Floyd H. Allport

Floyd Henry Allport

According to my mother's statement I was born on August 22, 1890, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Though my elder brother's birth eighteen months earlier had been duly registered in that city, no record exists of mine. My brother Gordon, whose autobiography appears in Volume V of this series, has described our early life and home environment in some detail; hence I shall add only a few personal recollections. I, too, recall our father as a man of considerable energy, engaged in many ventures besides the practice of his profession of medicine, and deeply devoted to the care of his family and the Gospel of "hard work." Upon retrospect I have felt, however, that there was usually something that was not merely prudential, but imaginative and creative, in his approach to his various enterprises.

I must have reacted differently from Gordon to what I felt to be the rather heavy religious influence in our early life. Our maternal grandmother had been one of the founders of the Free Methodist Church in Fulton, New York, and my mother had fallen heir to much of the piety of her parents. During my childhood and adolescence there were many revivals, camp meetings, and the like which we attended. Though in later years my mother became considerably more liberal, philosophical, and even critical of much of the traditional ideology, I felt, in these earlier days, a considerable intensity in her desire that I have some form of personal religious experience. I went through one or two such crises, being "converted" and then feeling much let down when the emotional fervor had passed. No doubt this experience has had some bearing on my attitudes in adult years. Later when I went to college, we would have long and friendly arguments concerning science and religion. I do not wish to exaggerate the importance of this background. On the whole, our home was a peaceful but sheltered place with kindness exhibited on every hand. To both my parents I owe a profound debt of gratitude for their fine influence upon my life. From both of them I derived a deep and lasting sense of curiosity and interest in nature.

After graduating from Glenville High School I went to Harvard College, taking my A.B. degree in 1914, but as with the class of 1913. Two or three years after graduation I returned for graduate work, obtaining for this purpose graduate fellowships or assistantships first in anthropology and then in psychology. The entrance of the United States into World War I interrupted this program. I went to Plattsburgh Training Camp and received a commission as

(4) second lieutenant in Field Artillery. In October 1917, three days before our regiment and the Yankee Division were due to leave for France, I was married.

My war experience gained in two sectors of the French Front, where I served as assistant regimental adjutant, was on the whole uneventful. The following summer I was sent back to this country to serve as instructor at Camp Jackson in South Carolina. The wartime episode that stands out most vividly in my recollection was an incident that occurred during the time when I was assigned to a French observation balloon company. On my first balloon flight, with the Commandant, the balloon was attacked by German artillery fire and I jumped in a parachute, landing safely behind the lines. Though my family have tried to make something of this, there was absolutely nothing heroic about it. It was merely a matter of saving my own skin under the orders of the French Commandant, who also jumped. Though I received a Croix de Guerre and citation from the French Corps d'Armée, I soon learned that this was a routine procedure. Following a round of champagne drinking at the Officers Mess, which was the traditional ceremony after such episodes, I felt none the worse for the slight shaking up I had received. I have had a persistent fear of heights and high places all through my adult life. Friends have said that it is probably due to this balloon experience. I rather doubt this, but will concede that I was somewhat foolish to have volunteered for that assignment and that in the end it probably did me no good.

When the war was over I returned and took up my graduate studies where I had left off, wrote my doctoral thesis, and in June 1919 received the Ph.D. degree. My wartime marriage to Ethel Margaret Hudson, my first wife, had been undertaken in haste and was probably not well considered. It ended twenty years later in divorce, a fact which I attribute in no small measure to my own limitations. It would be unfair and ungrateful not to acknowledge that this marriage had some happier and rewarding moments. Among its assets were three fine children: Edward, Dorothy, and Floyd, all of whom are now married to persons of quality and ability; and I have two granddaughters, Karen and Evelyn (Edward's children), of whom I am justly proud.

In 1938 I had the rare good fortune to marry Helene Hartley (née Willey), my colleague and a professor of Education and English at Syracuse University. She was one of the national leaders in her field and a most creative teacher. Her charm and richness of personality, her deep interest and understanding of the problems in which I was engaged, and her loyalty and devotion in helping me to make those years productive have been inestimable assets. Her death in 1965 left me desolate.


In autobiographical accounts such as this, it has not been customary for the writer to begin by listing what he considers to be his salient characteristics. Since

(5) space is here so limited, however, and because I have felt that what I have to relate can best be understood only in the light of this context, I venture to begin with such an inventory. Not long ago my brother Gordon was visiting us in California. At the breakfast table my wife took the occasion to recount to him what she considered to be certain of my "fine qualities." After her lengthy eulogistic recital my brother looked up and without a moment's hesitation added: "And is he still stubborn, lazy, and procrastinating?" Aside from the fact that they were delivered by a master of the science of personality traits, what startled and dismayed me most about these words was the glibness with which he uttered them, not needing to pause for a moment's thought or recollection. Upon thinking back upon my life, and in the writing of this memoir, I have been impressed with the fact that for each of these characteristics he was probably right. However, I do have certain other attendant characteristics which my brother would undoubtedly have admitted. The trait of stubbornness referred to has shown itself in many ways. One of these has been to accept nothing on faith, but to carry forward an analysis and examination of every point to the bitter end. A critic of one of my works has referred to what he called "Allport's excruciating logic." One particularly perverse tendency was my continual effort to avoid what I called, to my wife's great amusement, a "panic of certainty." In keeping with this trait I have failed to show even a decent regard for traditional beliefs and conventions. I escaped being brought to task for these attitudes largely because of the fact that I was reclusive by nature, and did not mingle much with colleagues or associates. Combined with the foregoing traits, I have had my full share of ambition and ego-striving and, as will be later seen, a quite unrealistic aspiration level.

On the good side of the ledger (at least what I consider to be the good side), I believe I can claim a steadfast drive toward personal and intellectual honesty and, above all, an intense, almost burning, curiosity about nature. The latter trait took the form of an impelling desire to gain new truths in and for themselves, and quite apart from any humanistic presuppositions, or from any utilitarian value. This search for as complete an objectivity as it is possible for human beings to attain in questions concerning life and their own natures, a quest that has been pursued with a fervor that might seem almost fanatical, has played an undiminished part in my intellectual motivation. I recall an instance in a biology course I was taking at Harvard in which the students were required to draw from dissection the anatomy of a dogfish. The professor, probably noting that some were producing rather elegant drawings, was cautioning us against putting an artistic emphasis ahead of a scrupulous fidelity to facts. "Of course," he added, "you know the fish is right." This phrase has stuck with me throughout the years. On another occasion I recall seeing a news headline at a time when an astronomical occurrence was expected. It read, "Eclipse Arrives Twenty Seconds Late." Instead of my taking this in the jocose way in which it was intended, and in which most persons would have accepted it, it seemed to me a repelling

(6) instance of human smugness and conceit. Expressions of this sort have always seemed to arouse in me the same feeling that irreverence or sacrilege might in a devoutly religious person. Perhaps such a feeling is my religion.


For one who, like myself, was always trying to reach answers by unfamiliar routes of his own choosing, Harvard was in my day an ideal place. The eclectic system instituted by President Eliot gave the student ample opportunity for the choice of courses and the pursuit of his special interests. But for the same reason it lacked (for me) certain necessary elements of discipline and a proper preparation for my later career. Too often I found myself studying against as well as with my professors. In my graduate work, as well as undergraduate, I suffered from an inadequacy of supervision and an excess of freedom.

