How Is Social Psychology Common Sense?


Martha Robinson

How Is Social Psychology Common Sense?

When discussing social psychology, one may wonder how it relates to common sense. Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of others. On the other hand, common sense refers to the basic knowledge and understanding that most people have about the world.

The Relationship Between Social Psychology and Common Sense

Social psychology and common sense are intertwined in more ways than one might expect. While some concepts in social psychology may seem like common sense, it is important to recognize that social psychology goes beyond merely stating what seems obvious.

  • Social Perception: One area where social psychology intersects with common sense is in understanding social perception.

    People often rely on common sense to form impressions of others based on their appearance or behavior. For example, if someone appears confident and friendly, we may assume they are outgoing and approachable. However, social psychologists delve deeper into understanding how these impressions are formed and how they influence our interactions with others.

  • Stereotypes: Another point of convergence between social psychology and common sense is in studying stereotypes. Common sense often leads us to make generalizations about certain groups based on limited information or personal experiences. Social psychologists examine stereotypes scientifically, exploring their origins, consequences, and how they impact individuals and society as a whole.
  • Attitudes and Behaviors: Common sense tells us that attitudes shape behaviors. For instance, if someone holds negative attitudes towards a particular group, we might expect them to behave in a discriminatory manner towards members of that group. Social psychologists investigate this relationship more deeply by examining the various factors that influence attitudes formation and how attitudes are translated into actions.

The Value of Social Psychology

While social psychology may seem to overlap with common sense at times, it provides a more comprehensive and scientific understanding of human behavior. It goes beyond surface-level observations and explores the underlying mechanisms that drive social interactions.

Social psychology helps us challenge our assumptions and biases by relying on empirical evidence rather than relying solely on what seems obvious.

It allows us to gain a deeper understanding of complex social phenomena and provides insights into how individuals function in different social contexts.


Social psychology often aligns with common sense, but it offers a more nuanced perspective on human behavior. By studying the underlying processes that shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions, social psychology provides valuable insights that go beyond what may initially seem obvious. So while common sense can provide a starting point for understanding human behavior, social psychology takes us further in unraveling its complexities.