Social psychology is the study of how the presence and behavior of groups, including families, co-workers, and strangers, impact and influence the behavior and mental and emotional well-being of an individual. Their work involves research in both real-world and controlled laboratory environments where they observe, record, and analyze individual and group interactions. They may explore multicultural and minority issues, including prejudice and discrimination, stereotyping, and attitude formation. Social psychologists are employed by private, business, and government facilities, as well as social welfare organizations, correctional facilities, and marketing and advertising firms to conduct research and provide data and solutions to real-world problems. They are also employed as professors by universities where they can combine their research with teaching duties.
Social psychologists in teaching as well as research positions in academic and non-academic settings typically hold a Psy.D. or Ph.D. degree. Students may begin with a bachelor’s degree program in general psychology or social psychology, and then pursue a master’s or doctorate in this speciality. Psychologists who practice independently are required to be state-licensed and, in most states, complete continuing education courses in order to remain licensed. Specific requirements for licensure by state are available from the Association of State and Provincial Licensing Boards.