A Preface to Social Psychology

Madison Bentley

I. Typical problems of social psychology.
II. The chief factors in social interaction.
III. The primary social formations.
    A. Comparison of the congregate and the assemblage.
IV. The conditions of mental process and of mental function.
V. Social consciousness and social objects.
VI. The properties of the congregate.
   AGrades of integration among congregates. 
   B. The process of polarization. 
VII. The properties of the assemblage.
VIII. Summary.

The tasks of social psychology are many and diverse; but they all rest finally upon social interaction,—upon the fact that individuals tend to believe and to think, to feel and to resolve, to speak and to act, to labor and to create, in mutual dependence. This social dependence is exemplified in innumerable ways by the daily intercourse of men. Communication through speech and gesture, every kind of human congregation, imitative performances, the works of art, the organization of the state, and all acts or attitudes of persuasion, acquiescence, and command reveal the social origin or the social tempering of mental function.

It is plain that this fundamental dependence of mind upon mind bears many aspects; and it is to the diversity of these aspects that we may confidently look for the explanation of the variety and multiplicity of tasks and problems which social psychology has undertaken.


Many of these tasks and problems essayed by the social psychologist arise as soon as we reflect upon the primary facts of interaction. In the first place, the products of social interaction are to be found in every human community. It is inconceivable that a man living from early childhood in solitary independence

( 2) should create laws, customs, myths, government and language. These institutions are the creations of groups and clusters. They are the precipitates of organization, of communication, and of communal activities. And one of the obvious tasks of the student of such mental dependence as we have presupposed consists just in the examination of these social products for the light which they may shed upon the mental processes concerned in their formation. It is this task which is attempted by Grosse,[1] by Lazarus And Steinthal,[2] and—more thoroughly and consistently—by Wundt,[3] in his "psychology of peoples." This kind of social psychology seeks to derive mental laws which shall illustrate the reciprocal effects wrought through and upon the human mind by gregarious life.

Again, it is possible to look upon the individual, viewed in all his relations to human and natural surroundings, as the unit in social interaction. When so regarded the individual usually becomes the "self," and society the congregation or the hierarchy of selves. A descriptive account of society then takes either the genetic form, as in Baldwin's derivation of the social self,[4] or the analytical form, as exemplified by the late Professor James.[5]

Still another method of considering the facts and the issues of mutual dependence of mind upon mind has given us the beginnings of a comparative psychology of human societies;—a psychology which compares racial epochs and cultural levels, seeking to demonstrate the dependence of social organization upon the development of mind and upon the natural and nurtural conditions of social growth and change.[6] Usually this "racial" or

( 3) "anthropological" or "ethnic" branch of psychology,—because it goes into such matters as anthropology, history, sociology, and economics,—contains a good deal that is not really psychological; that is not immediately concerned, I mean, with the facts and laws of mind.

A different account of large social groups, made in the name of psychology, is to be found in such depictions as M. Boutmy has skillfully drawn of the English and American peoples. Although here political aspects receive much attention in the authors' racial delineations, the studies are generally accredited to social psychology.[7]

We should do an obvious injustice to the present state of the field of social psychology, if we failed to mention, even in this cursory survey of problems and points of view, either the notable attempts of such writers as MacDougall and Wallas to discover the ground of social phenomena in the innate constitution of the individual,[8] or the less subtle reference of social phenomena to the abstract laws of imitation, suggestibility, sympathy, consciousness of kind, and invention.[9]

( 4)

This empirical and incomplete list of kinds and varieties in the kingdom of social psychology is already long enough to suggest a definite reason for the vague implications of the term brought under our consideration. It is obvious that the words "social .psychology" must either be used less variously than at present or else be so defined as to admit in proper perspective all the unlike varieties which now independently claim the same designation.


After the omission of those "social" studies which are not primarily psychological, we must, as it seems to the writer, acknowledge that all the remaining problems can show a certain right to the title of "social psychology"; although the treatment of them has included a great deal that is not in strictness psychological. They mainly derive their unlikeness—as I have urged—from the fact that they consider what has been called the fundamental fact of social interaction from different points of view. Now these points of view may reasonably be reduced to three; one regards the individual, another the collective group, and the third the social products and precipitates of interaction. We study "social mind," as, the vague term has it, by regarding either the members of the group or the group itself or, finally, those social creations and monuments which survive the process of interaction. The creations and monuments include both uniformities in belief, thought, standpoint, emotion and action (Ross's "psychic planes and currents") and such enduring and detached productions as language, religion, works of art, rail-ways and cities.

We may repeat, therefore, that there underlies all the varieties of psychological enquiry into social phenomena,—whether descriptive, historical, comparative, or explanatory,—the primary fact of mutual dependence of mind upon mind. But if this ulti-

( 5) -mate reduction of the problems of social psychology is acceptable, then it seems to follow that the main entrance to all the connecting avenues of this special province of the mental sciences will be afforded by a study of those modifications of mental process and function which are referable to the presence or to the assumption of other like individuals. If individuals tend "to believe and to think, to feel and to resolve, to speak and to act, to labor and to create, in mutual dependence", then their membership-in-the-group is the primary fact on which social psychology rests.[10]

Now membership-in-a-group may be looked at, as I have intimated, from the standpoint of the group, from that of the individual-member, and from that of the group-product. The first two stand logically prior to the third; although such writers as Wundt have contended that it is possible directly to infer from the social products and institutions to those laws of mental development which are exemplified in the history of society, e.g., from language, myth, and custom, to the development of thought, imagination and will. The first two points of view are plainly correlative. The description of the group or collection is obviously involved in the description of the members; and conversely, social "dependence" implies the integration of members-

( 6) -in-a-group. In our attempt to distinguish the primary forms of grouping, we may expect therefore to find that the modification of the members must also be implicitly recognized. For if we should try to avoid the description of members we should fall into the error of hypostatising that mythical and abstract being widely known as the "social mind" or the "collective mind"; and if we should omit the group we should atomize out of existence many of the most significant social facts.


