Character  &  Context

The Science of Who We Are and How We Relate
Editors: Mark Leary, Shira Gabriel, Brett Pelham
Apr 15, 2019

People – Can’t Live With ‘em, Can’t Live Without ‘em

by Mark Leary, Shira Gabriel, and Brett Pelham
Illustration of crowd of people with a few individuals highlighted, varying ages, abilities

People are everywhere!  Much of our time is spent in the presence of other people, and even when we’re not actually with other people, we still think about them a great deal.  Furthermore, most of the important things in life – both good and bad -- involve other people. The better we can figure out why others do what they do, the better we can navigate our social interactions and relationships.

We also benefit from understanding ourselves.  The more we understand why we think, feel, and act as we do, the better we can manage our own lives, whether this means planning an enjoyable a vacation, handling problems in our relationships, dealing with disappointments, or avoiding getting ourselves into any trouble as we go through life.

As the new editors of Character and Context, we welcome you to the site where you will learn new and fascinating information about human behavior based on the latest research from social and personality psychology.  Social and personality psychologists study the full range of human experience, explaining why people think, feel, and act as they do.  Personality psychologists study how people’s behavior is influenced by their personality characteristics and psychological processes (their “character”).  Social psychologists study how people’s behavior is influenced by the social context, including other people.  Hence the name of the blog – Character and Context.

Together, social and personality psychologists study almost everything that happens in our daily lives, from what makes romantic relationships work to what makes prejudice so common.  They are interested in why we sometimes put other people’s well-being above our own and why we sometimes fail to help those in need.  They do research on how giant things like culture and on tiny things like genes affect our personalities.  They study how people are both connected to countless other people and how they can also feel very much alone. Any aspect of human experience is fair game for social and personality psychologists, including the neurological processes in the human brain that underlie thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior.

As you explore our posts, you will see that this new incarnation of Character and Context includes six kinds of articles, all of them written by experts in social and personality psychology.  Some articles describe the results of recent research studies that explore interesting facets of human behavior. Others provide general overviews of particular topics, written by foremost authorities in the field. Still other articles describe ways in which knowledge from social and personality psychology is being applied in real-world settings such as the workplace, education, health care, law, or the military.

We also publish posts in which experts explain current social events from the standpoint of psychological theory and research.  In a fifth category of posts, authors offer evidence-based recommendations on how we can use psychology to improve human life. Finally, we offer occasional reviews of popular books to let you know what you’ll learn from reading particular books in psychology.

So, explore our site and learn more about both yourself and all the other people who make up your social world. 

About our Blog

Why is this blog called Character & Context?

Everything that people think, feel, and do is affected by some combination of their personal characteristics and features of the social context they are in at the time. Character & Context explores the latest insights about human behavior from research in personality and social psychology, the scientific field that studies the causes of everyday behaviors.  

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