Review of Social Psychology of International Conduct by G.M. Stratton.
We have here a strong book on an important subject by a scholar who has devoted years to reading, writing, and teaching about international relations and war. The style is that of a hook of essays but the matter rep-resents sound scholarship and wide reading, although the academic reader would appreciate footnotes and specific references which have been very sparingly used. The short bibliography is good as far as it goes, but hardly adequate, and does not represent even all the works that are mentioned in the text.
Professor Stratton writes from the standpoint of a psychologist with individual psychology as his point of view. There is much in the literature of social psychology which he has not chosen to use, but his argument is close-knit and the book will certainly meet its double purpose of an academic text and a work for the general reader whose opinions it is clearly designed to affect.
There are three parts. Some 125 pages are devoted to general considerations in which the comparative ability and temperament of races are discussed, racial prejudice given a very clear treatment, and the collective phenomenon of the national spirit and the delusions of the national mind come in for clarifying discussion.
Part II has some excellent writing. The chapter on "Risk in Close Acquaintance" is a complete refutation of the evangelistic appeal that if we only know each other better we shall avoid all trouble. The chapter on the birth-rate shows how fallacious is the assumption that increase in population must lead to war. After reading Stratton one wonders how anyone could have held otherwise, but we all know how widespread is this notion. Another chapter refutes the contention that competitive commerce must mean war, and still another excellent one shows that there is no unchanging human nature, and therefore that human nature does not drive us on to the suicide of civilization.
Part III sets forth careful and restrained suggestions for the advancement of international conduct, laying emphasis upon the attitudes toward
( 834) the war problem as well as upon the formal institutions or "instruments" needed by the international mind.
To the reviewer the author seems to overemphasize the question of heredity, but in view of the fact that many will feel that he has underemphasized it there should be very little objection raised here. In the discussion of behavior of different nations, it is asserted that the English, Scotch, Dutch, and Germans are more intelligent than the Americans, and that the Greeks, Russians, Italians, and Polish are far less intelligent. This conclusion is based upon certain sample tests, and while the author accepts them as conclusive, he warns us that they do not necessarily represent fair samples of the mother-countries. There is one factor here which should be taken into account and which is left out, namely, the effect of time. These "intelligent" nations are all, Stratton points out, more law-abiding than the nations that are low in the scale of intelligence, but it should be observed that the foreigners who do poorly on intelligence tests are recent arrivals, and those who do well have been here a long time. The figures in Chicago show that there is the same correlation between length of residence in America and the tendency to keep out of trouble. In other words, both success in passing intelligence tests and ability to avoid conflict with the law go along with settled residence and the consequent stability and acquaintance with the traditions of American life.
Another topic which one misses in Professor Stratton's treatment is of the highest importance. Nations may act officially as units, but policies are often determined by classes and even small groups. Professor Stratton is not ignorant of this and there are passages which concede the point, but in much of the discussion of the national emotions and national programs it would have been very illuminating had he seen fit to emphasize this aspect and to give it its due importance.
These words of criticism must he interpreted in the light of the opening sentences in this review. The book is a valuable addition to our national literature and is presented in a form which would make it perhaps all the more acceptable to the general reader. It is not too much to say that if every voter in America could be led to read this book carefully the present forces for international understanding would he set forward in their progress a decade or more, Teachers of social psychology will undoubtedly find the work of value when treating this aspect of collective behavior.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO