社会心理学专业分析与研究前景

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心理学领域非常广泛,许多人认为心理学家只有一项职责:在一对一的环境中为患者提供心理健康咨询。 然而,许多心理学分支从未从事此类临床工作,而是专注于研究人类行为。 社会心理学就是其中之一。 本文讨论了社会心理学领域,为什么它可能是学术探究的一个引人入胜的领域,以及如何攻读研究生学位。

 

社会心理学的起源和定义

 

最早关于群体行为的社会心理学实验是在 1900 年之前进行的,但该领域则是在 1939 年至 1945 年二战期间由研究人员推动的,他们试图了解德国独裁者阿道夫·希特勒如何在他的追随者中煽动如此极端的服从和可怕的行为。随之而来的研究试图了解人类的顺从性,证明了顺从性压力在社会群体中的重要性,以及当权者如何创造服从(甚至在被告知时会导致测试对象伤害他人)。 

 

1875 年,威廉·詹姆斯在哈佛大学开设了美国第一门正式的心理学课程。社会心理学不仅发起了对人们为什么服从的研究,而且还在多个领域有所创新,包括但不限于:对攻击性、利他主义、决策、群体行为、歧视/成见、说服研究。美国心理学会 (APA) 列出了 15 个心理学子领域,包括临床心理学、大脑和认知心理学、发展心理学、定量心理学等。 《韦氏词典》将社会心理学定义为:“研究个体的人格、态度、动机和行为如何影响和受社会群体影响的方式”。

 

社会心理学的研究范围

 

社会心理学家试图揭示人们的感知和行为如何以及为什么会受到环境因素的影响(例如,当人们彼此互动时)。该领域的学者和专业人士开展研究,寻求以下问题的答案:

  • 人们如何根据与周围人的互动来改变他们的想法和决定?
  • 个性会导致精确、可预测的人类行为吗?
  • 我们对世界的看法会影响我们的行为方式吗?
  • 潜在的负面社会态度,如偏见,是如何形成的?

例如,想想你在家人周围的行为,这和你在朋友面前的行为方式一样吗?更进一步,这也是你在陌生人面前的行为方式吗?答案很可能是否定的……社会心理学家试图了解我们为什么这样做,以及是什么影响了我们行为的这种变化。与研究群体的社会学家不同,社会心理学家研究群体中的个体。侧重心理学的社会心理学与侧重社会学的社会心理学不同——前者倾向于研究个体的内在心理过程,而后者倾向于研究影响社会生活的因素,如社会地位、角色和社会层级。

 

了解人们的想法、行为和感受是出于个人和职业原因而必须具备的一项重要技能——了解社会心理学可以让人们对他人做出预测,从而有助于了解周围的人。从专业上讲,这套技能可以应用于很多领域:人力资源、营销、冲突解决、调解、法律策略等。研究个人与周围人之间的动态关系变得越来越重要:报纸、杂志、网站、和其他媒体经常报道社会心理学家的研究结果,这项研究的结果影响了广泛领域的决策。

 

 

社会心理学的未来拓展

本科生修读的心理学专业,不是该领域内某个单独分支。大多数本科心理学课程要求学生参加各分支的多种课程,让学生可以自由探索包括异常、发展、认知、社会和行为心理学在内的分支。本科生接触这些入门和初级分支课程,能够帮助学生确定哪些分支最吸引他们,以及为日后攻读研究生的目标奠定了基础。

 

持有心理学本科学位对于职业世界来说是无限“灵活”的,因为学生必须学习批判性思维、写作、统计分析和学习行为。不过如果想要精进心理学领域的知识,学生需要继续攻读更高的学位。我将在下一篇文章讨论社会心理学进阶学术路径,以及在该领域获得硕士或博士学位以后的职业选择。

 


