Social Psychology is a psychology subspecialty that looks at how people’s opinions, thoughts and feelings are altered or affected by the presence of others. Social influence, social perception and social interaction are all key concepts in understanding social psychology, or the relationship between individuals and others.
Following a career path in social psychology you will be expected to study human relationships and help others to function better in society as a whole. At every level of the human spectrum—from children to adults—the expertise of a social psychology professional can make a significant difference. Educationally, however, you will have to plan for life beyond undergraduate work.
A social psychologist is an advocate, but also helps clients see the human experience beyond their own thoughts, opinions and goals. This type of career professional can be utilized at both the individual and organizational levels to improve communication and interaction.
What Does a Social Psychologist Do?
As a social psychologist you will test hypotheses against one or more variables that require human interaction. For example, allowing children to play video games of aggressive and non-aggressive natures and then observing the two groups during playtime to see if the games have correlating effects on aggression. These types of experiments usually have a strong internal validity, which means you know there is a definite cause-and-effect relationship between the subject and the experiment.
On the flip side of this coin, social psychologists are often called upon to test the external validity of certain variables within an organization. If an employer wants to know, for instance, whether personnel policies are positively or negatively affecting morale, social psychologists can help by conducting surveys regarding employee surveys.
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Careers in Social Psychology
By obtaining a social psychology degree you will be well-trained in understanding how the human brain functions and how to theorize and apply research methods. As a result, a social psychologist can work in marketing departments for major corporations or can act as a consultant to businesses, schools and government organizations, among many other positions.
You can also teach at the collegiate level, since most who enter this profession do so with the intention of obtaining a master’s degree or PhD in social psychology. Social psychologists can even greatly influence the online world with continuing developments in social networking platforms.
Given how broad the career choices are, it’s difficult to define the high and low end salary expectations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, industrial and organizational psychologists earn a mean annual wage of $114,040. Those working in education earn the least with an annual mean wage of $69,650.
Obtaining a Social Psychology Degree
Aside from the four-year degree in psychology, you will also need to earn a doctorate (PhD or PsyD) social psychology degree if you hope to maximize earnings. This path is not easy. It generally requires an additional five years of full-time post-graduate study. It may also require a final dissertation based on independent research, but ultimately, you will need to check with your state for a complete list of requirements.