The Significance of Psychology for the Study of Politics

Charles E. Merriam
University of Chicago

As a part of its work, the committee on research of the American Political Science Association has undertaken a survey of the relation of politics to kindred types of inquiry, including psychology, anthropology, geography, biology, engineering and others. The purpose of such an inquiry is to explore the relationships that exist with kindred sciences, to facilitate co÷peration with our fellow-workers, to improve our methods of investigation, and to promote the progress of political science.

The committee is not responsible for this report, for its form or content, its scope or method, its sins of omission or commission. Probably the general sentiment of the committee toward psychology would be expressed by the phrase, con amore ma non troppo.

It may be worth while at the outset to scrutinize some of the earlier relations of psychology to political science, for the friendship is one of long standing. In the earlier forms of political thinking, there are crude types of psychology that are of great interest and significance in the development of the art of political thinking. These philosophers evidently utilized all of the psychology that was current in the construction of their political systems.


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At the basis of Plato's political theory there was a form of physiological psychology. He set up a correlation between the head, the heart and the abdomen, and the virtues of intelligence, courage and moderation; and to these correspond the three classes, the guardians, the warriors and the workers. Justice is the harmonious co÷peration of these three faculties in the individual, and the harmonious cooperation of the three classes in the society. This may seem more like physiology than psychology, but in any case it shows clearly the effort to set up a system of theory on a basis of physical-mental analogy, using such information as was then available.

Aristotle abandoned the Platonic analysis and undertook the task of concrete observation on a systematic scale. Man is by nature a political animal, and therefore the foundation of politics is the normal reactions of men in social life. Thus slavery is a natural institution; the family is a natural institution. So also the state is a natural institution, requiring no other explanation than the observation of human conduct. The ideal citizen and the ideal state are means between extremes rather than balanced types as discussed by Plato. In Aristotle there is little analysis of traits, but the ground is prepared for the objective study of human behavior on its political side. It would have been possible to take the next step in the scientific order, and begin the systematic observation of all of the so-called natural activities of mankind, and then to classify and analyse these processes more closely.

Machiavelli was the next thinker to begin a direct observation and discussion of human political traits. In his examination of the methods and the psychological equipment of the tyrant, he develops the qualities of cruelty, infidelity, hypocrisy, and suggests alternative types with their advantages and disadvantages, with the keenest insight into political motives and into political behavior. While not as broad in his treatment of types as Aristotle, he excelled the Greek in his minute analysis of a particular system, and in his portrayal of the minutiae of political conduct of certain types, notably the tyrants of his day.

John Locke as a physician was fully abreast of the physiology


( 471) of his day, just then beginning to develop, and as a philosopher he was fully acquainted with the current theory of knowledge. His type of political philosophy was peculiar, however, in that it began with a natural man in an assumed state of nature. The characteristics of this man were analysed and described out of hand and without much regard to practical observation. The state of nature he had never seen, and as he himself said, history comes before records. Hence no one is in a position to say just what happens in an actual state of nature. The philosophers had not arrived at this stage of human development. Under such circumstances, the account of the political traits of men was inevitably very unsystematic, and indeed sometimes very naive. In general he divested the civil man of his civil characteristics, and then produced the natural man, carefully filling him, however, with all the qualities necessary to bring him back again safely into civil society.

A more elaborate system was that of Hobbes who by the same method reduced man to a state of nature and then built him up again. Hobbes, however, developed an interpretation in frank terms of appetites and aversions, not wholly unlike what we sometimes call tropisms. He finds three causes of strife-competition, diffidence and glory. He also at great length equips the natural man with a full set of political motives: to seek peace, self-defense, keeping of contracts, gratitude, complaisance, revenge, cruelty, contumely, equity, and so forth.

It is clear that the character of this process made it impossible to advance rapidly in the analysis of human conduct on its political side. The several writers on natural law each unfolded the traits of the primitive man, as he believed they should be developed, but not upon the basis of observation. The systems developed were manufactured from the thinker's imagination of what men were in the time before government was established---a difficult condition to prove, or for that matter to refute, for there was no material for assertion or for contradiction.

