This question, while not a good question for other reasons, is really more of a Sociology question than psychology.

Is Sociology on topic here? It's been deemed a Cognitive Science by some definitions but it's much more high-level and localized than what our site has dealt with thus far. We've had Social Psychology questions before but what's different here is this question is entirely dependent on culture which pushes it from Social Psychology into Sociology in my mind.

Sociology also has significant problems with generalizability. In many cases the specific culture needs to be known to understand a problem. It's not unsolvable, but I think Sociology questions are different enough to warrant some discussion.

Is Sociology on topic here?

2 Answers 2


I think sociology, much like anthropology, statistics, or publication practices are not off-topic. However, they are not on-topic by default. Given a question in these fields it is the job of the asker to motivate it. The OP has to explain why a psychologist, psychiatrist, cognitive scientist, neuroscientist or other cognitive sciences professional would be interested in the question. The burden of this is on the OP, and if it is not made explicit, then the question should be closed as off-topic until the motivation is clear.

For the case of sociology, it is often easy to relate it to social-psychology. Social psychology is 100% on topic, but the link has to be explicit since sociology does not equal social-psychology.

  • Not sure I agree with on-topicness being the issue; I'd close such questions (and have) as Not a Real Question. Off Topic usually means they're not salvagable because we, as a site, don't cover that issue. NARQ means we can't cover that specific question because it's poorly asked or there's no reason for us to asnwer. Other than that I do agree; sociology just feels like an extra step away from the core topic of the site.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 17:22
  • agreed-- this is not a "social science" stackexchange. i'm not a sociologist, but i'd guess that most sociology questions do not fall within the scope of cogsci, including this Q.
    – Jeff
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 23:41

As is, I think this question is more firmly based in Sociology than the one you cited in this Meta post. I am not a Sociologist, but my cursory examination of these terms is that they have everything to do with societal constructs, and not much at all to do with the "collective psyche" or other notions of group psychology.

I think there is a very good question within that one you linked but it's not being expressed very strongly. As I wrote in my comments there, this has bearing on collective perceptions of biases (and biases about biases, but you get the idea). As it is phrased it's thin on anything, even sociology at this point.

Sociology also has significant problems with generalizability. Perhaps, but so does psychology to an extent. If we let that be our absolute metric, we're going to be covering only a corner of the playing field.

Whether sociology is on topic may be one of those things that will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis (as Artem alludes to), as we don't want to go off topic, but we also don't want to push away too many fundamentally/potentially good questions either.

  • I'm not sure I agree about that first question being "more sociological"; the biggest difference between the fields is how they study, I think the terms mentioned have homes in both Social Psychology and Sociology.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 13:45
  • If you think you can ask a better, answerable question about perceptions of biases go ahead and ask it...I don't think the rant is salvageable personally.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 13:47
  • @BenBrocka Perhaps I need a primer on Social Psych versus Sociology. Yeah, I didn't like "sociological" either. I'll think about editing it, but I already have a question I'm looking to answer and one that I think I will have to self-answer, so it will be on the back burner. Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 4:08
  • And a tag wiki I owe Artem, hehe. Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 4:09

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