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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Social Psychology

Social Psychology, 7th ed. by John D. DeLamater and Daniel J. Myers (Wadsworth Publishing) This social psychology text, written by well-known sociologists, covers such topics as socialization, self, attitudes, communication, social influence, interpersonal attraction and relationships, behavior in small groups, life course, and personality and social structure. As readers move through the book, they will explore answers to a wide variety of questions, such as: What decides who someone will fall in love with? Where do aggressive, violent, and criminal behaviors come from? Why are some people more charitable than others? Why do some people obey authority and conform while others always have to buck the trend? Why are some people lazier when they work in groups? What is the source of people's stereotypes and prejudices? What causes conflict between groups? And finally, what makes us who we are?

Excerpt: When revising a textbook, the authors always seek to build on the strengths of the prior editions and introduce new material reflecting developments in the field and changes in our larger society, while maintaining thorough coverage of the subject covered by the book. As in past editions, we seek to cover the full range of phenomena of interest to social psychologists. Not only do we address intrapsychic processes in detail, but we also cover social interaction and group processes of larger-scale phenomena, such as intergroup conflict and social movements. Our goal in writing this book is, as it has always been, to describe contemporary social psychology and to present the theoretical concepts and research findings that make up this broad and fascinating field. We have drawn on work by a wide array of social psychologists, including those with sociological and psychological perspectives, drawing on both classic works and more recent studies. Throughout the book we have used the results of empirical research—surveys, experiments, observational and qualitative studies, and meta-analyses—to illustrate this wide range of social psychological ideas.

Beyond the goals that have characterized every edition of this textbook, we have undertaken a major challenge in the seventh edition: producing a consolidated and streamlined text designed to better fit the introductory social psychology courses taught by the many users of this text. In response to the many thoughtful reviews provided by readers and instructors, we have shifted from a 20-chapter presentation to 15 chapters, with an appendix that introduces the research methods most often used in social psychological research—in psychology, in sociology, and by researchers in other fields who study social psychology topics.

Instructors who have used prior editions may wish for some assistance locating the topics in the reorganization of the text. First, in order to further emphasize the continuous nature of socialization from birth to death, we have combined childhood socialization, adult socialization, and the life course perspective (previously covered in Chapters 3 and 17) into an extensive treatment in Chapter 2, "Socialization through the Life Course."

Second, we have combined the two chapters focused heavily on the self, "Self and Identity" (previously Chapter 4) and "Self-Presentation and Impression Management" (previously Chapter 9) into a single chapter now called "Self and Self-Presentation" (Chapter 3). Many instructors have, in fact, used these chapters in tandem and thus we have organized the new chapter to smoothly guide students through all of this related material.

Third, we have combined the treatments of altruism and aggression (previously Chapters 11 and 12) into a single chapter (10). This new chapter probably represents the single largest change in the seventh edition because not only does it combine two chapters, it reorganizes the material around a series of common

questions about both pro-social and anti-social behavior designed to help students understand how the two are related to each other, and the ways in which they are not. Thus, rather than a sequential presentation of altruism and then aggression, the updated text encourages an integrated treatment of the two topics.

Fourth, users of the sixth edition will also notice there is no longer a standalone chapter on emotion. Although the study of emotion and the recognition of the importance of emotion in so many social psychological processes has grown immensely over the past two decades, we have chosen in this edition to integrate the material about emotion throughout the text and attach it to the other core topics, rather than segregating this material in a separate chapter.

Finally, research methods has been moved to an appendix in recognition of many instructors' desire to move more quickly into the substance of social psychology. Thus, the text now introduces key theoretical perspectives on social psychology (Chapter 1) and then allows the instructors and students to immediately begin applying these perspectives in the very next chapter on socialization (Chapter 2). The Research Methods Appendix can be incorporated into the course as a stand-alone chapter at any point in the progression of chapters—at the beginning, middle, or end of the course.

In revising the text, we also sought to streamline the text within chapters as well. The field of social psychology is truly immense and although we always seek to make truly judicious choices in our decisions to include studies and theoretical ideas, the growing social psychology literature has a tendency to make the book larger and larger over its iterations. The seventh edition gave us an opportunity to step back and do some needed yet careful pruning, producing what we hope is a more compact, yet still comprehensive presentation of social psychology.

The revision was not just an exercise in cutting, however! The seventh edition also contains updated data throughout the book, new boxes providing research updates and "test yourself' opportunities, and an increased emphasis on diverse populations and their experiences. As in the past, we have made a special effort to incorporate research that reports differences among participants who vary on race, gender, and sexual orientation, but of course are limited by what is available, and point out these limitations.


