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Social psychology


Social psychology seeks to provide an understanding and explanation of human social behaviour. Understanding social behaviour requires the investigation of many phenomena, ranging from the way individuals perceive and think about the social world, the way they form and maintain social relationships, to the way they think and act in group settings.  These settings include small scale interactions as well as events viewed at the level of society, and the phenomena studied include both the immediate as well as the culturally emergent. Social psychology is thus an exciting area of research within psychology an invaluable tool for social scientific inquiry generally, and at the same time a vital perspective on the social scientific disciplines themselves. Social psychology at LSE looks at human behaviour manifested in many fields, such as race relations, healthcare practices, economic and consumer decision-making, communications both interpersonal and mediated, politics and organisations. 

The Department of Social Psychology is a thriving centre for the study of social psychology and has an international reputation for its research led teaching in a variety of fields. Founded in 1964, the Department is dedicated to consolidating and expanding the contribution of social psychology to the understanding and knowledge of key social, economic, political and cultural issues. 

Features of LSE courses

Social psychology is not available as a single honours degree subject at undergraduate level. The Department’s activities predominantly comprise postgraduate teaching and research, but this expertise is brought to bear in delivering an exciting introductory course in Social Psychology as an option for undergraduates and a second course in Societal Psychology: Theory and Applications.  However, courses are offered as outside options for students registered for degrees in other subjects. 


Social Psychology|:
introduces the foundational elements of social psychology and some of the different theoretical perspectives used to explain social perception, cognition and behaviour.  The course applies these to a range of real, practical social problems such as riots, economic behaviour, safety cultures in the workplace, racism, online relationships and many others. 

Societal Psychology: Theory and Applications|:
discusses major areas of application of social psychology to real-world issues. Emphasis is put on the complexities of translating theory into practice and on the theoretical developments which are prompted by research on topical social issues.

Please note the content of these courses is currently under review.

Preliminary reading

If you wish to gain further insight into the subject, we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:

  • Hogg, M. A. and Vaughan, G. M. (2013).  Social Psychology, 7th edition,  Pearson.
  • Matsumoto, D. and Juang, H. (2013) Culture and Psychology 5th edition, Thomson Wadsworth.
  • Hewstone, M., Stroebe, W., Jonas, K. (2012).  An Introduction to Social Psychology, 5th edition, BPS Blackwell.