Chapter 1: What is social psychology? (pp. 3–20)
What's it about?
Social psychology studies the effects of construction of reality and cognitive processes on the way individuals perceive, influence, and relate to others in order to understand the social behavior of individuals. This is done in a systematic way, using scientific methods, constructed with the awareness of possible error.
Social psychology split from general psychology by maintaining an emphasis on important effects of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Human social behavior can be understood in terms of a few fundamental social psychology processes, flowing from eight principles. We shape our own construction of reality by cognitive and social processes. Other people influence this construction by influencing our thoughts, feelings, and behavior, which shows the pervasiveness of social influence. In addition, people's motivations to striving for mastery, seeking connectedness, and valuing me and mine influence their social behaviors.
Finally, social behavior can be understood in terms of the way people process (superficiality versus depth), and consider information (accessibility: accessible information has the most impact). And when views are established, the principle of conservatism holds; established views are slow to change.