For some time I have been trying to figure out what the connection between social psychology and educational psychology is. By their definition, it seems that there at least one (major) point of connection. Both disciplines have the term "psychology" in their title.

However, if you go further to investigate the connection, you might find that Wikipedia entry on educational psychology seems a bit confusing:

"Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the **social psychology of schools as organizations."

Does it mean that social psychology should be considered as a part/subdiscipline of educational psychology?

  • $\begingroup$ The dashes are used in the tags as a separator (in place of a space) on SE sites, the discipline names are not ordinarily dashed. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Sherrington Aug 19 '13 at 19:04

No, social psychology is not a subfield of educational psychology. Social psychology is one of the basic disciplines of psychology (like e.g. personality psychology or developmental psychology), whereas educational psychology is an applied discipline (like e.g. clinical psychology or industrial/organizational psychology). A sort of standard definition of social psychology is, that it is the

the study of the manner in which the personality, attitudes, motivations, and behavior of the individual influence and are influenced by social groups. (Merriam-Webster, 2013)

This means that as soon as there is some sort of social interaction involved in an educational setting, both disciplines are concerned.


Merriam-Webster. (August 2013). Social Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20psychology


In short, there is no simple answer to your question. First, you have to ask what do you consider a discipline. You should considered and research the following questions:

  1. Is there a community of researchers that is actively engaged in debates?
  2. Is there a set of journals and conferences that are more related to social psychology (SP) or educational psychology(EP)
  3. Is there a corpus of work that is usually refer as key to social psychology or educational psychology?
  4. Are the associations dedicated to solely SP and EP?
  5. Is there a set of methods that are used and developed solely by SP and EP?

You should ask about relationship between social psychology and educational psychology only after you answer "yes" to the questions above. In other case you only talk about two fields that psychology/psychologists focus their attention.

To conclude, you have to make more research on the disciplinary status of both social and educational psychology.

I would recomend Krishnan (2009) regarding the interdisciplinary relations. A good introduction to disciplinarity is also there.

Krishnan, A. (2009). What are academic disciplines. Some observations on the Disciplinarity vs. Interdisciplinarity Ddebate. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods. Universitty of Southhampton, 63.

  • $\begingroup$ There is no field or discipline that uses and develops any methods exclusively. All scientific methods are used by multiple disciplines. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Aug 19 '13 at 9:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Aidis Hmmm, that's funny. I thought this question is nice because it's one of the few that actually have a simple answer. While I see your point, that a question about the relationship between two fields is certainly not easy to answer, the question of wether educational psychology is a subfield of social psychology in my opinion does have a definite answer. $\endgroup$ – Jens Kouros Aug 19 '13 at 11:06

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