The men on the Harvard faculty in psychology who influenced me most were H. S. Langfeld, E. B. Holt, and R. B. Perry. Perry I admired particularly for his clear thinking and careful organization of his lectures. At that time the philosophy and psychology departments were combined in a single division. On the whole I found the ideas of such philosophically oriented professors as Munsterberg, Hocking, and McDougall uncongenial to my line of thinking since they seemed to me to lack a suitable criterion and basis in physical reality. Santayana, also, was there for one year before his retirement. I tried his course, but found that I could not follow it. I was no doubt a thorn in the flesh of most of the members of the philosophy department with whom I was associated both as a student and later as an instructor in the division. I remember that at the close of one afternoon session (a seminar or a doctoral examination) we were discussing certain matters relating to logic and behaviorism. As the meeting was breaking up I asserted that it seemed to me that the reason why up and down were "logical" opposites was because no one had ever succeeded in moving any object (for example, his hand) up and down at the same time. Whereupon Professor Hocking, staunch idealist that he was, snorted as he strode out of the room.

I sensed considerable tension overt or covert in those days between the top floor of Emerson Hall, where psychology, and particularly E. B. Holt, were housed, and the domain of the philosophers on the first floor. I was exposed to Holt's brilliant cynicism in his course on the History of Psychology, and from him I derived the notion of circular reflexes that I incorporated in my Social Psychology (see Holt, 1931). In the prewar years one of my duties was to serve as assistant to Langfeld in his introductory experimental course at Harvard and Radcliffe, and in 1916 I collaborated with him in the production of a manual entitled An Elementary Laboratory Course in Psychology. Later, during the years 1919-1922, I had the title of instructor and taught some classes of my own.


From among the currents and undercurrents of psychology of that day, I seized onto behaviorism, which I made the basis of my textbook. Though my approach is still from that direction, I came later to see the excesses of Watsonian thinking and to realize that the notion of a stimulus and response, as then employed, was really a teleological concept in disguise. I was of course impressed by the novel findings and point of view of the gestalt psychologists, but I felt the doctrine of the whole being greater than (or even different from) the aggregate of its parts needed a much more explicit restatement and explanation. For a time I made some immature excursions into clinical psychology by way of psychoanalytic ideas. Functionalism in psychology, and philosophical pragmatism, were not to my liking.

One more personal recollection of these earlier days foreshadowing my later orientation should here be stated. I remember walking in the corridor of Emerson Hall and reflecting upon the complexities of the psychological facts which had been gained up to that time regarding memory, problem solving, perceiving, and the like. I was wondering what the underlying basis of all this could possibly be in the nervous system, cortex, or the whole physiology of the organism. Of course I was only one of many thousands who have entertained and pursued such an inquiry. Yet it seemed for me a question of the profoundest significance. It was the problem of psychology par excellence, capable perhaps of opening new vistas. I felt, and still feel, that relatively little progress can be made until we at least begin to solve it. The methodological doctrine of molarism, in which one stays on the outside and tries to interpret the organism by its behavior as a whole, a theory that was presently to come into full bloom in the works of Tolman and Hull and others, although it led to some useful results, has never seemed to me to hold the answers.

In 1922 the authorities at Harvard decided that a change was in order and they wanted particularly to bring Edwin G. Boring to the department. To make this possible, Langfeld was to be asked to go on half-time and I was to find a place elsewhere. McDougall was delegated to bring me the news. Langfeld rejected the suggestion and soon thereafter was appointed as Director of the Psychological Laboratory at Princeton, and I obtained a position as associate professor at the University of North Carolina. I spent two fairly pleasant years at Chapel Hill, where I profited greatly from the companionship of J. F. Dashiell, whom I always found to be both a scholar and a gentleman.


To return for a moment to my doctoral dissertation and its sequel, it was Hugo Munsterberg who had originally suggested to me as worthy of investigation the problem of the behavior of individuals acting alone versus their action together in groups. Previous studies on this problem in Germany and this

(8) country had indicated certain effects which we thought it might be well to follow up. I set up the experiment by having the subjects working at some simple psychological tasks in one set of trials alone and in separate rooms, giving them signals for timing that were needed by buzzers, and in the collective situation, in another set of trials, having them work on equivalent problems in groups. The groups ranged in number of subjects from three to seven or eight, and I gave them the time signals in person. Since I wanted to discover the effect from the basic standpoint of the mere presence of coworkers, no discussion of others or comparison of results was permitted. The subjects worked quite independently. An effort was also made to reduce any tendency toward rivalry to the very minimum. Though the controls in this experiment left something to be desired and I would perform the experiment differently today, the results seemed to show a true difference in the quantity of work done alone compared with that done together, the difference being in favor of the performance in the group. The quality of the work done in the group did not correspondingly improve, but in some instances deteriorated. Since there was a consistent increase in the amount of performance when working together, I formulated from these results the theoretical concept of "social facilitation," which was described as a tendency or set to perform with greater energy or intensity in the presence of others who are working at the same task. Another important finding was to the effect that in judging a series of stimuli such as, for example, the pleasantness of odors or the heaviness of weights, the subjects showed a marked tendency when working in the group to avoid the extremes at either end of the scale, thus making their judgments approach more closely, than when judging alone, to a horizontal distribution for the series. These findings were hypothetically generalized as an attitude of conformity, or "conformity-producing tendency," in the group situation. Later concepts that I introduced for theoretical purposes in my system were social projection, impression of universality, and pluralistic ignorance. These terms have now become familiar in social psychology.

By 1923 I had completed my textbook entitled Social Psychology, based in part upon my own findings and their interpretation as described above. In this book I strongly rejected the notion that there was some kind of "super" mental entity or "group mind" at work in such collective phenomena. I rejected also, later, the tendency to speak of groups themselves as per se entities or agencies. The effects of group or crowd influence, as well as organization, I attributed to the behavior solely of individuals. It was not, however, the behavior of individuals acting alone, but behavior that was natural to individuals when acting under conditions that were specifically social. Since these early experiments, the study of the effects of group conditions has become extended by others into a great range of behaviors and motivations of group members, and into a variety of circumstances of their association or affiliation. In my own work I have more recently experimented with the notion that nearly all this large, and at present somewhat formless, mass of findings that constitutes current social psychology is capable of being subsumed under a single more general formulation. Such a

(9) possibility has been implemented by an attempt to construct a tenable theory of collective structure, and has given rise in our researches at Syracuse University to what I have called a "structural dynamics" formula. This formula and the line of investigation on which it was based will be described later. I have assumed that the widespread attention which my textbook Social Psychology (which has been recently reprinted) has received was due mainly to two novel features. First, it was an objectively conceived and somewhat systematic presentation of the subject from the psychological rather than the sociological point of view; and second, it suggested at least by implication the possibility of a new experimental science of social psychology.


In the fall of 1924, through the recommendation of Franklin H. Giddings, I received an appointment to the faculty of Syracuse University as a member of the newly organized Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. I was given the title of Professor of Social and Political Psychology. In this position I remained until my retirement in 1957. Since the Maxwell School has been principally an institution for graduate study in the social sciences and public administration, I was, in this environment, somewhat isolated from contact with experimental psychology and my psychological colleagues. I was, however, a regular member of the Psychology Department and carried on undergraduate teaching as well as the training of graduate students in social psychology along definitely psychological lines. This arrangement was in many respects a happy one. It gave me maximum freedom and considerable material assistance in pursuing my research interests, with a teaching schedule that was made increasingly light.

I believe that I was a good classroom teacher, though I am sure there were times when I would launch on some line of speculation intriguing mainly to me personally. It was said by students that there were times when "Allport goes out of the window." As a saving grace, however, it was also added that "he's worth waiting for when he comes back." I taught a seminar each year in methods and the theory of structure which I always enjoyed. Concerning my work in the coaching of graduate students in their doctoral and masters' dissertations, there is one point that should be borne in mind since it relates so closely to my own productivity. Instead of turning the students loose on the problem selected, to develop it for themselves, and then occasionally checking on their progress and the results, I worked in close touch with them continually. The spade work, of course, was left to the student, but the student was also in effect a partner in an experiment which I had helped largely to conceive and design. The result was that the dissertations produced have had to stand, in part, as a professional outlet for myself as well as for the accrediting of students for degrees. I realized that there was an element of selfishness here in that my own theoretical interests

(10) were likely to predominate over the opportunity given for the student's independent development. I am not defending this practice, which was due largely to my own eagerness to discover new facts at first hand. In extenuation, I believe it is fair to say that the students did gain something through an increased sense of the meaningfulness of the problems on which they were engaged, as well as in sharing the excitement of their solution. I did not have many graduate students at one time, otherwise such a method of working would have been impossible.

