SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIES OF MENTAL DEFICIENCY1
The plural social psychologies in the title is meant to suggest (1) a lack of agreed-upon definitions of the realm of social psychology, (2) an unwillingness on this writer's part to limit himself to any one social psychological approach, and (3) an unwillingness to cover all the material in mental deficiency which other readers might feel is a part of the social psychology of mental deficiency. This chapter does not treat such topics as social adjustment, rehabilitation, or social competence. There is also very little to be found here in the way of studies of social behavior which, while using defective subjects, do not otherwise deal with problems relevant to mental deficiency.
What, then, is the content of this chapter? The focus here is twofold: (1) on the social stimulus properties of the defective, i.e., how he is conceived of, judged, and reacted to by others; and (2) on the social determinants of the defective's behavior, i.e., how his behavior is influenced by aspects of the social situation in which he is placed and by the behavior of others toward him. The emphasis is on the study of variables which can be manipulated in either natural or laboratory settings rather than upon correlates of ability. The phenomena selected for treatment meet the following criteria: (1) relevance to mental deficiency; (2) relevance to broader____________________
The writer would like to thank Phyllis Guskin, Martin Miller, and Lawrence S. Wrightsman, Jr., for critically reading the manuscript from the points of vie of layman (and wife), graduate fellow in mental deficiency, and social psychologist, respectively.