Rousseau in his earlier writings endeavored to describe human conduct in the precivil state, but in his later works undertook


( 472) to interpret politics, not in terms of primitive origins, but in terms of will. The significance of will was evident throughout the social contract. The general will was a useful contrivance for his purposes. Will is indivisible, he said; will is inalienable. The general will is consequently a much more useful conception for the maintenance of popular sovereignty than the earlier doctrines of popular rights or power, which might be subdivided or might be alienated. Likewise, the individual will, the official will and the general will, may be set against each other and balanced. In emphasizing will, however, Rousseau started a new line of political speculation, in terms of a trait bordering on the domains of psychology, although not of course modern psychology.

It is plain that no scientific progress could be made with the methods employed by the naturreeht philosophy, for the whole inquiry into political traits was a priori and essentially uncritical. Contrasted with a political theory which held that government and governors rested upon divine rights, or that it was treason to think of the bases of government at all, the natural-law philosophy was an immense advance; but its limits were soon reached, and it was difficult to go farther without retracing the course of political inquiry and advancing by some other way.

With the utilitarians, another method of inquiry was begun. The attempt to interpret politics in terms of an assumed state of nature was abandoned, and an effort made to analyse conduct in terms of pleasures and pains. The hedonistic calculus superseded the speculations on the state of nature. The greatest good of the greatest number is to be the basis of legislation, and these "goods" are to be measured and determined by the calculus of pleasures and pains. Here we have the beginnings of a new analysis of political and economic motives, which proved very useful for immediate purposes of reform, and started an interesting line of observation of human motives and traits.

Following this period, elaborate attempts were made, both before and especially after the Darwinian discoveries, to develop analogies between the state and the organism, or between the


( 473) methods of natural science and those of politics. These have been well summed up in the thoroughgoing study made by Dr. Coker.[1]

In more recent times the need of the development of a type of political psychology has been suggested by many students of politics. Thus President Lowell says : "The last generation has made great strides in the study of psychology. . . . But the normal forces that govern the ordinary conduct of men in their public relations have scarcely received any scientific treatment at all. In short we are almost wholly lacking in a psychology of parties.ö[2]

James Bryce in all his political writings displayed a keen interest in the analysis of political forces, and in his last work on Modern Democracies declared that psychology is the basis of government. "Politics," said Lord Bryce, "accordingly has its roots in psychology, the study (in their actuality) of the mental habits and vocational proclivities of mankind."[3]

Better known, perhaps, are the efforts of Graham Wallas to establish the significance of psychology in the domain of political inquiry, especially in his volumes on Human Nature and Politics and The Great Society. Seldom systematic in his work, the writings of Wallas have been suggestive and stimulating, and have aroused widespread interest in the fundamental basis of the study of political phenomena. Essentially a classicist in training and an essayist in style, Wallas found it difficult to put into actual practice the doctrines he preached, and never made much use of the experimental or statistical methods. His actual contact with political events seemed to have given him a sense of realities in the political world that were not


( 474) being developed in the texts, and toward these realities he was groping.

The writings of Walter Lippman, especially his Public Opinion, indicate a sharp interest in the more minute analysis of political phenomena, best expressed perhaps in his discussion of the stereotypes of political personalities and governmental processes and events. From some of the implications or applications of differential psychology Mr. Lippman has reacted violently, challenging both the validity of the tests as such and their social and political interpretation, if valid.

In recent years psychology has undergone rapid and marked changes. Psychology has been transformed from a largely speculative to a largely experimental type of study, or at least is in the way of becoming definitely experimental. These developments have been especially marked in physiological psychology, in the study of animal behavior, in abnormal psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, in mental measurement and in behaviorism.[4] In the American Psychological Association the following divisions are found: general psychology, applied psychology, experimental psychology, mental measurement, comparative psychology, and clinical psychology.

There is, of course, the widest diversity among psychologists and among scientists as to the value and significance of the recent advances in this field, and still wider difference of opinion as to the application of the psychological findings.[5] The stage has even been reached where we may find such discussions as those of S. E. Jelliffe on paleopsychology [6] A very interesting development is the recent growth of what is termed "applied psychology," and its application to various parts of the social field.[7] In industry and in government there are many striking cases of the newer uses of modern psychology. Instances of


( 475) the use of psychology have been assembled by Dr. Gosnell in a paper read before the Association last year.[8] Since that time a notable example of the possibilities in this direction is evident in the studies of the application of psychology to civil service, undertaken by the Institute for Government Research and on a smaller scale by the National Institute of Public Administration.[9]

It is to be presumed that these practical applications will continue, and with the development of psychology and of government will be found upon an increasing scale. One of the phases of psychology that has attracted the widest attention is that of mental measurement, and that because of the numerous generalizations that have been drawn from some of the tests that have been made. Education, citizenship, immigration, democracy,-are all vitally affected by some of the conclusions that have been drawn from the work of mental testing, whether rightly or wrongly. It must be said, however, that most of the dogmatic assertions regarding the bearing of differential psychology on democracy have been made by those who were neither students of government or of psychology, and consequently not qualified to deal with either question, to say nothing of the far more difficult problem of applying one to the other.

