New JHBS: Race Relationships, Lazarfeld’s Voter Studies & More!

Mary Ainsworth

The summer issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore the relationships of scientists who disagreed over the nature of race, the origins of Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure, Alfred Binet’s role as editorial director of a French publishing house, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Race relationships: Collegiality and demarcation in physical anthropology,” by Peter Sachs Collopy. The abstract reads,

In 1962, anthropologist Carleton Coon argued in The Origin of Races that some human races had evolved further than others. Among his most vocal critics were geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky and anthropologist Ashley Montagu, each of whom had known Coon for decades. I use this episode, and the long relationships between scientists that preceded it, to argue that scientific research on race was intertwined not only with political projects to conserve or reform race relations, but also with the relationships scientists shared as colleagues. Demarcation between science and pseudoscience, between legitimate research and scientific racism, involved emotional as well as intellectual labor.

“Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure: The origin of an instrument,” by Lenny Van Rosmalen, René Van der Veer and Frank Van der Horst. The abstract reads,

The American-Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth (1913–1999) developed the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) to measure mother-child attachment and attachment theorists have used it ever since. When Ainsworth published the first results of the SSP in 1969, it seemed a completely novel and unique instrument. However, in this paper we will show that the SSP had many precursors and that the road to such an instrument was long and winding. Our analysis of hitherto little-known studies on children in strange situations allowed us to compare these earlier attempts with the SSP. We argue that it was the combination of Ainsworth’s working experience with William Blatz and John Bowlby, her own research in Uganda and Baltimore, and the strong connection of the SSP with attachment theory, that made the SSP differ enough from the other strange situation studies to become one of the most widely used instruments in developmental psychology today.

“Psychology in French academic publishing in the late nineteenth century: Alfred Binet, editorial director at the Schleicher Publishing House,” by Serge Nicolas. The abstract reads,

To date, historians of psychology have largely ignored the role of academic publishing and the editorial policies of the late nineteenth century. This paper analyzes the role played by academic publishing in the history of psychology in the specific case of France, a country that provides a very interesting and unique model. Up until the middle of the 1890s, there was no collection specifically dedicated to psychology. Alfred Binet was the first to found, in 1897, a collection of works specifically dedicated to scientific psychology. He chose to work with Reinwald-Schleicher. However, Binet was soon confronted with (1) competition from other French publishing houses, and (2) Schleicher’s management and editorial problems that were to sound the death knell for Binet’s emerging editorial ambitions. The intention of this paper is to encourage the efforts of the pioneers of modern psychology to have their work published and disseminated.

“Reestablishing “the social” in research on democratic processes: Mid-century voter studies and Paul F. Lazarfeld’s alternative vision,” by Michael Christensen. The abstract reads,

Voter studies conducted in the United States during the first decades after World War II transformed social scientific research on democracy. Especially important were the rapid innovations in survey research methods developed by two prominent research centers at Columbia University and the University of Michigan. This article argues that the Columbia and Michigan voter studies presented two visions for research on democracy. Where the Michigan research produced quantitative measures expressing the ‘political behavior’ of the electorate, the Columbia studies, and especially Paul F. Lazarsfeld, presented an alternative vision for qualitative research on political choice. Largely ignored by later voter studies, this vision prefigured much contemporary research on democracy that embraces a qualitative or interpretive approach. This article reconstructs Lazarsfeld’s alternative vision, describes the institutional context in which scholars disregarded it in favor of formal quantitative models, and argues for its recognition as a forerunner to qualitative research on democratic processes.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.