main features of experimental social psychology

main features of experimental social psychology

Outline the main features of experimental social psychology and consider the influences that led to its emergence. What do you think are its strengths and weaknesses?

Social psychology has many different theoretical perspectives. The focus of this essay will be the cognitive social perspective and its central method of research; experiments. I will therefore refer to this approach as experimental social psychology (ESP). My aim is to argue that despite some downfalls, ESP provides an indispensible contribution to understanding how the mind is structured by society (Haslam, 2007, DVD 1, DD307). To argue this I will outline the key characteristics of the approach which will involve looking at its historical development. This will give us an insight into how the discipline became grounded within scientific principles and was the dominant approach for much of its 100 year history (Holloway, 2007). I will then draw out what features undermined the perspective and will place the favourable and questionable aspects of the approach within four analytical themes called power relations; situated knowledge; individual-social dualism and agency-structure dualism (Holloway, 2007). These will also be used to critically evaluate ESP. Other perspectives will be incorporated to illustrate strengths and weaknesses but I will not go into detail about them. The intent is to finish the essay with a resonating thought that ESP has its main downfalls routed in its historical negligence but is nevertheless an invaluable source of knowledge that can be seen as complimentary to other perspectives.

In their attempts to transcend the individual-society dualism in understandings of the self, how successful have the social psychoanalytic and phenomenological perspectives been?

The 'self' is a concept that taken in its entirety may seem indefinable due to its innumerable connotations. Holloway (2007) presents a set of binary terms that make up some of the difficulties that have...

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