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Evolution of Social Issues

Social issues were changing at the turn of the 20th century as the world entered a new age. Norman Triplett’s 1897–1898 studies on individual performance in public helped launch social psychology. Triplett studied the physiological and psychological components of competitive performance, specifically dynamogenic factors in pace-making and competitiveness (Triplett, 1898). The industrialized world’s 20th century saw societal concerns linked with competition, as Triplett found. Triplett believed physical and mental activity affected competitive outcomes. He claimed that increased muscle strain caused tissue burnout and elevated blood urea and uric acid levels. He also believed that another rival stimulated nervous energy and competitive inclinations (Triplett, 1898).

Social psychology changed in the early 20th century due to societal events including World War I and the Great Depression. From 1936 to 1936, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues sought answers to social psychological questions (Kassin et al., 2023). In the 1930s and 1950s, Muzafer Sherif and Kurt Lewin pioneered social influence and the interactionist perspective, which stressed the interaction between people and their environment. World War II shaped social psychology research for practical use. To protect soldiers from enemy propaganda, persuade citizens to support the war effort, and explain bias, hostility, and conformity, government activities showed the usefulness of social psychology (Kassin et al., 2023). In the 1960s–Mid-1970s, Stanley Milgram studied destructive obedience, expanding and polarizing the field. Strong disputes over laboratory experiments prompted research technique assessment and debate. This era laid the framework for social psychology pluralism, with higher ethical standards, cross-cultural awareness, and acceptance of different research techniques.

Social psychology evolved in the late 20th century. The field adopted pluralism, combining multiple approaches and adding cognitive psychology with the creation of social cognition. Contemporary society is globalized, therefore international and multicultural perspectives have grown (Kassin et al., 2023). Globalization, technology, and demographics created new problems in the 21st century. Internet and social media enabled interconnection and rapid information distribution in the new millennium. Contemporary social psychology focuses on the social brain and body, new technology, and the internet. Researchers can explore brain-behavior interactions using noninvasive methods including PET, ERP, TMS, fMRI, and virtual reality. Digital technology changed how people communicated, interacted, and developed social connections, creating new social psychology study topics (Kassin et al., 2023). Modern social psychology covers many areas due to the diversity of human social interactions and behaviors. Researchers study how cognition, emotion, and behavior interact in social situations, from self-esteem and intergroup connections to online communication psychology and social media (Kassin et al., 2023).

Technology and neuroscience have changed the discipline, allowing academics to study social behavior and cognition’s brain underpinnings. Social neuroscience has illuminated how brain processes affect social interactions, emotions, and decision-making (Kassin et al., 2023). Contemporary social psychology also incorporates economics, political science, and environmental studies. The integration of behavioral economics has illuminated how psychological aspects affect economic decision-making and consumer behavior (Kassin et al., 2023). In comprehending the universality vs cultural specificity of social processes, cultural and cross-cultural viewpoints have grown. Comparisons across cultures show that cultural norms, beliefs, and practices shape social attitudes and behaviors (Kassin et al., 2023). Social psychology techniques have shifted toward open science to promote transparency, reproducibility, and collaboration. Open science has increased scrutiny of research techniques and conclusions, promoting rigor and accountability in the profession. Globalization, technological advancement, and demographic shifts will influence social psychology in the future. As the world becomes more interconnected, social psychologists will develop new research questions and methods to solve new social concerns and explain 21st-century human behavior.

Social psychology has evolved from the late 19th century to the present due to societal changes, scientific advances, and philosophical frameworks. Social psychology is a dynamic field that analyzes human social behavior throughout time and context, from Triplett’s pioneering work on social influence to digital communication psychology.


Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H. R. (2023). Social psychology (11th edition). Cengage Learning.

Triplett, N. (1898). The dynamogenic factors in pacemaking and competition. The American journal of psychology9(4), 507-533.


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