Musings‎ > ‎


What happened to social psychology?

When our son was born, our friends and family indulged in a furious attempt to answer the most important question of all: who does he look like? The kid has his own combination of features, but people would feel they need to classify him as looking just like me, or just like his dad. This led to a lot of interesting conclusion noise. There were some notable trends, such that people from my part of the world tended to say he looks like his dad, but people from his dad's part of the world more often said he looks like me. I guess we tend to not notice the general features from our geographical area as being specific to anyone, so the more exotic features stuck out more. But overall, and especially when we were far from our countries of origin, people would still be strongly convinced he looks like just one of us - but on average these estimations were random. 

Like any new mom, this prompted me to think about the problems that social psychology is facing.

It took over methods from cognitive psych (which was hugely popular at the time), but these methods don't fit the observed phenomena well. For example, it forces people into groups, whereas social psych phenomena are often continuous. This means that the comparisons across cells will have a lot more noise, and that the final conclusions will be less definite.