Discover your career path

Social Psychologist

Explore how people behave in groups.

What does a Social Psychologist do?

When people do terrible things to one another, it’s common to ask questions that begin with “why.” Why did that person behave that way? Why did the community allow that behavior? Why didn’t anyone do anything?

Social Psychologists don’t just ask, “Why?” They also develop studies to answer those questions.

Your work as a Social Psychologist is focused on how people interact in groups, and how people within a group influence one another. You may concentrate on one problem behavior, such as racism, or on an age group, such as children or the elderly.

As a Social Psychologist, you read past research on the topic you’d like to study, and develop a theory about how group behavior influences that topic. You then recruit people to participate in your study. After you’ve developed a strict experiment, you observe people as they participate, recording all results along the way. The goal is to find out if your theory is supported or refuted by your experiment.

Sometimes, your experiments will be controversial, and they may not always be pleasant for people to complete. Your participants may argue, feel guilty, or get angry. You remind them that you’re just experimenting, not trying to hurt them.

You publish your experiments in journals and magazines, and may even write entire books about the work you’ve done. You may also give classes to Teachers, Law Enforcement Officers, and Lawyers, trying to teach them how to spot and stop destructive group behaviors. You work hard to help people understand how they’re influenced by the world around them so they can make more compassionate choices on a daily basis.