The validity of the mental-measurement process has been seriously called in question by many in the field of professional psychology. Whether the measurements test ability any more accurately than records of performance or achievement; just what quality it is that they really test; the limitation of the validity of the tests either because of their verbalism or their adaptation to special sets of circumstances as the schools? All these are technical challenges made by technicians and I shall not undertake to discuss them here.[10] Questions affecting the application of these tests to government and to education


( 476) have been sharply raised in the acrimonious controversy between Mr. Terman and Mr. Lippman, and also between Mr. Whipple and Mr. Bagley.[11] It is, of course, impossible and unnecessary to follow these controversies through all of their logical and psychological windings in this paper. It is perhaps sufficient to point out for the purpose of this inquiry:

I. The tests thus far made do not show whether the "intelligence" rated is the product of environment and training, or whether it is a characteristic unalterably flied at birth, and either not subject to modification or to very slight modification.

II. These tests do not show, thus far, the relation between the differentials in intelligence and the kind of capacity that is essential for the purposes of political co÷peration and organization in governmental association.

It must, of course, be recognized that there is still an unsolved problem arising, in part, from the fact that geneticists and environmentalists are carrying on types of work of a highly technical kind, but work inadequately coordinated, and there-fore relatively unfruitful in certain directions. Nor are we yet informed as to the transmission of acquired characteristics. Until some of the fundamental situations in this controversial field are settled, it will be difficult to draw dogmatic conclusions regarding the complex political and social characteristics of mankind.

Both of these limitations are important considerations in applying psychological conclusions to the problems of political science. Obviously, if general intelligence is a product in great measure of social environment and training, or if the general intelligence measured has no very intimate relation to political intelligence and capacity, the tests have relatively little significance in such a connection.

For my part, I have been unable to discover thus far any conflict between differential psychology and democracy, in any sound interpretation of the theory of either; but that I have considered in another place, and time does not permit extended


( 477) discussion on this occasion. The r˘le of inheritance in predetermining social and political traits, as far as our knowledge goes, seems less significant than the part played by social training and environment. In all probability many of the political characteristics of various groups do not go back far in biological inheritance, but are the products of a generation of sophistication in the habits of a particular group. That political ability or capacity is packed in the original chromosomes, or some combination of them, and transmitted from generation to generation, we have yet to prove, if it can be proven at all. Most of what has been written thus far about race political characteristics is twaddle or transparent propaganda, which should deceive no one not under the spell of ,some form of political hysteria. But if it be shown that political ability follows any such fixed laws, it will then be possible to ascertain what these laws are, determine the conditions under which ability or the lack of it arises, and shape the course of the race accordingly. Eugenics is racing along as fast as mental measurement, and may keep pace with it.

If we reach a point where by scientific process we can breed and train what types of men we would, it does not seem that we should breed and train 3 per cent of genii and 97 per cent of morons. We should probably contrive a more balanced society, with some in advance and some a little behind, with plenty of room for variation in the freak and sport, but leaving the mass of human beings on something like a democratic basis. There are myriad lines of development open to men and women, and the leaders and followers in one cycle need not be those in all cycles of advancement and preferment. Hence, men may be simultaneously superior and inferior in many ways and relations, commanding or leading here and following or obeying there.

Of course, if there are hereditary variations so deeply rooted that they can never be changed, so specificially political as to be significant, we must accept them as a new form of political fatalism. The biologist or the psychologist will have brought about what Plato said must be taught in his system once and


( 478) for all, the divine lie as to the origin of inequality and the basis of status. In the meantime we need not take too seriously the lies that are not divine.

Psychologists have not thus far assayed the r˘le of political leaders. When they do, it will be time to scrutinize their political and social presuppositions and patterns. We can then psychoanalyze the psychologists from the point of view of the political scientists. We can then ascertain what has been their social education; whether they are temperamentally adapted to the work of political leadership; whether their economic interests incline them toward radical or 'conservative or middle-of-the-road positions. And with these presuppositions safely stowed away we may go on to consider their political advice, as we do in the case of other political counsellors.

