One of the basic goals of Public Relations is the formation of attitudes. How are attitudes formed? Simply put they are formed through three basic components; emotional, cognitive, and behavioral(Spinelli, 2015). Digging a little deeper, the successful and thoughtful practice of public relations needs to take into account a number of disciplines in order to fully touch on each of the three components of attitude formation. Two of the disciplines that are key to the successful PR practitioner’s toolbox are Social Psychology and Anthropology. Why are these important? Let’s take a closer look at each.
Public Relations and Social Psychology
Looking at the relationship Social Psychology holds with PR, we must first drill into exactly what Social Psychology is. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “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, n.d.)”. Ok, great, so how does that play into the successful practice of PR? Well, like I discussed in the beginning, PR is the formation of attitudes. Given that we as humans are social creatures, we are more likely to trust the opinion of someone within our social circle than an unknown outsider. With this in mind, Social Psychology holds a great deal of influence over the practice of PR in that it requires us as practitioners of public relations to have a deep understanding of who the audience is and how they interact and influence others within their social circles. Going further, through understanding how groups interact socially, we can continually monitor the status of PR campaigns with the knowledge of how information travels and is received among our audience. This allows us to adjust our campaigns for increased effectiveness.
Public Relations and Anthropology
If Social Psychology looks into the what and how humans interact as a group, then Anthropology surely is the why they interact in the manner that they do. The study of Anthropology is the “study of humans by any means necessary(Stareva, 2014).” So why is this important to the practice of PR? Well, having a true understanding of why groups and individuals hold their particular belief systems…the logic behind them, we can better do our jobs. Through an understanding of human logic we can appeal to an individual or group’s core belief system and connect with them on a deeper level than a simply social one. Additionally, through the audience truly believing and understanding a message tailored for their logic, they are more apt to become ambassadors for an organization and further echo a message.
Bringing the two together
As you can see, both of these disciplines are key to the successful practice of Public Relations. Social Psychology for the understanding of how groups and individuals interact and share information, and Anthropology to know why people act in the manner that they do as well as the logic behind it. With a deep understanding of these two as well as other key disciplines, the PR practitioner is better equipped to form attitudes and influence audiences.
Merriam-Webster, Social Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social psychology
Stareva, I. (2014). Iliyana’s Blog. Retrieved from https://www.iliyanastareva.com/blog/anthropology-pr
Spinelli, L. (2015). Connecting the Dots Between Psychology and Public Relations
Retrieved from http://www.culpwrit.com/2015/08/05/connecting-the-dots-between