What is the Difference Between Social Psychology and Sociology

The main difference between social psychology and sociology is their scope. Social psychology studies how society and social environment affect individuals’ behaviour, whereas sociology studies groups within society and society as a whole to analyze how people behave as part of a social system.

Social psychology and sociology are two fields that study human behaviour and how humans interact with the world. Although these fields share some similarities, there are several differences between social psychology and sociology.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Social Psychology  
      – Definition, Features, Areas
2. What is a Sociology
     – Definition, Features, Areas
3. Similarities Between Social Psychology and Sociology
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Social Psychology and Sociology
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Social Psychology, Sociology

Difference Between Social Psychology and Sociology - Comparison Summary

What is Social Psychology

Social psychology is a branch of psychology that studies social interactions, including their origins and their effects on the individual using scientific methods. It attempts to explain how thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of people are shaped and affected by others. In brief, social psychology is all about understanding how the social environment shapes and affect people’s behaviour. This branch of psychology studies various topics such as group behavior, leadership, social perception, aggression, prejudice, relationships, and nonverbal behavior.

Compare Social Psychology and Sociology

Social psychologists use both basic and applied research methods to conduct research on individuals and social groups.  Using basic research methods, they focus on fundamental human nature and ask questions about people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. For example, a social psychologist may explore what makes a person build a friendship with another or what makes a person enter a conflict with another. Applied research, on the other hand, focuses on specific niches in human life – for example, health, education, or business.

What is Sociology

Sociology is a social science that focuses on human interactions, human relationships, social structure, and social organization. This field includes the study of areas like development, structures, organizations, units, institutions, and social roles of individuals, etc. Moreover, the subject matter of sociology ranges from micro levels (such as individual and family) to macro levels of systems and social structures.

Social Psychology vs Sociology

Social class, social stratification, social mobility, law, etc., are the areas that were traditionally studied in sociology. It has now expanded to other disciplines such as medicine, politics, education, the military, etc. Sociologists also study civilization and the social behaviour of people, groups, and cultures. Studying different groups of people (for example, political or religious groups) help them to examine their effect on society and the effect they have on individuals. Sociology uses both quantitative and qualitative data collected through surveys and sampling.

Similarities Between Social Psychology and Sociology

  • Social psychology and sociology are two fields that study human behaviour and how humans interact with the world.
  • Both study social interactions and human relationships.

Difference Between Social Psychology and Sociology

Definition

Social psychology is a branch of psychology that studies social interactions, including their origins and their effects on the individual using scientific methods, whereas sociology is a social science that focuses on human interactions, human relationships, social structure, and social organization.

Focus

While social psychology focuses on individuals, sociology focuses on social groups and society.

Scope

Social psychology studies how society and social environment affect individuals’ behaviour, whereas sociology studies groups within society and society as a whole to analyze how people behave as part of a social system.

Educational Path

To become a social psychologist, students have to study psychology or sociology at a bachelor’s level and then earn a master’s degree in psychology; however, to become a sociologist, they need a sociology degree.

Conclusion

The main difference between social psychology and sociology is their scope. Social psychology studies how society and social environment affect individuals’ behaviour, whereas sociology studies groups within society and society as a whole to analyze how people behave as part of a social system.

Reference:

1. Cherry, Kendra. “Social Psychology Field Overview.” Verywell Mind.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Social-psychology-division” By Lucidish~commonswiki assumed – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims). (CC BY 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Sociology-Collective-Social-Personal-Group-5131433” (CC0) via Max Pixel

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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