Largely because of my own tendencies, my long tenure at Syracuse University was somewhat secluded. I did not attend many scientific meetings or take many opportunities to travel and meet other psychologists, a fact which I later regretted. There was, however, a one semester's sabbatical leave abroad. On one or two occasions in my life I have suffered from spells of nervous depression, which, however, were fairly soon overcome. On the brighter side, in addition to the happiness I derived from my second marriage, two very pleasant recollections of this period stand out. One of these is the memory of summers or parts of summers spent at Mexico Point on Lake Ontario with family and friends, both academic and nonacademic. The other concerns my adventures, in the years between 1931 and 1948, in the field of watercolor painting. During this time I produced a series of colorful scenes of central New York which now decorate my apartment. I was also president, for one year, of our local art society, the Associated Artists of Syracuse. In this connection I must record my lasting gratitude to my old friend and teacher, Severin Bischof. It was he who suggested that I try to paint, and through companionship on painting trips opened up to me this whole realm of creativeness and beauty.


In discussing my productive work at Syracuse University I would like to divide it into two parts. The first represents the period from 1925 to 1937, when a number of diverse problems were pursued. The second part, though it began in earnest about 1937, had its actual start much earlier, and constitutes what has been my major theme throughout my professional life. One of the first projects of the earlier period was the carrying out, with Daniel Katz, of a very extensive questionnaire study of the attitudes, opinions, and academic motivation of the Syracuse students. This study aroused considerable interest among those engaged in the investigation of attitudes, and parts of it have been repeated by others in other contexts. Katz, who was one of my earliest graduate students, has been a true friend to me through the years and a resource on many occasions. The work on attitudes and opinions was extended also into other fields. A rather crude technique for measuring attitudes was developed by Dale Hartman and myself, and applied to the problem of measuring tendencies toward conservatism and radicalism. These early attempts were graciously acknowledged by Thurstone as a starting point in developing his classical attitude-scaling methods. During the latter years of World War II my graduate group constituted a "Morale Seminar."

(11) Problems investigated included the reason for belief in subversive rumors, the impact of Axis propaganda upon listeners, and the comparative effect of good and bad news headlines upon the reader's morale.

About 1930 Richard L. Schanck, then my student, was collecting opinions on various social questions in the rural community of Eaton, New York. He discovered that attitudes on these questions were by no means normally distributed on the scales employed, as we had at first expected they would be, but were often widely skewed or irregular (Schanck, 1932). It also made a difference in the distribution whether the question was asked as in a private setting or in reference to a broader community context (Schanck's "public and private attitudes"). These unexpected findings suggested an idea that led me to the development of my J-curve Hypothesis of Conforming Behavior. In this theory I attempted to describe a curve that our findings proved to be characteristic of distributions of attitudes or behaviors in situations of public opinion, practices of customs, and institutionalized performance generally. The theory went further in developing a technique for measuring the conformity exhibited in each case upon a scale, not of conformity itself, which would have amounted to a tautology, but upon a continuum representing the degree of attainment of some purpose that the "custom" or "institution" could commonly be said to fulfill. Such a construct was called a telic' continuum. A "four factor" hypothesis was advanced as to the causes of such distributions in a population. Quite a range of conforming situations in various institutional practices were described, yielding such J-curve distributions. Milton Dickens, in his doctoral dissertation on traffic behavior, Basia Zambrowski, who observed church and religious observances, and others, contributed much to this study. A particularly interesting investigation was conducted considerably later by Chiang Lin Woo and myself dealing with the J-curve distribution of observed behavioral acts in seven American male custom situations. The J-curve studies, published in a number of papers, have enlisted considerable interest among social psychologists and sociologists and have been quoted in a number of texts.

I have felt that these studies have not been fully appreciated owing to the fact that the figures were sometimes construed as depictions of conformity directly. The fact that the steps of the scales in nearly all cases represented a continuum expressing degrees of fulfillment of the purpose of the custom or institution (from the greatest to the least fulfillment) not only exhibited the distribution of conformity and made it possible to measure it in a particular situation but (most important of all) it afforded a better understanding of its probably underlying dynamic. These facts relieved the procedure of the charge of tautology.

Another topic pursued vigorously for a time was the study of personality conceived not under the familiar concept of "traits," but pursuant to a new formulation which I called "trends." These were also called "teleonomic trends" in keeping with an earlier paper I had written. This approach differed from that of my brother in that I attempted to make a sharp distinction between characteristics as they are socially observed, or appraised in practical life, and the

(12) deeper tendencies actually representing what the individual is characteristically trying to do throughout his daily behavior. It was my thesis that these latter aspects, if we could identify them, and perhaps find the basis for them in the organism, would be recognized as the true individual motivating factors. The "personality" of the individual as ordinarily perceived by his associates under the "trait" concept, or "outer" social frame of reference, would then represent a partial transformation of these trend characteristics. The observer would perceive the expression of the trend in a different, socially relevant or normative, context. A significant piece of research designed to test this hypothesis will be described later.

It should be pointed out that my brother undoubtedly had a feeling for this aspect of personality and that the characteristics I had termed "trends" may have found a place in the revision of his textbook under the heads of personal dispositions (as distinguished from common traits), cardinal dispositions, and the unity of personality. He did not, however, make the sharp distinction of methodology which, by enlisting the change of attitude or set of the observer in describing the personality, reveals "trend descriptions" as distinct from "trait descriptions." He seemed to reject such an idea. To me it seemed important because I conceived of the "arena" for trait description or appraisal (that is, for common traits ascribed to the personality by associates) as implemental to a kind of "collective structuration" which the individual is in while the trend picture would be what we would see for the same individual if we should look for more intimate concerns that lie within him. Although some very good work on trait-trend theory was done by my students, I regret that much of it has not been published. Perhaps the fact that I have been remiss in pressing for its publication is an instance of my own trait (not trend) of procrastination.

I would like to insert, parenthetically, the fact that although I have been aiming toward a formulation of psychology and social behavior that would be more objective than such implicit notions of purposes or values by which traits or trends have been defined, there was little possibility of doing so in these earlier approaches. What I did endeavor to do was to make "teleonomic" variables more explicit in such a way that they could be quantified and used in testable hypotheses.

Let me digress for a moment to discuss some other phases of my relationship to Gordon. In addition to the interpretation of personality characteristics there were a few more points in social psychology upon which we did not see eye to eye. One of these concerned the nature of attitudes. This will be evident from an investigation to be described later. Another concerned the relation between interethnic hostility and prejudice. He was at the time writing his book The Nature of Prejudice. In our correspondence I suggested that the nature of "conflict," or "hostility," between ethnic groups might provide a better start, because prejudice often seems to grow out of such a conflict. He replied firmly that his book was not about conflict; it was about prejudice. A little later, after the book appeared, I questioned the importance of the scapegoat hypothesis in

(13) the light of some of our findings at Syracuse University. In her study, using careful and discriminating methods, Nancy Morse (now Mrs. Hans Samelson) had found that out of seven hypotheses the element of projection of one's own frustrations or inner conflicts upon the out-group had relatively minor significance in explaining anti-Semitism. (See Morse and Allport, F. H., 1952.) There was some interchange of correspondence between Gordon and me on this subject.

