The Turn to Discourse in Social Psychology

By Wood, Linda A.; Kroger, Rolf O. | Canadian Psychology, November 1998 | Go to article overview

The Turn to Discourse in Social Psychology


Wood, Linda A., Kroger, Rolf O., Canadian Psychology


Abstract

We discuss the emerging turn to discursive social psychology as an alternative to experimental social psychology. We note that the barriers to change are rooted in the history of the discipline, in the failure of researchers to recognize the distinction between movements and actions and in their reluctance to switch from positivist to post-positivist criteria. We outline the tenets of discursive psychology and of its associated method, discourse analysis. Illustrations of discourse analysis are drawn primarily from a recent study of date rape. Throughout, we emphasize the centrality of discourse in social life and the definition of the social being as Homo loquens.

Resume

Nous discutons du passage a la psychologie sociale discursive comme solution de rechange a la psychologie sociale experimentale. Nous constatons que les obstacles au changement trouvent leur source dans l'histoire de la discipline, dans l'echec des chercheurs a reconnaitre la distinction entre les mouvements et les actions, et dans leur resistance a passer des criteres positivistes aux criteres post-positivistes. Nous soulignons les principes de la psychologie discursive et de l'analyse du discours, methode qui y est associee. Les exemples d'analyse du discours sont principalement tires d'une etude recente sur le viol commis par des connaissances. Dans tout l'article, nous mettons l'accent sur l'importance du discours dans la vie sociale et sur les definitions de l'etre social qu'est l'Homo loquens.

A decisive turn in the development of social psychology occurred when social psychology adopted the experimental method under the influence of Kurt Lewin. Lewin (1951) had been inspired by the success of field theory in physics and the possibilities he saw in applying field-theoretic principles of force, tension, constraint and context to the study of social-psychological issues. His experiments in leadership style (autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire) became classics in the new experimental social psychology. Festinger, Lewin's most prominent pupil, along with a phalanx of researchers who subsequently became the standard-bearers of experimental social psychology, adopted Lewin's program, first at MIT and later at Michigan and Minnesota. Festinger took an intuitive and creative insight into social processes (derived from his observation of the circulation of rumours about the consequences of earthquakes in India; Festinger, 1957) into the laboratory to spawn two decades of research on cognitive dissonance. Research on cognitive dissonance became the touchstone of experimental social psychology. Interest in the topic has declined, but the commitment to the experimental method remains seemingly unshaken.

This commitment has not gone unchallenged. Experimental social psychology came to experience a crisis of confidence on methodological grounds. The crisis literature focused first on ethical questions (Baumrind, 1964). Should an entire discipline rely on lying (technically, deception) as a necessary methodological tool? This was a difficult question in the politically volatile and optimistic 1960s, and is still so today. It involves more lasting questions concerning, for example, the opacity of results obtained via the strategy of deception (Kroger & Wood, 1980). The crisis literature then turned to methodological concerns. Orne (1962) raised the spectre of demand characteristics: the tendency of social psychological experiments to be peculiar social situations in which subjects respond to the social demands of the experimental situation and not just to the independent variables selected by the experimenter. Control over the subject's responses, the raison d'etre of the experimental method, seemed impaired. Rosenthal (1966) added the notion that in the fragile environment of the social-psychological experiment, the characteristics and expectancies of the experimenter might contribute to the results of the experiment as significantly as the classically defined independent variable. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Turn to Discourse in Social Psychology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.