How to Become a Social Psychologist

The standards required to become a Psychologist are always very high, particularly when planning to go into a specialized field like social psychology. Despite the challenges of getting the degree, anyone who is interested in this field of study will need to understand the minimum requirements and the job duties of a Social Psychologist.

Role of Social Psychologists

A Social Psychologist works in a specialized field of psychology that strives to understand social behaviors and the way people think about and behave towards others in society. Social psychologists who work in research primarily observe individual’s behaviors in different group settings while those who are working in clinical fields will usually work with groups who need to reach a particular goal. While the psychologist is someone who has studied different social behaviors and the way individuals think about elements of society, the application of social psychology as a career is variable.

Social Psychologists primarily work with a specific group of people or a type of group. For example, a psychologist might work with new employees in a company to teach better teamwork and conflict resolution that will make it easier for the new employees to work together for the good of the company. Numerous applications are available for this area of psychology, though group work and group dynamics are common.

Education Requirements

Anyone who is interested in working with groups or conducting research into society or social groups is likely to enjoy the role as a Social Psychologist. Before it is possible to become a psychologist, it is important to understand the minimum educational requirements.

State educational requirements vary slightly, but in most states becoming a psychologist requires getting a doctorate. Two types of doctorates are available for psychologists based on the preferred treatment, study and type of application. Psychologists who are interested in working with groups and individuals might prefer getting a Psy.D. while those who want to conduct research are usually best suited to a Ph.D.

A Psy.D. focuses on the clinical aspect of psychology, though students will still require an understanding of how research is conducted and the basics of working through psychological experiments.

A Ph.D. is more scientific and analytical, so it is usually best for those who are considering research positions rather than clinical work. A Ph.D. psychologist is still qualified to work in clinical positions, but many focus on conducting experiments. In social psychology, research is primarily observational and usually looks for the ways that groups influence behavior and personality.

Beyond the high level of education, psychologists are also required to obtain a license. Requirements for a license vary by state, but most states will require a doctorate before eligibility is obtained.

Those who want to work in social psychology can either work on a doctorate in social psychology or can get a general psychology degree and gain experience working with a practicing social psychologist to learn the specialization.

Social psychology is an exciting field that works on understanding society’s influence on individuals. The wide range of career opportunities makes the degree an appropriate field of study for anyone who is interested in psychology, human behavior and the influence of groups on the individual.

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