Essentials of Social Psychology

Chapter 4: The Social Personality (continued)

Emory S. Bogardus

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2. The Social Emotions and Sentiments. An emotion is a complex of feelings. It arises when instinctive, habitual, or conscious desires are blocked. Whenever an obstacle appears in the path of a human interest a mental disturbance ensues, accompanied by emotional manifestations. In a way, the emotion is the affective phase of the disturbance. Whenever a conflict in the mind occurs, the emotions arise; but when no conflict exists ennui is likely to develop. Emotions and ennui are the opposite ends of the pole of interest. In other words, emotions heighten and give color to the obstacles of life.

There are three main groups of emotions, those of anger, of sorrow, or joy. In the case of anger, fundamental desires have been held up. The individual is energized to overcome the obstruction. The rise of sorrow indicates that one has in some particular actually loved and lost. He has had definitely to give up pleasant hopes or valued possessions. Joy marks the more or less sudden realization of some important desire.

As enlargements of the 'feeling side of life, the emotions often run to extremes and express themselves in wild, blind exhibitions of discharged energy, or in a

(76) temporary but complete paralysis of the volitional nature. For example, the emotion of anger results in concentrated but frequently irrational forms of activity. On the other hand, the emotion of sorrow—of subjection and dejection—which follows defeat and losses tends to produce temporary impotence.

Perhaps the most elemental of all emotions and the one which is more evenly spread than any other is sympathy. Certainly the chief social emotion is sympathy. It is probably fundamental to all three types that are mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs.

As the word implies, sympathy means "feeling with" others. An example of the expression of an elemental form of sympathetic emotion is the immediate and appropriate response of the brood of chickens to the warning cry of the mother hen. Because of sympathetic emotion, the vigorous crying of a baby is followed by simultaneous wailing on the part of infants near by, even though they do not have the slightest conception of the cause of the crying of the first child. For the same reason a scream of terror on the part of an adult evokes a similar pang on the part of bystanders, although the latter do not know the cause of the scream.

The characteristic of "feeling with" others varies in degree with individuals. In an extreme form it often decreases personal efficiency. It is a misfortune, for example, for a surgeon to be over-sympathetic. At the other extreme a small measure of sympathy permits one's egoistic, selfish impulses to run riot. Sympathy enables the individual to understand the experiences, attitudes, and actions of other people.


When an important issue is to be settled, the party which is successful in enlisting the sympathies of the public possesses a strong advantage. The sympathies often manifest erratic choices. Because they—like the feelings—are not closely allied to the reasoning side of consciousness, they are likely to be expressed in strange, irrational, and at times in unreliable forms. Sympathy does not always connote dependable conduct. Perhaps the most conspicuous social characteristic of sympathy is its tendency to be associated with the conservative elements in a conflict or struggle. It is commonly allied with the old, the tried, and the true. It is a gigantic stabilizing force. Oftentimes it adds too much stability. Occasionally it is so closely attached to outworn habits and customs that it acts as a stumbling-block to progress. Nevertheless every new reform measure tries to win the permanent sympathies of the people. If it succeeds in this enterprise, all will be well for a time.

Sympathy possesses far-reaching connections. For example, it functions extensively in connection with the parental impulses. Even the most primitive forms of love foster it. Sympathy is a strong ally of the gregarious instinct in holding together the members of a group. For this reason it has been aptly described as a social cement.

A sentiment is a complex of emotional reactions which appears in organized ways. Sentiments are organized emotions with social values. For example, admiration involves the person who admires and the one who is admired; it implies the expression of a certain degree of wonder, of humility, and of generosity

(78) toward the one for whom admiration is felt. A successful leader must gain the permanent admiration of his followers. Admiration plus fear constitutes awe; and awe with the addition of gratitude leads to reverence—the highest religious sentiment.[1]

Respect is closely allied to admiration; it is more cognitive and less affective, and in general, more permanent than admiration. Respect is perhaps the most intellectualized sentiment. Self-respect implies that the individual has given thought to his actions and has justified them. Respect for another implies that one has analyzed the activities of the other person and has found them satisfactory, or in harmony with his own ideals or standards. I do not believe with Dr. McDougall [2] that we always respect those who respect themselves, and that our respect for another person is always a sympathetic reflection of his self-respect. It is true that others must respect themselves before we will respect them, but if the moral standards of others are below our own we will not grant them complete respect.

Pity is a mild sentiment which arises out of sympathy for other persons but does not result in positive sacrifice for others. The person who pities usually feels himself definitely separated by some barrier from the one who is pitied. Pity is a developed form of sympathy which is held in check by a feeling of superiority, of inability to render aid, or of the impracticability of giving aid. The results of pity are rarely positive.


