Social psychology (sociology)

In sociology, social psychology, also known as sociological social psychology or microsociology, is an area of sociology that focuses on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind with social structure and culture. Some of the major topics in this field are social status, structural power, sociocultural change, social inequality and prejudice, leadership and intra-group behavior, social exchange, group conflict, impression formation and management, conversation structures, socialization, social constructionism, social norms and deviance, identity and roles, and emotional labor. The primary methods of data collection are sample surveys, field observations, vignette studies, field experiments, and controlled experiments.


Sociological social psychology was born in 1902 with the landmark study by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order, which presented Cooley's concept of the looking glass self. The first textbook in social psychology by a sociologist appeared in 1908—Social Psychology by Edward Alsworth Ross. The area's main journal was founded as Sociometry by Jacob L. Moreno in 1937. The journal's name changed to Social Psychology in 1978, and to Social Psychology Quarterly in 1979.

In the 1920s W. I. Thomas contributed the notion of the definition of the situation, with the proposition that became a basic tenet of sociology and sociological social psychology: "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

One of the major currents of theory in this area sprang from work by philosopher and sociologist George Herbert Mead at the University of Chicago from 1894 forward. Mead generally is credited as the founder of symbolic interactionism. Mead's colleague and disciple at Chicago, sociologist Herbert Blumer, coined the name of the framework in 1937.

Sociologist Talcott Parsons, at Harvard University from 1927 forward, developed a cybernetic theory of action which was adapted to small group research by Parsons' student and colleague, Robert Freed Bales, resulting in a body of observational studies of social interaction in groups using Bales' behavior coding scheme, Interaction Process Analysis.[1] During his 41-year tenure at Harvard, Bales mentored a distinguished group of sociological social psychologists concerned with group processes and other topics in sociological social psychology.[2]