Can neuroscience advance social psychological theory? Social neuroscience for the behavioral social psychologist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Social neuroscience is a young and thriving area of research in psychology that integrates diverse literatures and methodologies to address broad questions about the brain and behavior. But despite the excitement and activity generated by this approach, its contribution to ideas in social psychology is sometimes questioned. This article discusses the ways in which social neuroscience research may or may not contribute to theoretical issues in social psychology. Still a young field, much research in this area has focused on issues of brain mapping and methodological development, with less emphasis on generating and testing novel social psychological hypotheses. The challenges to theoretical advancement, including psychometric and methodological issues, are considered, and a set of guidelines for conducting theoretically-informative social neuroscience is offered. In the final analysis, it is argued that neuroscience has much to offer to social psychology, both theoretically and methodologically, but that like any new approach, these contributions will take time to realize.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-716
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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