英文原文:
Social Psychology: What it is, why one may choose this field, and the path to the Ph.D.
The field of psychology is incredibly broad, with many people thinking that psychologists only have one duty: to counsel patients in a one on one setting about their mental health. However, many of the branches of psychology never do this type of clinical work and instead focus on the study of human behavior; social psychology is one of those areas. This article discusses the field of social psychology, why it might be an engaging area of academic inquiry and how to pursue the post-graduate degree.
Social Psychology Origins and Definition
The earliest social psychology experiments on group behavior were conducted before 1900 but the field was pushed forward by researchers who attempted to understand how the German dictator Adolf Hitler incited such extreme obedience and horrendous behaviors in his followers during World War II in 1939-1945. Studies trying to understand human conformity ensued, demonstrating the importance of conformity pressures in social groups and how people in authority could create obedience (even leading test subjects to harm others when told to do so). The first formal psychology course in the United States was initiated at Harvard University by William James in 1875.  Social psychology has not only led to studies of why we conform but also: studies of aggression, altruism, decision making, group behavior, discrimination/stereotyping, and persuasion (just to name a few areas).   The American Psychological Association (APA) lists 15 subfields of psychology, including clinical psychology, brain and cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, quantitative psychology, and more.  The Merriam Webster dictionary defines social psychology as: “​​the study of the manner in which the personality, attitudes, motivations, and behavior of the individual influence and are influenced by social groups”.
The Study of Social Psychology
 
Social psychologists seek to uncover how and why people’s perceptions and actions are influenced by environmental factors (such as when people interact with one another).  Academics and professionals in the field will conduct studies seeking answers to questions such as:
  • How do people change their thoughts and decisions based on interactions with those around them?
  • Does personality lead to precise, predictable human behavior?
  • Does how we perceive the world influence how we behave?
  • How do potentially negative social attitudes, such as prejudice, form?
For example, think about how you act around your family; is it the same as the way you act around your friends – and taking it one step further, is this how you act around strangers? The answer is most likely no…and social psychologists seek to understand why we do this, and what influences such changes in our behaviors.  Social psychologists study individuals within a group (unlike sociologists who study groups).  Psychological social psychology differs from sociological social psychology–psychological social psychology places a greater emphasis on internal psychological processes of individuals, whereas the latter focuses on factors that affect social life, such as status, role, and class.
Knowing how people think, act and feel is an important skill to have for both personal and professional reasons — understanding the social psychology of humans allows for one to perhaps make predictions about other people, lending itself to understanding those around them.  Professionally, this skill set can be applied to so many areas: human resources, marketing, conflict resolution, mediation, legal strategy, etc.  Studying the dynamic relationship between individuals and the people around them has become increasingly important: newspapers, magazines, websites, and other media frequently report the findings of social psychologists, with the results of this research influencing decisions in a wide variety of areas.
Extending Social Psychology Learning
As an undergraduate, students major in psychology, not the separate branches within the field. Most undergraduate psychology curricula require students to take a variety of courses in the various branches, allowing students the freedom to explore branches that include abnormal, developmental, cognitive, social and behavioral psychology. Being exposed to introductory and intermediate courses as an undergraduate lays a foundation for students to identify what branches most appeal to them, and what to pursue for post graduate studies.  While an undergraduate degree in psychology is infinitely “flexible” for the career world because students must learn critical thinking, writing, statistical analysis and study behavior, only through advanced post graduate work will a student hone their knowledge in the field of psychology in order to advance within this area.  My next article will discuss advancing scholarly work in social psychology and routes a career can take with a master or doctoral degree in the field.

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厚仁教育常春藤规划与公司培训总监,美国康涅狄格州出生,哈佛大学教育学硕士,加州大学戴维斯分校社会心理学博士。曾在宾夕法尼亚大学、达特茅斯学院等常青藤大学担任院长级别职位长达12年。在厚仁教育集团担任升学规划总监,主要负责学生规划导师招募选拔以及学生教学指导的质量提升,为当地以及国际学生申请进行能力评判,提升以及总体规划。
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