This apparent dilemma brings us to the real crux of our task. We have to ask: What are the primary psychological forms of human integration? What characterizes and distinguishes these? What are the essential modifications of the members entering into each sort of collection? The formulation of these questions is enough to indicate that complete answers can be derived only by compendious researches, not by such a brief survey of the field as the present. This outline attempts no more than a statement of the principles and means to he used in more detailed investigations.

It is obvious that, if human collections are to be described in terms acceptable to psychology, the student must go beyond such general distinctions as the "crowd" and the "public" and such ill-defined qualifications as "suggestibility," "imitation," the' "paralysis of reason" and the "loss of conscious personality." In place of such distinctions and qualifications he must seek for empirical characteristics of the group, for distinctive means of formation, for qualitative and quantitative properties, for differential functions, and for diversity of products. If such group-characteristics are not to be found, then it is doubtful whether the psychology of groups can be erected upon a scientific basis.

The principles of descriptive science make it evident, however, that the organization of such units or individuals as are qualitatively diverse invariably produces a totality possessing unique marks and properties. It is only the addition of naked quantities or values which produces a mere sum. The group-properties of

( 7) conjoined chemical elements and the morphological and physiological integrity of the living organism alike illustrate the production or "creation" of qualities and properties which characterize the total integration rather than the integrated members when these are regarded in isolation.[11]

The first distinction to be drawn among human groups separates the congregate from the assemblage.[12] The congregate includes all such groups as the audience, the reception, the jury, the throng, and the mob, where individuals are brought into physical proximity. The assemblage denotes individuals placed under common social conditions or "influences" though not physically conjoined.[13] Such sympathic groups are illustrated by the community reading its local news, witnesses receiving common summons to appear before the court, voters setting out for the duties of election day, church members anticipating the service of their organization, or a people considering the disseminated announcement of its battles or of its diplomatic adjustments. The assemblage must be socially grouped, though not congregated ; and the congregate must be an organization as well as a "company." In both kinds of group the essential factor is integration of a psychological kind.

This distinction needs to be justified. We may properly be asked to demonstrate (I) that physical presence or absence is indicative of a true psychological distinction and (2) that the two kinds of grouping possess a "psycho-social" character.

A. Comparison of the Congregate and the Assemblage

In reply to the first challenge it should be explained that physical grouping is only a means to, or a symptom of, the social tempering of the individual. In the convention, or the public

( 8) lecture, or the class room, or in the press of a street accident, social relations are laid upon a perceptual basis. The sight and the sound of the speaker or of the instructor or of the injured man, the sight and the unanalyzed sound of the mass or of the audience, the smell, the contact, the heat, and the effort of the individual to maintain his position, taken together with the organic processes which these perceptions arouse, have a profound social significance. The significance is revealed by the fact that—as the phrases run—the crowd `forms,' the audience `settles' and 'is moved,' the beholders are `impressed.' In the non-congregated assemblage, on the other hand, the social grouping is conditioned in a very different way. Everyone knows the intimacy and warmth of a printed reference to one's self and one's affairs. The reader of the personal note is vividly aware that his neighbor or his county or his city is perusing the paragraph and passing judgment upon him. At such a time the individual is, in a social sense, very much in the "presence" of his fellows. But the total state and temper of his mind are determined, not by perceptual matters (the paper and the print are only symbols, which are represented in the background of consciousness) but by imaginal representations, emotions, and thoughts. And as the consciousness of congregated and assembled members differs on the perceptual or apprehensive side, so also does it differ on the executive side or the side of action. The response to other present members is different from the response to absent per-sons whom one regards, at the moment, in a social relation. I am tuned for action in one way when I read in my morning's mail of my appointment to an international committee, and in another way when I actually meet my confrères and set to work. The one relation is more passive, the other more active. The temper of the members of the one sort of group, the congregate, is ex-pressed by the phrases "we hear," "we approve," "we dissent," "we will do"; of the other sort, the assemblage, by the phrases "I am considered," "I am condemned," "I belong," "I agree with the proposal." In the one, the main object of reference is the group and its interests; in the other, the place and relation of the individual, considered as a member of the group. In the congre-

( 9) -gate, the main object of individual attention and interest is the group; in the assemblage, it is the relation of the individual himself to the group.

Two qualifications are called for. First, not every person in the congregate or the assemblage is necessarily a member, i.e., is "groupish" or "crowdish' or "clannish." Individuals may be "lost" or "absorbed in thought" in the mass, or indifferent to exhortation or to the bonds of nationality, of kinship, and of local affiliation.[14] Secondly, like all distinctions which create adjacent or neighboring classes, the two types are not always to be readily distinguished on the basis of such differences as have been pointed out. There are cases of the border-line. Family bonds may, when the members are for a time separated, be represented by a conscious reference akin to that of the congregate; and on the ocher hand, the audience which is asked to consider its civic duties may bear the appearance of an assemblage.

