Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Excerpt

Of the writing of texts in social psychology there is no end. The author or each of them believes that he has a special justification for offering his own particular version of the common theme, and I am no exception to this general rule. Perhaps I can formulate the raison d'êre of this volume by outlining a little of its history and by expressing my indebtedness to a few of the individuals from whom its main ideas have been borrowed.

This book really began nearly twenty years ago, when I discovered that I could not be an adequate teacher of human psychology without becoming a bit of a sociologist, too. My own learning began in earnest after Gardner and Lois Murphy invited me to join them in writing the second edition of Experimental Social Psychology. In particular, the necessity of familiarizing myself with a considerable body of literature on social attitudes led me to conclude that no "merely psychological" account of the development of attitudes could be satisfactory. My association with Professor George Lundberg stimulated me to learn some of the facts of collective life. I began to see the significance, which I had missed in my earlier reading, of Charles Horton Cooley's insistence that "human life" not only can but must be studied both in its individual and in its collective aspects. The reports of cultural anthropologists, especially those of Margaret Mead, which were appearing about this time, made it abundantly clear that man is a cultural animal to a degree that most psychologists had not suspected.

I discovered that my own research, though planned within a primarily individual framework, yielded findings which I could not account for apart from a group context. And so, even though my objectives were then limited to the understanding of individual behavior and attitudes, I had come by 1937 to see the necessity of looking at individuals as group members.

This line of thought I found more upsetting than helpful, from the point of view of a unified theory of human behavior. I had at my disposal a body of theory which viewed man as an organism bent on coming to terms with his environment, and another which viewed him as a unit in . . .

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