Social Psychology: An Analysis of Human Behavior

Social Psychology: An Analysis of Human Behavior

Social Psychology: An Analysis of Human Behavior

Social Psychology: An Analysis of Human Behavior

Excerpt

This book seeks to present the more important and the more enduring problems of social psychology. It attempts no major or novel synthesis because the time is not yet ripe to achieve such a synthesis. Data are lacking, methods of research remain imperfect, and many crucial theories tend to be impressionistic and immature.

In a period of turmoil, however, men grow impatient and find the courage to manufacture a tool which, though quite imperfect, can help them resolve some of their difficulties. Social psychology--which concerns itself with the behavior of people in a social setting and especially in groups--may be such a tool. It is important, therefore, to offer at least the blueprint of a potentially useful implement. This can be done because the scope of social psychology is abundantly clear.

The theme of problems pervades this book for several reasons. A first step to wisdom is the recognition of ignorance, and there is no better way to recognize ignorance than to focus upon unsolved problems. The significance of a problem can be appreciated only when the areas of agreement are also indicated: accomplishments as well as gaps can be suggested. Then it becomes evident, as the tradition-bound divisions among the various disciplines devoted to studying human beings gradually expose their own artificiality and arbitrariness, that certain problems periodically reappear in different forms and in different fields. If there is to be a unified science of behavior, that unity will be attained by discovering overlapping and hence common problems.

Again and again, therefore, unsolved problems are mentioned in this book. The unanswered questions that are raised so frequently are not rhetorical: although unanswerable at the moment, they must eventually be . . .

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