Social Psychology and Political Psychology

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Simon, Prof. Dr. Bernd
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What is Social Psychology?

Teaching and research in social psychology is all about human experience and behaviour in the context of social interaction with other individuals at intra- and inter-group levels. Research in the field is conducted using a range of empirical methods, including in particular, laboratory experiments, but also questionnaire and interview based studies. Further to the fundamental research fields in social psychology concerned with topics such as attitude, prejudices, aggression, altruism and group behaviour, applied research is also conducted (e.g. resolving inter-group social conflicts).

What is Political Psychology?

Political psychology is concerned with understanding political phenomena from a psychological, in particular from a social psychological perspective. In this sense, political psychology can be understood as a field of applied social psychology. As a relatively recent discipline, political psychology draws upon a number of theories and methods, from beyond the field of social psychology, which include political science, sociology, philosophy, anthropology and history. The work of political psychologists may be either quantitative and statistical, or qualitative and narrative. Central research topics in political psychology include justice, power, conflicts between groups, protest, and public opinion, as well as social and political transformation.

What is Evaluation?

A range of disciplines in psychology are interested in the development and improvement of programs and intervention measures (e.g. the development of social programs to improve living standards in socially disadvantaged districts, development of integration programs for immigrants). The validity of these programs and intervention measures needs to be tested, both during development and after implementation, i.e. evidence must be provided to confirm the fact that measures fulfil the specific goals that the programs set out to achieve (e.g. improving living conditions). Accordingly, evaluation can be defined as checking the effectiveness of programs and intervention measures using scientific research methodology and techniques, therefore enabling evidence-based evaluation and selection of social and psychological intervention measures.