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Social Psychology

Social Psychology
Core Concepts and Emerging Trends

First Edition

January 2016 | 696 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Employing a lively and accessible writing style, author Daniel W. Barrett integrates up-to-date coverage of social psychology’s core theories, concepts, and research with a discussion of emerging developments in the field—including social neuroscience and the social psychology of happiness, religion, and sustainability. Engaging examples, Applying Social Psychology sections, and a wealth of pedagogical features help readers cultivate a deep understanding of the causes of social behavior.

Part I: Foundations of Social Psychology
Chapter 1: Introducing Social Psychology
The Mystery of Romantic Attraction

Social Psychology Matters: Defining the Field

Social Psychology and the Quest for Human Nature

The Evolving Nature of Social Psychology: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Principle Matters: Social Psychology's Guiding Principles

Science Matters: Social Psychology is a Science

Doing Research: An Introduction to Research Methods

Final Thoughts: Social Psychology and Human Nature Revisited

Chapter 2: The Social Brain
The Case of Phineas Gage

What Is the Brain

Origins of the Social Brain

Anatomy of the Brain

Chromosome, Genes, and DNA

Doing Research: Methods of Social Neuroscience

Social Neuroscience and the Fundamental Questions

Final Thoughts: Evolution, Brain Plasticity, and Culture

Part II: Thinking About the Self and Others
Chapter 3: Social Cognition
Believing is Seeing

The Psychology of Social Thinking

The Nature of Social Cognition

The Dual Mind: Automatic and Controlled Processing

Heuristics: Mental Shortcuts

Doing Research: Reliability and Validity

Motivated Reasoning

Culture and Cognition

Final Thoughts: Free Will and Rationality Revisited

Chapter 4: What Is the Self?
The Many "Me's" of the Self

What Is the Self: The Self as Thinker and the Thought

Knowing Who We Are: Introspection and Self-Perception

Doing Research: Questioning Self-Reports and Surveys

Evaluating How We Are Doing

Self-Presentation: Displaying Oneself

Self-Regulation: Controlling Oneself

Final Thoughts: The Paradox of the Self

Chapter 5: Social Perception
"Nice to Meet You. You're Hired!" Job Interviews in Seconds

Impression Formation

Biases in Social Perception

Nonverbal Communication and Emotional Expressions

Doing Research: The Challenges of Cross-Cultural Studies

Detecting Deception

How Observations Can Fail Us: Four Cognitive Illusions: Control, Gambling, Shooting Streaks, and Imagined Associations

Attributions: Determining the Causes of Behavior

Final Thoughts: Sex Categorization and Free Will

Part III: Interpersonal Influence
Chapter 6: Social Influence
Good People Turning Bad

Types of Social Influence

Six Principles of Interpersonal Influence

The Principle of Reciprocity

Conformity and the Social Validation Principle

Obedience and the Authority Principle

Doing Research: Deception and Ethics in Research

Obedience in the 21st Century: Milgram Revisited

Final Thoughts: The Upsides of Compliance, Obedience, and Conformity

Chapter 7: Attitudes and Persuasion
When Prophecies Fail

The Nature of Attitudes

The Origins of Attitudes

Two Routes to Persuasion

Elements of Persuasion

The Effects of Attitudes on Behavior

Doing Research: Measuring Attitudes

Cognitive Consistency and the Effects of Behavior on Attitudes

Final Thoughts: Resisting Persuasion

Part IV: Moral Behavior
Chapter 8: Helping
The Nature of Helping Behavior

Why We Help

Origins of Helping Behavior

When Do We Help?

Doing Research: Safeguarding Research Participants

The Empathy-Altruism Relationship

Person Factors Affecting Helping

Who Gets Helped?

Final Thoughts: A Broader View of Helping

Chapter 9: Aggression
Mass Shootings

The Nature of Aggression

The Origins of Aggression

When Do We Aggress?

The General Aggression Model

Doing Research: Archival Studies of Historical Aggression

Person Factors Affecting Aggression

The Route to Aggression: From Inputs to Outputs

Reducing Aggression

Final Thoughts: The Multiple Causes of Aggression

Part V: Affiliative Behavior
Chapter 10: Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination
Anti-Immigrant Attitudes Around the Globe

The Nature of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination

The Three Waves of Research on Racism

The Origins of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination

Social Identity Theory

Contextual Factors

Doing Research: Measuring Implicit Attitudes

Person Factors

Specific Types of Intergroup Bias

The Effects of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination

Overcoming Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination

Final Thoughts: The Changing Landscape of Prejudice

Chapter 11: Affiliation and Love
Friends with Benefits

The Nature of Affiliation and Love

Contextual Factors

Who is Attractive?

Evolutionary Perspective on Mate Selection

What is Love?

Doing Research: Examining Interpersonal Relationships

Relationship Satisfaction

Dating in the Virtual World

Final Thoughts: Does Facebook Make You Lonely?