Shame is experienced when the individual finds himself compared unfavorably with the standards of his friends, or when he falls below the standards which others expect of him. To protect himself from experiencing shame, the individual will often submit himself unflinchingly to severe discipline. The group, or the leaders, will often capitalize an individual's aversion to shame in order to secure his otherwise unwilling support of a worthy or unworthy cause. Whenever the socially reflected self falls below par, shame arises, and exists until the social mirror self recovers its prestige.

Jealousy, revenge, and hate are related sentiments. Jealousy arises when the ego is strongly developed and generally indicates a self-centered view of life. At its heart there is an exaggerated self-feeling. As a rule, jealousy narrows and contracts the individual; it hinders the growth of personality. In the long run, the individual is justified only in being jealous of his character and reputation. In a secondary and vital sense, the individual should be jealous of the character and good name of other persons and of worthy institutions.

Revenge is an aggressive sentiment which springs up when the individual feels that he or someone in whom he is interested has been grievously injured. It flares high and may die down quickly. It is likely to be temporary in form and to disappear as soon as the rule of an eye for an eye has been administered. It may be generalized, however, by the group and assume deep-seated and long term proportions, as in the case of blood feuds. The development of courts of justice

(80) has met the general need which is served by vengeance; consequently, the sentiment has been losing a great deal of its force. It still bursts into disgraceful proportions—in the case of lynchings — and occupies a concealed place in many lives.

Hate is a long-lived, ingrained sentiment that functions against the progress of constructive tendencies, or even of persons and races irrespective of social values. Hate is an ominous element in race prejudice. Its value appears when it is directed not against people as such, but against sin, vice, and crime.

Love is a conserving, stabilizing and yet tumultuous sentiment of unmeasured power. In its most primitive, elemental expressions it may be more or less purely sexual and may lead to sexual vice and impurity and to illegitimacy. A higher form is that known as romantic love, the subject of which is impelled to extensive undertakings and sacrifices in behalf of the one who is loved.[3] The primitive nature of romantic love is shown in its fickleness. It may lead, however, to conjugal love which possesses qualities of endurance. The strength of conjugal love develops out of the fact that husbands and wives experience great joys and sorrows together. It is particularly in the suffering together of husband and wife that emotional romantic love becomes transformed into the strong, deep, and abiding currents of conjugal love. Maternal love is the keenest, deepest, and most concentrated form of the love of one person for another. The love of a mother for her child is the most enduring type of love; it persists despite continued gross neglect and even of

(81) utterly despicable conduct on the part of the son or daughter. Paternal love is far less intense and less enduring than maternal love; it is more akin to love of brother for brother. Filial love is often strongly expressed in childhood and adolescence and then it may weaken. It may be revived in the later years of life and assume its earlier strength and be expressed in ways which gladden parental hearts. Consanguineal love ranges from the close attachment that is characteristic of maternal love to a simple form of nominal friendship. Out of all these forms of love the family as a social institution is builded.

A further observation should be made concerning consanguineal love, which frequently takes on idealistic forms. It often manifests itself in sane types of friendship. It may extend itself beyond blood relationships. Two unrelated persons may become "like brothers." Consanguineal love leads to the most dependable types of loyalty. In its highest sense it gives content to a doctrine of the brotherhood of man. In the same way parental love has been given a religious connotation of God's love for man, and filial love has been transcribed into man's love for God.

3. The Growth o f the Social Self. The development of the self is surprisingly social. The consciousness of self arises when the individual is set off or sets himself off from other selves. It was this process which was first analyzed in an able way by J. Mark Baldwin.[4]

(82) To the infant everything is first of all objective. Even his fingers and toes seem to him to belong to an outside world. But when these fingers or toes are pinched or burned, they are given a self valuation by the owner. Through his experiences—chiefly of suffering—the child learns to distinguish between the ego and the alter and to set up a self-world in apposition to an others-world.

The ego and the alter are not separate entities but opposite ends of the same pole of growth, i. e., of personality. With the growth of personality there always arises this bi-polarism. From one extremity of the bi-polar being there emanates a recognition of the ways in which oneself is different from other selves individuality. From the other pole there springs a consciousness of the particulars in which one possesses kindred interests with others—sociality. The interaction between the ego and the alter results in the growth of both. The process is one, and in the deepest sense the ego and the alter evolve constructively or destructively together.

