Nature of social psychology

Application of social psychology

The application of social psychology is now gaining momentum in the contemporary world.Many of the modern social psychologists are currently working in hospitals, government offices,business organizations and other semi-academic and non-academic institutions to assess, control and predict human behaviour under different settings and solve social problems. In view of the applied bias attached to social psychology today Rodin (1985) has defined social psychology as the utilization of social psychological principles and research methods in real world settings in the attempt to solve social problems.

The social psychology has in a major way concentrated its attention on the following areas. Role of social psychology in legal system,Health psychology, Psychology in work setting i.e., organizational behaviour, Consumer behaviour, Solution of social problems, Social psychology in education, Social psychology in crime and delinquency, Social psychology in community and national affairs, Social psychology in military etc.

1. Role of Social Psychology in Legal System

In a society, there is enough scope for interaction and when people interact their behavior and judgment etc. are affected by various factors like attitudes, emotions, beliefs and cognitions. In the court room or in the legal system, these attitudes and beliefs affect the participants like the judges, and jury,pleaders,attorney, dependants and witnesses in a major way.Huge Munster berg started investing the accuracy in the statements of eyewitnesses at the turn of the century.On the basis of his observations, he pointed out that people have by and large a tendency to reconstruct events in ways that do not match what actually occurred.He opined that emotions strongly affect the memories of witnesses as a result of which accounts of what occurred or happened were very often greatly distorted or transformed by fear, anxiety and anger etc. Recently there was an effort to increase the accuracy of the testimonies of eyewitnesses.Munster berg devises a physiological instrument to detect lying and also investigated the application of the technique of hypnosis as means to bring accuracy in the testimony of the witnesses.Both lie detection and hypnosis are the centre of current research efforts in this field (Juckerman,Driver andKoestner, 1982, Sanders and Simmons 1983, Spiegel, 1985).

Munster berg further believed that not only witnesses but also judges and juries were subject to the effects of suggestibility and persuasion. Thus applied research on the legal system provides convincing evidence that psychological factors influence witnesses, jurors and defendants, attorneys and judges according to Baren and Byrne (1988).

2. Health Psychology

It refers to the social psychological aspects of health care. Gundola (1985) views that some personality variables predispose a person having certain illnesses. Increase inphysical fitness leads to an improvement in psychological characteristics such as creativity.Thus according to Rogers (1983) health psychology studies the psychological processes that affect the prevention and treatment of physical illness. Prevention being always better than cure, preventing illness is always desirable than treating illness. Kirscht (1983) holds that any health programs must deal with individual differences in the willingness to follow medical advice.Analysis of the problem led to the development of health belief model. It means that an individual’s beliefs about health and threat of illness are used to predict his health related behaviour.

Weinstein (1904) noted that college students hold unrealistically optimistic beliefs about their health risks.These findings may lead one to hold lack of knowledge on the part of the students which is not actually correct. Rudy and Salovey (1984) further say that the problem lies not in having the information but in applying it to oneself.

One of the important applications of social psychology is in the area of mental health and psychotherapy.As a branch of behaviour sciences, it attempts to apply basic psychological knowledge to both the prevention and cure of individual behaviour disorders which threatens the security of either the individual or the society in which he lives.

3. Social Psychology and Work Setting

The study of organizational behaviour involves what people do in organizational settings. In business, behaviour is influenced not only by economic factors, but social psychologyas well.Weber’s theory of bureaucracy was conceived without any regards for interpersonal dynamics of awork setting.Later Haw thorne studies indicated that worker’s productivity was increased by social factors such as attention paid to the workers.

Most of the people spend their half of the time at a job outside the home.Thus, the study of organizational behaviour has broad consequences for both employees and employers.This field seeks to understand and predicts human behaviour in organizational settings by means of the scientific study of individuals, groups and the structure and functions of organization.The social psychologists play a significant role in achieving job satisfaction and assessing its effects, selecting the right employee, and solving the industrial disputes etc.

4. Social Psychology in Community and NationalAffairs

Social psychology is very much useful to the human affairs particularly at the community, national and international levels.For example, at the community level, meetings are conducted to expand the social awareness of the community and motivates the community to work jointly for the fulfillment of desired goals.

5. Social Problem in Military

The application of research on group dynamics may also be drawn in connection with military job performance and military organizations.The performance of such social units as bomber crews and submarine crews has been explored in terms of variables of leadership, group cohesiveness and role relationships.The application of social psychological research to military organizations are essentially parallel to those in business and industry, although more formalized and rigidly structured military organizations are essentially analogous to industrial communities (Paliwal, 2003).

6. Consumer Behaviour

The behaviour of the individual in advertising, product information, packaging, brand names and all other factors involved in marketing products and services come under applied social psychology.Consumer psychology is that field which deals with the factors affecting consumer behaviour (Betlman, 1986). All these discussions lead one to conclude that application of social psychology to organizational and consumer behaviour is of crucial importance in every aspect of one’s life. It would really be difficult to conceive any human behaviour where the findings of social psychology would be inapplicable and irrelevant.The science of social psychology as an applied science contributes a lot indealing with the problems of national and international tension,communal and social prejudice,discrimination, and conflicts relating to socio-economic status in uncovering the relevant causes of these problems in specific situations.The concrete details of various problems of social psychology are to be known for applying social psychology to the concrete situation. For all these work, careful research on applied social psychology is essential. The various problems of social psychology change from time to time and form culture to culture and even to some extent in the same culture depending upon the parental and neighbourhood and inter personal problems influence various social problems which are also studied by applied social psychologists. However, it is reasonable to hold that the findings of social psychological research with certain exceptions can bewidely generalizable and potentially useful to all human beings of the society provided they have an applied bias.Only formulating theories and principles on social psychology is not enough.

7. Social Psychology and Social Problems

Social psychology deals with immediate everyday social problems.Of course, it doesn’t directly offer solutions, but in many ways it contributes useful guidance towards possible ways of understanding andworking with these problems.

8. Social Psychology in Education

Education is a process of social learning.Education is a joint endeavor of home, school and society to bring about a desirable behavioural change among children  so that they become responsible citizens. Social psychology deals with the behaviour of the individual in a ‘social context’. School is a “miniature society” where deliberately planned educational programmes are executed.

The teacher uses verbal communication in attempting to shape attitudes, opinions and values of students. The continued interaction of students with teachers for a longer period shows properties of organized groups. So, the educational research focuses on psychological study of group dynamics.Therefore,education and social psychology are interrelated.

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