Social Psychology: The Study of Influences Essay

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Since the beginning of humanity, people have attempted to understand behavior. Rather it is a mother trying to understand her son adamant dislike for broccoli, or a psychologist trying to understand criminal behavior, “why” has always been a question that has been explored. Psychology, or the study of “why”, has been attempting to answer such questions for centuries. Although there are many answers (reflected in the number of schools of psychology), Social psychology attempts to explain the environmental factors that lead to a person behavior. By definition, Social Psychology is “the study of the manner in which the personality, attitudes, motivations, and behavior of the individual influence and are influenced by social groups”…show more content…
Following Aristotle ground breaking theories were the Sophists thinkers of Greece. They discussed the power of social and spiritual influences on the behavior of humans, as well as the effect of socialization and learning upon the individual (Sharma & Sharma, 1997). Aristotle and the Sophists sparked numerous theories in the connection between society (the social) and the individual. Although many have been debunked or disproven today, these arguments are believed to be the start of Social Psychology. Philosophical ideas like Aristotle’s and the Sophists slowly lead to the formation of non-experimental social psychology approaches. One major psychological concept that started the social branch of psychology was Volkerpsychologie. Volkerpsychologie, who’s main contributor was Wilhelm Wundt, dealt with “those mental products which are created by a community of human life and are, therefore, inexplicable in terms merely of individual consciousness since they presuppose the reciprocal action of many” (Manstead & Hewstone, 1996). In simpler terms, Volkerpsychologie looked at cultures and how its components (i.e. its language, myths, and customs) affected the individual. It is believed that Wundt, who dedicated 10 journals to Volkerpsychologie, considered social phenomenon psychology like Volkerpsychologie as a subject that could not be experimentally studied, and needed to be “explored via historical methods” (Greenwood,
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