What Morse actually found was that the only one of her hypotheses which produced a substantial correlation with attitudes of anti-Semitism was national loyalty and a feeling of involvement ' . or identification with, the nation. Discussing this finding in a later publication, my brother interpreted it as meaning that the kind of individual who would be this closely involved with national feeling would be likely also to be the one having an authoritative or bigoted personality. I felt that this interpretation was gratuitous and that it unfairly sabotaged my position. Although I agree that personality differences would be expected to play their part in these feelings of animosity or prejudice toward other peoples and also that they may sometimes be associated with nationalistic feelings, it has seemed to me that the phenomenon has also a deeper meaning in the involvement of individuals in a long-standing "collective structure," a structure in which they play a part and have their modus vivendi, and which (rightly or wrongly) they may be perceiving as potentially threatened by the members of an out-group. To infer that personality traits are the causes of both the nationalistic involvement and the ethnic hostility seems to me a long-range assumption. It overlooks the part which national involvement per se may be playing. For whatever else they may be, nations also consist, at least in part, of the behaviors of individuals and must somehow be related to their motivations. To neglect this fact, or to gloss over it by the assumption that the nation is a super individual entity to which individuals merely "belong," might be to fail to examine some of the very data which provide or constitute the phenomenon of ethnic prejudice itself. In so doing should we not be relinquishing, to that extend, our claim to being social scientists?

This was the challenge which, as pertaining not only to nations but to social aggregates generally, I have long been holding out to my colleagues in psychology and the social sciences.

Such instances of disagreement between Gordon and me were, however, quite unusual. I mention them only to bring out certain characteristic differences of viewpoint. Many of his intuitions, so vividly expressed, were in one way or another definitely in the direction of ideas which I had been trying to develop. This was true of his notions of personal dispositions; cardinal characteristics, and congruence in personality, and also regarding the nature of rumor and his significant treatment of "becoming." (See Allport, G. W., 1954, 1955, and 1961.) I believe that later generations of psychologists will owe him a great debt for so well establishing the consistent, autonomous, unique, and dynamically congruent nature of individual human characteristics. From a personal stand-

(14) -point he helped me in many ways and stood by me in many crises. On my sixtieth birthday I received from him a warns letter of appreciation recalling what he felt that I had done for him as a younger brother in the earlier years. Unfailingly kind, he possessed a sweetness, an inner serenity, and faith in ultimates which I could not achieve; and these qualities contributed a poise and a kind of robustness to his character that were in part instrumental in his success. At his death the world lost a wise and profound scholar and a truly great person.


To turn now to my research interests since 1937, which form a more or less connected story, we must go back actually before that date (and before the period we have been discussing) to my early years in Emerson Hall, my dissertation, and my textbook, of 1924. I remember that I pondered long over the experimental results I had obtained at that time. How were they to be explained? There seemed clear evidence of an increase in speed and energy of intellectual and manual activities when working in the presence of other coworking subjects. But what seemed especially remarkable was that such effects occurred when the individuals in no way communicated or took any note of what their neighbors were doing. The thought of interindividual comparisons or tendency toward rivalry had been eliminated or reduced to a minimum. Yet, under these silent and somewhat withdrawn circumstances here was clear evidence of social influence. Quite remarkable also seemed the finding that in the task of judging a series of objective stimuli when the judgments were made in a group, in spite of no communication or cognizance of how the others were reacting, the judgments ranged less widely in the extreme portions of the scale than when they were made by the subjects working alone. How were these effects to be explained? Clearly, there must have been something going on in the social context that was different from what was happening when the subjects acted alone. This was no doubt an experience of "social reality" of some sort; but common sense seemed to require that this experience had its location and operation in individuals.

All these effects I finally attributed to some sort of characteristic attitudes (perhaps set is a better term) which individuals adopt largely unconsciously when they perform similar activities in one another's presence. They seem to be reacting as though they were communicating with others about their work and receiving communications from others, though in fact they were not. There seemed to be a sense that "others are working so I must work too," or that "others are judging these same stimuli so I must be careful not to make atypical or extreme judgments about them." There thus appeared to be among the subjects a prevailing heightened sensitivity in regard to what the others were

(15) doing in these common acts. This sensitivity seemed to lie next door to a generalized "attitude of conformity."

I recall meeting Sherif not long after this at the international Congress of Psychology in Copenhagen. He had recently been doing his experiments on the autokinetic effect, or judgment of the extent of the imaginary movement of a point of light seen in a dark room. His subjects, however, in contrast with mine had expressed their judgments audibly; so that when they worked together they were aware of one another's reactions. Half of these subjects started in the solitary judging situation, passing in later sessions to the group condition; and half started in the group and later passed to the individual or solitary. The subjects who started alone and later moved to the group condition came closer in their judgments as soon as they were placed in the latter situation. This convergence continued or increased in later coworking situations. Those who started in the group condition were fairly close together at the start and remained so during ensuing sessions. In these procedures the results obtained were thus essentially similar to mine. The social influence (as we may call it) whether introduced at the start of a work program or later regularly produces an increase in the convergence or conformity of the behavior of those concerned.

Sherif assured me, however, that my interpretation of the results had been wrong. He was at that time developing his well-known theory of social norms. In this theory it is maintained that in an unstructured group or stimulus situation a "norm" of behavior or perception regularly arises with respect to whatever task is being performed. The effect of such a norm also lasts for an appreciable time. It is commonly accepted that this norm has the effect of stabilizing and unifying behavior in the group. Notwithstanding my great respect for Sherif and admiration of his brilliance in devising social experiments, in this case I preferred my interpretation of the conformity situation as earlier presented. The idea of a "group norm" of perception or judgment arising from and controlling the collective behavior of individuals as if from above seemed to me unrealistic. It may be objected that by social norm Sherif did not mean anything so mystical as this. That is probably so, but by the same token are we not then left with no explicit statement of what a social norm is-a statement that can be linked up with some definite aspects of behavior. A social norm seems to me to be a kind of statistical label. It is a designation of what is acceptable, rather than a force or determining principle governing the behavior in conforming to the norm.

The critical position I had thus taken regarding the social influence led me to a further attack upon doctrines of social causality. I was not attacking the evident truth they contain but the failure to give them more specific meaning. I was impressed by the fact that much of the terminology and conceptualization used in the social sciences was really in terms of personification or other collective metaphors. The notion of what the "government" does or of the "acts of a corporation or nation" and the like were to me merely blanket terms useful in practical life, but were they not by the same token at times confusing or concealing? The terms for agencies implied by these phrases have no explicitly

(16) denotable referents; and when we look at individuals no one of them can be described in a self-sufficient way as doing exactly the things stated. What was needed, in my view, was a science that would describe what was happening in these situations in generalized yet explicit terms. It will of course be objected that these myriad patternings of collective behavior of individuals are so vast, varied, and complex that they cannot be described in terms of empirical science but only in the implicit terms of collective entities and their functions or purposes. Without such group or institutional fictions, social science could not be written. To this I have replied: "How can we know that this is so until we really try?" Those interested in reviewing the trend of this controversy can follow its development in the items marked (*) in the list of References.

It should be apparent that my polemic against group fictions and "collective" agencies was not destined to enhance my popularity with my colleagues in the social sciences, including those in the Maxwell School. It was said by some that I had an "institutional complex" and was fighting a straw man. I became known as the whipping boy of the sociologists. The climax came when I was publicly denounced in an address made by the president of the American Sociological Society at their annual meeting. I was not present, but the affair was related to me by a friend who reported the speaker's statement as follows. He said that in the Middle Ages people got to quoting Aristotle so vigorously, and sometimes to so little purpose, that someone had to rise up and say "There's no truth in Aristotle." "So now," he continued, "I say there is no truth in Floyd Allport." At this point, as he made a sweeping gesture, his hand struck a glass chandelier, sending the pieces flying about the room. When I heard this I confess I was so thrilled by the company with which I had been so dramatically classed that I quite overlooked the point the speaker was trying to make.

