ERIC Number: ED239147
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug-28
Reference Count: 0
The Concept of Race in the History of Social Psychology.
Jones, James M.
From its beginning, the United States has been a multiracial society, and from the beginning relations between and among the races have been strained by cultural, economic, social, political, and psychological conflicts. Social psychology came of age in the early 1900's as a disciplined inquiry into the psycho-social problems of the people, and central among them was the matter of race. The concept of race was intimately associated with the basic question of the nature of man. A review of the literature of Darwin, Binet, Terman, and the British Utilitarians shows that those who argued the question of social engineering for the betterment of society failed to appreciate the basic principle of the evolutionary theory, namely, that species survival was based on adaptibility enhanced by variability and diversity. Race continued to be a vital concept in the foundations of social psychology as the genetic interpretation of human motivation and performance gave way to an environmental one. In more recent times, social psychology has begun to lose interest in the concept. This process can be roughly divided into 25-year cycles: (1) bio-eugenic origins and racial/cultural differences (1900-1925); (2) socio-cultural influences and socio-political action, the Negro problem (1926-1955); and (3) social integration and experimental control, diverging paths in social psychology (1955-1983). Currently the concept of race appears to be diminishing in importance as an experimental variable, a social/moral problem, and a theoretical concept. Yet social psychology has failed to present a rounded, integrated view of the complex interactions of individual and normative factors in human behavior. The developent of a fully conceived, researched, and applied concept of race would make a great contribution to the maturity and significance of social psychology. (JAC)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (91st, Anaheim, CA, August 26-30, 1983).