It is critical to begin by defining each term separately in order to get a better insight about what latter implies. Social entails an aspect of life that deals with interactions within a group of people. These interactions influence behavior positively or negatively. On the other hand, psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental process (McLeod, 2007). Notably, it deals with how people think, feel, and act. From the definition of the two terms, social psychology can be defined as a branch of psychology that tries to understand the nature and the causes of individual behavior in social situations (McLeod, 2007).
It explains why individuals behave in particular ways in the presence of others, and why some actions occur under given conditions. In fact, it seeks to understand the way feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are constructed, and how those psychological factors influence others’ interactions (McLeod, 2007). Self-concepts, social cognition, attribution theory, social influence, group processes are among the issues that are addressed in this branch. Feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are measurable traits that can be evaluated using empirical methods. Human behavior is explained in the context of mental state, and immediate social situations interactions as McLeod (2007) contends.
Social psychologists use two strategies in carrying out scientific studies in social psychology. The first method is the correlational research in which more than one factors are naturally associated. In fact, in this type, cause and effect are evaluated (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee & Podsakoff, 2003). For example, in a negative correlation, an increase in one variable results in a decrease in the other variable. This can be evident in situations, whereby people who eat more are viewed as healthy. It is worth to indicate that the correlation differs in strength, from a perfect negative to a perfect positive. The research allows us to predict what will happen. For instance, drinking many soft drinks is associated with obesity. This implies that one can predict what will happen in case he or she consumes many soft drinks. Notably, one cannot exactly tell the cause of a particular behavior, but only predicts it.
Experimental is another type of research that is critical in social psychology. It entails manipulating one or more variables to find out if it has an impact on others (Podsakoff et al., 2003). This is used investigate behavior that cannot be studied using correlational research. The aim of the strategy is to gain insights and predict complex human behaviors, with emphasis on why they vary among people, across situations, and a period (Podsakoff et al., 2003). For instance, the known association between television watching and children’s behavior, whereby a social psychologist brings television viewing in the laboratory and control the amount of violence the children see. By exposing children to violent and non-violent television programs, scholars are able to identify the amount of violence that affects children behavior. Notably, by varying independent variables at a time, the researcher is expected to find out how the changes affect each other. Using the strategy, social psychologists are able to discover principles of social thinking, social influence, and relationships, which are major issues in the discipline (Podsakoff et al., 2003).
It is critical to define multi-cultural since the term psychology has been defined. The term connotes what pertains many cultures. Therefore, multi-cultural psychology is the systematic study of behavior, cognition, and affect in many cultures (Taras, Kirkman & Steel, 2010). In this view, it is clear that culture affect the way people think and act as Taras and colleagues (2010) states. Culture can be an external or internal factor. As an external factor, it influences the event that take place around us and the way we interact with other people, while internally, it affects internal mental processes. For example, the way we view and interpret things that occur around us is somehow influenced by the culture in which people are brought up. Researchers have encountered challenges in defining culture and some confine it to the race. According to Taras and colleagues (2010), it encompasses all potentially salient ethnographic, demographic, status, and/or affiliation identities. Notably, the multi-cultural perspective realizes the potential impacts of the different social and cultural dimensions of the behavior. In fact, these practices may affect the self-identity, which directly affect the social behaviors.
It is vital to underscore that social psychology and a multi-cultural psychology are linked. First, both branches are concerned with the systematic study of human behavior. Moreover, the branches compliment each other in the sense that social psychology is concerned with the interactions between people. It is evident that culture dictates how people should relate to a society. This implies that culture will significantly influence interactions that are essential for studying the behavior of a group of individuals. Nevertheless, culture affects the way things are interpreted in the society, indicating that it may interfere with self-identity of individuals. Thus, social interactions are shaped by the culture in which individuals belong. However, there is a gap that separates the two. This is none other than culture, which is only found in the multi-cultural psychology. In the social psychology, the culture of people is not considered when studying their behavior, while in the other, culture is given crucial consideration. As aforementioned, culture encompasses all what is done by people, including the way they behave. Thus, the use of a multi-cultural psychology gives the right results why some behavior occurs in some people and not others.