Future Of Social Psychology

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Future Of Social Psychology

Future Of Social Psychology


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1. Discussion post – 2-3 paragraphs. Use attached articles.

After completing this module’s readings, where do you see the future of  social psychology going? Do you think we are heading in a different  direction?

How can we use the sociocultural perspective and social neuroscience to help improve our social well-being or social welfare?

2. Journal entry – at least 2-3 paragraphs. Use info from previous assignments from the last 10 weeks.

Initial Entry: Reflect on the readings and research in this course  and consider the information and perspectives that are vital to your  emerging professional interests and your view of the role of psychology  in the world. In your post, respond to the following questions:

  • What do you feel are the most important pieces of information that you have learned?
  • How has learning about classic and contemporary social psychology  issues and research informed your understanding of real-world issues and  problems?
  • Can you find any trends in social psychological research that can be used to improve social welfare?
  • How well can social psychological research help effect social change?
  • What ethical issues should current and future researchers take into  consideration as they design new studies in order to positively impact  society?

Follow-Up Entry: In a new entry, synthesize what you have  learned during this module’s blogging activities. Has your thinking  changed from exchanging ideas with classmates and experiencing their  viewpoints?

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

Subscriber: Southern New Hampshire University; date: 12 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the human lesion approach for understanding the mechanisms of social processes. It begins with a description of the lesion method, which allows researchers to explore the association between focal damage to a particular brain region and impairment in a clearly defined cognitive-behavioral function. In humans, the lesion method is used to study individuals who have incurred focal brain damage naturally as a result of external insult (e.g., car accident, bullet wound) or due to specific kinds of disease or damage (e.g., cerebrovascular disease, surgical treatment of epilepsy, tumor resection). The chapter goes on to present some notable examples of lesion-method research in the field of social neuroscience.

Keywords: human lesion approach, social processes, cognitive behavior, social neuroscience, lesion method research

Introduction In 1992, the term social neuroscience was used in an influential paper emphasizing the importance of investigating and explaining social behavior through multiple levels of analysis, including not only social psychological constructs but also neural systems (Cacioppo & Bernston, 1992). By now, social neuroscience is a burgeoning field that has literally exploded in size and scope over the past several years, spawning new journals, new specialty areas, and dedicated textbooks such as the one in which this chapter appears.

Social Neuroscience: A Neuropsychological Perspective

Janelle Beadle and Daniel Tranel The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience Edited by Jean Decety and John T. Cacioppo

Print Publication Date: Sep 2011 Subject: Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Social Psychology Online Publication Date: Sep 2012 DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195342161.013.0005


Oxford Handbooks Online

Social Neuroscience: A Neuropsychological Perspective

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

Subscriber: Southern New Hampshire University; date: 12 November 2017

It is interesting to consider briefly why this might be the case. A few contributing factors would seem to include: (1) During the 1990s, the World Wide Web became a widely available and highly accessible tool. This development gave social an entirely new meaning, expanding virtually overnight and by many orders of magnitude the realm of interactions that persons can have with each other. (2) The decade of the ‘90s also witnessed the emergence of functional neuroimaging, especially functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), as a readily available and widely used tool in cognitive neuroscience. This development paved the way for entire species of researchers—who often would have identified previously with groups such as social and/or physiological psychology—to deem themselves neuroscientists. (3) We also note that studying the myriad functions that fall under the rubric of social has enormous intuitive appeal and almost automatic vernacular intrigue. Discovering the brain’s “moral compass” has a charm to it that is hard to match with, say, discovering the neural basis of visual attention. (4) Finally, the past two decades have witnessed a rediscovery of emotion, and the reinsertion of emotion into the lineup of topics considered acceptable as proper domains of neuroscientific inquiry. Much of this resurgence can be traced to the influential and paradigm-shifting theoretical framework that Antonio Damasio explicated in a series of books published in the mid to late 1990s, especially Descartes’ Error (1994) and The Feeling of What Happens (1999). Emotion is tightly intertwined with all manner of social processes and functions, a fact underscored by the numerous studies that have shown similar neural systems underpinning emotional and social processes. Hence, the reinstatement of emotion as a popular topic of neuroscientific investigation has also catalyzed the rapid expansion of the field of social neuroscience.

In short, the neuroscientific study of social processes has become increasingly fashionable and more and more widely practiced. This has led to a whole host of exciting new discoveries, many of whose importance for neuroscience and for the fundamental understanding of human health and disease is immediately obvious. As one prominent example, researchers studying the neural basis of loneliness (a state of psychological suffering due to perceived social isolation) have discovered that lonely people are more likely to experience a variety of negative health issues and diseases, including impairments in sleep, depression, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease (Cacioppo et al., 2002; Hawkley, Masi, Berry, & Cacioppo, 2006; Paul, Ayis, & Ebrahim, 2006). As the baby boomer population grows older, researchers have also become very interested in the effects of aging on brain systems involved in social functioning, and how these changes may affect real-world decision making.

Along with this, recent work has highlighted related changes in the domain of emotion. For example, older adults are less able than younger adults to recognize stimuli with negative content (e.g., Moreno, Borod, Welkowitz, & Alpert, 1993; Sullivan & Ruffman, 2004) and may experience negative emotion with less frequency and intensity (e.g., Gross, Carstensen, Pasupathi, Tsai, Skorpen, & Hsu, 1997). This functional change may be a consequence of neurological changes—for example, reduced brain activity has been found in the amygdala of older adults (in comparison to younger adults) when they are viewing negatively valenced pictures (Mather et al., 2004). There is evidence that some

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