Course title: general principles of social psychology course code: bsph 112 lesson 01

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Objectives of the lesson

By the end of the lesson students should know:

1. The definition of Social Psychology.

2. Major theoretical perspective of Social Psychology.

3. The Social Self concept and factors affecting it.

4. The meaning of attribution and some attribution biases.

Introduction to Social Psychology

Definition of Social Psychology

1. The Scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by others.

2. Social psychology as a scientific study can be divided into categories description and explanation.

a. Careful description is the first step to account for any phenomenon i.e. migration and intertribal warfare. Scientists develop reliable and valid methods to help them avoid biased description.

b. Social Psychologists also seek to explain why people influence one another in the way they do. A good scientific explanation can connect many unconnected observations into an interconnected, coherent and meaningful manner.

c. Scientific explanations that connect and organise existing observations are called theories.

d. Scientific theories organise what is already known and give hints about future occurrences. A good theory provides information on how to solve the problem.

e. Social psychological theories are more likely to suggest searching elsewhere for the causes of social behaviour – in a person’s interpretation of his or her immediate social environment.

f. Finally, scientific theories can help people to make predictions about future events.

3. Social Psychology is an interdisciplinary bridge – Social psychologists consider interaction of social behaviour at different level of analysis. For example studies of societies in the world have found that cultural differences in friendliness and sociability are linked to geographic variations in disease prevalence – Where there are more diseases, people have traits that lead them to avoid with others.


The four (04) major theoretical perspectives (families of theories) of Social Psychology are:

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