Social psychology is the scientific
study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the
actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.
The terms thoughts, feelings, and
behaviors include all of the psychological variables that are measurable in a
The reference to imagined or implied
others suggests that we are prone to social influence even when no other people
are present, such as when watching television, or following internalized
The study of attitudes is a core
topic in social psychology.
Attitudes are involved in virtually
every other area of the discipline, including conformity, interpersonal
attraction, social perception, and prejudice. Social psychologists typically
explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and
immediate, social situations.
In general, social psychologists
have a preference for laboratory based, empirical findings.
Their theories tend to be specific
and focused, rather than global and general.