Social Psychology and Human Values

Floyd Henry Allport


THE history of modern science is a tale of human ingenuity embarked upon two opposite but closely related quests. The first is the goal of understanding the laws of the universe, and the second, the manipulation of nature for human ends. Though dealing with the same natural materials, the attitude taken and the problems envisaged by the devotees of "pure" science are widely different from those of the applied scientist. To the latter, as to the man on the street, the word "science" is likely to mean our present marvels of radio communication, aeroplane travel, machines to supplant human labor, and startling medical and surgical cures. The man in the laboratory, however, regards all these as the mere trappings of science. They are to him interesting conveniences; but they are pale and trivial in comparison with that majestic realm which, through his ceaseless toil, is slowly opening to human understanding. Although possessing mighty opportunities for controlling natural processes and for making humanly useful predictions, the pure scientist rarely predicts or controls events except for the purpose of extending his knowledge of their nature. The applied scientist, on the other hand, the industrial chemist, the engineer, the agriculturalist, and the physician, are ceaselessly at work to perfect a tech-

(370) -nique of prediction and control. Depending for their cues upon the work of the pure, or disinterested, scientist, their, attention is not upon the universe but upon immediate human adjustment to nature, upon economic production, transportation of human goods, the safeguarding of health, and the multiplying of devices for material and cultural enjoyments.

At every level or class of natural objects we find this twofold adventure in progress. The physicist explores the properties of matter in. its minutest organization, viz., the mass, magnitude, and motion of the hypothetical electron and the ether. His discoveries within these subtle media have led, through applied physics, to the marvelous uses of electric currents and the inventions of the X-ray and radio telephony. Working with larger hypothetical units, such as atoms and molecules, the pure scientist has formulated laws of fluidity, crystallization, and the kinetic properties of gases. Such discoveries in turn have aided in the harnessing of waterfalls for human uses, the manufacture of strong building materials, and the development of internal and external combustion engines. The pure scientist has studied the laws of combination of the atomic elements, with wonderful effect upon the practical phases of industrial and physiological chemistry. Upon a still more complex plane of nature we find the biologist watching the behavior of the smallest living creatures, and exploring the laws of growth, movement, reproduction, and decay throughout the realm of plant and animal life. From these discoveries emerge new principles for the elimination of disease and *the invention of appropriate techniques by the bacteriologist, the agriculturalist, and the pathologist. In this way even the lower organisms are brought within the ever widening circle of control for human purposes.

It may appear to the casual observer that the recital of our scientific achievements is now complete. There seem to be no more realms to conquer. Such a conclusion, however, would be erroneous; for there is still another sphere through

(371) which human beings fulfil their needs and derive pleasure and satisfaction. This sphere consists of other human beings. Popular philosophizing tends to separate the universe into two great orders: man, and the rest of nature. We often personify the human race, and think of it as a single being whom we call Man. The progress of science is then thought to be concerned with the adaptation of this great "humanity" to the remainder of the natural order. When viewed realistically, however, this struggle for adaptation is not that of a mystical "race," but of specific men and women. For each man, woman, and child the world consists not only of minerals, plants, and animals, but of other persons and of the numerous buildings, tools, and cultural equipment which they have created. Dominion over the conditions which affect his life means for the individual understanding and mastery, not only of the lower orders of nature, but of human beings as well.

Let us first consider the process of getting what one wants through some of the simplest social contacts, namely, those exhibited by the lower animals. If two dogs, a large and a small one, are quarreling over a bone, the smaller dog may be severely bitten and may run away, leaving the prize to the other. During the encounter the larger dog may have bared his teeth and emitted loud snarls. According to the principle of conditioned response, not many repetitions of this experience should be required before the small dog will run away from food in the presence of any larger dog when that dog shows his teeth or growls. Furthermore, a normally intelligent larger dog will soon learn to use this kind of a "social stimulus" as a means of intimidating any intruder, thus safeguarding his own supply of food without the inconvenience of physical combat. The control of a fellow-creature thus becomes a method for securing the satisfaction of the individual's biological needs.

