care of ensuring other people to benefit from social activity and contribute to the welfare of all individuals.
Of course, it is impossible to imagine a society without relationship building, love and attraction. The growth of society is impracticable without these elements. Attraction is an element of social psychology, which means that a person feels attraction to another individual according to his/her own criteria. Mainly, this criteria arises from self-concept, personal beliefs, self-schemes and worldview in general. Every individual strives to find someone, who will have a similar worldview, beliefs and values. These elements unite individuals and help them grow and develop. As a result, people feel attraction and start building relations. Friendship and love are the main uniting relations of individuals. People start any relations based on common interests, values, principles, beliefs and perceptions. It is impossible to say that building relations is an easy task. It is normal, when individuals go through quarrels, misunderstandings and difficulties in communication. It is common for all individuals to face different points of view trying to accommodate to each other’s values. Those individuals, who are lucky to have the same interests and values, go to another stage of relations development called love. Thus, love is another stage of human development, which means that individuals are close enough to create a family. Love is the basement of the society’s growth. It helps nations to grow and contribute to the further enhancement of the society in general. Finally, love unites people and helps them go through difficulties together. It is a powerful feeling, which gives birth to other generations and ensures society in prosperity.
5. Group Dynamics – What Are Elements of a Group?
It is common for individuals to unite into groups. There are numerous groups, which include individuals according to different personal characteristics. In order to understand the principle of individuals’ integration into groups, it is enough to mention a couple of them. A peer group usually includes people of the same age, sphere of interests and social status. Clique is a group, which takes place in university and unites students according to their interests. A club is a group, which means that individuals need to apply before becoming a member. A gang is a group involving more than three individuals, which usually gathers at the street. A household is the most common type of a group, which is usually represented by people living together in the same home (family). Groups include group thinking, which leads to particular consequences. It creates a single point of view followed by its members. If the majority of members have the same opinion, the rest of the group finally shares it. In separate cases, there may be some arguments. However, in general, group thinking means that all members have the same way of thinking and support the idea of another member. Mainly, all group members usually create the idea. Social dilemmas arouse as within groups, as within interactions of separate individuals. It means that an individual cannot make choice at once because of a variety of external and internal factors. It usually happens when personal worldview does not fit the worldview of a group or another individual. Social dilemmas boost the process of group and personal development, as it expands the diversity of worldview and values. Finally, human relations have always been the basement of the generation’s improvement.