Neither qualification really violates the principle of the distinction. The first only goes to show that we cannot answer for every person physically present in the congregate and for every person brought under social pressure in the assemblage. Its positive value lies iii the demonstration that mere propinquity and isolation are the inducing conditions, not the essential characters, of the classes in question. The second qualification merely warns us that we must not so rigidly fix the lines separating adjacent territories as to endanger the status of localities lying upon or near the common boundary.

Further discrimination among the groups which represent the forms and phases of mental dependence must wait upon an agreement as to the conditions of social "influence" and "dependence." We have spoken of the physical presence of other persons and of the knowledge of common interests as determinants of the minds of members in a social group. Let us inquire now in what sense these circumstances may be regarded as falling among the essential conditions of mental integration.

( 10)


All the sciences seek to add to the description and classification of objects brought under their observation a definition of antecedents and causes. In this sense, science is explanatory. If the atomic weight of an elementary substance varies, or the spectrum of a star shows a new line, or if the offspring bears unequal resemblance to its parents, the appropriate science attempts to name the conditions under which the atomic weight varies, the new line appears, or the offspring inherits parental characteristics. In the same way, psychology has discovered in its observation of mental processes that these processes are conditioned by changes within the organism, notably within the nervous system. So invariable has this fact of bodily condition appeared that the psychologist has come to regard the empirical principle of psychophysical dependence as fundamental to his science. The more immediate physical conditions of mind lie within the brain. They are determined in two ways; by stimulus and by disposition or tendency. Stimulus indicates that the functions of the nervous system are determined by an outside agency (either within or without the body) ; disposition or tendency indicates that neural functions are determined by the residues of earlier function. The commonest forms of the latter are known as impressional, associative, determining and habitual tendencies, and general cortical set. Both kinds of bodily condition are, as we may suppose, in constant operation during normal waking life; though the facts of perception are mainly to be explained by stimulus and associative tendency, passive memory and imagination by associative and impressional tendencies, emotion and action by stimulus and determining tendency, skillful performance by habitual tendency, and thought by dispositions of the determining sort.

If mind morphologically regarded is conditioned in these definite ways, we have to ask how the social psychologist is to conceive those determinations which account for, or underlie, the facts of what has been vaguely called the "social consciousness." As a matter of history, we must note that he has, as a rule, been in-

( 11) -clined to disregard the terms of general psychology and to invoke instead a very different set of concepts. He says that the mind of man is "influenced" by other minds, that man is "suggestible" or "imitative," that one mind "rules" or "dominates" and that another mind "acquiesces." It is obvious that these terms do not rest upon the same empirical plane as those just discussed. A stimulus is a physical agent acting upon a receptor-organ and initiating there a series of concrete organic processes. The same cannot be said of "suggestion," when suggestion is used to account for the fact that the mob destroys or of "domination" when domination is alleged as the cause of the acts of the laborers' union. "Suggestion," "domination," and the others are,—until they are empirically defined,—sheer abstractions used as agents or forces.[15] They are .precisely analagous to the faculties of the eighteenth century.

Now faculties of any sort are inacceptable as a means to scientific explanation.[16] What, then, is social psychology to substitute for them? What may legitimately be given as the conditions underlying the origin, the integration, and the performances of human groups? Put into other words, What do we concretely mean by mental dependence, when we affirm that "individuals tend to believe and to think, to feel and to resolve," in mutual dependence?

It is obvious that the mind of my neighbor is not to be added, as a condition of my mental processes, to the sober and authenticated facts of stimulus and disposition. If my neighbor speaks

( 12) with the voice of authority and decision and so convinces me that I should attend the meetings of the Municipal League, my mental processes are set up, after all, just as they would be if I found a blight upon my fruit trees and decided to destroy the orchard. Auditory or visual stimuli and associative tendencies account for the perceptual part of either experience, and determining and habitual tendencies for the performance.

The only thing that is unique about the conditioning factors in social or mental dependence is the fact that the presence of other persons (in the congregate) or the assumption of them (in the assemblage) touches off certain dispositions or neural tendencies, giving to our "social" experiences a certain kind of significance.[17] The sight of the blighted fruit trees and the sight and sound of my persuasive neighbor are psychophysical events of the same order. There is not, in the one instance, the mere apprehension of an object, in the other, the operation of a subtle and mysterious force through the agency of which my mind is wrought upon by my neighbor's. Because of my constitution and my history the two things are differently apprehended, have different significances, and lead to unlike performances. The one object is the tree-to-be-cut-down-and-burned; the other is neighbor-M-whose-opinion-is-to-be-regarded-and-accepted.

The sociologist may indeed speak of "social forces within the mind" and of the "power of suggestion," provided he has work to be done and sets a value upon the means. But the task of the psychologist is primarily descriptive : he has nothing to say of values, whether social, economic, or political.

Now it is not by accident that the borders of social psychology are left undefined. In no one of the special branches of the science are the dangers of trespass and of transgression so great. And the reason is to be found by an inspection of the objects of

( 13) which the social sciences treat. These objects are, for the greater part, mental objects,—but not psychological objects; mental in the sense that "mathematical" and "imagined" objects are mental.

