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Social Climate Research

  1. J. B. Bennett

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0885

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Bennett, J. B. 2010. Social Climate Research. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–4.

Author Information

  1. Texas Christian University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Social climate (psychological climate, social context) is typically defined as the perceptions of a social environment that tend to be shared by a group of people. Climate is rooted in perception (“how I see the way things are done or how people treat each other around here”). Culture refers more to the beliefs, values, and norms that comprise the interdependent experiences and practices of larger collectives (“what we—as a group—should do and why and how we do it”) (Deninson, 1996; Schneider, 1990). Like meteorological or atmospheric climate, social climate is relatively distinctive across groups (as the tropics differ from the Himalayas), is dynamic or changeable within groups (like the seasons), and can influence behavior (like an individual's choice of clothing). Social climate research has grown considerably since White and Lippitt's (1960) early experiments comparing democratic, autocratic, and laissez-faire leadership in small groups of children. The concept and measurement of social climate have since been applied across widely diverse disciplines both within and outside the field of psychology.


  • group behavior;
  • group psychology;
  • social climate research;
  • social environment