My crusade for greater realism in the definition of social phenomena came to a head with the publication in 1933 of my Institutional Behavior. By this time I had come through my period of "pure individual determinism" I had espoused in my Social Psychology, a view which sociologists had rightly criticized as slighting the actual social reality. I had by now become fully aware of such an aspect, though I was by no means ready, nor am I ready now, to capitulate to the inadequate formulations that I had been criticizing. There was however growing on me an implicit, only dimly realized, sense of an "interstructuring" of individuals' behaviors and attitudes of which I had had an earlier inkling in connection with my group-influence studies. One must not take the term "structuring" too literally nor form for its mystical connotations that would only lead us again astray. But still there was "something there." For one thing it was manifested not only in the more subjective phases which philosophers had called "social" or "collective consciousness," but indubitably and forcibly in the type of structure that is represented by division of effort, social "roles," and the inescapable institutional nexuses of behaviors in which an individual, once these behaviors have become stabilized, is destined to live, and from which he cannot escape. Adequately to characterize and understand these situations with respect to individuals' lives now became for me the great desideratum.


In Institutional Behavior I made what was scarcely even a beginning by combining my critique of group hypostatization and the fictions connected therewith with an analysis of more substantive aspects. I called attention to the ways in which institutional behaviors, in spite of their generally conceded necessity and the benefits they had brought to mankind, were also capable of submerging individuality, reducing responsibility through "pluralistic insouciance" or impotence in the face of societal crises. They were also prone to the exclusion or alienating of many individuals or classes in the population. I carried this analysis through the current political, economic, religious, familial, and educational scenes. I was here pleading no cause nor advocating a change to any new form of institution, but was in effect questioning the efficacy of institutions as such. I offered no solutions for these problems, for I did not have any. However, I was certainly making no appeal for the elimination of such societal realities-that is, for anomie or anarchy.

Neither social students nor the public were prepared for such a book nor for the sweeping appraisal it contained. There was the additional fact that it was written at a perturbed and difficult period of my life, was at times exaggerated, one-sided, or emotional in tone, and contained some statements to which I would not now subscribe. Though the book itself met with early oblivion, I now believe that in it I had provided an inkling or forecast of much that we see today. This is indicated in the rise of an acute nationalism, in international conflicts and tensions, in rapid technological and automated expansion, in the breakdown of family relations and rise of a women's "lib" movement, in educational upheavals, and in institutional religion. What I did not foresee was that the onslaught on supposedly settled institutions (known as the "establishment") would come so soon and with such intensity from the action of the alienated segments including (tragically) many of the youth.

Not long after this book was written there came a turning point in my theoretical outlook. It was not really a turning point so much as a broadening of my inquiry. It was a pushing of my questioning back into the problems that plagued me in my earlier days in Emerson Hall, and a renewal of my persistent curiosity about the organism. One of my more thoughtful critics wrote me in substance as follows: "You'd better be careful how you attack the group concept or use the term `group fallacy.' Is not the individual also simply an integration of many parts or processes which often cannot be explained or spelled out in detail. In your attacks on `group fictions' you may also be selling the individual short." It struck me that this critic was absolutely right. The effect, however, was not that of making me give up my criticism of group concepts, but of leading me to include the nature of the individual also in my search for basic realities. From about 1937 on I took upon myself this almost incredible task. Since I had construed the social problem under a vague concept,  "interindividual structuring," I sought to develop a general theory of "structure in nature," both individual and collective. The situation within individuals was to be explained in terms of "structures of events" within the organism, involving happenings in the nervous or neuromotor system, or throughout the body. The

(18) collective structurings, that is, the structures the individual is in, were conceived as lying in the outer contacts or events between individuals. Of course, they always involved the overt actions of individuals and beneath or accompanying these the complementary structurings of the first type, namely the covert nexus of neurophysiological or psychological events within the individual. The general format, or principles of structuring, was hypothetized to be the same at the two levels. This idea was not peculiar to me, but was implied both in the earlier analogies of the "social organism" and sophisticated theories such as the "general systems" view. Such a theory would of course have to embrace not only facts of the social and psychological disciplines, but would have to reach down into the biological, biochemical, and even physical levels. it must seem presumptuous and foolhardy indeed for any one person to undertake so vast a problem, let alone a psychologist who had no particular competence in some of the disciplines involved. Nevertheless, that is the course to which I set myself. As it has developed, I have called the theory by a variety of names, such as effect system, event system, event structure theory, and, more recently, enestruence.

It is only natural that with so little that was intelligible published, and with so long a time elapsing as it was developing, the nature of this ambitious program has not been well understood. Since I was now talking in terms of structures that seemed to "transcend" individuals, some of my erstwhile critics declared that I had made an about-face change. To admit any such form of social reality, it was said, was to belie my earlier statement that everything "social" could be explained wholly in terms of individuals, a change that canceled a lifetime of work under the latter concept. This statement is quite inaccurate. In the first place, after 1927, when the first three or four of my papers had appeared, I did not make any such statements implying the all-sufficiency of purely individual processes in explaining social phenomena. I soon came to see that in my book on social psychology I had not been sufficiently cognizant of the problem posed by what the sociologists were calling the "social reality," nor was I sufficiently appreciative of their efforts to solve it. All my work, both experimental and theoretical, after 1927 reflects the fact that I, too, was aware of this problem and was trying to help toward its solution. Perhaps I can best present the issue here involved by showing it in the light of the hierarchy of the sciences. It is a generally recognized fact that when a scientist approaches any given level of nature with a certain degree of fineness in his "grain of perception" or his manipulation, he will be likely to observe or encounter some kind of object appropriate to that degree of fineness of his observation. Should he refine his methods further, as by using a more powerful microscope or finer denotation, these objects will break down to smaller objects, and it is realized that it is these smaller entities whose interactions have really constituted what was seen under the coarser view. There is thus in each case an "outer" level or view and an "inner" level or view; and vice versa as we make our grain of observation coarser. This account is characteristic at all levels as we progress toward the outside view from the electron or the atom up through molecule, organelle, and organ system

(19) to the organism. When, however, we try to pass from this last level up to that of social phenomenon and seek to describe its "outside" identity, a strange thing happens. We find that the societal entity has no outside! Even if we should greatly coarsen our grain by observing from the viewpoint of an astronaut, we still could not identify it (or any subcollectivity within it) from an outside view. Societal phenomena are too implicit to be "encountered," too closely bound up with the meanings and actions of individuals. They consist of the interactions of such behaviors and the patternings that appear among them. But in my view, this interpretation is not tantamount to a denial of social reality; it is the realm of social reality. To this picture we should have to add the machines and modern technology, both material and semantic; but there is still no "outside" identity to what we see. What I had been criticizing was the practice of inventing for this reality an outside or molar aspect, or giving it a "body" where none exists, by the use of terms signifying collective beings and agents, thereby drawing attention away from the more denotational aspect, the action patterns or "structurings" of the individuals concerned.


As is the case of many psychological theories in their early stages, research had to proceed on a kind of "hunch" or intuition regarding the formal aspects of the theory. Our starting point lay merely in giving sufficient body to the structure concept to enable investigations to go forward. The notion of a "collective" structure seemed reasonably intelligible. The problem now was to identify and define the "organismic" structures, those within the individual. Without pretending to describe the neurophysiological details, which were of course largely unknown, it was assumed as a working construct that all fairly stable and predictable behavioral integrations within an individual, such as motives, trends, habits, percepts, and cognitions, were quasi-self-closing and self-maintaining "structures of events." As in most theories of psychology, a certain amount of subjective language was found necessary to describe them. The individual as a whole comprised many such structures and these were integrated with one another. Each of them was considered to have its own characteristic energy (density of events). Since they were so closely connected in the pattern of the organism it was conjectured that when the energies of a particular event structure (or cycle) were raised or lowered through environmental events, the energies of other, "tangent," structures would be correspondingly affected, and affected in a certain ratio to the intensities involved. This situation was considered to obtain in and between the specific structures of both the inner (organismic) and outer (collective) sort.

