Essay Title: 

Social Psychology

April 3, 2016 | Author: | Posted in psychology, social sciences

Comparison of Two Approaches in Social Psychology

Social psychology gains its knowledge and refines and tests its theories through

research – by gathering and analyzing data . Two common trends in social psychology include experimental social psychology and critical social psychology . The process of experimental social psychology is approaching social events from a scientific perspective and has been the traditional form of psychological research in modern times . However critical social psychology has emerged very recently in response to a recent trend designed to legitimize subjective research . In other words , this approach has [banner_entry_middle]

spearheaded the development of new , largely qualitative , analytic tools for exploring the rich complexity of social worlds (Weatherall , 2006

Experimental social psychologists set up experiments , generate hypothesis , gather samples , conduct tests , and analyze the results much like a chemist or biologist might do . They deal with variables that are stable and variables that can be manipulated , and they measure outcomes in to draw conclusions (Stainton Rogers , 2003 . This process is familiar to most students of science and the scientific method

The critical social psychologists use discourse as a means of interpreting social phenomena . Discourse analysis assumes that language is the main mechanism by which people construct social meaning and that people use language for strategic purposes . Discursive resources take this meaning and examine how it applies across situations and settings and how it becomes a source of power within social situations (Stainton Rogers , 2003

Both of these approaches to the field share common goals while doing so through different philosophies . These two philosophies are ontology and epistemology . Ontology is a branch of philosophy which deals with sociology includes assumptions that are made about the nature of the social world and how its parts interrelate . Epistemology deals with the assumptions about how to validate knowledge or how to amass knowledge (Stainton , 2003

The similarities between the two approaches to social psychology are broad . Both of these approaches deal with the external social world The goals of experimental social psychology are to discover the relationship between the various parts of the social world . However , to perfectly discover all of the intricacies of these relationships is not completely possible . The goal of critical social psychology is to discover the social reality that is constructed through people ‘s actions , also known as social constructionism . Whereas the social world is separate from individuals in experimental social psychology , it is what the individuals make of it in critical social psychology (Stainton Rogers , 2003

However these two approaches diverge over three broad issues

The nature and status of knowledge

How to deal with complexity

The ability to be an desirability of being objective (Stainton Rogers , 2003 ,


Experimental social psychology assumes that it is possible to gain factual knowledge about human interactions and behavior in society and that this interaction can be studied and universalized . Critical social psychology argues that knowledge is only what humans make and thus will differ based on historical , cultural or even personal factors (Stainton Rogers , 2003

Experimental social psychologists thus… [banner_entry_footer]


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