Social Psychology

By Daniel Katz; Richard L. Schanck | Go to book overview

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

CHAPTER I
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY AND EVERYDAY EXPERIENCE

The Field of Social Psychology

Man is born into two worlds. One world is a material world and is inarticulate. It cannot talk to man, write him letters of propaganda, or spin theories of social science. Man is interested in this world as the source of the raw materials upon which his bodily welfare depends. The reactions of man to this world and his experiences in it are the subject matter of individual psychology.

The second world which confronts man is social. He lives in a community of people as well as in a land of corn fields and coal mines. This is so in the very nature of things. By his biological make-up man is destined to be a social creature. The utter helplessness of the human being through his long period of infancy and childhood makes his survival dependent upon the ministrations of others. In primitive societies even adults can eke out an existence only through association and grouping together. In modern times we are organized in such complex and interdependent groups that a steel strike in Ohio may affect the stability of the French government. It is this social world, based upon the relations of man to his fellows, which furnishes the subject matter for social psychology.

The delimitation, or separation, of social from individual psychology is not clear-cut. It is an arbitrary division created by specialists, interested in different problems in the study of man. The reactions of men to their natural environment are colored and determined by the social milieu which has bred them. In turn, their reactions to one another are limited by

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