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Social Psychology


Social psychology focuses on how people think and behave in social settings – ranging from one-on-one interaction, through crowd behavior and cross-cultural comparisons, to online social relations. As well as being fascinating in its own right, it offers an essential complement to your other social science studies, because of the ways those social sciences seek to understand and promote change in the world. Many social science explanations make assumptions about how people think and behave  for example, in modelling consumer activity economics makes assumptions about decision-making, in modelling voting behaviour politics makes assumptions about attitudes and public opinion, and in modelling rewards in personnel management financial management makes assumptions about how the sense of who we are depends on rewards for what we do. And in using such models to promote social, economic and political change, the social sciences also depend on social psychological processes of communication, persuasion and social influence.

Social psychology is thus an exciting area of research within psychology, an invaluable tool for social scientific inquiry generally, and a vital perspective on the social scientific disciplines themselves. For those who want to understand the causes of social phenomena, and understand the basis of how to change them, social psychology is essential.

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. These courses are offered as outside options for students registered for degrees in other subjects.


Social Psychology: provides an introduction to Social Psychology. As described above, a core component of this concerns how people influence each other. The course covers a broad range of phenomena, from looking at the processes underlying conformity, prejudice and media influence, to looking at how we form relationships, make economic decisions and understand our own emotions, as well as many other topics.

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:

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