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Social Psychology

  1. Bernadette Park,
  2. J. Allegra Smith

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0896

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Park, B. and Smith, J. A. 2010. Social Psychology. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–4.

Author Information

  1. University of Colorado at Boulder

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The classic definition of social psychology, provided by Gordon W. Allport (1985), is “an attempt to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behavior of individuals is influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.” That is, social psychology studies how we are affected to our very core by the fact that we are fundamentally social creatures. If humans lived solitary and disentwined lives, the field of social psychology most certainly would not exist. Social psychologists study a wide variety of topics, many of which overlap with other areas of psychology (developmental, cognitive, clinical, neuroscience), as well as other disciplines outside psychology (sociology, education, law, business, political science). At its core are three guiding principle that weave together theory and research within the field (see Ross & Nisbett, 1991).


  • situationism;
  • subjective construal;
  • tension systems;
  • methodology;
  • social systems