Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, UA
Contemporary social psychology makes rich use of theories and methods from neuroscience. The new discipline of social neuroscience also enjoys much popularity. In this article, I show historical and intellectual reasons behind the interest of social psychologists in biological explanations, and consider the role of such explanations in our discipline. I suggest that the background of the current acceptance of biological approaches lies in the weakening of the computer metaphor that sharply separated the mind and the brain, and in an improved understanding of the necessity for the multilevel analysis of social behavior. I also emphasize the development of powerful new technologies, conceptual advances, and an improvement in inferences about psychological variables from biological data. Due to these advances, psychophysiological research helps us identify new phenomena and solve theoretical debates in social psychology. Throughout this article, I also show dangers that come from naive interpretation of physiological data, and highlight the uniqueness of psychological level of analysis. In conclusion, I state that social psychology and neuroscience not only need, but might be necessary for each other.
Keywords: Social neuroscience, psychophysiology, theory, inference, methods, history of psychology
Cite this article as:
Winkielman, P. (2008). Social psychology and neuroscience: Domination, separation, or a fulfilling relationship?. Psychologia Społeczna, 6, 11–22.