Social Psychology: An Analysis of Social Behavior


Kimball Young

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Social psychology is concerned with the personality as it operates in a world of other personalities. The writer has tried in this book to show that the behavior of the individual is determined both by the more intimate, non-standardized, person-to-person relationships and by those aspects of social interaction which rest upon the conventionalized, group-accepted forms of behavior which the anthropologists call culture patterns. Many of the chapters approach the study of the personality from the angle of the group or collective life rather than from that of the theoretically isolated individual. This fact, of course, reveals the author's bias or standpoint, but it seems to him to throw a more understanding light on the individual's social behavior.

The reader will find this volume rich in descriptive, illustrative materials, much of it drawn from contemporary life. There is no better way to reveal the mechanisms of personality than to observe it in its present social milieu. While many of us hope to see an increasing number of quantitative studies in social psychology, the importance of descriptive case analysis can not be gainsaid. In fact, it is the author's contention that for a subject like social psychology which is too young for very definite systematic formulation as yet, the observational, descriptive treatment is invaluable. There are some individuals in psychology and sociology whose over-anxiety to employ the statistical method sometimes misleads them into a faulty conception of the relation of quantitative methods to the inception of an objective science of social behavior. At best, as Yule puts it, "statistical methods should be regarded as ancillary, not essential" to scientific procedures. Until we can frame our observations under rigidly controlled conditions the genetic-historical, or case study, treatment of our social-psychological data will have a place. In the present volume statistical materials have been introduced where they throw light on certain aspects of behavior but frankly the use of case data is more frequent.

The present volume is not highly theoretical. It is concerned more with a standpoint and method of analysis than with the statement of elaborate

(viii) systematic formulas. It seems wise to present the student of social behavior with concrete analysis at the outset before loading him down with the weight of heavy phrases of more or less philosophical significance.

A word may be said about the use of terminology in the present book. The author believes that the more naturalistic approach of behavioristic psychology is sound, but that behaviorism at the moment has not offered any marked advance over functional or dynamic psychology in the analysis of covert or "mental" behavior. For this reason in dealing with internal aspects of behavior he has been forced to use such words as attention, perception, image, ideas, concepts, and attitudes. It seems that this mixture of terms from two somewhat divergent phases of psychology is inevitable in the present chaos of behavior analysis. Whenever possible, however, an attempt has been made to put these terms into a somewhat behavioristic setting.

This book is arranged for use in conjunction with the author's Source Book for Social Psychology. The chapters, however, do not correspond exactly, and there is much source material in the present book on which there is no corresponding reading in the other. Further reading assignments to source materials are made at the end of each chapter. Moreover, the assignments in the present volume and those in the Source Book should be used together. The bibliographies are suggestive rather than complete. There is no duplication of the bibliography found in the Source Book. Those papers and books which are valuable for classroom purposes and which have appeared since the publication of the Source Book, are mentioned in the special assignments for class reports or longer studies.

The author wishes to acknowledge his debt to the many persons who have helped him in the preparation of this book. He is especially indebted to Professor Robert E. Park for suggesting some aspects of the analysis of the newspaper as it appears in Chapter XXV although Professor Park may not recognize the discussion as an outgrowth of the stimulating conversations which he and the writer have had on the subject of public opinion and the newspaper. The author desires to thank the many writers and publishers who have so graciously permitted the use of their publications. Special gratitude is due Magdalene Anderson Young for her patient assistance in preparing the manuscript and in the final stages of editing the same. Thanks is also due the personnel of the educational department of

( ix) Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., especially Mr. Sidney Gair and Miss Sara Boyajian, for their assistance in editing and publishing this volume. Finally, the author thanks his daughter, Helen Ann Young, for her effective assistance in preparing the index.

University of Wisconsin
February 1, 1930  


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