What Are Social Representations in Psychology?


Martha Robinson

Social representations are an integral part of social psychology. They are the common beliefs, attitudes, ideas, and values that are shared by members of a particular group or society. These representations help individuals make sense of the world around them and provide a framework for understanding and interpreting social phenomena.

What Are Social Representations?

Social representations are cultural products that help people to understand their environment. They are formed through communication and interaction with others and are influenced by various factors such as culture, history, language, social class, and personal experiences.

Example: For instance, the representation of gender roles in society is an example of a social representation. The idea that men should be breadwinners and women should stay at home and take care of the family is a widely held belief in many cultures.

How Are Social Representations Formed?

Social representations are formed through different processes such as anchoring, objectification, and reification.

Anchoring refers to the way in which social representations are created by attaching new ideas or concepts to existing ones. Objectification involves turning abstract concepts into concrete objects or images that can be easily understood. Reification refers to treating an abstract concept as if it were a tangible object.

Example: The representation of beauty standards is an excellent example of how social representations can be formed through objectification. Beauty standards have been objectified through media images that depict slim bodies with perfect skin and features as the ideal form of beauty.

The Role of Social Representations

Social representations play a crucial role in shaping individual behavior and attitudes towards different issues such as politics, health, education, gender roles, etc. They shape our understanding of ourselves and others around us.

Moreover, they also play a significant role in creating stereotypes about different groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion or gender identity.

Example: The stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists is an example of how social representations can create a negative perception of a particular group in society.


In conclusion, social representations are an important aspect of social psychology that help individuals make sense of the world around them. They are formed through communication and interaction with others and can have a significant impact on individual attitudes and behavior towards different issues in society. By understanding social representations, we can better understand how they shape our perception of ourselves and others.