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History of Social Psychology and Sociology

What is the history of social psychology? Provide evidence of social psychology's historic link to both psychology and sociology. (1) Locate significant events and people in the history of social psychology. (2) Provide evidence of social psychology's historic link to the fields of psychology and sociology. Identify significant researchers in the field of social psychology and give the major contribution(s) of each. [In text citation and sources needed. Write in 3rd person scholarly writing.] This is a personally developed question not an assignment or home work.

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History of Social Psychology

What is the history of social psychology? Provide evidence of social psychology's historic link to both psychology and sociology.

Locate significant events and people in the history of social psychology.

Provide evidence of social psychology's historic link to the fields of psychology and sociology [this is identical with the second question above]. Identify significant researchers in the field of social psychology and give the major contribution(s) of each.

This is a huge topic. You give me no indications as to how long it should be. Hence, I will create this around what is acceptable for six credits.

Social psychology is the attempt to take earlier theories of social interaction and place them on a scientific footing. This means that social philosophy is being put to the tests of empirical methods. Just as importantly, however, this field deals with how humans come to evaluate their state and situation (Brown, 2006: 40-41). Personal satisfaction and assessment are the main variables in this field, and its history is the slow development of both theories and methods of how to measure these. The 20th century saw one general significant change in this field - it sought meaning within the social whole, not in individual preferences (Sanderson, 2010: 80-85).

In a way, much of what developed in 20th century social psychology is a reaction to classical economics - human beings acting according to what will profit them the most. Social Exchange theory is probably the only school in this field that accepts the basic assumptions of Classical economics, but remains more or less alone because of it.

Norman Tripplet was one of the first people do deal with psychology from a specifically social point of view. His work revolved around how behaviors differed when performed alone, or under observation (such as in a crowd). Tripplet held that the simpler the task, the greater the pressures to perform when in front of a crowd. Complex tasks did not seem to have this impetus. For more difficult tasks, being watched seems to harm your ability to concentrate, making performance often worse than when alone (Crisp and Turner, 2010: 129).

The first substantial debate in this field, around the turn of the century, was between William McDougall and Edward Ross. This debate was a methodological one, dealing with the basic unit of analysis of the field. The former stressed the individual and his choices as paramount for social psychology, while Ross wanted to focus on communities.

Floyd Alport, another pioneer in the field, fell on McDougall's side - the individual alone can be the unit of analysis for social psychology. Groups, in his mind, were just epiphenomena of individuals. Individuals decide what groups and communities to either join or serve and hence, groups reflect the aggregated preferences of individuals (Wilson, 2004: 38).

Yet, Alport was answered by the so called "Gestalt" school. Here, the basic thrust was that the whole always comes before the parts. What makes this particularly salient is that this view stressed the "social" nature of psychology. If the individual alone was the be all and end all of life, then a specifically "social" psychology cannot emerge (Barone, 2007: 27-29). Social life, in this view, is merely lots of ...

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The solution discusses the history of social psychology and sociology.

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