The psychology of process leaves the psychologist no excuse for confusing his materials with the objects of the physical world. But at times he still confuses,---without the sanction of logic, to be sure, these same process-materials with objects of other sorts. Many writers upon social psychology apparently assume that any object which does not belong to the physical order be-longs, ipso facto, to the realm of mind. This is a mistake. To be specific we may lay it down as a general rule that one is not treating of mental processes and mental functions whenever one is concerned either with the formal organisations of society (the church, the club, the state, the court, the party, and the like) or with the products of mind (languages, works of art, opinion, beliefs, traditions, and other thought-objects), when and so far as these things are regarded apart from the fluent processes and functions from which they take their origin or derive their means of continued support. Once these extra-psychological objects are relegated from social psychology to "psycho-sociology" or to some other sociological or economic discipline, the problems and the methods of our own field will be enormously clarified.


The appeal to the physical concepts of "force" and of "resistance," to account for the facts of social interaction, is as crude as it is unpsychological. A subtler and a commoner way of approach is through "social consciousness" regarded as the condition primarily and universally involved in human relations. But this term is objectionable. There is no class or group of mental processes or of mental functions which can properly be called "social," just as there are no "social" conditions of consciousness to be added to stimulus and disposition. It is not consciousness that is social. Objects and events are social.[18]

( 14) They are social when their meaning or significance implies more than one observer. An object or event whose meaning or significance implies no observer, or only one, is asocial. When I perceive my inkwell as a part of the furnishings of the desk or as a receptacle which I must fill, it is an asocial object. Regarded as a part of the desk's furnishings, it does not (except logically) involve me or any other observer : as a thing which I must fill, it implies me. But when I regard the inkwell as a cherished gift its meaning at once implies and includes my generous friend as well as myself. It is social. It is social also when its scrolled pattern is apprehended as the artistic achievement of a savage tribe. So too events. The horse-race, the battle, the solar eclipse, and the fall of night are asocial events when they are just happenings, either wanting reference to an observer or making reference to a single observer,—whether myself or some other. But if my horse is contending against B's, if the battle means men-fighting or the contest-of-nations, if the eclipse is an impressive event which human beings silently watch, or the fall of night an hour for the cessation of human labor, then the occurrence is social.

The `implication of observers' calls for two comments. First, the implication is not a logical implication. It is in the object as perceived. The plurality of observers is a part of the object's meaning. The inkwell is object-scrolled-by-natives-with-a-common-inspiration just as really and directly as it is green-objector ink-containing-object. The socialized eclipse is the eclipse-which-we-are-observing. In the second place, the observer, whether myself or another, is not a logical abstraction. It is a part of the concrete meaning which constitutes the object. When the inkwell is a social object, it is product-of-the-tribe. When the letter which I take from the envelope is a social object it is the thing which speaks for my correspondent to me. The letter is socially constituted by being his-letter-and-my-letter.

( 15)

As social meanings grow, the observers of an object or an event assume more and more the character of partakers. The social reference gradually migrates backward from the common focus of observation to the relations which emerge between or among the observers. More and more the observers share the object. The beginnings of social reference are probably to be found among mammalian forms below man,—and possibly also among certain of the insects. The object is already apprehended as the common junction of observations. Communication is apparently not yet established among the observers for the reason that the partaking reference is still wanting. Many of the collections of primitive men seem to rest near this level of socialisation; although language here conies in to strengthen the bonds passing directly from observer to observer and only indirectly through the common object.

Later, we shall see that this distinction between such human collections as are held together by convergent lines of reference meeting in the object and such collections as are chiefly integrated by lines of reference binding together the partakers of a common experience may be used to mark off the typical audience from the crowdish mob.

Having now dwelt upon the meaning of socialised objects, we may proceed with the qualification and description of these. They are apprehended by a great variety of conscious functions: they are objects of perception, of memory, of imagination, of thought and of sentiment. But however the plurality of observers is implied, the implication may be brought under one or another of three different types ; presentative, empathic, and inferential.

The implication is presentative when the mental functions involved are either perceptual or ideational. In this case, the existence or the behavior of observers is immediately apprehended. The social object is presentatively implied when a colleague M enters my study and scrutinizes with me a new lot of prints. The prints are social. They are works of art which he and I are criticizing and approving. It is not necessary either that I should be "self-conscious" or that I should make my col-

( 16) -league's mind the object of my attention. My attention to the prints, regarded as our object, is sufficient. The case is essentially the same when I merely greet my caller. He is an object which implies me. If he shows anger and threatens injury, his behavior becomes a new part of the social object. When I merely ideate or "think of" M the implication is unchanged. So long as he is an object which implies only himself or only my-self the object is asocial: so soon as it sets some relation between us, it becomes social.

But the implication may be immediate in another way,—in the way of empathy. Whenever an object implies the valuation or the appreciation (approval or disapproval, sympathy or antipathy) of one observer by another, the object is social. Modern studies of aesthetics, made from the psychological side,[19] have attested the importance in artistic appreciation of this same principle of empathy (Einfühlung). The threatening storm, the smiling landscape, the upward-tending pillar, and the balanced cross are all alike physical representations of moods and emotions. The principle of empathic projection seems to be the same in socialised objects. My observation of an heroic act attaches me to the hero because I value his deed. The caryatid maidens under the font were socialized when Sordello came each evening to share in sympathetic silence their enduring labors.[20] In social as in aesthetic empathy the object tends to close the discontinuities of perception and idea. The beautiful object feels and thrills with the beholder: the socially valued object unites and unifies, through empathic appreciation, all those who share it.[21]

