Several philosophers have recently claimed to have discovered a new and rather significant problem with virtue ethics. According to them, virtue ethics generates certain expectations about the behavior of human beings which are subject to empirical testing. But when the relevant experimental work is done in socialpsychology, the results fall remarkably short of meeting those expectations. So, these philosophers think, despite its recent success, virtue ethics has far less to offer to contemporary ethical theory than might have (...) been initially thought. I argue that there are plausible ways in which virtue ethicists can resist arguments based on empirical work in socialpsychology. In the first three sections of the paper, I reconstruct the line of reasoning being used against virtue ethics by looking at the recent work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. The remainder of the paper is then devoted both to responding to their challenge as well as to briefly sketching a positive account of character trait possession. (shrink)
The encyclical proclaims the centrality of human development, which includes acting with gratuitousness and solidarity in pursuing the common good. This paper considers first whether such relationships of gratuitousness and solidarity can be analysed through the prism of traditional theories of socialpsychology, which are highly influential in current management research, and concludes that certain aspects of those theories may offer useful tools for analysis at the practical level. This is contrasted with the analysis of such relationships through (...) Aristotelian virtue ethics (in particular as interpreted by MacIntyre 1985 , 1998 , 1999 ), which is emerging as a strong force in the field of business ethics, and which has strong conceptual similarities with the ideas put forward by Benedict XVI. Aristotelian virtue ethics offers a better fit with the aims of the encyclical at the theoretical level but it presents a number of challenges at the practical level, which the paper suggests may be addressed through the integration in its analysis of human action of models derived from socialpsychology. (shrink)
Psychologists are increasingly interested in embodiment based on the assumption that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are grounded in bodily interaction with the environment. We examine how embodiment is used in socialpsychology, and we explore the ways in which embodied approaches enrich traditional theories. Although research in this area is burgeoning, much of it has been more descriptive than explanatory. We provide a critical discussion of the trajectory of embodiment research in socialpsychology. We contend that (...) future researchers should engage in a phenomenon-based approach, highlight the theoretical boundary conditions and mediators involved, explore novel action-relevant outcome measures, and address the role of individual differences broadly defined. Such research will likely provide a more explanatory account of the role of embodiment in general terms as well as how it expands the knowledge base in socialpsychology. (shrink)
I first summarize the central issues in the debate about the empirical adequacy of virtue ethics, and then examine the role that social psychologists claim positive and negative mood have in influencing compassionate helping behavior. I argue that this psychological research is compatible with the claim that many people might instantiate certain character traits after all which allow them to help others in a wide variety of circumstances. Unfortunately for the virtue ethicist, however, it turns out that these helping (...) traits fall well short of exhibiting certain central features of compassion. (shrink)
Contemporary moral psychology has been enormously enriched by recent theoretical developments and empirical findings in evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and socialpsychology and psychopathology. Yet despite the fact that some theorists have developed specifically “social heuristic” (Gigerenzer, 2008) and “social intuitionist” (Haidt, 2007) theories of moral judgment and behavior, and despite regular appeals to the findings of experimental socialpsychology, contemporary moral psychology has largely neglected the social dimensions (...) of moral judgment and behavior. I provide a brief sketch of these dimensions, and consider the implications for contemporary theory and research in moral psychology. (shrink)
