Reflections on 100 Years of Experimental Social Psychology

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

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Fifty Years in Social Psychology: Some Reflections on the Individual Group Problem

Harold H. Kelley

Harold Kelley's contributions to the field of social psychology are both broad and profound. In this chapter he uses the metaphor of reflections to argue that the field stands between two counterimposed mirrors -- the mirror of the individual and that of the group. How we look into these mirrors illustrates four ways of phrasing the subject matter of social psychology: the individual or the group, the individual versus the group, the individual from the group, and the individual against the group. Kelley describes how social psychology and his own research have navigated through these four reflections. He begins with his experiences at Yale, where, along with several other notable social psychologists, he helped bring a group focus to the study of mass communication processes. He emphasizes his close and long-lasting association with John Thibaut and their numerous works on interdependence. Kelley regards his work on attribution -- most notably the development of the famous Kelley cube -- as an example of the tradition of research on the individual versus the group. He tells how his 1978 book with Thibaut, on interdependence patterns and how they may define and shape individual differences, is in the tradition of the approach emphasizing the individual from the group. Kelley shows how some of his studies at Yale, as well as his ANOVA model, are examples of how individuals may resist group influences.

My reflections are not scholarly, researched conclusions. They're the ways I remember things and feel about them now. This egocentric approach seemed to be the surest way to avoid redundancy with the other authors of these reflections.

"Reflections" is an apt metaphor for some of the major themes of social psychology. Located as it is between the social and the psychological, we can think of social psychology as standing between two counterposed mirrors, the one the mirror of the individual and the second the mirror of the group. We can look into the one, or we can look into the other. But when we look into either one, we

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