The intrinsic energies of each of these structures of the individual was at first called "potency of involvement" (and later "index of structurance") in the

(20) structure concerned. The relationship (a matter of probability) which any one structure had with any other was called its "relevance" to the latter (later, its "interstructurance"). Thus stated it was possible for the theory to be quantitatively tested. The work, as before, was done over a period of time by my graduate students as the basis for their doctoral dissertations. And again I worked closely with most of them. The objectivity, the devotion to their problems, the patience, and the scientific exactness displayed by these students are among my most treasured memories. Since this experimental program occupied a considerable period of my time and eventuated in some results not reported elsewhere, I would like to describe it in more detail.

At first the quantitative theorem was not systematically worked out. There has already been mentioned the study of Nancy Morse, indicating that hostility or prejudice of an individual toward an out-group was dependent upon the potency of his involvement in his own national structure to which (it was here merely conjectured) he might be regarding the members of the out-group (rightly or wrongly) as in some degree threatening (negative relevance). Another study, by Arnold Tannenbaum, investigated the morale and attitudes toward an industry in which the subjects were employed. The basic independent variables here were the strength of the various personality trends of the individuals (potency) and the relevance of these trends to certain phases of the employment program. Again the results lay in the direction of the hypothesis.

In order to test the generalizing power of the hypothesis more adequately, the following equation, known as the Structural Dynamics Formula, was devised: S1 = (S1) + S2 i21 + S3I31 + ... + Sn In1 . In this formula SI , the dependent variable, represents the total energy of a particular structure (for example, structure 1) that is to be appraised. Such total energy is dependent not only upon the "proper," or typical, energy of that structure, S1, but also upon the contributions to it from all structures related to it. S2, S3, etc., represent the "typical" energies of the latter structures, while i21, i31 , etc., are their degrees of interstructurance with S1. The gamut of all relevant structures of the individual (2 to n) are to be included in the summation, and they include both the personality trend structures of the individual and the collective structures he is in. The latter can be classified as either face to face (primary group) or institutional. The interstructurances may be negative as well as positive in their contributions to S1.

In this systematic form the theory was tested first through a monumental and meticulous research by John Valentine (1953) on the causation of attitudes. SI , the dependent variables, consisted of the strengths, or degrees of intensity, of attitudes on certain social questions. The other S's represented the strength of involvement (structurance) of the subjects in other structures. In order to obtain the identification and intensity of these base structures exhaustive questionnaires were filled out by the subjects. The i's, or degrees of interstructurances of these latter structures with the attitude (Si ), were estimated independently by qualified persons in various fields. The results of Valentine's study clearly

(21) confirmed the hypothesis. Furthermore, it was found that as more categories or types of structures were included in the independent variable (S2. . . Sn), the higher the correlation became. In addition to this experiment, Valentine (and Reimer) conducted a similar study on learning, the results of which were again positive. I regard the work of Valentine on attitudes as a significant discovery. Attitudes have been generally supposed to be dynamic entities or motivating forces in themselves. These findings are capable, I believe, of leading to a quite new conception of attitudes. Attitudes are here seen to be not primary motivations, but variables dependent on other circumstances, namely those of a structural-involvement character. Such a finding should be borne in mind in procedures in which attitude inculcation or change is attempted.

Another important investigation, conducted by Charlotte Simon (1952). explored the predictive value of the hypothesis with respect to personality. This study employed the distinction previously made between trait and trend descriptions. Simon took as the dependent variable, S1, the degree of a trait of the subjects obtained from rating scales returned by the subjects' acquaintances. In all, three traits, ascendance, responsibility, and extroversion, were used. For the variables (S's) on the right side of the equation she used the strengths of the many separate trends of the individual which had been obtained from a separate canvas of acquaintances. The interstructurance values of each trend with respect to the trait were judged by Simon, but without any knowledge of what subject': material she was judging. This variable represented the degree of probability that that trend in the individual would be likely to lead to the appearance of such trait as perceived by his associates (actually the covariance expected between the trend and trait). This careful study also supported the event-structure hypothesis and gave clear evidence for the "partial transformation" theory of personality appraisal previously described. Another testing of the formula was done b, Theodore Vallance (1950), using methods similar to those of Valentine, in an attempt to predict the susceptibility of individuals to propaganda appeals. This study did not support the hypothesis in its main prediction; but there was a correlation between the feeling of the strength of the propaganda on the one hand and the event-structure variable on the other.

I will conclude this review with an account of a study which I like to recall It was a little "masterpiece" of strategy and elegance-but with an unfortunate ending. It will be recalled that my Chinese student, Chiang Lin Woo, had, with most careful techniques, completed a dissertation upon J-curve distributions in custom situations (Woo, 1948). He therefore had been able to rank the eleven customs on which he had collected data according to the extent to which tit individuals he observed had conformed to them. These eleven custom behavior included such episodes as that of a man opening the door for a woman companion, the placement of knife and fork on the plate in restaurants, the act expected of participants in a religious service, and the approved behavior when the national anthem is played. The idea occurred to me that the relative steepness of the J-distributions on the scales that Woo used to measure custom

(22) conformity might also be predicted by the structural dynamics formula. It was conjectured that in these situations the basic structural variable to which the custom behavior might be predicted to be related would be, in each case, of only one type, namely, that to which it was appropriate, as for example the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, membership in "polite society," the church to which one belongs, and so on. An average rating of the potency of involvement that is generally obtained in a representative sample of male citizens in each of these classes of structures was obtained, for each structure, by a carefully prepared questionnaire. These self-estimates of involvement were gathered, of course, from an entirely different population from that earlier observed in Woo's study of conformity, but the type of population involved was similar. Still another, totally different but again representative set of individuals, filled out forms estimating the probable degree of importance (relevance) of the custom act for the maintenance of the structure concerned or of the individual's place in it. When all these data froth different sources were assembled and computed it was found that for these eleven custom situations the degree of conformity in the particular custom act was definitely related, just as the formula had predicted, to the strength of involvement of individuals typically in the base structure concerned, times the relevance of the custom act to that structure. The Spearman rank difference correlations, obtained by computing the data in two different ways, were 0.68 (significant at the 5 percent level) and 0.82 (significant at the 1 percent level). Upon seeing this finding Woo and I shook hands. This long-armed result seemed to call into question traditional explanations of custom as based largely on social inertia or cultural lag. It appeared from our result that custom conformity was a very dynamic here-and-now phenomenon, under structuronomic influence or control. It was also thought that this finding might have value for the cultural anthropologists.

Woo, who was going back to China, was to take the data with him and work out certain computations in greater detail. He asked me if I did not wish to retain a complete copy. I cannot imagine what possessed me-it is one of those things that is hard to explain; but I said I would leave the whole matter to him and he could send me the results as soon as his computations were completed. Woo went back, first to Hong Kong and a little later to mainland China, which was undergoing an overhauling under the Communist regime. It is now twenty years since he returned to China proper, and in that time I have not heard a word from him. Because of the meagerness of my records I have not published this experiment or its finding until this moment. I must now simply ask the reader to accept my word that it was so. I regard my carelessness in not retaining a complete copy of the data as one of my worst professional errors.