Mental testing is not the only part of the psychological field that touches upon politics. Psychoanalysis and psychiatry have an important bearing upon certain phases of political life and conduct. Physicians have learned much from the study of the abnormal type, and possibly students of politics might profit likewise by similar types of studies. In criminology, it is true that important use has been made of this principle, and it is significant that great progress has been made by reason of the insights thus obtained. Every court and every custodial institution recognizes this fact in the most evident manner. In the other fields of government we have not made equal use of this possibility. We have, to be sure, some studies of the boss and the grafter, and occasionally a pseudoanalysis of the radical or the rebel or the conservative; but these inquiries leave much to be desired in the way of thoroughgoing and scientific analysis. Sharp analysis of subnormal and supernormal types of citizens and officials might yield useful results in the understanding not only of the abnormal but also of the normal type of citizen. A shallow and speculative form of political psychiatry would, of course, be of little value, except for the sensation-monger, but careful collaboration with the psychiatrists might enable us to understand better some of the significant phases of our civil life, and we might include the physician, as


( 479) well, in the combination. In judicial and criminological work, in the treatment of defectives and dependents, there can be no doubt that the use of the psychiatrist will be very greatly ex-tended and increased in social and political significance.[12]

Both from a scientific and practical point of view it is important to keep our eyes open to the large possibilities in the co-ordination of medicine, psychiatry, psychology and political science. Out of such a series of converging interests and disciplines there may come types of social diagnosis and prognosis that may have far-reaching consequences in human behavior, and which may vastly increase the possibility of intelligent social control. In modern communities these factors are some-what loosely organized at present, but they contain potentialities that cannot be overlooked; and likewise in the scientific field, there are highly interesting vistas of progress in this direction.

Another significant field is that of animal behavior and of child behavior. The study of the subhuman types and the facts of their organization and association have been partly developed, and hold fascinating possibilities for the student of government. Forms of order and precedence were established in animal groups long before the state appears, and in these early types may be seen significant forecastings of the homo politicus as he later appears in the course of evolution.[13]

Likewise in the study of the child are found opportunities for the observation of the political attitudes and interests of the later citizen. Here on a simple scale are written large many of the characteristics that later became effective in social and political life. Judging from a few inquiries that it has been possible to make, and others forecasted, the examination of the rise and development of the political ideation and the political behavior of the child has in store for us much of value in the scientific understanding of the adult idea and conduct. In the juvenile group, furthermore, we may readily observe the forces that create, modify and destroy the earlier types of belief


( 480) or behavior. This is an unexplored field of which it is necessary to speak with reserve, but it appears to contain material of the very greatest value to the searching study of political and social control. And we cannot say that we do not have facilities for observation.

Another important aspect of the case is the relation between psychology and social psychology. Thus far, studies have been made chiefly of the response of the individual to external stimuli. But it will not be long before the question will arise as to the nature of these stimuli, the nature of the groups or the associations out of which the individual comes and which in large measure shape him. In short, we deal not merely with individuals in studying the whole process, but with groups of individuals or societies of individuals; and we must deal with the relations between individuals and groups, and between groups. We must deal with sets of relations which are as real and as capable of study as the reactions of the individual alone. We are studying tropisms of various types, or responses of various types, and these are social as well as individual. At this point experimental psychology will come into contact with social psychology, which has started at the other end of the line and approaches individualistic psychology. Unfortunately, social psychology has, thus far, made relatively little progress in the direction of experimental work. It has been too often content to dwell in the field of speculation in relation to the nature of the social organism or social soul or spirit, much of which is metaphysical, or as Dunlap puts it, metabiological in character, and relatively unfruitful of development. In other cases the social psychologist has advanced only as far as certain large categories, such as imitation, suggestion, consciousness of kind, conflict, compromise, and many others of similar type.[14] In other instances, instincts have served the same purpose. While these analyses have often been suggestive and stimulating, they have not led much beyond this stage, and it may well be that they are not likely to do so.


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Up to the present time, it must be conceded that the development of social psychology has left much to be desired. It is, in the main, still in transition from the old-time philosophy to the newer and more concrete experimental type of science. It is evident that the relation between political problems and those of social psychology is very intimate, and that the maturity of social psychology contains great promise for the students of what may be termed political psychology. The relations between men in the political process are not individual primarily but social. They are reactions, responses, tropisms that are the result of social situations, and of social training and experience. To study them, as if men existed in a vacuum, is to study man as ineffectively as those who wrote elaborate but sterile treatises upon the state of nature and the natural man in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is especially deplorable that the use of precise measurement in social psychology has been so largely neglected, and that the controlled group has been so little utilized for purposes of experiment.