Proponents of evolutionary psychology take the existence of humanuniversals to constitute decisive evidence in favor of their view. Ifthe same social norms are found in culture after culture, we have goodreason to believe that they are innate, they argue. In this paper Ipropose an alternative explanation for the existence of humanuniversals, which does not depend on them being the product of inbuiltpsychological adaptations. Following the work of Brian Skyrms, I suggestthat if a particular convention possesses even a very (...) small advantageover competitors, whatever the reason for that advantage, we shouldexpect it to become the norm almost everywhere. Tiny advantages aretranslated into very large basins of attraction, in the language of gametheory. If this is so, universal norms are not evidence for innatepsychological adaptations at all. Having shown that the existence ofuniversals is consistent with the so-called Standard Social ScienceModel, I turn to a consideration of the evidence, to show that thisstyle of explanation is preferable to the evolutionary explanation, atleast with regard to patterns of gender inequality. (shrink)
Research on positive psychology demonstrates that specific individual dispositions are associated with more desirable outcomes. The relationship of positive psychological constructs, however, has not been applied to the areas of business ethics and social responsibility. Using four constructs in two independent studies (hope and gratitude in Study 1, spirituality and generativity in Study 2), the relationship of these constructs to sensitivity to corporate social performance (CSCSP) were assessed. Results indicate that all four constructs significantly predicted CSCSP, though (...) only hope and gratitude interacted to impact CSCSP. Discussion focuses upon these findings, limitations of the study, and future avenues for research. (shrink)
This article presents critical psychology in some new light. First, it presents the history of US critical psychology in terms of the overall foundation of its critique (identity-based, ideologically-based, and epistemologically-based). Second, it broadens the population that can be called critical psychologists. The argument is made to include: (1) philosophers of language, science, and mind critical of psychology’s foundational assumptions, conceptions, and methods of inquiry; and (2) non-professional, ordinary people who live their lives critical of psychology (...) by eschewing mainstream approaches and taking alternative routes to getting help with their emotional and physical pain, or the education of their children. Third, the article discusses ontology-based critique through the example of the practical-critical theory/practice of social therapy. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introducing persons and the psychology of personhood Jack Martin and Mark H. Bickhard; Part I. Philosophical, Conceptual Perspectives: 2. The person concept and the ontology of persons Michael A. Tissaw; 3. Achieving personhood: the perspective of hermeneutic phenomenology Charles Guignon; Part II. Historical Perspectives: 4. Historical psychology of persons: categories and practice Kurt Danziger; 5. Persons and historical ontology Jeff Sugarman; 6. Critical personalism: on its tenets, its historical obscurity, and its future prospects (...) James T. Lamiell; Part III. Social-Developmental Perspectives: 7. Conceiving of self and others as persons: evolution and development John Barresi, Chris Moore and Raymond Martin; 8. Position exchange theory and personhood: moving between positions and perspectives within physical, sociocultural and psychological space and time Jack Martin and Alex Gillespie; 9. The emergent ontology of persons Mark H. Bickhard; 10. Theorising personhood for the world in transition and change: reflections from a transformative activist stance on human development Anna Stetsenko; Part IV. Narrative Perspectives: 11. Identity and narrative as root metaphors of personhood Amia Lieblich and Ruthellen Josselson; 12. Storied persons: the double triad of narrative identity Mark Freeman. (shrink)
Jahoda (2012) criticizes discursive socialpsychology (DSP) on several different grounds; specifically, he argues that DSP has opaque methodological procedures, is of questionable scientific merit, involves over-interpretation of its data, and implicitly claims its findings to be universal rather than contextually specific. We challenge these criticisms by arguing that observational studies of the kind typical within DSP research have a perfectly valid place within a scientific socialpsychology, that the interpretations made by DSP researchers should be (...) seen in the context of a temporally extended research process in which they are subject to criticism and potential replication, and that Jahoda is himself guilty of over-interpretation by inferring claims of universality when such an inference is not warranted by the data (i.e. the qualitative content of the sample of research papers considered by Jahoda). (shrink)
Krueger & Funder's (K&F's) diagnosis of socialpsychology's obsession with bias is correct and accords with similar observations by self-categorization theorists. However, the analysis of causes is incomplete and suggestions for cures are flawed. The primary problem is not imbalance, but a failure to acknowledge that social reality has different forms, depending on one's social and political vantage point in relation to a specific social context.