To sum matters up, out of these seven investigations that were conducted under my direction at Syracuse, six supported the structural-dynamics hypothesis. A seventh, as a whole, did not, but it did give support to it in a certain part. I must report, to my great regret, that only two of the studies described above have reached publication. In view of the significance of the findings and the

(23) novelty of the approach, the reader may indeed wonder why such good material has been left, as it were, to wither on the vine. Was it in part my usual "procrastination" that was accountable for my not having published it or prodded my former students into doing so? Perhaps. But there was a further and very substantial reason: one that has a moral. This reason lay in the obscurity of the hypothesis itself, in the vagueness in my use of the term "structure," and the difficulty of stating "structural" variables in a manner that was clear enough to distinguish them from more traditional psychological constructs such as motives, values, and perceptions. In fact, this very question was raised by an editor to whom a manuscript had been sent. The moral, of course, is that, important as quantitative findings undoubtedly are in research, quantities alone, even if clearcut and decisive, cannot make a good theory. I by no means regret the time taken by me and my students to secure these very clear and definitive results, and I am certain that they will some day come into their full significance.

In my own defense I should say that I did already have a considerable backlog of theoretical structural interpretations which I was giving my classes; and many illuminating empirical charts or diagrams of organismic and collective structures had been worked out. This material, however, did not suffice to bridge the gap between theory and research. I was now as determined as ever to work toward a basic theory of the individual-probably one of a quasi-structural character-that would be both intelligible and unique. I felt that I had been on the right track; for our studies had brought to light many facts about "motivations" and "perceptions" for which the traditional use of these rubrics in psychology had afforded no basis of understanding-and the results themselves were on the whole surprisingly consistent. But it was clear that there was a drastic need of making the theory more explicit and of connecting it, if possible, not merely with overt behaviors, or attitudes and trends, but with neurophysiological and microcosmic happenings deep down within the organism. In this way, also, the findings of our Syracuse research program might perhaps be brought to their deserved fruition.


Work with my graduate students ended in 1953 and I was free to launch wholeheartedly into the further development of my theory—or so I thought. Being none too confident of my ability for the task, however, I at first set myself to the work of reading all the related theories of psychology I could find to obtain suggestions. In doing this I became so intrigued by the theories of perception that I did not get beyond that point. So I wrote an exposition and discussion of these theories in the light of the structure concept, planning to add an account of my own theory at the end. I had, of course, written articles on the hypothesis from time to time, but this was to be my major definitive statement.


This book, entitled Theories of Perception and the Concept of Structure, appeared in 1955. I have been greatly pleased by its success, and am glad of the help it seems to have given to students of perception. But it has been clear that its popularity did not rest primarily (or even remotely) on the exposition of my own theory in the last chapter. That account was still only a "preliminary" statement, and was still obscure to students and colleagues. I have sometimes wondered if writing this book had been a kind of escape, helping me to delay further the attack upon the task to which I was committed. Could this have been another example of my stubbornness and procrastination? Perhaps so, but it could hardly be called laziness. Readers who might wish to pursue the progress of my more general theory insofar as it has been published to the present day can follow its development in the items marked in the References by a double asterisk (**). These should be read in the order listed.

In 1957, after we were both retired, my wife and I moved to California, where we could be near her sister, Mrs. Mildred Mitchell. For one semester I taught a seminar at the University of California in Berkeley and later found good friends and made many helpful contacts at Stanford University. I find that my approach to the underlying structure of organisms and the implicit "epi-structure" of society has now moved, as I always knew that it must eventually, into an era of greater sophistication. The sweeping intellectual change in the life sciences has had its impact on my thinking. I am now trying to absorb some of the recent impressive findings of modern neurophysiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. For to even approach being significant, my theory must be brought into relationship to such a context. I have also tried to keep in touch with the current mode of thinking in cybernetics, information theory, and general systems theory.

Without undervaluing the importance of any of these developments I shall mention two related respects in which they do not appear to me to be headed in the direction of my problem. The first of these applies especially to systems theory in the fields of biology and psychology, and the attempt to devise conceptual or computer models of psychobiological processes. The effort to explain or emulate the organism by designing theories or models of how it works is, I think, evading the deeper problem of what it is or how it came into being and continues. The new theorists seem merely to have assumed the existence of the organism as a prior but unexplained condition (ontological presumption). Such a point of view overlooks the very questions with which my theory is deeply concerned.

My second misgiving concerns what I regard as the subjective or teleological slanting of the new biology and biochemistry in the interpretation of biological and psychological processes. Theories seem to have emerged as tour de force explanations of the results of carefully performed and remarkable experiments. To one, however, who is seeking the maximum objectivity possible, such notions as "coding and uncoding" in the organism, "messenger" RNA, the "processing of information," and the organism as "recognizing and rejecting" an intruder,

(25) though familiar to us at the molar human level, seem somewhat gratuitous and anthropomorphic as applied to antibodies, cells, and genes. Their use raises problems deeper than the ones they purport to solve. In falling back on such explanations are we not somewhat like watches which, if asked to explain their origins or their running, can only reply by a further working of their springs or turning of their wheels? In the heyday of molar psychology it was said that we should not attempt to explain what is going on inside the organism, but should leave such matters until the neurologists or biologists had been able to discover the facts necessary for their explanation. It now seems that though the latter have discovered many relevant facts, the need for an objective explanation must still go begging. Just as the sociologists had failed to make explicit the nature of social reality, so the biologists seem to be unable to come cogently to grips with the elusive nature of the individual. Perhaps in addition to more powerful microscopes what we need is the ability more clearly to perceive and understand what we see. If only we could get outside the ivory tower of solipsism long enough to obtain a truly objective view!

It seems presumptuous of me to think that I might be able to throw any new light on these awesome mysteries. But I see no escape from trying if I am to continue my search; for it is apparent that the group problem will be solved only when the problem of the individual is clarified.

I feel I owe it to the reader to attempt here a brief sketch or preview of the theory of enestruence as it now stands as a result of my work for the last four years. I found it necessary to avoid some of the older pitfalls at the very start. This I did first by setting up a new criterion of physical reality and adequate objectivity. This was the criterion which I indicated by the Greek letter chi and which referred to actual, physical encounterability. By applying this criterion all around the organism or its patterns of outer and inner behavior one could delineate the organism, in reality or imagination, as a line, a surface, or a pattern of such encounters. Such a "limniation" constituted the conceptual method of the theory, and the manifold which it portrayed was called the chi-empiric.

A second major difficulty in trying to describe and generalize behavior of the individual acting alone or in groups was the inability to get away from teleology and the habit of using agency as a means of explanation. A systematic effort to escape this usage was made by rigorously employing the chi criterion. The description, therefore, was made in a quasi-geographical or topological manner which did not involve any purposive assumptions. The effort to do this, of course, parts company with almost everything that has been said about the nature of life and behavior. It is of course realized that purpose is regarded as an inalienable characteristic of life and a notion which we could not do without for a moment in practical living. My thought here is that if the suggestions put forward in my theory can be sustained, purpose can be brought back into the scene as a transconceptualization of the physicalistic account once the theory is completed. This was also conceived to be a possible step in the attempt at philosophical unity in the mind-body enigma.


Further novel postulates are called upon by the theory. It is pointed out that the physical laws of nature and thermodynamics as at present stated, although they always hold in both the animate and inanimate realms, are inadequate for the full description and explanation of the remarkable order in the organism. The hypothesis is here advanced that in addition to these modalities as expressed in the usual conventions of "length," "speed," and "mass" of physics, there is another modality that has been barely noticed and has been neglected in theories in both the physical and biological realms. This neglected but truly physical modality I have called homadicity. It is essentially a nonrandom property that occurs in every phenomenon along with the quantitative aspect (heterodicity); but it cannot in itself be defined by measurement. It occurs not in degrees, but in a "yes" or "no" (or categorical) fashion, being essentially a kind of characteristic that occurs throughout the whole phenomenal element or pattern concerned, as well as locally in each segment of such a pattern. There is, in other words, a holistic property that exists along with the measured magnitude or energy of the element or pattern. This is not however the kind of "whole property" that is postulated by gestalt psychology. Contrary to expectation it has been found possible to formulate a kind of empirical logistic for defining and stating these other-than-quantitative elements of nature.

