Social Psychology: Characteristics, Motives, and Situationism Essay

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Social Psychology: Characteristics, Motives, and Situationism
May 27, 2013

Social Psychology: Characteristics, Motives, and Situationism
According to Fiske (2010), the classic definition of social psychology is, “the scientific attempt to explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other human beings” [ (p. 4) ]. In other words, where general psychology is the study of human behavior on an individual level, social psychology is the study of human behavior in a social context. There are four key characteristics of social psychology including broad scope, cultural mandate, scientific methods, and search for wisdom. Social psychologists
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Virtue ethics might imply that this person would likely procrastinate in all areas of her life however a social psychologist would imply that perhaps only in the least important situation does she procrastinate.
Five Core Social Motives
Individuals moving in and out of different situations are motivated in at least five central areas. Successful social beings are motivated to belong, understand the environment around them, to have some control of the situation they are in, to have high self-esteem and, and trust those around them.
One of the strongest and most fundamental of the core motives is the need to belong. Belonging is the notion that individuals seek and need strong relationships with other individuals [ (Fiske, 2010) ]. Research shows that belonging is good for the individual as well as the group [ (Fiske, 2010) ]. Although a correlation does not always support cause, evidence does show that when individuals form strong ties with others they are less likely to have health issues, become depressed, or commit suicide [ (Fiske, 2010) ].
Understanding is a cognitive motivation in which individuals strive to make sense of what is happening around them [ (Fiske, 2010) ]. In a recent article in the New York Times examining conspiracy theories, scientists explain that when individuals are faced with powerlessness and uncertainty, this triggers a portion of the brain that kicks in the analytic drive which