Difference Between Social Psychology and Sociology

Social Psychology vs Sociology

Education related to society plays a vital role in molding people in to socially responsible individuals. Understanding how a society behaves as one big entity, what affects its behaviors and patterns, how cultures and religions contribute are some of the aspects which both social psychology and sociology give attention to. There are many similarities between social psychology and sociology. For one, both of these subject areas focus on building a better society, but their approaches may be quite different.

What is Social Psychology?

Social psychology is a branch of psychology which is focused on society. According to psychologist Gordon Allport, it is “a discipline that uses scientific methods to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other human beings” (1985). Social psychology is comprised of studies in areas such as social perception, group behavior, aggression, prejudice, conformity, leadership etc. The basic social psychology goes back to the times of Plato where he refers to it as “crowd mind”. But actual interest in social psychology started after the World War II. Social psychology is scientific and experimental. Social psychologists look at situational variables and try to explain the social behaviors. They are interested in connecting the dots between social environment and attitudes and behaviors.

What is Sociology?

Sociology is comparatively a wider subject. Sociology is the study of human relationships and institutions. It is wide and diverse and focuses on almost all aspects that would affect the society. Sociology studies how religions, cultures, races, social classes, economic states, caste systems etc. have an impact on how the society functions. Sociologist studies changes in society may they be drastic or minor. Even the slightest changes in society may have interesting reasons behind them.

Sociology covers almost everything a man experiences in a life time. From romantic love, racial and gender identity, family conflict, deviant behavior, aging, and religious faith to matters like crime and law, poverty and wealth, prejudice and discrimination, schools and education, business firms, urban community and to the global level issues such as war and peace nothing can escape sociology. Sociology experiments or research methods vary from social psychology. Sociologists collect data for longer periods, conduct large scale surveys, and conduct census and use statistics and other tools to interpret already available information such as historical data.

What is the difference between Social Psychology and Sociology?

• Social psychology is a branch of psychology and sociology is not.

• Social psychology is a narrow subject area when compared with sociology because it is a wide and diverse subject.

• The approaches and methods the two subjects use are different.

• Social psychology uses situational variables and scientific methods in studying but social psychology uses statistics, population observations, census, and other methods in studying.