One of the salient characteristics of life that is also found in collectivities is the presence of some invariant of behavior that cannot itself be completely expressed quantitatively but persists through all different circumstances and magnitudes of the surroundings until an objective is accomplished. We have, for example, the behavior of a stentor which, when disturbed by particles in its environment, performs one after another of a series of acts until one occurs which releases the animal from that situation. These several acts may be regarded as based on differences of magnitudes, or quantities, or the motion of the parts. In other words the quantitative picture may provide an infinite variety of possibilities while the other-than-quantitative (homadiac) retains its other-thanquantitative character. It is held by my theory that life and behavior in general are like this. The elementary homadiac properties are the invariants of the morphology behavior, and organismic action; and they probably exist in a finite and limited number; while the heterodiac properties give the spatial size, and in part the shape, of the phenomenon, as well as its energic density. The order that exists in nature is therefore not simple. Only part of it is the work of energy, usually defined as the capacity for work. For the remainder, or other type, of order there is the addition of this other non-energic factor we have called the homademe. The production of order is a bigeneric process requiring both these physical modalities together with their laws, which now remain to be more fully stated.

The above paragraph contains the major strategy of the theory. The operation of these two unique modalities together will, it is maintained, afford a better background for understanding the nature of physiological processes such as digestion, breathing, circulation, growth, and the nature of what are now

(27) called "mechanisms." There are therefore in the organism two arrows of time, not one. One of them is the long entropic or equilibrial process throughout the universe as formulated in the second law of thermodynamics. The other is a result of the stabilization and juncturing of the homadiac properties. This is limited in length to the life-span of the organism or the existence of a species. The two arrows can go on together in time since the types of order-disorder to which they point are not one thing but two, the order of attaining physical equilibrium on the one hand, as negative entropy passes into entropy, and the shorter term and repetitive ordering on the other, that is exhibited in the destiny of developing organisms as they grow and differentiate, or that is seen in the evolution of a species. Such bigeneric order always involves both types of properties. It brings into play the notion of energy as a distribution of (capacity for) events, which are junctures in this manifold. The existence of the organism (and we might say also the collectivity) lies between two extremes or thresholds of energic density. There is an upper threshold above which there results an "entropy of crowding," and a lower threshold below which there is an "entropy of paucity" with its characteristic fluctuations of probability. The origin of life, as well as evolutionary changes, explained by natural selection and fitness for survival in the Darwinian theory, are here revised to represent the assembly and the staying together, through shifts of the various homadiac and heterodiac elements with changes in the environment or the organism itself (enathrostarestence).

Though it is too early to know whether these ideas will contribute something toward an understanding of the enigma of the organism and organismic collectivity, it is my hope that they will. I have no desire for my ghost to return and continue to pace the corridors of Emerson Hall in an unending search for enlightenment.

I have held few offices and received few honors in my lifetime. This was as it should have been, because I wanted such recognition as I might attain to come as a result of having made this particular contribution to psychology and science, and I have felt that thus far it has not been fully made. I have been the recipient of one of the research awards of the American Psychological Association; and to my great satisfaction and pleasure I was also awarded the Gold Medal of the American Psychological Foundation for 1968. Beyond that, I have had the enduring loyalty and support of my students, colleagues, and friends. I consider that this is recognition enough. I have been fortunate in many ways and have led a sheltered and on the whole a rewarding life; though there have been times, as a result of my long commitment to such a far-reaching, and, to some, forbidding, problem, when I have felt lonely. My mother said that during my childhood she thought of me as the "seer." This was probably because I seemed to be always looking for deeper answers. She also referred to me as her "child of sorrow." Perhaps these two thoughts are in the nature of the case somehow fundamentally connected. If my brother could be classed among the Isaiahs of the present psychological scene, I, perhaps, might lay claim to being called a Jeremiah. My

(28) final word might well be a reversal of Descartes' famous dictum, changing it from Cogito ergo sum to Sum ergo cogitandum est.


Selected Publications by Floyd H. Allport

The influence of the group upon association and thought. J. exp. Psychol., 1920, 3, 159-182.

Social psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924.

The group fallacy in relation to social science. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1924, 19, 60-73.(*)

The group fallacy in relation to culture. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1924, 19, 185-191. (*)

(with D. A. Hartman) The measurement and motivation of atypical opinion in a certain group. Amer. pol. sci. Rev., 1925, 19, 735-760.

The psychological nature of political structure. Amer. pol. sci. Rev., 1927, 21, 611-618.(*)

(with G. W. Allport) The A-S reaction study: A test for measuring ascendance-submission in personality. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1928.

"Group" and "institution" as concepts in a natural science of social phenomena. Publ. Amer. soc. Soc., 1928, 22, 83-99. (*)

(with D. Katz) Students' attitudes. Syracuse, N.Y.: Craftsman Press, 1931.

(with D. A. Hartman) The prediction of cultural change: A problem illustrated in studies by F. Stuart Chapin and A. L. Kroeber. In S. Rice (Ed.), Methods in social science. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1931. (*)

Institutional behavior. Chapel Hill: Univ. North Carolina Press, 1933. (*)

The J-curve hypothesis of conforming behavior. J. soc. Psychol., 1934, 5, 141-183.

Teleonomic description in the study of personality. Character and Personality, 1937, 5, 202-214.

Toward a science of public opinion. Pub. Opin. Quart., 1937, 1, 7-22.

Rule and custom as individual variations of behavior distributed upon a continuum of conformity. Amer. J. Soc., 1939, 44, 897-921.

(with R. S. Solomon) Lengths of conversations: A conformity situation analyzed by the telic continuum and J-curve hypothesis. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1939, 34, 419-464.

An event-system theory of collective action: With illustrations from economic and political phenomena and the production of war. J. soc. Psychol., 1940, 11, 417-445. (**)

(with R. S. Musgrave) Teleonomic description in the study of behavior. Character and Personality, 1941, 9, 326-343.

(with N. C. Morse) The causation of anti-Semitism: An investigation of seven hypothescs. J. Psychol., 1952, 34, 197-233. (**)

The structuring of events: Outline of a general theory with applications to psychology. Psychol. Rev., 1954, 61, 281-303. (**)

Theories of perception and the concept of structure. New York: Wiley, 1955. (**)

(with A. S. Tannenbaum) Personality structure and group structure: An interpretative study of their relationship through an event-structure hypothesis. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1956, 53, 272-280. (**)

The contemporary appraisal of an old problem. Contem. Psychol., 1961, 6, 195-196. (**)

A structuronomic conception of behavior: Individual and collective. I. Structural theory and the master problem of social psychology. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1962, 64, 3-30. (**)

A theory of enestruence (event-structure theory). Amer. Psychol., 1967, 22, 1, 1-24. (**)

Other Publications Cited

Allport, G. W. The nature of prejudice. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1954.

———.  Becoming. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1955.

———.  Pattern and growth in personality. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961.

Holt, E. B. Animal drive and the learning process. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1931.

Schanck, R. L. A study of a community and its groups and institutions conceived as behaviors of individuals. Psychol. Monogr., 1932, 43, No. 195.

Sherif, M., and C. W. Sherif. An outline of social psychology. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956.

Simon, C. T. The bases of personality traits: An investigation employing a structural hypothesis and method. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse Univ., 1952.

Thurstone, L. L., and E. J. Chave. The measurement of attitude. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1929.

Valentine, J. A. The structural determination of attitudes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation (two volumes), Syracuse Univ., 1953.

Valiance, T. R. An experimental study of the effects of mail propaganda and related collective and personality variables. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse Univ., 1950.

Woo, Chiang Lin. Conformity in custom behavior. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse Univ., 1948.


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