1st Edition

Theory and Explanation in Social Psychology

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ISBN 9781462518487
Published January 15, 2015 by Guilford Press
433 Pages


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Book Description

This volume provides the first authoritative explication of metatheoretical principles in the construction and evaluation of social-psychological theories. Leading international authorities review the conceptual foundations of the field’s most influential approaches, scrutinizing the range and limits of theories in various areas of inquiry. The chapters describe basic principles of logical inference, illustrate common fallacies in theoretical interpretations of empirical findings, and outline the unique contributions of different levels of analysis. An in-depth look at the philosophical foundations of theorizing in social psychology, the book will be of interest to any scholar or student interested in scientific explanations of social behavior.

Table of Contents

I. Basics
1. Theory Evaluation, Bertram Gawronski & Galen V. Bodenhausen
2. Levels of Analysis in Social Psychology, Jan De Houwer & Agnes Moors
3. Causal and Meaning-Based Explanation, Yoshihisa Kashima
II. Mental State Theories
4. Social-Cognitive Theories, Bertram Gawronski & Galen V. Bodenhausen
5. Emotion Theories, Antony S. R. Tony Manstead & Brian Parkinson
6. Motivational Theories, David Dunning
7. Duality Models in Social Psychology, Roland Deutsch
8. Personality Systems and Coherence of Social Behavior, Daniel Cervone, Tracy L. Caldwell, & Nicole D. Mayer
III. Biological Theories
9. Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behavior, Jennifer S. Beer
10. Genetics of Social Behavior, Wendy Johnson & Lars Penke
11. Evolutionary Theories, Timothy Ketelaar
IV. Pragmatic Theories
12. Rational Actor Theories, David Trafimow
13. Social Functionalism, Philip E. Tetlock & Katrina Fincher
14. Socially Situated Cognition, Gün R. Semin & Margarida V. Garrido
V. Social Theories
15. Interdependence Theory and Related Theories, Harry T. Reis & Ximena B. Arriaga
16. Cultural Psychological Theory, Kimin Eom & Heejung S. Kim
VI. Formal Theories
17. Computer Simulation, Klaus Fiedler & Florian L. Kutzner
18. Mathematical Modeling, Karl Christoph Klauer
19. Agent-Based Modeling, Eliot R. Smith & Asaf Beasley
Author Index
Subject Index

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Bertram Gawronski, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. His research investigates the mental underpinnings and behavioral consequences of spontaneous and deliberate evaluations of objects, individuals, groups, and social issues. Dr. Gawronski's work has been recognized with the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the Career Trajectory Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), the Early Career Award from the International Social Cognition Network, the Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario, and the Charlotte and Karl Bühler Award from the German Psychological Society. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), SESP, SPSP, and the Midwestern Psychological Association, and is a member of several editorial boards.

Galen V. Bodenhausen, PhD, is Lawyer Taylor Professor of Psychology and Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University. Dr. Bodenhausen studies a wide variety of issues related to social cognition, such as the origins, nature, and consequences of social attitudes, including both explicit and implicit (or automatic) attitudes; the role of identity concerns in judgment and behavior; the influence of prejudice and stereotypes on perception, judgment, memory, and behavior; how moods and other kinds of emotional states influence judgment and preference; and the nature and consequences of social and consumer values. He is a member of several editorial boards and is a Fellow of APS, the American Psychological Association, SPSP, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.


"Lewin tells us there is nothing as practical as a good theory; but how do you know if you have a good theory? In this excellent and innovative volume, social psychologists working on all the important problems--cognition, emotion, motivation, personality, culture, evolution, genes--join together to share their diverse insights on theory generation and theory testing. Useful for students and seasoned researchers alike, these well-written, easy-to-read chapters help you address such thorny problems as whether your data are at the right level of analysis to test your theory; why searching for a mediator can be futile; the importance of meaning-based explanations; why causality is so often elusive; whether your theory can both explain and predict; whether parsimony really matters; and the value of creating social-psychological theories that are both 'more micro' and 'more macro.'"--Hazel Rose Markus, PhD, Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University

"One of social psychology’s key virtues is its emphasis on ideas, insights, and theories. This extremely useful book discusses classes of theories in social psychology (and beyond) from a broader perspective, and asks important questions about the strengths and weakness of theories. The volume reveals and illustrates how theories can serve different functions. It explores trade-offs in theory development--for example, between breadth and predictive ability--and draws attention to important theoretical challenges. This is a timely, thoughtful volume written by true leaders in the field."--Paul A. M. Van Lange, PhD, Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

"Graduate training in psychology often emphasizes data analysis at the expense of conceptual analysis, and the next 'cool finding' at the expense of conceptual integration. Countering this trend, Theory and Explanation in Social Psychology aims to equip readers with the tools needed for sophisticated conceptual analysis and theory building. It will be a classic volume for years to come."--Norbert Schwarz, PhD, Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing, University of Southern California