When Did Social Psychology Begin?
- “Psychology has a long past, but only a short history.”
- Herman Ebbinghaus, Summary of Psychology, quoted in Brehm et al (2005,
- “People have probably been asking social psychological questions for
as long as humans could think about each other. Certainly, Plato offered
keen insights into many social psychological issues. But no systematic and
scientific study of social psychological issues developed until the end of
the nineteenth century.”
- Brehm, Kassin, & Fein (2005, p.12)
- 90% of social psychologists who had ever lived were still alive in
- Dorwin Cartright (1979, cited in Brehm, et al, 2005)
A Timeline of Some Famous People, Papers & Studies
- Darwin's origin of species (1859) and descent of
(1874) "survival of the fittest" and social Darwinianism
(1897-1898) is often credited with the first social
psychological experience (on social influence due to competition)
"Social psychology is commonly regarded as having been founded in 1898,
the publication date of Triplett’s experimental research into the effects of
competition on children’s performance in a reel-winding task.
(1898) was inspired by the informal observation that,
despite some individual differences, racing cyclists generally achieved
better times on laps of a circuit when they had other cyclists pacing them.
Consistent with this observation, he found that children wound fishing reels
faster in the presence of other children winding reels in the same room."
- Haslam & McGarty (2001, p. 1)
Le Bon's (1895) study of the group mind
and crowd behavior
Ellwood's (1899, 1900) prolegomena of social psychology
on the social self
(1921) on group psychology and the analysis of the ego
Journal of Abnormal Psychology became Journal of Abnormal and
Social Psychology (1921)
Dewey (1922) on human nature & conduct (introduction to
- Sherif's (1936) development of norms when people
make judgments under the influence of others
- Mayo's (1927-1932) studies of the
Allport (1940) on the authoritarian personality
- Lewin's (1930's-1940's) field
theory about social forces
e.g., Lewin, Lippitt, & White's (1939) test of three
leadership styles which brought the real world into the lab, staging
complex but controlled events
Asch's (1940's-1950's) studies on social influence and conformity
work on social cognition, attitudes and cognitive organization
Festinger (1950's) on social comparison and cognitive dissonance
- Milgram's (1960's)
studies of the effects of authority
& Sherif (1954, 1961) on intergroup behavior and social competition
- Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology -->
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1968)
- Zimbardo's (1971)
Prison Experiment on social norming
- Bandura (1977) on
(1970's-1980's) social categorization and the minimal group experiment
Turner's (1970's-present) social identity theory and
...more Influential People in the History of Psychology
APA Monitor (1999).
Social psychology: Once overlooked, now a staple. APA Monitor,
Danziger, K. (2000). Making social
psychology experimental: A conceptual history, 1930 - 1970. Journal of
the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 36, 329 - 347.
Ellwood, C. A. (1899a). Prolegomena to social
psychology I: The need of the study of social psychology. American
Journal of Sociology, 656-665.
A. (1899b). Prolegomena to social psychology II: The Fundamental Fact in
Social Psychology. American Journal of Sociology, 807-822.
Ellwood, C. A. (1900). Prolegomena to social
psychology III: The Nature and Task of Social Psychology. American
Journal of Sociology, 98-109.
Haslam, S. A., & McGarty,
C. (2001). A 100 years of certitude? Social
psychology, the experimental method and the management of scientific
uncertainty. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40,
Le Bon, G. (1895).
The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. Project Gutenberg.
Manstead, A. S. R., & Hewstone, M. (1995). The Blackwell Encyclopedia of
Social Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Triplett, N. (1898).
The dynamogenic factors in
pacemaking and competition. American Journal of Psychology, 9,
Richard, F. D., Bond, C. F., Jr., &
Stokes-Zoota, J. J. (2003). One hundred years of social psychology
quantitatively described. Review of General Psychology, 7,