Reflections on 100 Years of Experimental Social Psychology

By Aroldo Rodrigues; Robert V. Levine | Go to book overview

1
A Personal Perspective on the Development of Social Psychology in the Twentieth Century

Morton Deutsch

Reflecting on his career as a social psychologist, Morton Deutsch guides us through a remarkable number of significant events that have shaped the field. He begins with his experiences under the leadership of Kurt Lewin and the impact of the intellectual atmosphere that prevailed at the Research Center for Group Dynamics, which shaped not only his dissertation but his entire value orientation as a social psychologist. He tells of his later work within the more applied atmosphere of the National Training Laboratory led by Ron Lippitt, describing his own particular research and many of the indelible contributions he has made to the field. Deutsch observes that his career as a social psychologist has centered on two continuing themes: cooperation, competition, and conflict on the one hand and distributive justice on the other. He concludes his reflections with the hope that future social psychologists will achieve a successful integration of three of the intellectual heroes of his youth: Freud, Marx, and Lewin.

My life almost spans the existence of modern social psychology. My commentary on social psychology will be from the personal perspective of a reflection on my career as a social psychologist and the factors, social and personal, that influenced its development. However, I shall precede my autobiographical reflection with a brief commentary on the development of social psychology prior to my exposure to it.

Although modern social psychology was born in the first decades of the twentieth century, its ancestry in social philosophy can be traced back to ancient times. (For an excellent review of the precursors of modern social psychology, see Allport, 1954a). It is a child of psychology and sociology, having been conceived in the ambivalent mood of optimism and despair that has characterized the sci-

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