The social consciousness of the child arises simultaneously with the development of his self consciousness. If it were not for the presence, activities, and stimulations of others, his consciousness of self would remain undeveloped. The stimuli which call forth self consciousness are caused by the contacts of the individual with other persons. The degree to which self consciousness is developed depends upon the original store of self-assertive impulses and instincts and upon the nature of the social environment. If the original nature of the child bristles with aggressiveness, the

(83) impingement of the social environment will produce qualities of leadership in the individual, or may unfortunately lead to an exaggerated self-assertion and to continual exhibitions of contra-suggestion, of overbearing attitudes, and of a pugnacious disposition.

At the time that the child is learning the meaning of life through his experiences, he is simultaneously reading those meanings into the activities of life. He projects himself and his experiences into the world of life about him—this is the projective phase of the self. The projection usually takes place along horizontal lines. The individual throws himself out along his occupational or friendship levels. In this way there is a marked tendency toward the growth of horizontal selves.[5]

To the growing personality every new phenomenon of life is first objective and almost meaningless, then through experience life becomes subjective and full of significance, and finally projective and social.[6] The process is one of social self-development. It is in this fashion that one learns—throughout life. As long as phenomena are purely subjective to an adult, he can hardly comprehend them. Through experiencing them, they become subjective, and highly so, if that experience involves suffering. Then, and then only, can one truly project his personality helpfully into the lives of others, then can one truly sympathize, then can one feel "the pulse of mankind."


4. The Socially Reflected Self. Every person is surrounded by social mirrors. A friend or an enemy is a social mirror. The reflection of oneself which he sees in the minds of others is his socially reflected self. The nature of the reflection is rarely true; it varies with the points of view of the different human reflectors. The conduct of every person, young and old, is continually conditioned by the presence and opinions of other persons, and especially by the judgments or supposed judgments of friends. At every turn of life, the choices and actions of a person are partially determined by the images of himself which he sees reflected in the minds of his friends, that is, by his socially reflected self.

The strenuous struggles for medals, honors, positions are often due to the desire to satisfy the socially reflected self. A military officer reports that a grave weakness of the army and navy is the powerful desire for promotion. Promotion is the coveted honor, the topic of open and secret conversations, the measure of success. To win a promotion means to receive the admiring glances of friends and the jealous appraisals of enemies. The socially reflected self is likely to become unduly distorted and to give one a dangerously inflated estimate of himself.

At first many a recruit has cared nothing for his regiment. After a few weeks of training he has learned to value the opinions of himself which are held by his comrades. Within a few months he becomes not only willing but anxious to hazard his life for his regiment. At first the reflections of himself that he saw in the eyes of his fellow "rookies" he scorned;

(85) but in a relatively short time he came to value these reflections above nearly all things else.

"Watch the change as the column, marching at route step, swings into some small French town where children and an old woman or two observe the passing army," says an officer of a colored regiment. "Every man swings into step, shoulders are thrown back, and extra distances between ranks close automatically. Some one is watching them." Among these soldiers there was one "who stowed somewhere about him for these occasions a battered silk hat. We let him wear it—in small towns! The inhabitants stared at him and laughed. He was happy and made the whole company happy."

College athletes explain that the reflections of themselves in the eyes of the spectator-crowd upon the bleachers is one of the most impelling factors in their achievements. To be elected to an honor society stimulates many pupils, not because of the actual benefit to be derived from the competitive processes but on account of the complimentary remarks and the standing which the coveted honor gives, that is to say, because of the dazzling reflections of oneself which the social mirrors present.

A young man who does not approve of missions attends a church service in order to please a young lady who is interested in missionary enterprises. An offering for missions is to be taken. The first impulse of the young man is not to give. Then he thinks of the impression that his stingy self would make upon the young lady. Straightway he makes one of the largest subscriptions of the evening and

(86) takes pleasure in the reflection of his liberality which he beholds in the pleased countenance of the young woman at his side.

"It was my social mirror self which manifested itself to me last Sabbath," states a lady, "when I made my yearly pledge to the church. If I had made it by myself and sent it to the church treasurer, I would have lowered, in view of my present circumstances, the amount which I gave last year. But I was called upon by two prominent members of the church, and wishing to see a generous self reflected back to me from their eyes, I increased my annual pledge."

A business man boasts of a shrewd transaction to a friend who he knows will approve of such a proceeding. When he is talking with another friend, who holds higher social principles, he refrains from mentioning the questionable action. In the first instance the reflection of himself as a shrewd business man was favorable; in the latter case it would have been unfavorable: in both cases he was guided by his social mirror self.