Finally, the socialized object implies also through inference a plurality of observers. I understand the intent of the engraver of cavern walls to express himself in pictures and hieroglyphs when I have inferred from his drawings the type of his mind and the temper of his cultivation, and just as we pass from the

( 17) physical or the chemical object to its causes and conditions, so do we proceed by the mediating processes of inference from the "expressive" movement, or from language, law, or custom, to the mental processes and functions which produced it. Now, as in empathy and in presentation, our social implications are bound up with objects; only now, in inference, we pass beyond the primary object to centre our attention upon a derived object which it is proper to call "mental." But it must be carefully kept in mind that an object is not necessarily social because it is mental. The mind which we reach by inference to account for mental productions or expressions is an asocial object when it is observed by itself. It is social only when it implies also another mind. If I read a dead author to discover his ideational type or his knowledge of botany, I regard him asocially; but if I discover in him a revelation of human passions or a means of expressing my own moods and emotions, I regard him socially.


It has seemed to be necessary to interrupt our discussion of social formations for the purpose of making clear what we must mean by the conditions of social grouping and by sociality itself. Having discovered that we have no right to invent either a mechanics of social forces to mould and to socialize the individual or a special "social consciousness," where we have found empirically given only certain objects and meanings which arise under certain special dispositions, we may now return to discuss the types of formation,—first the congregate and afterward the assemblage.

We begin with the congregate and we seek a psychological principle of classification. All enumerations based upon convenience or common sense or sociological value must be care-fully scrutinized before they are admitted under our classificatory rubrics.

Since it is the integration or organization of individuals (p. 10) which we have found to characterize the ‘social’ facts of psychology, we turn naturally to the phenomena of organization as the appropriate key to the types and kinds of congregate. The

( 18) most obvious means of distinction lies in the number of associated individuals. Thus the simplest kind of congregate would seem to imply the conjunction of two individuals; the most complex, the congregation of a multitude. But this appearance is false. The measure is quantitative. It does not rest upon the nature of mental functions. That the organization of two members may be of the closest and the most complex pattern is demonstrated by those private and sentimental alliances which include hundreds of relational bonds and which endure over long periods of time. At the other extreme, we may find in the street throng at mid-day a huge aggregate held loosely together by the simplest and weakest of temporary connections.

A. Grades of Integration among Congregates

Without attempting to supply all the grades and levels of organization in the congregate, we can indicate e the gradual rise of integration by beginning with such all-to-all groups as appear in casual and unstudied aggregates of men in the new mining camp, the temporary settlement of pioneers, and the accidental conjunction of many persons seeking separate and unrelated ends (the throng).[22] Then we pass to those temporary and spontaneous gatherings whither individuals are drawn by a common object of curiosity; [23] thence to the ordinary heterogeneous audience gathered for an occasional discourse; thence to congregates of individuals rendered homogeneous by a common purpose or common dread or need or request such as a mass of laborers locked out of their shops or fugitives fleeing before fire or earth-quake. The next level of integration includes still more closely organized groups. It comprises congregates which are led or governed. There is a spokesman to give expression or a leader to harangue, to initiate, and to command. Such groups are "polarized."

The next stage of social amalgamation includes groups which bear an external resemblance to the heterogeneous audience, but

( 19) which really belong at a much higher level. This is the stage of the selected and primed audience, the meetings, e.g., of religious, fraternal and social "organizations."These are designated as "primed" congregates because the formal organization (which does not here call for extensive psychological treatment) implies previous association and common interests, sentiments and needs. The gregal attributes of such meetings presuppose a tacit understanding which is expressed in various bodies by creed, constitution, declaration, or platform.[24] This kind of congregate, then, reveals very much closer mental organization than is to be found in the heterogeneous and temporary audience. Should we consider minor differences of degree at this general level of integration, we should have especially to regard the gatherings of suborganizations as strive to forget individual concerns and to unify themselves by devotion to a common cause. It would appear that this extreme unification in the congregate is commonly produced under the stress of violent emotion and of vigorous priming. Thus religious zealots forget themselves in the common frenzy of the maniacal moment. But we must not confuse extreme unification with extreme organization. The former state arises through the loss of individualizing characteristics in the members; the latter state is one of unity in spite of variety. The mammalian organism stands high in the scale of living beings, not because its organs and functions are homogeneous but because they are, in spite of their diversity, wonder-fully correlated and bent to a common end.

Neither does our principle of graded congregates permit us to set at the top such automatized unities as the military formation. Unity of function and harmony of arrangement are in-deed attained; but only at the expense of differentiation among the members.

It is, doubtless, the maximal grade of congregation which is

( 20) sought in the Anglo-Saxon form of trial by jury. United for a specific end, the jurors are expected to ponder until they "are of one mind," despite the mental differences which mark them as men. Whatever the limitations of this system may be, we must look to organizations of this sort, presenting the greatest unity amid wide inherent diversity, for illustrations of our final grade of "all-to-all" congregations. There we may reasonably expect to find normal and temperate human beings exercising in moderation the general and primary functions of the mind.

B. The Process of Polarization

Nothing like specific description of the various all-to-all forms of congregation can be attempted in this place. One mark, how-ever, must be noted before we can advance to the alternative, or one-to-one, forms.

