How Do I Become a Social Psychologist?

M. Kayo
M. Kayo
Social psychologists often look at the impact of social settings on individual behavior.
Social psychologists often look at the impact of social settings on individual behavior.

The requirements to become a social psychologist include at least a master's degree, a license or certification, if you want to practice independently, and an interest in what makes people behave as they do in social environments. Some social psychologists specialize in certain areas of social psychology. They may go into research, working at a college or university, or for the government. There are those who work for businesses, that evaluate and train employees, who conduct conflict mediation, and who advise patients in private practice.

To become a social psychologist, you need formal training in social psychology. A person who wants to be a social psychologist usually earns a bachelor's degree in social science, psychology, or anthropology. While working on your undergraduate degree, get involved in student organizations, and start building up contacts with professionals and other relevant organizations. The competition to get into graduate school may be difficult, so you will need a high GPA to be admitted to a master's or Ph.D. program. One of the requirements of graduate school will likely be to write of a thesis that contributes some original research to social psychology.

A license or certification issued by the state or other governing authority is required to become a social psychologist. Requirements vary in different states and regions, so check with the local governing authorities or local psychology licensing boards in your area for certification requirements for social psychologists. You may also wish to check with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

Using one or more of the various areas of social psychology, you will evaluate interactions between people and groups within the social environment and determine how that environment influences their behavior, thoughts, and attitudes. In a business context, a social psychologist may assist employees with different problems or issues in the workplace. In a research setting, a social psychologist may develop an opinion poll to find out how people would vote, or conduct experiments to discover attitudes regarding a particular topic. Social psychologists in private practice may help individuals, alone or in groups, to discover and understand certain behaviors or feelings that are causing problems in relationships with others.

If you want to become a social psychologist, you should have an interest in exploring how people function in a social environment. Social psychologists study how people interact, how they perceive certain things in social settings, and how individuals are influenced by the social environment. This requires that social psychologists have a desire to delve deeply into how people work, think, and interact. You will likely need to have excellent interpersonal communication skills and a keen sense of observation to enter this field.

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    • Social psychologists often look at the impact of social settings on individual behavior.
      Social psychologists often look at the impact of social settings on individual behavior.