Reflections on 100 Years of Experimental Social Psychology

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

lost its currency in academic psychology. Graduate training in clinical psychology shifted to the cognitive and behavioral approaches. So my decision to go into psychoanalytic training in 1982 was swimming against the tide.

Psychoanalysis itself has been very short on research, one of the reasons it has fallen under a cloud. There is a growing realization that good research is needed. By research, the psychoanalytic establishment means clinical outcome studies in order to assess the efficacy of psychoanalytic treatment. It is therefore surprising to me that both the American Psychoanalytic and the International Psychoanalytic Associations have partially funded my research, which is completely theoretical.

When psychologists' interest in psychoanalysis was cresting in the 1940s and 1950s, a great deal of cross-fertilization between personality and social psychology took place. In our textbook Jones and I detailed the fruits of the infusion that took place, which culminated in the so-called New Look studies of Jerome Bruner, Leo Postman, George Klein, and others. That work demonstrated the effects of unconscious motivation on perception. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, a number of the faculty in the Yale Psychology Department were psychoanalyzed. That immersion led to the work on frustration-aggression hypothesis, spearheaded by Neal Miller ( 1941). Psychoanalysis was part of the zeitgeist in those days. Unfortunately, it never got a firm, permanent foothold in psychology, partly because of the difficulty of translating the theory into hypotheses that were testable in the laboratory. Also, the sense was that studies of psychological development in children were necessary to test psychoanalytic hypotheses. These are difficult and costly to do. Since the residues of infancy and childhood are very much alive in us in the present and can be activated experimentally, as I hope I've demonstrated in my research, it is not really necessary to limit oneself to developmental studies. I believe we are now on the threshold of returning to that natural connection between personality and social behavior with a much more sophisticated theory of the unconscious and its effects as well as a more highly developed research armamentarium. This has the potential for creating a new "New Look." I hope that young social psychologists will rise to the challenge and usher in a new millennium for a social psychology that is grounded in the emotional substratum of mind Freud discovered.


References

Allport, F. H. ( 1924) Social psychology. Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press.

Asch, S. E. ( 1946). Forming impressions of personality. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 41, 258-290.

_____. ( 1952). Social psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

_____.( 1956). Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs, 70, 416.

Bargh, J. A., & Pietromonaco, P. ( 1982). Automatic information processing and social perception: The influence of trait information presented outside of conscious awareness on impression formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 437-449.

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