Social Psychology: Define, Characteristics, Community, and Social Groups

Social Psychology: Define, Characteristics, Community, and Social Groups

What is social psychology?

Psychology is the science that studies human behavior and mental processes. Being quite broad, for its study and application, it is divided into two aspects: basic psychology and applied psychology.

Basic psychology, as the name implies, is the foundation of all the scientific knowledge behind this profession. This branch focuses on discovering, describing, and defining the concepts, functions, and processes through which people think, learn, feel, communicate and develop as individuals. In other words, basic psychology focuses on the biological part of the mind. 

For its part, applied psychology is dedicated to studying the usefulness of this science, that is, it focuses on problem-solving and optimizing mental processes. Some branches of this are clinical, child, educational, organizational, health, and sports psychology, among others. But one of the most important and that has helped the advancement of this science is social psychology. 

 Social Psychology: Define, Characteristics, Community, and Social Groups

Define social psychology

Social psychology is the study of social relationships and how they influence and modify people’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings. 

Perhaps you have noticed that your behavior changes depending on the company or the context in which you find yourself. It is not the same when you are among teachers or bosses as when you are among friends and family. These changes are precise what social psychology studies. 

Understanding these differences has an interesting impact on the world of work, education, culture, and politics since once the factors that lead to these behaviors are known, they can be modified, eliminated, or intensified to improve the relationship between groups of people. 

Social psychology also analyzes the norms and principles that shape the coexistence between humans. Thanks to this approach, today we know more about topics such as:

  • Behavior patterns
  • Social roles
  • Collective consciousness
  • Social relationships
  • Social identity
  • Stereotypes
  • Values
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership


Psychology is much more than learning to know ourselves or to solve problems, psychology is a science that helps us understand ourselves as a society and as humans. Without the contributions of this discipline, we would not know the value of understanding, support, love, friendship, respect, and coexistence. 

Characteristics of social psychology

  • Examine human behavior.
  • It indicates the psychological development that the human being must have at a certain age.
  • Study the relationships between subject to subject, group to group and from society to society.
  • Determine pathologies or inappropriate forms of behavior.

Community social psychology

Community social psychology is responsible for the study of the relationship between communities and human behavior based on external factors such as social and environmental, also community social psychology intervenes in the prevention of psychosocial problems and improves human development from the strengthening of its community.

Applied social psychology

Applied social psychology refers to the investigation of a significant problem from the social point of view and seeks to obtain theoretical and practical knowledge to perceive the factors that contribute to the possible solution of the problem.

Cognitive social psychology

Cognitive social psychology is based on the study of the mental phenomena involved in knowledge, that is, it analyzes the basic and deep mechanisms from which knowledge is derived, such as perception, memory, learning, knowledge formation, and knowledge. logic reasoning.

What are Social Groups?

Social groups are groups of people who come together and interact due to common values, norms, beliefs and / or social interests.

Since the beginning of humanity, there have been social groups. To form a social group, a minimum of two people is necessary, not having a maximum limit of members. The sociologist Georg Simmel (1858-1918) was dedicated to the investigation of the dynamics of small groups classifying them in:

  • Dryads : composed of two members, it is extremely fragile since if one of the members leaves the group, the group falls apart.
  • Triads : social group formed by three people whose dynamics are more flexible than dryads.

The social interaction between members of a social group is defined by the communication between them and not by proximity. Social media, in this sense, has helped expand social groups beyond physical boundaries.

 Social Psychology: Define, Characteristics, Community, and Social Groups

Types of social groups

Sociology also divides social groups according to the intimacy of social interaction between their members, being the following:

  • Primary : they are those that constitute the most intimate circle, generate, therefore, greater interaction and cooperation on the part of the person such as, for example, family and close friends. They are characterized by the voluntary association of members without the need for formalization.
  • Secondary or formal : they are social groups that define norms and rules for the generation of said relationship, such as, for example, a union or a political association.
  • Informal : they are formed due to ties of friendship, but without structure like former classmates.
  • Membership : members adhere to this type of social group to show their place of belonging in society, such as a soccer game or an urban tribe.
  • Reference : it belongs as a member for comparison and imitation of styles, norms or forms.
  • Peers : they are homogeneous groups in age, interests and social class.

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Social Psychology: Define, Characteristics, Community, and Social Groups