It may be asked, is it not possible that our real relationship as students of politics is with biology or neurology rather than with psychology? Do we yet know what changes may be wrought in the individual through biological modification or through biochemistry? How far may attitudes and behavior be influenced or determined by strictly biochemical processes which we do not yet thoroughly understand, as for example through certain glands or other physiological functions, or through modifications of neural mechanisms? To what ex-tent is it possible to condition and determine these attitudes by conscious biological or biochemical processes? It is possible that we may make a leader or a rebel, or a good citizen, or a warlike attitude, or a pacific attitude, by biological or biochemical process?

May political methods in time be materially modified by any of these processes which confessedly are still vague and ill-understood? The question answers itself, for these processes are now so little understood as to be of little practical value for the study of politics. But they are being studied with great


( 482) intensity, and it is by no means improbable that very remarkable progress may be made here in the not distant future.[15] If, as and when they appear, it will be necessary to deal with them, and it is not impossible that they may play a significant role in the politics of some future time. It is by no means out of the question that they develop more fundamental conditions than are disclosed by any of the processes of psychology. Al-ready we recognize the influence of physiological conditions upon individuals, and govern ourselves accordingly in fixing legal responsibility and punishment. The close scrutiny of the biological conditions underlies modern theories of criminology, and it may well be extended, as knowledge of these processes expands, to other situations in political society. They may underlie leadership and servility, radical and conservative, aristocrat and democrat, good and bad citizen, and a wide variety of political attitudes and types of behavior. We can by no means ignore their basic relation to the fundamentals of political conduct. Crudely suggested in the early studies of Plato, they have largely been neglected in the subsequent studies of political life and behavior.

In a practical way we have long been familiar with the effect of such devices as the war dance, the pipe of peace, the political rally. We know that the bad boy may be suffering from bad teeth, or may be hungry; we are aware that very simple operations or changes may work large changes in the conduct of individuals or perhaps on a larger scale of groups. But the scientific possibilities in this domain are largely unexplored.

The question may be raised, at what points is there most likely to be contact between psychology and political science? No one can, with any degree of confidence, forecast the development of either science during the next generation, but, nevertheless, certain probabilities exist, and to some of these attention may profitably be directed. These probabilities or possibilities lie along the borderland between psychology and politics.


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It seems probable that mental measurement will be still further developed, to include not only what is now called intelligence but other qualities, as disposition or temperament. It is possible that we may find room here for political qualities and characteristics of certain kinds. Moore's study of aggressiveness, Pressey's studies of temperament, Downey's tests of will and determination are interesting examples of this. Further studies of judgment, insight, balance, leadership, conformity, and so on, may be developed with time and patience; and if worked out will throw much light on the characteristics of the political man. The political scientist and the psychologist may readily cooperate at this point, one suggesting the qualities it is desired to analyse, and the other supplying the mechanism for measurement. Of course a political scientist, trained in measurement, could himself carry through the testing process, which after all is a relatively new one without the long history of some other techniques. There is hope that, in this field of analysis of traits and qualities, interesting and important discoveries may be made in the course of a little time. Closely connected with this work is the study of attitudes of the individual. Significant illustrations of this are the recent studies of Hormell Hart in the field of international attitudes. A recent study of nonvoting in Chicago gives a view of the attitude of many persons who do not participate regularly in the voting process, based partly upon their own statements and partly upon observation of their behavior. Many other forms of analysis of this general type may readily be instituted and are likely to be forthcoming in the near future.

Another significant field where early contact is likely is the study of political interests. These may be examined with reference to their direction and strength, and also with regard to their genetics. At what time and under what situations do political interests arise, how are they manifested, and under what situations do they acquire strength and direction? Some pertinent inquiries have been made an a small scale in this direction, and with good results. On a larger scale such investigations might help us materially in our understanding of the


( 484) political man and of the motivation of political conduct. What are the factors that create political interest or activity, or tend to destroy or modify it? To what extent may these factors be controlled or modified? What is the relation of political interests to other social interests and to other factors in the individual's composition?

