In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Social Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Data Sources
  • The “Faces” of Sociological Social Psychology
  • Emotions

Sociology Social Psychology
Alison Bianchi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 November 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 November 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0069


According to one of its most notable early researchers, the psychologist Gordon Allport, social psychology is the scientific investigation of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. Given this broad definition, studying social psychology would require a truly interdisciplinary effort from researchers in the fields of psychology, political science, anthropology, economics, sports science, and sociology. Indeed, during the nascent period of the field, before and directly after World War II, psychologists and sociologists collaborated on important explorations of social behavior. However, over time researchers from these two disciplines began to specialize in certain aspects of social psychology, with sociologists concentrating more on how social structure shapes people and how people in turn change or maintain social structure and social organization. This article focuses on the major contributions of sociological social psychologists to the field of social psychology with an emphasis on theoretical works. In general, sociological social psychologists study the interplay among culture, social structure, and individual conscious and nonconscious processes of the mind and emotions.

Classic Works

The classic works of sociological social psychology laid the groundwork for later theorizing about how individuals interact within groups, define their social circumstances, and interpret shared meanings through language and symbols. These tomes are considered the foundation of thought for the field.

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