Reflections on 100 Years of Experimental Social Psychology

By Aroldo Rodrigues; Robert V. Levine | Go to book overview

individuals and the psychologically relevant attributes of social structures. To oversimplify it, I hope that they will provide a successful integration of the orientations of three of the intellectual heroes of my youth: Freud, Marx, and Lewin.


Notes
1.
Lewin was widely admired by other psychologists. In the summer of 1947, after his death, there was a meeting of the Topological Circle at Smith College. At this meeting there were such eminent psychologists as Fritz Heider (the host), Edward Chace Tolman, and David Rappaport, as well as many of the faculty and students of the RCGD. At that meeting Heider presented the ideas that are at the core of his subsequently published book. Heider was a shy and somewhat inarticulate public speaker, but the profundity of his ideas gripped us all. The meeting also provided us the opportunity to have lively informal discussions with Tolman and Rappaport (who offered me a job at Austen Riggs).
2.
One sour note in connection with my dissertation: For it, I had developed an observation schedule and manual describing the "functions of participation" for characterizing the behavior of group members. It included a description and detailing of various task, group, and individual functions. I also used this material in analyzing observational data in connection with the research done on the first NTL. Much to my surprise, shortly before my dissertation defense in the summer of 1948, an article by Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats entitled "The Functional Role of Group Members" appeared in the Journal of Social Issues. This article was mainly a reprint of my manual with some elaboration; my authorship received no acknowledgment. When I brought this to the attention of Benne and Sheats, they acknowledged that their article was based on my manual, but since it did not have my name on it, they thought it was some impersonal product of NTL. They apologized for their error, but when the article was widely reprinted in books, there was no attempt to undo their error. When I published my dissertation, I included a footnote indicating that some of my dissertation material had been published in "The Functional Role of Group Members".
3.
In 1968 I also gave this address at a meeting of social psychologists from the West (the United States and Western Europe) and from Eastern Europe. We met in Prague shortly after the Soviet Union had sent its troops into Czechoslovakia to squash an incipient rebellion against Soviet domination. Despite our misgivings, we came at the strong urging of our Czech colleagues who wanted to maintain their contacts with the West. My paper included a section on what strategies and tactics were available to "low-power" groups when confronting "high-power" groups. The Czechs loved it and widely circulated a tape recording they made of it.

Leon Festinger, in contrast, asked me, "Is this science?" I replied, "Leon, you and I have a different conception of the nature of science." My conception, I believe, was more inclusive than his. Leon and his followers were always puzzled by me: They thought I did fine theoretical and experimental work, but they did not understand my willingness to apply the best available social science knowledge to important social issues even when that knowledge was not firmly rooted in experimental research.

The meeting in Prague was sponsored by the Transnational Social Psychology Committee of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Leon was its chair, and under his leadership it did much to stimulate the development of social psychology in Western Europe.

-30-

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