The Psychology of Ego-Involvements: Social Attitudes & Identifications

By Muzafer Sherif; Hadley Cantril | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Among other problems brought into sharp focus by the impact of momentous events and changes are the problems of human beings themselves. A growing sense of dissatisfaction and disillusionment with things as they are today is causing many people to question traditional conceptions of "human nature" which have tended to be taken for granted. Many social scientists, who perhaps feel called upon even more than psychologists to give some explanation or to find some solution for things as they are, almost inevitably put forth, concoct, or rehash verdicts concerning human problems and the role the human factor plays in our complex world. Often some account of "human nature" is vigorously advocated as a premise with which to justify the perpetuation or acceptance of an existing set of human relationships in religious, social, or economic life.

And certain aspects of these accounts of "human nature" have important bearings on ego problems. Some people argue that human beings are self-seeking. Others deny it. Some maintain that man is endowed with a craving for power. Some find primarily in man's nature the elemental seeds of a need for outstripping others. There are those who assume that "human nature" is the source of all harmony and solidarity. Problems of "human nature," as related to war and peace, to egotism and altruism, to human self-centeredness or selflessness, are among the current topics of hot debate among a good many people within and without the psychological profession. Such issues touch closely on the facts that concern us in this book. They indicate that ego problems are matters of everyday life human relationships; that they are not mere academic topics to be discussed and argued by those who can afford the luxury of such an exclusive pastime.

The word "ego" is a much-abused word. It has long suffered

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