Moral panics are events that occur when societies react to a condition, episode, person or group of persons inside their society, which are seen as threats to the society's core values or beliefs. The concept of moral panic has been successfully employed in the fields of sociology and criminology for well over 40 years. However, it has remained fairly unknown to social psychologists. In this paper we have reviewed the theoretical and empirical literature on this topic, from its inception to the latest modifications it has received. We have also highlighted the concept's implicit links to social psychological theories and research findings. Criticisms, past applications and suggestions for future usage are provided and discussed.