As mentioned above, the book begins with a chapter on theoretical perspectives in social psychology that provides the groundwork for all that follows. The remainder of the book is divided into four substantive sections. Section 1 focuses on individual social behavior. It includes chapters on socialization, self and self-presentation, social perception and cognition, and attitudes. Section 2 is concerned with social interaction, the core of social psychology. Each of the chapters in this section discusses how persons interact with others and how they are affected by this interaction. These chapters cover such topics as communication, social influence and persuasion, altruism and aggression, and interpersonal attraction. Section 3 provides extensive coverage of groups. It includes chapters on group cohesion and conformity, group structure and performance, and intergroup conflict. Section 4 considers the relations between individuals and the wider society. These chapters examine the impact of social structure on the individual, especially on physical and mental health; deviant behavior; and collective behavior and social movements.


Although we have attempted to present the material in this book in a logical sequence that will appeal to many instructors, there are, of course, many different ways in which an instructor can organize an introductory course in social psychology. Therefore, we have written each chapter as a self-contained unit. Later chapters do not presume that the student has read earlier ones (although we insert appropriate cross-references to allow students to easily find related material in other chapters). This compartmentalization enables instructors to assign chapters in any sequence.

Chapters share a standard format. To make the material interesting and accessible to students, each chapter's introductory section poses four to six focal questions. These questions establish the issues discussed in the chapter. The remainder of the chapter consists of four to six major sections, each addressing one of these issues. A summary at the end of each chapter reviews the key points. Thus, each chapter poses several key questions about a topic and then considers these questions in a framework that enables students to easily learn the major ideas.

In addition, the text includes several learning aids. Tables emphasize the results of important studies. Figures illustrate important social psychological processes. Photographs dramatize essential ideas from the text. Boxes in each chapter highlight interesting or controversial issues and studies and also discuss the applications

of social psychological concepts in daily life. Some boxes are identified as "Research Update"; these boxes have been updated by including the latest research. Other boxes are identified as "Test Yourself'; these contain a questionnaire that the student can complete to find out his or her standing on the measure of interest. Key terms appear in bold and are listed alphabetically at the end of each chapter. A glossary of key terms appears at the end of the book.


Instructor's Manual with Test Bank, by Farzana Nabi of California State University, East Bay. Prepare for class more quickly and effectively with such resources as learning objectives, lecture outlines, lecture/discussion suggestions, student activities, key terms with page references, Internet links, and InfoTrac® College Edition search terms. A test bank with 35 multiple-choice questions, 10-15 true/false questions, and 3-5 essay questions per chapter, with page references, saves you time creating tests. Each multiple-choice item has the question type (factual, applied, or conceptual) indicated. All questions are labeled as new, modified, or pickup, so instructors know whether the question is new to this edition of the test bank, modified but picked up from the previous edition of the test bank, or picked up straight from the previous edition of the test bank.

ExamView® Computerized Testing. Quickly create customized tests that can be delivered in print or online. ExamView's simple "what you see is what you get" interface allows you to easily generate tests of up to 250 items. (Contains all the Test Bank questions electronically.)

DeLamater/Myers's Social Psychology Companion Website (http://sociology. wadsworth.com/Delamater6e). On this site, instructors can access password-protected instructor's manuals, lecture slides created in PowerPoint®, and important sociology links. Click on the companion website to find useful learning resources for each chapter of the book. These resources include tutorial practice quizzes that can be scored and emailed to the instructor, and much more!


John D. DeLamater, Conway-Bascom Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received his education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychology in 1969. He has been teaching the undergraduate course in social psychology since 1970, and graduate courses and seminars in the area since 1981. He leads a seminar on teaching for graduate students, and has won several teaching awards. He is the Editor of the Handbook of Social Psychology, published by Springer. His research and writing are focused on the effects of life-course

transitions on sexuality. He has published papers on the effects of having a child, of dual-career couples, of divorce, and influences on sexual desire and sexual behavior among men and women over 45. His current research is concerned with sexual behavior in later life, and the extent and ways that couples negotiate various nonmonogamous lifestyles.

Daniel J. Myers is Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean for Research, Centers, and the Social Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. He was educated at the Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1997. He teaches courses on social psychology, statistics and research methods, and protest, and he received the University of Notre Dame's highest honor for teaching, The Rev. Charles E. Sheedy Award, in 2007. He has also developed a teacher training practicum for graduate teaching assistants at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on race and protest, the diffusion of social phenomena, urban poverty, and negotiation strategies in small groups.