Social psychology is an interesting field that focuses on how individuals interact with others in society. It involves studying various theories and concepts that explain how people behave in social situations. In this article, we will explore some of the important social theories in psychology.

Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory proposes that individuals form their sense of self based on the groups they belong to. This theory suggests that people categorize themselves and others into different social groups, such as race, gender, nationality, etc., and then adopt the values and norms of those groups to define their identity. Social identity theory explains why people tend to favor their own group over others and why intergroup conflicts arise.


For instance, a person who identifies as a Democrat may strongly support policies that align with the party’s beliefs, while rejecting policies from the opposing party. This is because they have formed a social identity with their political group.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory states that individuals learn new behaviors by observing and imitating others. This theory suggests that people acquire attitudes and behaviors through modeling those around them. Social learning theory can explain why certain behaviors are more prevalent in certain cultures or groups.

For example, a child growing up in a household where parents frequently smoke may be more likely to pick up the habit themselves due to observation and imitation.

Social Exchange Theory

Social exchange theory suggests that individuals engage in relationships because they believe they will receive benefits from doing so. According to this theory, people weigh the costs and rewards of their relationships before deciding whether to invest time and effort into them.

For instance, an employee may stay at a job even if they dislike it because they receive benefits such as healthcare or retirement plans from their employer.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Cognitive dissonance theory proposes that individuals experience discomfort when they hold two conflicting beliefs or values. This theory suggests that people try to reduce this discomfort by altering their beliefs or behaviors to align with each other.

For example, a person who believes in the importance of exercise but fails to exercise regularly may feel cognitive dissonance. They may resolve this by either changing their belief about the importance of exercise or by starting to exercise regularly.


In conclusion, social theories in psychology provide us with useful insight into how individuals behave in social situations. By understanding these theories, we can better comprehend our own behavior and interactions with others. It is important to note that these theories are not exhaustive and there are many other theories worth exploring in the field of social psychology.