I have spoken of the "polarized" congregates in which a spokesman or a leader appears. Both the temper and the functions of gregal collections are profoundly affected by the unique offices of a single member who serves as leader or speaker or spokesman. The process of polarization implies that the dead-level of a homogeneous congregate is being disturbed. The all-to-all relations are augmented through this process by a new set of one-to-all and all-to-one relations. The thronged aggregate becomes differentiated the moment one of its members calls for help or inveighs against delay in suburban traffic. Attention within the congregate acquires a common object, and thought and emotion receive a common expression. The aggregate is now knitted up into a much closer organization: it acquires new qualities as it reveals the distinction of mass and leader. [25]

It should be noted that the process of polarization, to which every unpolarized congregate is constantly exposed, is the result of two reciprocal conditions. One is the innate difference among

( 21) the members which prompts one man to aggression and others to passive performance, and the other is the universal recognition of this difference by the members themselves. The "natural leader"or spokesman is a member who is perceived as a person to-be-attended-to-and-followed. The first condition serves for the establishment of the one-to-all relations; the second for the establishment of the all-to-one relations. The phenomena of settlement as well as the casual and local congregations of man, continually afford suitable conditions for the process of polarization.

A description of the polarized congregates and a statement of the special conditions under which they are organized are re-served for later treatment. Our general discussion will only call attention to the fact that the process of polarization depends in part upon the appearance and the performance of the leader, and in part upon the matter of his verbal utterance. This difference is, grossly expressed, the difference between oratory and logic. Physical presence, manner, voice and gesture are vehicles which bear a meaning to the mass of the congregate; and the words spoken are symbols of another kind which likewise bear to the rest of the congregate their significance and temper. While no psychological distinction between the audience and other forms of the polarized crowd is everywhere applicable, we may note that in general the audience is a congregate which is predominantly organized under the second set of conditions, the other forms predominantly organized under the first. Verbal meanings, apprehended in common by a group, coalesce and integrate the members; while the manner, bearing and movements of the leader augment that temper which it is proper to designate as crowdish.[26] In the audience, the meaning of the discourse tends to strengthen the individual relations of the mass to the speaker, who represents the topic; in the polarized mob, the significant conditions tend, on the other hand, to increase the inter-relations within the mass, or the secondary pole, of the group.

( 22)

Strong interrelations among the members of the mass form the first and primary characteristic of the mob; strong individual relations between the speaker and the other members, the first and primary characteristic of the audience. Most polarized congregates of the one-to-all type partake at once of the nature of the audience and of the mob.

The polarized congregate naturally leads to the one-to-one groups, which make up the second large class of congregates. In fact, the one-to-one type of formation may be regarded as the limit of polarization. Within it the poles are similar : a second individual takes the place of the multitude. There still remain the phenomena of subordination, of unequal give and take, of common objects of perception, and of a reciprocal guidance of thought and conduct,—although the congregated mass has disappeared. Sociology, whose interest lies largely in the performances of extensive groups, tends to overlook this important form of social congregation. But to the psychologist these mental relations are of primary importance even though for him the social and sociological functions of the paired groups are left out of account.[27]

Extended comment upon the grades of one-to-one congregates may be left for independent treatment. The extreme degrees would seem to be represented by the casual intercourse of strangers and by those "primed" pairs whose rich systems of interrelation rest upon common experiences and frequent con-junctions enduring for years. We have already seen that the upper extreme represents also the highest degree of organization for the whole class of congregates.


Set over against the congregates we have the major class of assemblages. The psychological distinctions between those collections which are physically grouped and those which are not have already been drawn. There remains the task of deducing

( 23) the principal forms of the non-congregated or sympathic assemblage.

So deeply in man are engraved the effects of communal existence that he lives grouped a large part of the time when he is in physical isolation from his fellows. It was, presumably, not so much the physical absence from his fellows that led Alexander Selkirk to cry out against solitude as the realization that fate had cut off those mental affiliations which exist in the various forms of assemblage. The bare "consciousness of kind," of which Giddings has frequently spoken, represents the lowest order of the assemblage. The conscious meaning which bears it is expressible in the words "I-belong." On the side of numbers, one individual who apprehends himself as a member of a group rep-resents the smallest assemblage. The physical absence of other members does not destroy the sympathic relation. The fact that one person, relating other observers to himself, is sufficient to form an assemblage will seem less strange when we recall (see p. 8 above) that in this kind of integration, the chief emphasis lies on the side of the member; while in the congregate it rests upon the group.

We have spoken of assemblages as set off from congregates by "distinctive means of formation, qualitative and quantitative properties, differential functions and diversity of products." Our grades of organization ought, then, to be based upon these characteristics. First, compare the lowest degree of organization, represented by a bare "I-belong" attaching to objects, with those highly organized assemblages of scattered individuals glowing with loyalty to a common cause. The first may be formed by any chance reference or incident which draws attention to the social medium in which the individual inheres; while that assemblage which stands at the opposite extreme demands, on the contrary, a specific means of arousing dispositions of great age and tenacity,—dispositions which represent a multitude of relations and which serve to identify the member with his group. The integration of the closer assemblages and of the closer one-to-one congregate is conditioned by seasoned and complex tendencies to neural function which are the precipitates and the residues of a vast number of previous "social" experiences.

( 24)

As regards the distinction of the properties and functions of the loose and the close assemblage, we may note that the representation of the group-relation is made in the first case by a vague and ill-defined object which stands for "society" and, in the second case, by a clear-cut and individualized object,—one's people, one's land,—which could be confused with, or mistaken for, no other object in existence.