Chapter 12: Group Processes
Sports-Related Riots

The Nature of Groups

Key Features of Groups

Groups and Behavior

Losing Onself in the Group: Deindividuation

Group Decision Making

Doing Research: Case Studies

Minority Influence


Final Thoughts: Crowd Wisdom and Smart Mobs

Part VI: Emerging Topics in Social Psychology
Chapter 13: Three Emerging Trends: The Social Psychology of Happiness, Religion, and Sustainability
The Intersection of Happiness, Religion, and Sustainability

The Social Psychology of Happiness

The Nature of Happiness

The Antecedents and Benefits of Happiness

Doing Research: Generalizing to the Real World

The Social Psychology of Religion

The Nature of Religious Belief

Origins and Benefits of Religious Belief

The Social Psychology of Sustainability

Final Thoughts: Subjective Well-Being and Sustainability

Author Index
Subject Index


Student Study Site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material
  • A  customized online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience
  • Chapter summaries with learning objectives reinforce the most important material
  • Web exercises and meaningful links make it easy to mine internet resources, further explore topics, and answer critical thinking questions
  • Multimedia content includes videos that appeal to students with different learning styles
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter
Instructor Teaching Site

SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.

  • An author-created test bank with 125 questions per chapter, including both multiple choice and essay questions, provides a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Editable, chapter-specific and author-created PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring one’s course
  • An Instructor’s Manual provides chapter-by-chapter lecture notes, discussion questions, class activities and more to ease preparation for lectures and class discussions
  • A robust set of Web Exercises hones in on three key areas (Applications, Social Media and Technology, and In the News), connecting chapter coverage with current web resources and related, carefully crafted follow-up exercises to help students master key concepts.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter to encourage students to think critically
  • Multimedia content includes videos that appeal to students with different learning styles
  • A course cartridge is provided for easy LMS integration.


This is a really good introductory book to social psychology theory and research. The book is accessible and provides a detailed overview of the key topics and studies.

Dr Sean Figgins
Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Chichester University
June 12, 2020

Excellent text. Have used this text for several years. May need an update however in which the author can broaden the linkage of social psychological theory to current events.

Dr Richard Solomon
Psychology Dept, University Of Rhode Island
September 28, 2020

The book outlines social psychology goals for both students and lecturers

Dr Oluyinka Ojedokun
Pure & Applied Psychology, Adekunle Ajasin University
October 12, 2018

An in depth and comprehensive look at this subject.

Sarah Holmes
Childhood & Youth Studies, Liverpool Hope University
January 15, 2018

A range of very useful concepts relevant to social psychology are represented here. I had hoped that there may be more direct references/studies related to education, particularly special education. Although it is provides a good overview, it does not work in an interdisciplinary context.

Ms Lorraine Loveland-Armour
Department of Education, Newman University
May 12, 2017

I used the Barrett Social Psych text for the first time this past semester (Fall'16). The book is sufficiently thorough with regard to core social psych concepts and written in a clear and engaging manner. The students enjoyed it; they found the text interpretable and interesting. I (instructor) and the students appreciated the myriad of support materials that were also provided. Finally, the cost is reasonable, an important factor in an era of extraordinarily expensive textbooks.

Dr. Richard Solomon
Psychology Department
University of Rhode Island

Dr Richard Solomon
Psychology Dept, University Of Rhode Island
December 10, 2016

This is an excellent textbook that I have found really useful and accessible for students. I also use the Instructor resources extensively. This book is readable, informative and comprehensive.

Ms catherine-ann o connell
Department of Social Care, Limerick Institute of Technology
September 6, 2016

An extremely approachable text which covers a wide range of topics within the realm of social psychology, covering classic studies alongside up to date research developments. I particularly like the 'think again' sections, which challenge students to reflect on their reading.

Mrs Suzi Smale
Petroc, Petroc
September 15, 2016

This book provides a different perspective to more main stream texts by placing more of an emphasis on cognitive and biological approaches to social behaviour. It therefore would make good supplemental reading as opposed to being a core reference text.

Mrs Liz Hall
Psychology , Petroc
September 9, 2016

Well written in easy readable sections. Explains core concepts well.

Miss Julie Anderson
Health , Tyne Metropolitan College
July 26, 2016
Key features


  • Coverage of core theories is integrated with discussion of emerging trends and cutting-edge research, including such topics as happiness, religion, sustainability, evolutionary psychology, culture, and more.
  • An integrated discussion of research methods across chapters offers a dynamic depiction of the scientific method to enable a thorough understanding of the field.
  • A unique chapter on social neuroscience illuminates connections between brain biology and social behavior.
  • Applying Social Psychology sections highlight the relevance of social psychology in a variety of areas that include health, work, and the law.
  • Research boxes in each chapter illustrate hypotheses, methods, results, and conclusions of relevant studies to help readers see science as a process rather than a series of outcomes.
  • Pedagogy based on the science of learning include self-reflection exercises as well as Think Ahead!, Think Again!, and Think Further! questions that encourage critical thinking and broaden students’ ability to transfer their knowledge to new applications.
  • FREE SAGE edge online resources include PPT slides, a test bank, lecture outlines, a complete action plan for success, mobile-friendly eflashcards, access to SAGE journal articles, multimedia links, and more.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

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