This paper argues that one can empirically test, via positivist methods, the post-modern attack on positivist epistemologies: Postmodern perspectives hold Knowledge and Truth to be intersubjective, consensus-driven social constructions. But traditional scientific approaches to knowledge, exemplified here by the cognitive socialpsychology of persuasion, seem oblivious to this and continue to detach the study of attitudes, beliefs, and emotions from that of knowledge, facts, and reason. Abandoning these artificial distinctions in both epistemology and method would enable this (...)socialpsychology, reconstituted as a Sociology of Persuasion, to contribute greatly to illuminating the processes of Truth and Knowledge construction in social interaction. Moreover, this would facilitate academic engagement in civic discourse. (shrink)
In a number of recent papers, I have begun to develop a new theory of character which is conceptually distinct both from traditional Aristotelian accounts as well as from the positive view of local traits outlined by John Doris. On my view, many human beings do have robust traits of character which play an important explanatory and predictive role, but which are triggered by certain situational variables which preclude them from counting as genuine Aristotelian virtues. Like others in this discussion, (...) I have focused on helping behavior in particular, and have gone on to argue that much of the socialpsychology literature is compatible with this new approach. The goal of this paper is to develop the model as it pertains to helping behavior further by examining how helping-relevant traits can serve as impediments to helping behavior. (shrink)
The death of Frantz Fanon at the age of thirty-six robbed the African revolution of its leading intellectual and moral force. His death also cut short one of the most extraordinary intellectual careers in contemporary political thought. Fanon was a political psychologist whose approach to revolutionary theory was grounded in his psychiatric practice. During his years in Algeria he published clinical studies on the behaviour of violent patients, the role of culture in the development of illness and the function of (...) the psychiatric hospital as a social milieu. These papers illuminate Fanon's political theory, expose weaknesses in his concept of political consciousness and liberation, and contain a 'secret history' explaining the tide of revolutionary movements in the Third World. (shrink)
The historical background of the contrasting traditions of experimental and discursive social psychologies is outlined, and two illustrative experimental and discursive studies are described in detail and critically scrutinised. Among the major weaknesses of the experimental approach is an increasing tendency towards an a-social computer-mediated procedure and a decontextualised setting. While experimental methods and results are clearly set out, the discursive research presents only small and highly selected fragments of masses of data. Hence the actual ways in which (...) findings are arrived at remain largely obscure. Experimental, and to a lesser extent discursive socialpsychology, make implicit and unjustified claims for universality. The scientific pretensions of mainstream socialpsychology texts are also questioned in a brief discussion of the implications of these critiques for socialpsychology at large. (shrink)
The earth cannot support humanity's increasing population and consumption. Concerned scientists and citizens are therefore wondering how we might work toward a sustainable, survivable human future. Sustainability involves increased technological efficiency and agricultural productivity, but also incentives and attitudes that moderate consumption. Socialpsychology contributes to changing attitudes and behavior with evidence that a) materialism exacts psychic as well as environmental costs, and b) economic growth has failed to improve human morale. Two principles-the adaptation level phenomenon and (...) class='Hi'>social comparison-help explain why materialism and increasing affluence fail to satisfy. (shrink)
The central virtue at issue in recent philosophical discussions of the empirical adequacy of virtue ethics has been the virtue of compassion. Opponents of virtue ethics such as Gilbert Harman and John Doris argue that experimental results from socialpsychology concerning helping behavior are best explained not by appealing to so-called ‘global’ character traits like compassion, but rather by appealing to external situational forces or, at best, to highly individualized ‘local’ character traits. In response, a number of philosophers (...) have argued that virtue ethics can accommodate the empirical results in question. My own view is that neither side of this debate is looking in the right direction. For there is an impressive array of evidence from the socialpsychology literature which suggests that many people do possess one or more robust global character traits pertaining to helping others in need. But at the same time, such traits are noticeably different from a traditional virtue like compassion. (shrink)
The prevailing pedagogical approach in business ethics generally underestimates or even ignores the powerful influences of situational factors on ethical analysis and decision-making. This is due largely to the predominance of philosophy-oriented teaching materials. Socialpsychology offers relevant concepts and experiments that can broaden pedagogy to help students understand more fully the influence of situational contexts and role expectations in ethical analysis. Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment is used to illustrate the relevance of socialpsychology experiments for (...) business ethics instruction. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new analysis of indirect speech in the framework of game theory, socialpsychology, and evolutionary psychology. It builds on the theory of Grice, which tries to ground indirect speech in pure rationality (the demands of e‰cient communication between two cooperating agents) and on the Politeness Theory of Brown and Levinson, who proposed that people cooperate not just in exchanging data but in saving face (both the speaker’s and the hearer’s). I suggest that these (...) theories need to be supplemented because they assume that people in conversation always cooperate. A reflection on how a pair of talkers may have goals that conflict as well as coincide requires an examination of the game-theoretic logic of plausible denial, both in legal contexts, where people’s words may be held against them, and in everyday life, where the sanctions are social rather than judicial. This in turn requires a theory of the distinct kinds of relationships that make up human social life, a consideration of a new role for common knowledge in the use of indirect speech, and ultimately the paradox of rational ignorance, where we choose not to know something relevant to our interests. (shrink)
This commentary notes the emergence of a “People are Stupid” school of thought that describes social behavior as mindless, automatic, and unconscious. I trace the roots of this “school,” particularly in the link between situationism in socialpsychology and behaviorism in psychology at large, and suggest that socialpsychology should focus on the role of the mind in social interaction.