A politician will spend large sums of money on philanthropic enterprises. By so doing he sets up favorable impressions of himself in the minds of his townspeople. Later he will utilize these impressions in his campaign for votes.

At a meeting which was held for money-raising purposes, the chairman called for subscriptions of five hundred dollars. At that moment a man of means raised his hand to drive away an annoying fly. The chairman saw the hand, elatedly called out the name of the man, and the audience cheered loudly.


The wealthy individual had planned to contribute one hundred dollars, but rather than mar the splendid reflection of himself that had come from his neighbors and friends he cheerfully paid the larger subscription.

An American abroad tries to do in Rome as the Romans do. By such actions he receives better reflections of himself than would otherwise be the case. A wide-awake immigrant in the United States quickly adopts American ways—impelled by his social mirror self.

"As a child of five, I became acquainted in the kindergarten with a colored boy," states a public school teacher. "Our friendship grew rapidly. I admired the black face and the small, tight curls. One day my father laughed heartily at me when he saw me with my colored playmate. I felt hurt, and thereafter avoided the colored boy, not through race prejudice on my part, but through the unpleasant reflection in my father's eyes of my association with the Negro child."

The self respect of an individual often depends on maintaining the respect of other people. If he loses the esteem of his friends, he is likely to lose his own self respect. "I would enjoy riding a bicycle," says a middle-aged woman, "but the impression that I should make upon my friends would be unfavorable and hence I abstain."

A housewife who could not afford to use ice secured an ice-card and put it in the window, but always after the ice wagon had passed her house. She wanted her neighbors to think that she bought ice, because thereby she might not lose caste in their eyes. For a similar

(88) reason a child in school often will study in order to recite well. He is not guided by his desire to learn so much as by the desire to maintain a worthy opinion of himself in the judgments of his classmates. Likewise, the growing adolescent who suddenly becomes interested in the cleanliness of his neck and ears is endeavoring to maintain or improve his standing in the eyes of a young girl. His mood changes from dejection to hilarity as the reflection of himself in her eyes changes from unworthy to worthy.

"At the age of ten," a young man relates, "I found myself considered the black sheep of the family. Because of this reputation, other boys envied me. Even my elders sometimes made complimentary remarks about my startling conduct. On more than one occasion I overheard my parents describe my pranks to their friends, and then I would hear them all laugh loudly, and I would swell with pride. Many references were made to my actions in a more or less approving way. From these experiences I gained favorable impressions of my black-sheep self. My roguishness was stimulated by hearing such expressions as, "Oh! isn't he a clever rascal." Consequently, I began deliberately to act the part of a black sheep; and some of the things which I did would not read well here. I was saved from going to the dogs because our family (a minister's family) moved to another town where my friends —especially one girl friend—did not consider that a black sheep should be envied. The reflection of my dare-devil self no longer had a halo around it, and I changed."

"When I was asked to give an illustration of my

(89) social mirror self," reports a student, "I chose the best example of which I could think. When I was trying to decide whether or not to use this particular illustration, it occurred to me that the only reason I was unwilling to use it was because of the unfavorable reflection of myself which it would produce in the mind of my instructor. Hence in the very process of choosing an illustration, the social mirror self had interfered."

The development of character depends upon the nature of the social mirrors which surround the individual. A growing, active-minded, or sensitive child is particularly affected by the reflection of _ his acts which he sees in the human mirrors about him. If a bad act or a good act is reflected favorably to him, he is likely to repeat it until it becomes a habit. Similarly, although at times in a lesser degree, the individual is affected throughout life.

The individual continually experiences a conflict of socially reflected selves. He cares more for the reflections of himself which he receives from his friends than from strangers or enemies, and from his dearest friends than from casual friends. For this reason he shows as a rule his best nature to his friends and his worst nature to his enemies and is careless about the impressions which he makes upon strangers. For this reason, also, he commonly is more subject to suggestions which come from friends than to those which emanate from enemies.

The individual is affected most by the reflections of himself which come from those who are like-minded. It was this which Hume doubtless had in mind when

(90) he said: "The praises of others never give us as much pleasure unless they concur with our own opinion. . . A mere soldier little values the character of eloquence. . . Or a merchant, of learning." The explanation of this statement is found in the fact that the soldier has superiors who belittle eloquence, and the merchant admires "captains of industry," whose love for the academic is not great. The first finds himself reprimanded for much speaking, and the latter discovers that he is held in derision for much theorizing.

Groups, also, have their socially reflected selves. The actions of groups, also, are guided by the social reflections. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote that "a decent respect to the opinion of mankind" required that our forefathers should make a statement of the causes which impelled them to revolt. At the beginning of the World War each large nation hastened to give its reasons for declaring war and tried to justify itself in the eyes of the world.

