Social Psychology/Substantive Areas

1. Substantive Areas

Below are some of the major sub-fields and research programs within social psychology.

The Classic Social Psychology Subdivisions

1. Interindividual Processes

2. Intraindividual Process

3. Intergroup Process

4. Intragroup Process

–some general resources on social psychology–


Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web:

Consumer Psychology

Consumer psychology is concerned with the decision-making processes and behavior of consumers.

Journals: Marketing Science, Journal for Consumer Behavior, Journal of Consumer PsychologyJournal of Marketing Research, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Marketing Communications.

Professional Societies: Society for Marketing Science, Journal for Consumer Psychology, Association for Consumer Research.

General Articles on the Web: Wikipedia on consumer psychology, on consumer psychology, Professor Lars Perner on consumer behavior, article by Richard Taflinger.

Blogs: Consumer Psychologist by Adam Ferrier

Cultural Psychology

Cultural psychology is concerned with the influence of culture on individuals and the psychosocial dynamics that give rise to culture. Cross-cultural psychology is concerned with the variability and stability of behaviors and psychological processes across diverse cultures. Cultural psychology is an interdisciplinary program that contributes to—and has contributors from—anthropology and sociology.

Journals: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology; Culture & Psychology; Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology; Journal of Cultural of and Evolutionary Psychology; Frontiers in Cultural Psychology; International Journal of Cultural Research; Journal of Cognition and Culture; Ethos.

Professional Societies: International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology; Society for Cross-Cultural Research; Society for Psychological Anthropology; International Culture and Cognition Institute.

General Articles on the Web: Wikipedia on cultural psychology; Wikipedia on cross-cultural psychology; Wikipedia on psychological anthropology; Association for Psychological Science on Cultural Psychology; Portal of sources by Vincent Hevern; Papers by cultural psychologist Carl Ratner; Blog post by psychological anthropologist peter Stromberg.

Evolutionary Psychology

Though social evolutionary psychology is sometimes considered a subfield within evolutionary psychology, the fact of the matter is that evolutionists generally regard sociality as being a very significant, if not the most significant, force in shaping the human animal. Evolutionary psychology shares subject matter with sociobiology and evolutionary anthropology. Some subfields include behavioral primatology, ecological psychology, and comparative psychology (which focuses its research on animals).

Journals: Evolution & Human Behavior; Evolutionary Psychology (Open Access); Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology; Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology; Frontiers in Psychology (Open Access).

Professional Societies: Evolution & Human Behavior Society; Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society.

General Articles on the Web: Wikipedia article on evolutionary psychology; Article on evolutionary psychology on the Journal of Evolutionary Philosophy website; FAQ about evolutionary psychology by Edward Hagen; Psychological Aspects of Human Evolution by James Neill.

Military Psychology

Military psychology is an applied discipline that utilizes scientific psychology towards military ends. Military psychology includes clinical practice as well as experimental and social psychology, the latter of which may be utilized towards information operations and psychological warfare. Psychological health and morale of combat troops, assessment of civilian mindsets in combat areas, terrorist profiling, interrogation methods, assessing enemy commanders and leaders, information warfare, and psychological operations are representative of some of social psychology’s concerns within military psychology.

Journals: Military Psychology;

Professional Societies: Society for Military Psychology;

General Articles on the Web: Military psychology on Wikipedia; Psychological warfare on Wikipedia; Information warfare on Wikipedia; Propaganda on Wikipedia; History of Psychological Operations by Maj. Ed. Rouse.


Negotiation, a substantive area of research within social psychology, is the study of how individuals and groups come to agreement and the strategies they use to advance their position—conflict resolution is a subtopic within negotiation. Negotiation research can be found in social psychology journals, communication journals, and negotiation specific journals.

Journals: Negotiation Journal; Group Decision & Negotiation; Journal of Collective Negotiations; Negotiation and Conflict Management Research; International Negotiation; (BRAND) Broad Research Accounting, Negotiation, and Distribution.

Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web: Negotiation on Wikipedia; Conflict resolution on Wikipedia; Blog post on negotiations at Working Knowledge by Martha Lagace.

Nonverbal Behavior

The interdisciplinary field of nonverbal behavior has saw the contributions of anthropologists, social psychologists, and communication scholars. Research in nonverbal behavior encompasses gesture, proxemics, chronemics, kenesics, haptics, and expression of emotion. Nonverbal behavior is a subcategory within the psychology of communication but is substantive enough for special recognition.

Journals: Journal of Nonverbal Behavior; Gesture.

Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web: Nonverbal communication on Wikipedia; Microexpresions on Wikipedia; Paper on nonverbal behavior across cultures by David Matsumoto; Blog post highlighting some major studies on nonverbal behavior at Psyblog.

Organizational Behavior

There are industrial and organizational psychologists; essentially social psychologists that study problems relating to management, organizations, and industrial environments. There are also organization behaviorists…

Organizational behaviorists earn their degrees from business departments rather than psychology departments; nevertheless, there is significant collaboration between organizational behaviorist and social psychologists. Organizational behaviorists publish frequently is social psychology journals and social psychologist regularly publish in organization behavior journals. In my humble opinion, the only difference between organization behaviorists and industrial psychologists is the department of which they earn their degree.

Journals: Industrial and Organizational Psychologist; Industrial and Organization Psychology; Journal of Organizational Behavior; Management Science; Organization Science

Professional Societies: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology;

General Articles on the Web: Wikipedia on Organizational Psychology; Wikipedia on Organizational Studies

Political Psychology

Political psychology is an interdisciplinary field encompassing philosophy, social psychology, sociology, and political science.  Political psychologists are interested in intergroup dynamics, intragroup dynamics, the influence of media, bargaining power, coalition formation and influence, the psychology and sociology of publics, political identities, and the psychology of politicians as it pertains to political persons and entities.


Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web:

Psychology of Communication

Considering that communication is an interpersonal dynamic that influences both individual and group behavior, it is most definitely a substantive area within social psychology. The social psychology of communication is concerned with interpreting nonverbal behavior, discourse, and symbol use as well as gauging their influence. Narrative, rumors, negotiation, impression management, and media influence are some substantive areas within the social psychology of communication.

Journals: Journal of Language and Social Psychology; Media Psychology; Psychology of Language and Communication; Conflict and Communication; Journal of Business and Media Psychology; Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology; Papers on Social Representations; PsyArt; Journal of Psycholinguistic Research; Applied Psycholinguistics; Brain and Language; Language and Cognitive Processes; Discourse Studies; Journal of Constructivist Psychology;

Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web: Wikipedia on Psycholinguistics; Wikipedia on Discourse Analysis; Wikipedia on Semiotics; Wikipedia on Symbolic Interactionism; Wikipedia on Social Representations; Wikipedia on Rumor; Wikipedia on Urban Legends;

Racism and Bigotry

Racism and bigotry are major research programs within social psychology.


Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web:

Social Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology attempts to understand mental processes so social cognitive psychology attempts to gauge the relationship between sociality and mental processes.


Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web:

Social Influence and Persuasion

Generally speaking, social psychology is the study of social influence. Persuasion research is closely allied to communication research and has practical application in administrative science, marketing, business, and politics.

Journals: Social Influence

Professional Societies:

General Articles on the Web: Wikipedia on Social Influence; Wikipedia on Attitude Change; Kelton Rhoads on Social Influence;


Note: This is an incomplete list; please feel free to offer suggestions.

2. Theory