With respect to polarization, the assemblage may be said to present a state analogous to the congregate, save that the primary pole, which was, in the congregate, the individual leader or spokesman, is now the mass; and that the secondary pole, which was there the mass, is here the individual. In the assemblage the individual "belongs to" the mass very much as the crowd "belongs to," and revolves about, its leader or exponent. Moreover, the assemblage reaches its upper limit of polarization in the one-to-one or paired form and its lower limit in those emotional and ecstatic forms, especially those composed of mystical and idealizing natures, in which the individual is consumed by, and identified with, the social totality.

On the side of function, the "I-belong" reference serves at once as a refuge against isolation and as a gentle and mild censor inhibiting overt acts against the state and the community; but the passionate acknowledgment of identity with a race or a cause creates a principle of conduct which sets purposes, commands action, and determines the destiny of the member and of his group. Intermediate grades of the assemblage need only be suggested. Many of them fall under our conception of civic and private duty. They represent a large number of ways in which the individual regards himself as related to his kind. They serve in large measure to maintain parties and states, clubs, churches, and philanthropies. The occasional meeting in the congregate strengthens them and increases their integration; but they exist as unique organizations with properties and functions of their own.

( 25)


"Social psychology" is an ambiguous term which has been applied to a wide variety of facts and problems. The special province which it indicates must be set off from general psychology, on the one hand, and, on the other, from sociology. When traced to their common source all the legitimate problems of social psychology are found to proceed from mental "dependence" or mental "interaction."

Since social psychology rests upon "interaction," the meaning of this word must be clearly and empirically determined. The determination begins with recognition of its three fundamental aspects; the human group, with its qualities and its functions, the individual regarded as a member of the group, and finally the products of social integration.

The first two aspects are regarded in the two primary classes of human collections, the congregate (resting upon physical con-junction) and the assemblage (resting upon the social apprehension of non-congregated groups). In the first, emphasis lies upon the group, which possesses unique properties and presents various degrees of integration; in the second, upon the individual, who is qualified by the apprehension of social relations.

The characterization of human groups depends, in large measure, upon the process and the state of polarization or differentiation. Polarization appears both in the congregate and in the assemblage, and in the one-to-one as well as in the one-to-all forms.

The alleged conditions of congregation and of assemblage and of their marks and functions must be concrete empirical conditions and not such abstract social faculties as suggestibility, mob-spirit, and loss of reason. Consciousness in the group is conditioned just as other consciousness is. Its peculiarity lies first in the unique significance or reference or meaning of its social objects; secondly, in the community of intent, purpose, interest and knowledge; and finally, upon singleness and unity in those functions which the group performs. To speak of a group-mind or of a super-consciousness in any other sense is to countenance either an abstraction or a myth.


