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What Does a Social Psychologist Do?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A social psychologist studies the relationships between thoughts, behaviors, and actions in social situations. With advanced training in psychology, a social psychologist can find work in many different areas, including academic positions, organizational jobs, and market and media research. The job of most social psychologists involves researching how human beings react in certain social climates, and applying this knowledge to their specific area of practice.

In most regions, a social psychologist must undergo many years of education before choosing a career path. In addition to an undergraduate degree, many psychologists possess both a master's degree in psychology, as well as a doctorate. For doctors who wish to work directly with patients, successfully passing licensing examinations is often a requirement. Social psychologists who obtain a license may need to participate in continuing education and re-certification tests every few years. Psychologists who do not intend to work with patients may not need to become certified.

In the academic realm, a social psychologist may serve as an educator or researcher. Many psychologists are attracted to university positions, as they often include access to laboratory facilities and staff as well as the opportunity to teach future psychologists. Working as a teacher allows many social psychologists to continue to pursue productive research in superior facilities while still earning a living. Beyond the potential for research, many professional psychologists enjoy the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with up-and-coming colleagues.

Many social psychologists work within the complex world of corporate culture. A psychologist may be hired by an organization to help create social and mental health programs for workers, such as counseling services. A business or corporation might also hire a social psychologist to analyze current corporate culture and suggest improvements that could boost employee morale, loyalty, and compliance with work policies. Psychologists in this field may be hired for specific projects, or may be full-time staff members.

Other private sector areas where many social psychologists find work include media and marketing. In these fields, psychologists may perform research about consumer behavior, buying trends, and the impact of various global, national, and local events on spending decisions. Psychologists in media or marketing may be able to counsel businesses on the general mood of the public, and how marketing choices will play to a given demographic. The marketing and media data analyzed by social psychologists may affect everything from what type of movies get made to which presidential candidates receive funding.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By julies — On Sep 20, 2012

You could use the services of a social psychologist in just about any setting you can imagine. I have always been fascinated with the way people think and why they act the way they do.

I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and have never really used it in a professional sense. I think the education has given me some good insight in dealing with people though. I have often thought about pursing my graduate degree in this area and actually become employed as a psychologist.

I think it would be just as interesting to be involved with the research studies as it would be to work with the people.

By SarahSon — On Sep 20, 2012

I never thought about the advantages of using a social psychologist to study consumer buying habits and trends. I think it would be interesting to see if there was a significant profit increase for the companies who spent the money to hire a psychologist in this capacity.

By sunshined — On Sep 19, 2012

Our company has a social psychologist who is available for counseling. He is on staff full time, but travels around to the different office locations. You know im advance when he will be in our office so you can make an appointment with him if you want to.

I don't know how many employees actually take advantage of a service like this, but I think it shows our company cares about the needs of their employees. Some people think it is a sign of weakness to speak with a psychologist, but I think it can give you some good insight that can really help you with whatever you are struggling with.

By Mykol — On Sep 19, 2012

I have a cousin who is employed as a university professor in psychology. She went to school herself for many years to obtain her doctorate degree in psychology, and she loves to study the thought patterns and behavior of people.

While she was working on her research she focused on the behavior and thinking of criminals and it was fascinating to talk with her about her research. She liked to tease our family saying we gave her a lot of material to work with, and we always told her she was just psycho-analyzing us all the time.

Being able to teach at a major university gives her access to a lot of research she might not otherwise have. She also likes to work with the students who are as interested in this field as she is.

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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