Social Research & Initiatives

Social psychology is the study of human thoughts, feelings and behaviour as it is influenced by the presence of others. SIGN group members focus in particular on the way in which group membership affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Research conducted by members of the SIGN group starts from the premise that because the self is defined in important ways by the groups to which we belong, we need to understand how group memberships (and the social identity that is derived from them) shapes our understanding of the world around us and our behaviour within it.

Social research by SIGN researchers focuses on the way that group membership determines and affects behaviour within groups (e.g., leadership, deviance and dissent, social influence) as well as between groups (e.g., effectiveness of communication between groups, willingness to engage in collective action, coping with intergroup discrimination). It engages with classic topics in social psychology, for example those relating to prejudice, stereotyping, resistance, obedience and conformity as well as more contemporary research themes. For example, SIGN researchers have examined the function of gossip within groups, the effect of self-control on goal achievement, emotion regulation, the effectiveness of nudging to change attitudes and behaviour, the way that physical pain acts as social glue to bring people together, crowd control during mass gatherings, the way in which homeless people respond to group-based discrimination, and the effects of wealth and status on hostility towards minorities.