  1. Grosse, E., Die Anfänge der Kunst, 1894.
  2. Lazarus, M., and Steinthal, H., Zsch. f. Völkerpsychol. u. Sprachwiss., 1860, i, 1.
  3. Wundt, W., Völkerpsychologie, 2 vols., 1900-1909; Elemente der Völker-psychologie, etc., 1912.
  4. Baldwin J. M., Social and ethical interpretations, etc., 4th ed., 1906; Genetic theory of reality, etc., 1915, 32 ff.
  5. James, W., The Principles of Psychology, 1890, i, 292 ff.
  6. Le Bon, G., The psychology of peoples, 1898: Lévy-Bruhl, L. Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures, 1910; Frazer, J. G., The gulden bough, etc., 1911-15: Boas, F., The mind of primitive man, 1913: .Rivers, W. H. R., The Todas, 1906: Tylor E. B., Primitive culture, 1871.
  7. Boutmy, E., The English people, a study of their political psychology, 1904; Eléments d'une psychologie politique du peuple Américain, etc., 1902: Bryce, J. B., The American commonwealth, rev. ed., 1910: Munsterberg, H., The Americans, 1904. .
  8. MacDougall, W., An introduction to social psychology, 2nd ed., 1909: Wallas, G., The great society, a psychological analysis, 1914, chaps. ii, iii, iv. Upon this basis various recent systems of sociology have built; e.g., Hayes, E. C., Introduction to the study of sociology, 1915, 209 ff, and Ellwood, C. A., Sociology in its psychological aspects, 1912, chap. ix.
  9. 'Tarde, G., Les lois de l'imitation, étude sociologique, 1890 (3rd ed., 1909) ; Etudes de psychologie sociale, 1898: Ross, E. A., Social psychology, etc., 1908: Le Bon, G., The crowd, a study of the popular mind, 1903: Giddings, H., The principles of sociology, etc., 3rd ed. 1896. Tardés object was "de dégager des faits humains leur côte sociologique pur" (Les lois, etc., 2nd ed., 1895, pref. x). Accordingly, "imitation" was for him a sociological matter: "partout ou il y a un rapport social quelconque entre deux êtres vivants, il y a imitation" (ibid., pref. viii). Nevertheless, when he comes to a stricter definition of the term, it appears to be psychological: "l'impression mentale à distance par la quelle un cerveau reflète en un autre cerveau ses idées, ses volontés, même ses manières de sentir" (Études de psychologie sociale, 45). Tarde maintains his consistency only by including all sociology in psychology : it is just collective or "inter-cérébrale"psychology (ibid., 47, 49). This generous extension of the field of psychology is doubtless responsible for a great deal of loose description and interpretation among current American writers on "social psychology"... A useful bibliography for this subject may be found in Ellwood, op. cit., 402-4.
  10. "This conclusion diverges from the standpoint of Ross, which considers groups as objects of sociological study and which reserves social psychology for the study of "planes and currents of uniformity." With regard to the difference in point of view it may be remarked (i) that our "groups" are not Ross's structures, institutions, "organizations" of society, but temporary and flowing mental collections, (2) that the planes and currents which Ross regards as "psychic" we regard as objects and products of mind and not themselves mental processes, and (3) that Ross's social psychology is explanatory (it explains "how so many planes in feeling, belief or purpose have established themselves"), while our is primarily descriptive—For the views of sociologists upon the proper functions of social psychology and of sociology, see Ellwood, op. cit., 1912, 1 ff, 60 ff. Practice seems to represent almost all degrees of dependence upon psychology, ranging between the extreme positions of Tarde and Durkheim. Tarde identifies social psychology and sociology (see above, page 3) Durkheim regards the facts of sociology as distinct from, and independent of, psychology. The present essay takes the position that social psychology, on its side, is to be established independently of sociological applications. (For Durkheim, E., see Les règles de la méthode sociologique, 1907, 4th ed., 5 ff, 120 ff, 172 ff.)
  11. Bentley, M., Amer. Jour. Psychol., 1902, xiii, 269.
  12. Grex and its derivatives, gregal, aggregate, congregate, congregational, etc., are convenient terms for this technical usage. Likewise we may employ assemble, assemblage and assembled to describe the non-congregated forms of grouping. The word "sympathic"is useful in the description of the assemblage.
  13. Compare Ross's account of the uncongregated "public" (Social Psychology, 63 ff) and Wallas's conception of the "great society" (op. cit.).
  14. Cf The Audience, p. 48 below.
  15. Illustrations of this use are to be found in L. F. Ward (Pure sociology, .etc., 1903, 256 ff, 457 ff, in Ellwood (op. cit., 283 if, 288), and in Ross ("Suggestions are true forces," op. cit., 13). A large part of the sociological writing which treats of "mind" and of "mental forces" and "mental agencies" is psychological in name only. The writers usually mean 'by "mind," opinions, beliefs, thought-objects, and the like. A good instance is furnished by a series of current articles on "T le mind of the citizen" (Amer. Jour. of Sociology, 1915-16, xxi, 145, 383, 501, 634).Lévy-Bruhl's "collective ideas" are pseudo-psychological facts of the same order. Wundt says of "suggestion" and the other abstractions that "sie selbst viel mehr der wissenschaftlichen Klärung bedürfen, als dass sie zu einer solchen beitragen könnten." Logik (3rd ed.), 1908, iii, 480.
  16. For a discussion of faculties in general psychology, see below, page III.
  17. The enumeration and the classification of the "social" dispositions and of the "social" significances furnish one of the special problems of social psychology. These things are later touched upon in special articles upon the "crowd" and the "audience."—G. H. Mead contends (Psychol. Bull., 1909, vi, 401) that social conditions ,are as unique and as general as physiological conditions of consciousness and that therefore general psychology should be supported by parallel treatments of physiological and social facts.
  18. Wallas has distinguished (op. cit., chaps. xi, xii) "thought-objects" and "will-objects." Contrast W. Fite's conception of a "mutual consciousness" (Jour. of Philos,, Psychol., etc., 1913, x, 367, 373). Mead has built up, in the spirit of Baldwin, a logically constructed social consciousness which involves "social selves"and the transcendental ego of Kant (ibid., 1912, ix, 401). For the history and use of the terms "social consciousness," "social mind,"and the like, compare Davis, M. M., Psychological interpretations of society (in Studies in Hist., Econ. &. Public Law, Columbia University, 19o9, xxiii, no. 2) : Ellwood, op. cit., 329 ff.
  19. Lipps, Th., Aesthetik, etc., 1903, i, 96 ff: Santayana, G., The Sense of beauty, 1905, 44ff.
  20. Browning, R. Works, 1893. (Riverside ed.), i, 203.
  21. Professor Calkins regards all consciousness as "self" consciousness, and all perception as "shared" or social consciousness. W. M. Calkins, An introduction to psychology, New York, 1901, 153, 170.
  22. E.g., the railway platform at train-time.
  23. E.g., displays in shop-windows, the street fakir, a fallen horse, a damaged machine.
  24. "The psychological function of such formal organizations as the church, the "society," the club, and the political party is to prepare individuals for membership in the congregate and in the assembly. Parliamentary rules of procedure furnish an effective means of promoting the functions of the mixed congregate with a minimal degree of polarization (cf. Ross, Social psychology, 57).
  25. M. Conway (The crowd in peace and war, 1915) suggests the apt name "crowd-exponent" for the member who merely expresses the emotions and desires of the congregate. He is "the trumpet of another voice." (Pp. 101, 113). The organizer, the inspirer, the director of the crowdish congregate, Conway calls the "crowd-compeller." (P. 89.)
  26. Pierre J. G. Cabanis recalls (Oeuvres, .Paris, 1824, iv, 346) that Bernard of Clairvaux converted the German peasants by preaching to them in Latin, of which they understood no single word.
  27. Compare Wallas (op. cit., 241 ff ) for the functions of "oral dialectic" and of the corresponding one-to-one assemblages which involve writer and reader.

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