Spinoza's philosophical anthropology is reconstructed with a view to its relevance to theoretical and practical problems in socialpsychology. An attempt is made to show how he conceives the interrelations between cognitions, sentiments (i.e. emotions and attitudes), and interests (i.e. drives and desires) as relational concepts and as anchored in social interaction rather than in a purely individualistic conception of man. Spinoza's determinism is interpreted as a personal and social causation, rather than a physical, causal determinism, (...) and his theory of cognition is interpreted partly in relation to the Hegelian distinction between undialectical and dialectical thinking. (shrink)
This editor’s introduction to the issue recalls the main methodological approaches to persuasion, rhetoric and propaganda in socialpsychology. It summarizes the classical theories issued from Hovland’s Yale Communication Program in experimental socialpsychology, like dissonance, attitude changes, inoculation approach, elaboration likelihood model. Yet there are, today, competing perspectives on persuasion, which turn attention to the meaning of persuasion in modern complex societies, in technology and the media. These perspectives place emphasis not on changes of attitudes, (...) but on communication, social influence and group processes. It is shown that the collection of articles in this issue brings out these diverse approaches in socialpsychology. Broadly, it encompasses social psychological studies based on the research of attitudes and attitude changes on the one hand, and those based on the studies of influence and communication on the other. (shrink)
The frequency of the use of deception in American psychological research was studied by reviewing articles from journals in personality and socialpsychology from 1921 to 1994. Deception was used rarely during the developmental years of socialpsychology into the 1930s, then grew gradually and irregularly until the 1950s. Between the 1950s and 1970s the use of deception increased significantly. This increase is attributed to changes in experimental methods, the popularity of realistic impact experiments, and the (...) influence of cognitive dissonance theory. Since 1980 there appears to have been a decrease in the use of deception as compared to previous decades which is related to changes in theory, methods, ethical standards, and federal regulation of research. (shrink)
A unique multilevel perspective-structural socialpsychology-is explicated to help build theoretical bridges between micro and macro levels of analysis in sociology. The perspective portrays actors (human or corporate) as having minimal properties of purposiveness and responsiveness, encounters as interaction episodes between multiple actors, microstructures as local patterns of interaction emerging from and subsequently influencing encounters, and macrostructures as networks of social positions. These levels of analysis are connected via mutually contingent processes. Applying these assumptions, we illustrate the (...) ability of the framework to strengthen the macrosociological import of micro theories of power, status, and justice. We argue that structural socialpsychology is an important metatheoretical strategy for developing testable connections between individual and collective units of sociological analysis. (shrink)
In The Person and the Situation , Ross and Nisbett seek to answer the question "What have we really learned from socialpsychology?" They offer their book as a "throwback to a golden age, a tribute to our intellectual forebears and as a 'stand tall and be proud' pep talk for our colleagues (p. xv)." They succeed splendidly on all these counts.
Mainstream socialpsychology focuses on how people characteristically violate norms of action through social misbehaviors such as conformity with false majority judgments, destructive obedience, and failures to help those in need. Likewise, they are seen to violate norms of reasoning through cognitive errors such as misuse of social information, self-enhancement, and an over-readiness to attribute dispositional characteristics. The causes of this negative research emphasis include the apparent informativeness of norm violation, the status of good behavior and (...) judgment as unconfirmable null hypotheses, and the allure of counter-intuitive findings. The shortcomings of this orientation include frequently erroneous imputations of error, findings of mutually contradictory errors, incoherent interpretations of error, an inability to explain the sources of behavioral or cognitive achievement, and the inhibition of generalized theory. Possible remedies include increased attention to the complete range of behavior and judgmental accomplishment, analytic reforms emphasizing effect sizes and Bayesian inference, and a theoretical paradigm able to account for both the sources of accomplishment and of error. A more balanced socialpsychology would yield not only a more positive view of human nature, but also an improved understanding of the bases of good behavior and accurate judgment, coherent explanations of occasional lapses, and theoretically grounded suggestions for improvement. Key Words: Bayesian inference; biases; normative models; personality; positive psychology; rationality; reasoning; social behavior; social judgment; socialpsychology. (shrink)
This article studies the ambitions involved in founding the European Association of Experimental SocialPsychology (EAESP) in the context of a differentiation between socialpsychology practised in Europe on the one hand and the United States on the other. To this end 8 key actors have been interviewed: 4 members of the very first Executive Committee (or Planning Committee as it was called then) as well as 4 key players of a second generation. Also the EAESP’s (...) archives have been consulted. Moreover, data regarding the developments of EAESP’s membership and EAESP’s house journal, the European Journal of SocialPsychology (EJSP), were used to assess to what extent the ambitions in developing a European socialpsychology have been realized. The conclusion is that, despite various successes, it remains questionable whether the founders’ aims have been fulfilled. (shrink)
We applaud the authors' basic message. We note that the negative research emphasis is not special solely to socialpsychology and judgment and decision-making. We argue that the proposed integration of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) and Bayesian analysis is promising but will ultimately succeed only if more attention is paid to proper experimental design and implementation.
