Online First in HoP: Critical Thinking, Minimal Group Paradigm, and More

A number of pieces forthcoming in History of Psychology, and now available online, may be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

The origins of the minimal group paradigm,” Brown, Rupert. Abstract:

The minimal group paradigm, published by Henri Tajfel and his colleagues in the early 1970s, is a widely used experimental technique for studying intergroup perceptions and behavior. In its original form, it involved the assignment of participants to one of two meaningless categories and asking them to make allocations of rewards to other (anonymous) members of those groups. Typically, discrimination in favor of the ingroup is observed in those reward allocations. In this article, I examine the historical origins of this paradigm, noting that it was first mooted by another social psychologist, Jaap Rabbie, in the 1960s, although he is seldom credited with this fact. The intellectual disagreements between Rabbie, Tajfel, and Turner over the nature and interpretation of the paradigm are also discussed.

From ecstasy to divine somnambulism: Henri Delacroix’s studies in the history and psychology of mysticism,” Iagher, Matei. Abstract:

This article aims at placing Henri Delacroix’s (1908) book on the psychology of mysticism in the context of debates in the psychology of religion in the earlier part of the 20th century. I argue that Delacroix’s work was authored as part of a wider debate that Delacroix maintained with the American school of the psychology of religion regarding the role of emotions in religious experience. As I show, Delacroix sought to counter the primacy of the affective in religious experience, which the Americans maintained, and to introduce the notion of a developmental logic into the mystical life. In addition, Delacroix also tried to disengage mysticism from an exclusive focus on ecstasy, as well as to offer an account of the value of mysticism based on the existence of a specific mental state that underscored it.

The rise and fall of behaviorism: The narrative and the numbers,” Braat, Michiel; Engelen, Jan; van Gemert, Ties; Verhaegh, Sander. Abstract:

The history of 20th-century American psychology is often depicted as a history of the rise and fall of behaviorism. Although historians disagree about the theoretical and social factors that have contributed to the development of experimental psychology, there is widespread consensus about the growing and (later) declining influence of behaviorism between approximately 1920 and 1970. Because such wide-scope claims about the development of American psychology are typically based on small and unrepresentative samples of historical data, however, the question arises to what extent the received view is justified. This article aims to answer this question in two ways. First, we use advanced scientometric tools (e.g., bibliometric mapping, cocitation analysis, and term co-occurrence analysis) to quantitatively analyze the metadata of 119,278 articles published in American journals between 1920 and 1970. We reconstruct the development and structure of American psychology using cocitation and co-occurrence networks and argue that the standard story needs reappraising. Second, we argue that the question whether behaviorism was the “dominant” school of American psychology is historically misleading to begin with. Using the results of our bibliometric analyses, we argue that questions about the development of American psychology deserve more fine-grained answers.

The construction of “critical thinking”: Between how we think and what we believe,” Lamont, Peter. Abstract:

“Critical thinking” is widely regarded as important, but difficult to define. This article provides an historical perspective by describing how “critical thinking” emerged as an object of psychological study, how the forms it took were shaped by practical and social concerns, and how these related to “critical thinking” as something that results in certain conclusions, rather than as a process of coming to conclusions. “Critical thinking” became a scientific object when psychologists attempted to measure it. The original measurement treated “critical thinking” as both an ability and an attitude. It measured logical abilities, and consistency and extremity of views, but it avoided making assumptions about the correctness of specific real-world beliefs. The correctness of such beliefs was, as problems with other related tests showed, open to dispute. Subsequent tests increasingly focused on logical abilities, and attempted to minimize further the relevance of what people believed about the real world, though they continued to depend on there being correct answers to test items, which privileged the outcome over the process. While “critical thinking” was primarily the domain of philosophers, there was renewed psychological interest in the topic in the 1980s, which increasingly presented “critical thinking” as incompatible with certain real-world (“unscientific”) beliefs. Such a view more explicitly privileged the outcome over the process. It is argued that a more reflective approach, though it may be more difficult to measure, is essential if we wish to understand not only what critical thinking has been, but also what it is now.

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.