Here two suggestions may be made with a view of strengthening the inquiry. One is that patterns of traits, habits, responses, behavior, may be traced, and in this way political personalities may be charted out in some detail. It is by no means always true that a single trait characterizes the man or the group, but rather a series of traits in combination, or a series of combinations of traits. The knowledge of this plan or pattern aids in understanding the general direction and speed of the type. It is possible to select the type of the man or group in such fashion as to surpass any present system of appraisal of political types. What we now know about the conservative, or the radical, or the liberal, or the rebel, or the aristocrat, or the democrat, or any one of many other types, may be much more definitely appraised if time is taken to make the tedious but indispensable survey preliminary to the conclusion. Both Plato and Aristotle undertook the analysis in crude form thousands of years ago, but their task has never been continued in the light of modern facilities for observation and analysis in the next place, it is possible to set up many forms of correlations between individual traits, group traits or individual or group patterns, on the one hand, and other factors that are measurable and comparable. Sex, race, economic status, education, mobility, physical and mental qualities, are only a few of the forces that may be related to the qualities in question, or the types of behavior under consideration. Under what circumstances, in other words, do the differentials in political character or conduct develop? In what ways may character and conduct be modified and adapted by shifting the circumstances? Repeated observations and analyses of this type ought to reveal more than we now know of the situations under which political characteristics are shaped and reshaped.


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In fact, the way is open to large-scale statistical studies and correlations of political conduct, with a rich variety of types of physical, psychical and social facts, both on the side of heredity and environment, and in the light of the relations between them. There seems to be no limit to the points of approach to this inquiry, and there seems to be an indefinite possibility of obtaining scientific knowledge of how the political man is really constituted and modified.

As social psychology develops, the whole study will be correspondingly enriched by the addition of the analysis of groups, of group relations and individual-group relations, and indeed the whole interlocking series of cycles in the complex social process. Discussion of whether the group is or is not an organism, or is or is not an entity or a reality, or has or has not a soul or a spirit, will not advance us much farther or faster now than in the Middle Ages. But intensive studies of community organization, in which units of measurement and comparison are employed, will promote the understanding of the social process with which the political process is so intimately bound up.

Specific lines of inquiry suggested by the round table on psychology at the Madison research conference were as follows:

1. An analysis of the traits of the average citizen. This will be essentially an inspection of the characteristic qualities of the normal, or sub or supernormal citizen, in any particular group, or as rated by any special set of persons. A particular mechanism for carrying out this study was suggested.

2. Nonvoting. This is, in reality, a study in the political interests, attitudes and behavior of a group of habitual or occasional nonvoters; and seems likely to yield significant results.

3. Analysis of referendum votes. It was suggested that the various referenda might be regarded as questionnaires on a large scale, and that they might be so analysed as to show the correlations between answers to various political, economic and social questions and various social classes.

4. Studies of public opinion. It was suggested that significant studies might be made by statistical analysis of the distribution and intensity of opinion in various groups and in various situations.


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5. Collection of political biographies and autobiographies.

Personal observation, introspective analysis, narratives and accounts of all types, are the indispensable material out of which political science may be built, and, unfortunately, material of which we have only the scantiest store in specific case form, available for scientific study. Out of such material should come suggestions and insights of the very greatest value in opening out lines of inquiry, in suggesting new lines of attack on the problem of human personality. The mere collection and analysis of such material is not essentially scientific, but it will bear fruit in suggestions of the very highest value for further inquiry. This work may represent the preDarwinian stage in the evolution of science, but it is apparently a necessary and inevitable one. Some suggestions might be taken up by the psychologists and some by the student of politics, but either is likely to be aided by the presence of an abundant store of such data.

These are, of course, only types of inquiries, and by no means exhaust the list of possibilities. The psychology of the parliamentary and electoral processes, many psychological aspects of administration, the analysis of many juristic situations, these present interesting fields of inquiry and may well be made the subjects of examination in the near future.

From a scientific point of view the advantage of such inquiries is twofold. They make possible the construction of comparable units of measured action, and they set up specific and minute studies of political behavior. These are, therefore, if properly conducted, double advances toward intensity of inquiry and toward results that are comparable. They contain elements of great value in the development of political measurement and comparison, out of which the knowledge of relations may be derived and from which a science of politics may be built.

