Tag Archives: social psychology

New HoP: Italian Social Psych, Postwar College Counselling Centers, & Psych’s Vocabulary

The February 2014 issue of History of Psychology is now online.  Included in this issue are articles on the creation of college counseling centers in postwar America, a comparison of psychology’s vocabulary with that of other disciplines, and the establishment of Italian social psychology. Other historiographical pieces explore archival sources for Wundt scholarship, as well as the state of work on Soviet psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Great aspirations: The postwar American college counseling center,” by Tom McCarthy. The abstract reads,

In the decade after World War II, psychologists, eager to bring the benefits of counseling to larger numbers, convinced hundreds of American colleges and universities to establish counseling centers. Inspired by the educational-vocational counseling center founded by psychologists at the University of Minnesota in 1932, Carl R. Rogers’s “client-centered” methods of personal adjustment counseling, and the 400-plus college counseling centers created by the Veterans Administration to provide the educational-vocational counseling benefit promised to returning World War II servicemen under the 1944 GI Bill, these counseling psychologists created a new place to practice where important currents in psychology, higher education, and federal policy converged and where they attempted to integrate educational-vocational counseling with personal adjustment counseling based on techniques from psychotherapy. By the mid-1960s, half of America’s colleges and universities had established counseling centers, and more than 90% offered students educational, vocational, and psychological counseling services, a great achievement of the first generation of counseling psychologists.

“Patterns of similarity and difference between the vocabularies of psychology and other subjects,” by John G. Benjafield. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Italian Social Psych, Postwar College Counselling Centers, & Psych’s Vocabulary

Share on Facebook

New Issue: History of Psychiatry

The March 2013 issue of the History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are a number of articles ranging from morbidity and mortality caused from melancholia, to a revisiting of the mental hygiene movement, and even to William James’ psychical research. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The morbidity and mortality linked to melancholia: two cohorts compared, 1875–1924 and 1995–2005,” by Margaret Harris, Fiona Farquhar, David Healy, Joanna C Le Noury, Stefanie C Linden, J Andrew Hughes, and Anthony P Roberts. The abstract reads:

For over a century, melancholia has been linked to increased rates of morbidity and mortality. Data from two epidemiologically complete cohorts of patients presenting to mental health services in North Wales (1874–1924 and 1995–2005) have been used to look at links between diagnoses of melancholia in the first period and severe hospitalized depressive disorders today and other illnesses, and to calculate mortality rates. This is a study of the hospitalized illness rather than the natural illness, and the relationship between illness and hospitalization remains poorly understood. These data confirm that melancholia is associated with a substantial increase in the standardized mortality rate both formerly and today, stemming from a higher rate of deaths from tuberculosis in the historical sample and from suicide in the contemporary sample. The data do not link melancholia to cancer or cardiac disease. The comparison between outcomes for melancholia historically and severe mood disorder today argue favourably for the effectiveness of asylum care.

Continue reading New Issue: History of Psychiatry

Share on Facebook

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The February 2013 issue of the History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are a number of all new articles that address topics that range from Latour, Péguy, and the history of science to the instincts of insects and boundary work in social psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The materiality of things? Bruno Latour, Charles Péguy and the history of science,” by Henning Schmidgen. The abstract reads,

This article sheds new light on Bruno Latour’s sociology of science and technology by looking at his early study of the French writer, philosopher and editor Charles Péguy (1873–1914). In the early 1970s, Latour engaged in a comparative study of Péguy’s Clio and the four gospels of the New Testament. His 1973 contribution to a Péguy colloquium (published in 1977) offers rich insights into his interest in questions of time, history, tradition and translation. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, Latour reads Clio as spelling out and illustrating the following argument: ‘Repetition is a machine to produce differences with identity’. However, in contrast to Deleuze’s work (together with Félix Guattari) on the materiality of machines, or assemblages [agencements], Latour emphasizes the semiotic aspects of the repetition/difference process. As in Péguy, the main model for this process is the Roman Catholic tradition of religious events. The article argues that it is this reading of Péguy and Latour’s early interest in biblical exegesis that inspired much of Latour’s later work. In Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) and The Pasteurization of France (1988) in particular, problems of exegesis and tradition provide important stimuli for the analysis of scientific texts. In this context, Latour gradually transforms the question of tradition into the problem of reference. In a first step, he shifts the event that is transmitted and translated from the temporal dimension (i.e. the past) to the spatial (i.e. from one part of the laboratory to another). It is only in a second step that Latour resituates scientific events in time. As facts they are ‘constructed’ but nevertheless ‘irreducible’. They result, according to Latour, from the tradition of the future. As a consequence, the Latourian approach to science distances itself from the materialism of Deleuze and other innovative theoreticians.

“Oikonomia in the age of empires,” by Dotan Leshem. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

Share on Facebook

Bibliography: History of Social Psychology

This post is written by Cathy Faye, Assistant Director, Archives of the History of Psychology, Center for the History of Psychology and is part of a special series of bibliographies on topics in the history of psychology.

In the following list of resources I have tried to provide literature that discusses social psychology from both a historical and a theoretical standpoint and that reflects both psychological and sociological approaches to the discipline. Nonetheless, my own interests are centred largely on the disciplinary history of twentieth-century American social psychology and the historiography of social psychology. This list reflects that focus. I’ve also focused on sources that take a very broad view of the field, and have therefore omitted reference to specific topics or time periods in the history of social psychology. For those interested in a more topical consideration of social psychology, I highly recommend Roger Smith’s (1997) bibliographic essay on “The individual and the social” (see Smith, The Norton History of the Human Sciences, pp. 993-999). I have provided brief explanatory notes regarding each book-length work in the list below. With a few exceptions, most of these works are standard histories, while the articles provided are mainly critiques of these standard histories or theoretical considerations of the discipline. Read together, they provide a really interesting story not only of what social psychology has been, but also of the changing views regarding what it should be. The list of articles is brief, but the best articles are those in the special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences that I have cited.

