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An Introduction to Social Psychology

An Introduction to Social Psychology

Author: Miles Hewstone

Publisher: BPS Blackwell


Publish Date: May 14, 2012

ISBN-10: 1444335448

Pages: 666

File Type: Epub, Mobi

Language: English

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Book Preface

This is the fifth, and completely revised, edition of this bestselling textbook, designed to teach social psychology to an audience of students at universities throughout Europe and many other parts of the world. When, in 1986, we set out with the aim of publishing such a book, we certainly did not imagine that we would be publishing this fifth edition more than a quarter of a century later. This, and the fact that our book has been translated into nearly a dozen foreign languages (ranging from Croatian to Japanese), confirmed the success of our original concept, to have each chapter written by an internationally renowned scholar with great expertise on this particular topic, while making certain of the integration of these chapters through tight editorial control.

Notwithstanding the success of previous editions, we have not stood still. This new volume represents a most thorough revision, both in terms of who the authors are and what material is covered. Only 10 of the 15 chapters are by the same authors as in the last edition, and even these chapters have been extensively revised to integrate new theoretical and empirical developments. The volume contains chapters dealing with all the core topics one would expect to find in an introduction to social psychology (methods, social perception and attribution, social cognition, self and social identity, attitudes, social influence, aggression, prosocial behaviour, relationships, group processes and intergroup relations). We have also added an important new chapter on cultural social psychology, showing that social psychology is a global science, but also acknowledging the fact that replications of social psychological studies in other parts of the world often result in somewhat different findings. Drawing on studies that have been discussed in many of the earlier chapters in this book, this new chapter shows that cultural variations can benefit social psychologists rather than handicap them. By identifying the social behaviours that are particularly salient in different parts of the world, we can take account of causal factors that have been given insufficient attention within mainstream social psychology. We can also test which social psychological phenomena are universal and which occur only in some parts of the world.

There are many didactic improvements and pedagogical aids in this new edition. Each chapter focuses on the central theories, concepts, paradigms, results and conclusions. In terms of structure, each chapter contains the following specific features, designed to improve learning and enhance the enjoyment of the task:

  • A short ‘route map’ written in clear English, providing an overview of the chapter.
  • A list of key concepts, consisting of the main terms which a student should know about each topic area. The definitions of each key concept are provided in the text of each chapter, and gathered together in an alphabetical glossary at the end of the book.
  • The body of the text in each chapter is broken down into clear sections, and the reader is guided by subheadings throughout the chapter, to prevent long, uninterrupted passages of text. Text is also broken up by figures, tables and occasional photographs, and key theories are depicted in ‘theory boxes’ to aid understanding of more complex processes.
  • Each main section or subsection of the chapter begins with ‘learning questions’; these are the major questions that the student should be able to answer having read the chapter.
  • Each major section of the chapter ends with a summary, and each chapter ends with a summary and conclusions in the form of bullet points.
  • A list of further reading is suggested, with a sentence indicating what the student will find in each source.
  • Each chapter includes brief biographies of ‘leaders in the field’, both classic and contemporary scholars from across the globe who have had a major impact on the research area covered in each chapter.
  • Each chapter contains boxed features of three different types:
    • Research close-up Brief summaries of classic and contemporary research studies, explaining clearly why and how the research was done, what it found and what its implications are.
    • Individual differences Illustrative items from scales used to measure variables discussed in the text.
    • Social psychology beyond the lab Descriptions of some ‘real life application’ of theory and research described in the chapter.

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