It is clearly evident that it is desirable and indispensable to develop a much more intensive study of human nature on its political side, and that psychology offers one way of analysis that seems to hold rich possibilities. This need not and will not


( 487) be the only type of analysis, but it seems likely to give to politics many interesting and important lines of advance. Human nature, the terra incognita of the political and social philosophers, may be more fully explored than has hitherto been possible. Whether psychology becomes a general science of human behavior or, like statistics, a method of approach and inquiry in the hands of students of government, industry and education, is relatively unimportant in view of the goal which is in view-the understanding of political and social relations.

In this work the practical cooperation of students of politics and of psychology may be of the very highest value. The student of polities is not, as a rule, master of the psychological technique just now in the process of development, and on the other hand the psychologist has not perfected the mechanism nor is he usually very fully informed upon the problems of the political scientist. The psychologist cannot at one and the same time lay down the canons of industry, of government, of education, mores and morals. He will seek the co÷peration of students in the several disciplines upon which his science borders, or where his inquiries lead. The farthest-seeing psychologists are fully aware that they cannot go where they would like without the fullest study and development of the social and political implications of the human nature they have undertaken to study. Furthermore, psychological technique is still largely in the making and special forms and applications are likely to spring up in several parts of the field as in industry, education and government.

It may be said that the lines of inquiry suggested are not appropriate for political scientists, because they carry us out of our accustomed territory, and we may be lost in the desert. The same thing may be said with equal pertinence of the psychologist dealing with such material. In any case a certain number of explorers must always be lost, especially if they advance too far or too fast. It is not, after all, of primary importance whether we call the work psychological or political, or both, but it is of fundamental importance that it be done by some one, however named. Politics cannot live and flourish


( 488) upon the abstractions surviving from the natural-law philosophy, or the historical roots of institutions which are not without nourishment, or the stimulations of legal logic.

If politics is not to be the residuum left after all ascertainable facts have been exhausted, or the literary rationalizations of those who have or seek power, so well exemplified in the funeral orations of Bossuet, it must adapt itself progressively to the new intellectual technique of the time. During the last century politics learned to take cognizance of great historical, economic and social forces, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries much neglected. This was a memorable achievement. It is equally necessary now to examine the new insights into human nature offered by modern science working in psychology and biology and other fields. The new politics will be a synthesis of many elements now found in the older and in the newly-developing disciplines. Of fundamental significance is the new point of view and the new method afforded by what we call psychology; and politics can no more ignore it than we can ignore history or economics in their respective fields. What we are really striving to achieve is neither psychology as such, nor biology as such, nor history as such, nor economics as such, nor statistics as such, but the development of scientific method in the observation, measurement and comparison of political relations.

Wherever we find comrades in this quest for truth, and is not the search for realities in the social field the greatest need of our day, why not welcome them and catch step without examining too closely or too long their pedigrees or their passports?

Notes

  1. F. W. Coker, Organismic Theories of the State. Compare also David J. Ritchie, Darwinism and Politics, and M. M. Davis, Psychological Interpretations of Society, 1909.
  2. Government of England, 1, 448, See also his significant presidential address on "The Physiology of Politics". American Political Science Review IV, 1-15, noting that "the subject lacks the first essential of a modern science — a nomenclature incomprehensible to educated men."
  3. I, 15. See also chapter 13 on traditions; also the chapter on Obedience in Essays in History and Jurisprudence.
  4. Brett, History of Psychology, 4 vols., gives a comprehensive survey of the growth of psychology.
  5. A summary of these differences is given in the Journal of Educational Psychology, 12 (1921).
  6. Psychoanalytical Review, 10, 1215 (1921).
  7. Hollingsworth, Applied Psychology.
  8. See Harold F. Gosnell, "Some Practical Applications of Psychology to Polities," 28 American Journal of Sociology, 735.
  9. See E. M. Martin, in Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.
  10. An interesting analysis of the meaning of these tests is given. F. N. Freeman, "A Referendum of Psychologists," Century Magazine, December, 1923.
  11. G. M. Whipple, "The Intelligence Testing Program and the Objectors Conscientious and Otherwise," School and Society, XVII, 561.
  12. See summary in F. L. Well's "The Status of Clinical Psychology". Mental Hygiene, 1922.
  13. W. M. Wheeler, Social Life Among Insects.
  14. E. C. Tolman, "The Nature of Instinct," Psychological Bulletin, 1923, No. I, p. 218. Note bibliography.
  15. A. E. Davis, "The Influence of Biology on the Development of Modern Psychology in America", 30 Psychological Review, 164-75 (1923)

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