Books

Collier, G., Minton, H. L., & Reynolds, G. (1991). Currents of thought in American social psychology. New York: Oxford University Press. This book is a good place to start, since it highlights trends in the history of American social psychology. It does not, however, provide much detail or reflection.

Farr, R. M. (1996). The roots of modern social psychology, 1872-1954. Oxford: Blackwell. Farr provides a more reflective and critical history, along with a consideration of historiographical issues in writing the history of social psychology.

Greenwood, J. D. (2004). The disappearance of the social in American social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Greenwood provides a critical, historical analysis of the individualistic nature of contemporary social psychology. He argues that early twentieth-century social psychologists had a rich conception of the social that has since dissipated. This book is particularly useful because it raises important questions regarding what constitutes a social versus an asocial psychology. Continue reading Bibliography: History of Social Psychology

Share on Facebook

Virtual Archive: Hidden Lives Revealed

I’ve just come across an online archive that I thought might be of interest to AHP readers: Hidden Lives Revealed. The site provides a range of archival material relevant to the history of the 22,500 children who were in the care of The Waifs and Strays’ Society throughout England and Wales between 1881 and 1918.

The site includes:

The case files provide a particularly interesting resource. They are searchable by keyword (ex. alcohol abuse, mental health, school, suicide) and include a variety of materials including descriptions of the individual children’s histories, their applications for admission to the Waifs and Strays’ Society, letters from family and community members, reports, discharge letters, etc. The text of the documents is available on the site as well as an image of the original. All files have been edited to protect the identity of the children.

Share on Facebook

Milgram Replication in American Psychologist

Milgram obedience experimentThe long-awaited publication of the replication of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiment, conducted by Santa Clara University (CA) psychologist Jerry Burger, has finally hit the pages of the American Psychological Association’s flagship journal, American Psychologist (unfortunately, only the abstract is freely available on-line).

In the experiment, participants were told they are in a learning experiment in which they will ask questions of another participant (who is really a confederate), and deliver shocks of increasing strength for every incorrect answer received. The shocks were fake and the experiment was really about the willingness of people to obey the orders of an authority figure such as a scientist, even when asked to do what appeared to be extreme harm to another person . Continue reading Milgram Replication in American Psychologist

Share on Facebook

Systematic Disobedience in Milgram’s Studies

Dominic PackerA meta-analysis by Dominic J. Packer, recently published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(4), offers to shed new light on how we interpret the influential series of studies conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale in July 1961.

A meta-analysis of data from eight of Milgram’s obedience experiments reveals previously undocumented systematicity in the behavior of disobedient participants. In all studies, disobedience was most likely at 150 v, the point at which the shocked “learner” first requested to be released. Further illustrating the importance of the 150-v point, obedience rates across studies covaried with rates of disobedience at 150 v, but not at any other point; as obedience decreased, disobedience at 150 v increased. In contrast, disobedience was not associated with the learner’s escalating expressions of pain. This analysis identifies a critical decision point in the obedience paradigm and suggests that disobedient participants perceived the learner’s right to terminate the experiment as overriding the experimenter’s orders, a finding with potential implications for the treatment of prisoners.

Yet this analysis does more than offer a new interpretation of a famous data set.  It also highlights one of the many benefits, for contemporary researchers, of studying history: finding results that are both significant and meaningful, both statistically and from the perspective of the discipline as a whole. Continue reading Systematic Disobedience in Milgram’s Studies

Share on Facebook

Social Psychologist Robert Zajonc Dies

Robert ZajoncRobert Zajonc’s was probably best known for his work finding situations in which emotion, rather than cognition, seems to lead behavior. Sometimes the effect was entirely unknown to the person engaged in the behavior. For instance, there was the “mere exposure effect,” in which people prefer objects they have previously seen, often so fleetingly that they cannot consciously recall having seen them. He also demonstrated a small relationship between birth order and IQ; and he found that experts are facilitated by the presence of onlookers, but novices are hindered by them; and he controversially theorized that emotional facial expressions actually control the flow of blood to regions of the brain responsible for emotional feeling. Continue reading Social Psychologist Robert Zajonc Dies

Share on Facebook

“The Psychologist” on Scientific Myths

The British Psychological Society’s flagship journal, The Psychologist, has published two items related to the history of psychology in its latest issue, and it has kindly made them freely available on its website.

The first is an article by Australian psychologist Malcolm Macmillan on the mythology surrounding the case of Phineas Gage, the Vermont railroad worker who had a tamping iron blasted through his head in 1848 and lived to tell about it.

Macmillan’s research on the case was published in An Odd Kind of Fame: Stories of Phineas Gage (MIT, 2002), and he has been interviewed for my podcast series, “This Week in the History of Psychology” (Sept. 11-17). Through extensive examination of the primary documents in the case, MacMillan has discovered that the Gage case has been distorted repeatedly through the century-and-a-half since, to suit the neuropsychological theories of the person writing the account. Continue reading “The Psychologist” on Scientific Myths

Share on Facebook

More on Milgram in NYT

Milgram's Although nearly half a century old, it seems that there are still many things to say about Stanley Milgram’s famous series of experiments on obedience. Recently there was a new report in New York Times on the research program, in which many otherwise normal subjects were persuaded by white-coated experimenter to deliver (apparent) electrical shocks to another (apparent) subject, sometimes up to the point of (apparently) killing him.

The July 1 NYT article, by Benedict Carey, includes a description of a forthcoming publication in American Psychologist of Jerry Burger’s replication of the Milgram study. Continue reading More on Milgram in NYT

Share on Facebook