As my time as a student comes to a close with this final semester, I have spent some time thinking back on all the experiences that I’ve had and how to may compare to those around me. I think that one of the things that each student has in common is at some point wondering “when am I ever going to use this?” I think that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t at least thought this phrase to themselves. However, one of the major benefits of studying social psychology is its practical nature. There have been countless instances of my utilization of course concepts at the job I now hold. One of these such concepts is the idea of participatory research, research that combines investigation, education, and action (Maguire, 1987, as cited in Gruman, et. al., 2016).
Let’s imagine that the manager of a restaurant is having a problem with the morale of their employees and doesn’t know how to resolve the issue. If they were to follow the three activities of participatory research, they would start by investigating other instances of this problem occurring. The knowledge gained from this investigation could proved to be of vital importance in solving the problem. Next, the manager would educate themselves on the matter alongside the employees by interacting with them directly and discussing with them potential reasons for the poor morale. Finally, the manager and employees would unite and determine the course of action with the highest likelihood of success in resolving the issue.
Although the methods used in participatory research may seem limited in use to that of researcher alone, the concepts which can be drawn from them are useful in many areas of life. As I previously stated, one of the main benefits of studying social psychology is how useful it can be, and participatory research is no exception. I’m sure there are many lessons there learned throughout our careers as students which will never be used, however, I don’t believe those learned from social psychology are part of that category.
Gruman, J. A., Schneuder., F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2016). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Socanil and Practical Problems.
Maguire, P. (1987). Doing participatory research: A feminist approach. Amherst: University of Massechusetts.