The operation of the socially reflected self explains partially the influence of the gang upon the boy, of the fraternity upon the student, of the afternoon bridge party upon the debutanté, of the labor union upon their industrial neophyte, of the board of directors upon the foreman or the clerk, of any occupational group upon its members. To an amazing degree the socially reflected self determines the direction of both individual and group change.




1. Is anger a good guide to action?

2. What are the physical expressions of (a) a happy face, (b) a sad face, and (c) an angry face?

3. Is it true that one of the first qualifications of a successful public school teacher is to be happy?

4. Why are one's sympathies more keen toward a fellow countryman in a foreign country than when one is at home?

5. Why is it not enough for a business man to be a sympathetic husband, parent, and neighbor?

6. Should every citizen indulge occasionally in capricious and sympathetic giving?

7. Why do children fear the dark?

8. Explain: Only those succeed who worry.

9. Do people summon a physician in order to get sympathy?

10. What is the chief social value of love?

11. Can one love his neighbor at will?

12. If one can not love his neighbor, what is the next best thing to do?

13. What is the chief social value of hate?

14. What is the leading social value in suffering?

15. Is it true that friends are persons who have about the same sets of prejudices?


16. Distinguish between the individual self and the social self.


17. What causes a little boy to become ashamed of wearing dresses?

18. Why did a little girl pray: "Please, God, make my hair straight because I don't like curls"?

19. Give an original illustration of the social mirror self.

20. Why is it easier to talk with one individual than to talk to fifteen?

21. In what different ways does the social mirror self of the pupil affect his recitation in class?

22. Are men or women more sensitive to their socially reflected selves?

23. Why does the average small boy dislike dishwashing?

24. What is the chief cause of bashfulness?

25. Is the gregarious instinct or the socially reflected self the greater factor in arousing the desire of a college girl "to make a sorority"?

26. Are the wealthy or the poor more sensitive to their socially reflected selves?

27. Would you have achieved much, if no one had ever expected anything of you?



Baldwin, J. M., Social and Ethical Interpretations, Ch. VIII.

Cooley, C. H., Human Nature and the Social Order, Ch. IV.
——, Social Organization, Chs. XVI, XVII.

Ellwood, C. A., An Introduction to Social Psychology, Ch. XI.
——, Sociology in its Psychological Aspects, Ch. XIV.

Kirkpatrick, E. A., Fundamentals of Child Study, Ch. IX.

McDougall, William, An Introduction to Social Psychology, Chs. IV, V, XV.

Ribot, Th., The Psychology of the Emotions, Part II, Ch. IV.

Ross, E. A., Social Control, Chs. II, III.

Seneca's Morals, tran. by R. L'Estrange, (On Anger), pp. 319-42.

Shand, A. F., Foundations o f Character.

Smith, Adam, A Theory of the Moral Sentiments. In Carver, Sociology and Social Progress, Ch. XVI.

Tarde, Gabriel, Etudes de psychologie sociale, PP. 279-86.

Thorndike, E. L., The Original Nature of Man, Ch. XI.

Wallas, Graham, The Great Society, Chs. IV, IX.


Baldwin, J. M., Social and Ethical Interpretations, Ch. II.

Cooley, C. H., Human Nature and the Social Order, Chs. V, VI.
——, Social Organization, Chs. I, II.

Giddings, F. H., Elements of Sociology, Ch. IX.
——, Inductive Sociology, Part IV, Ch. III.

Hobhouse, L. T., Mind in Evolution, Ch. XVII.

McDougall, William, An Introduction to Social Psychology, Chs. VI, VIII.

Ormund, A. T., "The Social Individual," Psychological Bul., VIII: 27-41.

Todd, A. J., Theories of Social Progress, Chs. IV, V.


  1. Cf. William McDougall, An Introduction to Social Psychology, (eighth edit.), p. 132 ff.
  2. Ibid., p. 161.
  3. Cf. L. F. Ward, Pure Sociology, pp. 377 ff.
  4. Social and Ethical Interpretations, Ch. I; also cf. C. H. Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order, Chs. I, V, VI.
  5. Cf. the discussion of the linear self, flat self, vein self, star self by E. A. Ross, Amer. Jour. of Sociol., XXIV:668 ff.
  6. Cf. the discussion of the social self by C. H. Cooley, Social Organization, Chs. I, II, and J. M. Baldwin, Social and Ethical Interpretations, Ch. I.

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