Social and Multicultural Psychology
There are lots of fields that make up psychology. Some deal with human emotions and others deal with the connections between humans. The latter is considered social psychology. A subfield of social psychology is multicultural psychology. This writing will explain both social and multicultural psychology and review how they are related to one another as well as explain the three primary research strategies that are used in social psychology. The best place to begin is with a definition of social psychology.
Social psychology focuses on how each person has an influence over his or her peers. Social psychology is known as a “scientific attempt to explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other human beings” (Fiske, 2010, p. 4). Social psychology has a wide range of focus in hopes to understand the influence people have over other people. What this means is people have ability to change the way other people think and behave. An example of this is; a man running for a political position. He would need to use his influence over the population in order for them to like him enough to cast their vote to put him into office. Psychologists use research to study a target population without observing them in their natural environment. There are three primary research strategies that are used in psychology to do this.
Primary Research Strategies
The three strategies of conducting research are social psychology is multicultural psychology. The researcher can determine which of the three he or she needs to use when faced with a certain type of information that needs to be found within the study.
Descriptive research “aims to depict accurately some characteristic in a population of interest” (Fiske, 2010, p. 53). One variable is focused on at a time in order to assess the level of the variable within the target population. An example of this is the percentage of smoking teenagers (variable one) in a certain middle school (variable two). The researcher creates a hypothesis about what he or she expects to see from the study, “raises specific issues about sampling, and addresses a unique kind of question” (Fiske, 2010, p. 53). Normally this type of research is done by handing out public opinion surveys.
This type of research brings to light the “implicit comparison lurking behind descriptive research” (Fiske, 2010, p. 56). Correlation research tells how one variable is compared to another variable within the same study as well as the potential influence of change in one variable affecting the second variable. There should always be some way that each variable affects the other and how they respond to the other, which will be in one of three ways; positive, negative, or zero. A positive relationship means that the two variables are closely similar to each other. For example; a person who is very loud and very obnoxious: the variables – loud and obnoxious are both high on the scale, which means that they are the same and makes them have a positive relationship. It needs to be mentioned that this can also be true if the person is not loud and not obnoxious as well as somewhat loud and somewhat obnoxious. Both of these relationships would also be positive because they are the same.
Negative relationships are the opposite of each other. Using the same example; a person who is very loud, but not obnoxious is said to have a negative relationship because very loud is high and not obnoxious is low, which means the variables are opposite each other. This is where zero relationships come into play because sometimes the information can be deceiving when the variables are seemingly closely related. For example; a person is very loud, but is somewhat obnoxious. In this scenario, the relationship would show no relationship because very loud is high and somewhat obnoxious is in the middle. The researcher would use numbers to show the correlations (relationships) between the variables. The range of these correlations will be between – and + 1.00.
Lastly, the experimental research would normally be conducted in a controlled atmosphere, such as a laboratory. The researcher can use the data collected in one experiment and use it to predict the results for subsequent experiments. However, a third variable may affect the results of the experiment. If this occurs, the researcher must attempt to eliminate or incorporate the third variable into the study. Each of these strategies is great for understanding social psychology, but there is a subfield called multicultural psychology that also needs to be mentioned.
According to Lott (2010), multicultural psychology is defined as “the systematic study of all aspects of human behavior as it occurs in settings where people of different backgrounds encounter one another” (p. 2). Multicultural psychology is closely related to social psychology in that it studies the influences of humans on other humans; however, it is only concerned with how the backgrounds or cultures of people have an influence in social settings. Multicultural psychology differs from social psychology because it includes the understanding of one’s own culture with respect to other people’s cultures and the acquiring of the appropriate sensitive interpersonal skills (Lott, 2010).
Social and Multicultural Psychology Differences
According to Lott (2010), although the United States comprises lots of different cultural people working together, they are the “embodiments of such differences by virtue of their own unique multicultural selves” (Lott, 2010, p. 7). The people in the US make up their cultural uniqueness as a whole; however, they have different cultures based on “cultures of ethnicity, gender, social class, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, and geographical location” (Lott, 2010, p. 7). The main difference between the two are that social psychology focuses on how people are influenced by the actual, imagined, and implied presence of other people and that multicultural psychology focuses on human behaviors that are influenced by cultural differences.
Psychology is made up of many fields of study surrounding human beings. However, social and multicultural psychology seeks to answer certain questions about how humans relate to each other in specific ways. There are research strategies that can assist researchers in determining how data is to be represented and translated.
Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd ed.). Danvers, MA: Wiley.
Lott, B. (2010). Multiculturalism and diversity: A social psychological perspective. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
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