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History of Social Psychology

From the days of the great Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle to the nineteenth entry scientists, they all have pondered about the human nature of man and people’s influence on each other. These historical philosophers and scientists have provided guidance to the discovery of sociology psychology (Gestalt, 2007). This paper will define social psychology, provide a brief historical journey to include the researchers who contributed to the field, and will conclude with its relevance to the science industry today.

Defining Social Psychology In 1839 Augusta Comet, a French philosopher and founder of positivism, had identified sociology as a separate discipline although it wasn’t a commented discipline or science as of yet (Gestalt, 2007). Comet would further expound on his predictions in the last days of his life when he said, “beyond sociology another true science would emerge” (Gestalt, 2007, p. 3). Comet called this science “la morale positive,” but researchers believe it was really psychology (Gestalt, 2007, p. 3).

In some years to come, researchers would combine both disciplines to create social psychology (Gestalt, 2007). Gordon Lopper (1985) describes social psychology as “a discipline that uses scientific methods to understand and explain how the thought, feeling and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of other human beings” (p. 3). After Comet’s death, other philosophers and scientists alike began to share the same inquiries regarding the human condition, free will, situational influences, etc. ND when they began to address these inquiries, the “true final science” emerged-Psychology. A German neural scientist named Hermann von Hellholes came onto the scene and further developed the psychology concept. His research on the nervous system, visual and auditory acuity, perception, as well as his application of scientific methods to human behavior and mental processes provided the incubator for psychology to grow (Gestalt, 2007). However, it was in 1862 when German psychologist Wilhelm Wound further explored the depths of psychology and was instrumental in the early development of social psychology.

Historical Journey Psychologist Wilhelm Wound suggested there should be two categories of psychology: physiological psychology and social or folk psychology (V¶electrophoresis) (Gestalt, 2007). By 1900, social psychology in Germany became prominent due to Wound’s scholarly writings. Although Wound’s work as very influential in Europe, his writings had minimal effect on American social scientists because his writings presented as a language barrier. Furthermore, his belief of psychology as the science of the mind was contrary to the new behaviorism theories that were emerging in the United States during the same time (Mcleod, 2007).

In 1875 as Wound was working in Germany, William James an American physician and philosopher in Cambridge, Massachusetts erected a laboratory in his basement and taught the first course in psychology at Harvard University (Gestalt, 2007). By 1883, G. Stanley Hall erupted on the scene and founded the first American psychological laboratory at Johns Hopkins university (Gestalt, 2007). By 1890, William James published his classic two- volume Principles of Psychology, followed in 1892 by a shorter, revised version of the same work (Mcleod, 2007).

The earliest forms of psychology dealt mostly with questions outside the realm of social psychology, but shortly scientific methods were applied to social questions (Mcleod, 2007). The first experimental social psychological study was performed by Dry. Norman Triplett, an American psychologist at Indiana university in 1895. Triplett had proposed a research study relating to task changes in a person’s performance when they were being observed by others. Triplet’s question was predicated on what he observed during a bicycle race (Strobe, 2005). Published in 1897, this study put Dry.

Triplett on the map as one of the first to introduce experimental methods into the social sciences. Another researcher who made an impact and conducted experiments was Daddy Lopper. By 1924, Floyd Lopper had a social psychology text published. His words still echo today in the field of social psychology: believe that only within the individual can we find the behavior mechanisms and consciousness which are fundamental in the interactions between individuals…. There is no psychology of groups which is not essentially and entirely a psychology of individuals… Psychology in all its branches is a science Of the individual. Lopper, 1924, p. 4) Lopper’s concept of social psychology was proposed nearly eleven years after the behaviorism era in American psychology. His concept focused on how individuals responded to social environmental influences, including group settings. Lopper contain due to contribute to the American social psychology outpoint by applying the experimental method in other topical areas such as conformity, nonverbal communication, and social facilitation (Gestalt, 2007). By the sass, social psychology as a scientific discipline had taken root and was well established.

Muzzier Sheriff in 1935 began to perform studies of social norms and how individuals behave according to the rules of society (Gestalt, 2007). Sheriff was readdressing questions presented decades earlier by McDougall and Hood Lopper. Additional studies were conducted on social norms in groups by Kurt Lenin and his colleagues based on Linen’s experiences in a Nazi concentration camp (Lenin, Lippies, & White, 1939). Kurt Lenin became very instrumental in the history of social psychology, although he was not a social psychologist at the beginning of his career as other researchers were.

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