Krueger & Funder (K&F) presuppose that the base rate for social cognition is more rational than is indicated by research, and that a focus on cognitive errors and behavioral shortcomings is responsible for the fragmented nature of socialpsychology. Insight concerning both issues is forthcoming from advances in evolutionary psychology and the adaptation of dynamical systems theory to socialpsychology.
Ambiguous data obtained by deception say nothing about social behavior. A balanced socialpsychology requires separating statistical hypotheses from substantive hypotheses. Neither statistical norms nor moral rules are psychological theories. Explanatory substantive theories stipulate the structures and processes underlying behavior. The Bayesian approach is incompatible with the requirement that all to-be-tested theories be given the benefit of the doubt.
Many commentators agree with our view that the problem-oriented approach to socialpsychology has not fulfilled its promise, and they suggest new research directions that may contribute to the maturation of the field. Others suggest that socialpsychology is not as focused on negative phenomena as we claim, or that a negative focus does indeed lay the most efficient path toward a general understanding of social cognition and behavior. In this response, we organize the comments (...) thematically, discuss them in light of our original exposition, and reiterate that we seek not a disproportionately positive socialpsychology but a balanced field that addresses the range of human performance. (shrink)
Insects factored as ‘symbols of instinct’, necessary as a rhetorical device in the boundary work of early socialpsychology. They were symbolically used to draw a dividing line between humans and animals, clarifying views on instinct and consciousness. These debates were also waged to determine if socialpsychology was a subfield of sociology or psychology. The exchange between psychologist James Mark Baldwin and sociologist Charles Abram Ellwood exemplifies this particular aspect of boundary work. After providing (...) a general background of the debates, I turn specifically to the writings of Baldwin and Ellwood between 1890 and 1936, tracing the use of insects as ‘symbols of instinct’. (shrink)
Herbart’s attempts to apply psychology to society receive scant mention in English-language histories of psychology. In Germany, however, Herbart has long been regarded as the founder of socialpsychology. The background of his life and work is sketched, and the gradual extension of his individual psychology towards the social is traced. Although he did not build a coherent system, his approach was novel and several of his original ideas anticipated some later social (...) class='Hi'>psychology. Herbart had a number of prominent followers, and through them made a powerful impact on 19th-century social thought. (shrink)
An extensive analysis of all socialpsychology textbooks included a history chapter published in French between 1947 and 2001, provides a rich corpus for the study of the history of socialpsychology. Drawing upon this corpus, in this article we study the historical spaces of socialpsychology in order to show how the discipline was located in geographical, urban, institutional and collective spaces. We argue that spaces are essentially related to some solitary and consensual (...) scholars' names without any informative reference to their institutions, nor to any trace of collective work. Moreover, we try to highlight several styles, ways and norms of collective writing the history of this discipline. (shrink)
Krueger & Funder (K&F) describe socialpsychology as overly consumed with maladaptive heuristics and biases. This characterization fails to consider multi-process models of social thought and action. Such models, especially with respect to attitudes, have outlined the situational and individual difference variables responsible for determining when thoughts and actions are relatively thoughtful versus when they are more reliant on mental shortcuts.
An imbalance is identified in socialpsychology between controlled experimental studies (which are common) and real-world, ecologically valid studies (which are rare). The preponderance of experimental studies (which provide mere existence proofs and lack realism) helps fuel socialpsychology's fault-finding focus. Laboratory experiments and ecological studies should be pursued jointly to examine social life in the real world.