'All psychology is social'
Many, many moons ago I was in a job interview for a psychology lecturer post. ‘What type of psychologist are you?’, asked the Head of Department. ‘Well, I do a little bit of developmental, some forensic, a cognitive slant, social implications I guess…’ I replied. ‘No, but what type of psychologist are you?’, he pressed. ‘What journal do you have on your shelf, what conference do you go to?’
That drive to specialise was a big part of why I left academia. But if I was asked now, I think I’d probably have to answer ‘A social psychologist’. I’m drawn to social psychology, and to social psychologists. As Editor of The Psychologist I have to try to represent all corners of our discipline, but perhaps I’ve ended up including more social psychology in our pages than most other areas.
Here, we pull together some of those interviews and articles, along with some key coverage from our Research Digest.
But first, a few words from the current Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Social Psychology Section, Dr Shelley McKeown Jones (University of Bristol):
“All psychology is social. We will never truly understand human behaviour without considering the social basis for who we are and what we do. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
I probably don’t need to convince you, the reader checking out this exciting social psychology archive, that social psychology has made and will continue to make powerful contributions to scientific knowledge, policy and practice. And yet, from the outside, social psychology can look fractured and in crisis; are we failing to be methodologically rigorous? Are our classic studies and theories struggling to stand the test of time? In our pursuit for social justice, are we biased in the questions we ask and the approaches we use? Critical evaluation of ourselves as researchers, our positionality, and the ways in which we answer our research questions is vital for scientific progress. But in doing so, let’s not forget our contributions and our potential.
The face of social psychology is changing, and for the better. Our diversity is our strength; from the theoretical to the methodological, from the positivist to the interpretivist, from the neuro to the narrative. Together, we have the ability to provide scientifically robust answers to the biggest challenges facing society. The discipline and the modern world need social psychology more than ever. Climate change, ethnic tensions, protest, human rights violations, education inequalities, politics, poverty. Need I say more?
There is something really special about social psychology and about social psychologists. The work we do provides us with a lens in which we can better understand the social world, enabling us to challenge social inequalities, fight for social justice and, if we start to get a better handle on getting our voices out there, truly making the world a better place. We are not a social psychology in crisis, we are a social psychology that has the power to make a difference. Here’s to all of the social psychologists out there past, present and future. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can do it. Get your voice out there and let’s make this archive a resource that truly represents social psychology in all its forms.”
‘I’ve just followed what interested me at the time’ – we meet Mick Billig
‘This incitement to “become different” can be both thrilling and terrifying’ – an interview with Paul Stenner
Talk in slow motion – a 2013 interview with Elizabeth Stokoe
…which opened all kinds of doors, including a 2016 Latitude Festival appearance on ‘how to talk so people listen’
Plus a special collection on conversation analysis.
Keon West on body image
Interview with Alice Eagly
How do we ‘other’? Peter Hegarty
The legacy of Ignacio Martin Baro
Albert Bandura on achieving social change on a grand scale
…and on moral disengagement.
Sharon Coen on the age of celebrity politics
Michele Birtel on contact, stigma and mental health
Peter Bull on shifting patterns of social identities in Northern Ireland
Aarti Iyer’s study of reader reactions to news of terrorism
Amplifying a relationship with psychology – we meet Robin Goodwin
My shelfie… Michelle Ryan
‘Real things are just endlessly fascinating’ – we meet James Pennebaker
Free from the shackles – a 2011 interview with Alexander Haslam …who also curated this paradigm-shifting special collection on the ‘new psychology of health’
The rules of unruliness – Stephen D. Reicher from the 2017 Latitude Festival
Reicher and Haslam also contributed to our Research Digest ‘week of sin’
Clifford Stott has done lots of high impact work on policing and crowds
John Drury’s path to impact: from riots to crowd safety
Big data in the big city, from Catherine Lido
‘We have to bust up the orthodoxy’ – Jonathan Haidt on psychology’s liberal bias
Sian Jones on imagined interaction and prejudice
Imagining harmonious intergroup relations – Rhiannon Turner
A ‘shelfie’ from David Carless
…and more about his arts-based research and collaborator Kitrina Douglas
‘We live in a hugely psychologised society’ – Juliet Foster (Chair of the Society’s Education and Training Board)
Contributions from Dominic Abrams
The work of Richard Crisp
Signposting to BME psychological and anti-racist work
The work of current Social Psychology Section Honorary Secretary Daniel Jolley
A 2005 special issue which I’m afraid needs a lot of tidying up, but includes excellent contributions from big names introduce by Tony Manstead and Margie Wetherell
Psychology’s ‘classics’ are often considered the foundations of social psychology, and a big part of the discipline in recent years has been a revisionist approach to those studies. So you can find lots of new insight in our archive on:
the Macbeth effect
Which social psychologists do you most admire?
We asked this question on Twitter, and there was a huge response. As much as anything, it made us realise there’s a more diverse group of social psychologists beyond our shores who we should be thinking about inviting to contribute.
There were numerous mentions for some of those featured above, including Mick Billig, Albert Bandura, Michelle Ryan, Steve Reicher, Alex Haslam, John Drury, Jamie Pennebaker, Muzafer Sherif.
Other names included:
Fernando Gonzalez Rey
Yasemin Gulsum Acar
Jose Miguel Salazar
Follow the thread as it develops!
Who have we still missed?
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