The family circle also is a laboratory for the observation

(372) of social control. Babies learn to control their parents by cries and gestures which evoke responses based upon fundamental habits in the parent. The mastery of the adult environment becomes one of the strongest incentives of the child in learning to speak, and later to read and write.. Parents, on the other hand, dominate their children through fixating in them habits either of affectionate dependence or of fear. Wives control husbands through tears and the play upon habits of sympathy, through appeals to pride or other qualities possessed by their mates, or through sex appeal. Husbands control wives largely through the same means, though often by substituting fear of loss of economic support (food and protection) in place of a resort to sympathy. From a broader viewpoint we may observe how the entire pattern of personality in the child or the mate may be molded by living in continual contact with , a dominant individual. In many cases, of course, family life is so organized as to fulfil. the purposes of all its participants, and each attains through his contacts with others the fullest expression of his personality. But even in such cases familial behavior may be truly regarded as a means of attaining the satisfaction we want through our intercourse with those about us.

Leaving the -family group, we find a similar control exerted over attitudes and opinions in community life. It is through the co-operation of others in civic enterprises that the individual is able economically to obtain his material and cultural satisfactions. The existence of a means for so educating, persuading, or controlling others as to secure such co-operation is a first essential of community organization. Widespread social movements are based upon techniques for the creation of public opinion, that is, for the universal control of the attitudes of individuals. Campaigns to secure labor legislation, public health activities, the elimination of bad housing conditions, the regulation of the use of alcohol and drugs, the struggle for self-expression in special-interest groups, such as or-

(373) -ganized workmen, feminists, and religious fundamentalists---all these are examples of the universal tendency to achieve our goal through controlling the thinking, voting, and acting of others. Whether narrowly or broadly conceived, whether humanitarian or selfish, organization for concerted effort means acquiring power to influence human behavior both within and outside the movement concerned.

We use others also in the more standardized and permanent relationships of life. By specialization and exchange of labor in the economic field we satisfy our needs through others while rendering service ourselves to their wants. In education we mold the habits of children, both in skill and general disposition, so that they will conform to the civilization of the older generation, to a system, that is, which now supplies our needs and affords us interesting occupations. Religious leadership is a means of securing behavior useful to other human beings, as well as satisfying to the individual himself, through the appeal of personal relationship to a diety. Government or law itself consists of a set of common habits in one's fellowmen regarding persons and property, upon which the individual can rely and through which he can command security in his day's occupations and his plans for the future. Broadly speaking, the technique and operation of all our institutions are but variations of the common theme: our habit of so using the objects of our environment (including human beings) as best to satisfy our needs and realize our possibilities.

Returning now to our distinction between pure and applied science, let us inquire what are the sciences dealing with the study and control of human beings as a part of the environment. From the applied standpoint we may mention such studies as practical sociology, social ethics, the science of political organization, public administration, law, and applied economics. These disciplines, as pursued by many of their students, are normative. They comprise techniques for the invention of more useful patterns to be followed in the shap-

(374) -ing and control of human behavior and the perfecting of our political, economic, and religious institutions. But may we not logically look for a corresponding pure science, one whose workers are concerned with human behavior, not as a tool for attaining human purposes, but simply as a natural process, exhibiting, like other phenomena, that orderly sequence we call natural law? This science is to be found in modern psychology. Through an understanding of its principles those who would effectively control behavior for human ends may receive useful guidance.

Psychologists and social scientists thus merely continue our double quest for knowledge and power over nature, when, leaving the inorganic and biological realms, they enter the sphere of humanity itself. As we enter the social field, however, we find, in contrast with subhuman phenomena, one important difference. In dealing with minerals, plants, and the lower animals, human beings with their purposes have stood at one end of the process and have adopted an entirely foreign set of materials to their needs. In the social field, however, men and women are not only the purposive agents but also the tools through which the purposes are achieved. One man may seek through others a satisfaction of his own needs and be at the same time an instrument for fulfilling the needs of others. The means and the ends of human welfare, always clearly distinguished in the inorganic and lower organic world, become hopelessly entangled in the human realm of psychology and the social sciences. It is not enough, therefore, to adopt a program of adjusting means to ends; we must study what happens to the purposes themselves when the behavior of the individuals who possess them is used in part as a tool for fulfilling the purposes of others. The control of society over the individual is merely a metaphor. We find upon inspection only control by individuals. Power may be exerted in the "name" of society or the public good; but it is still exerted by individuals, not by the public. There is, therefore, nothing

(375) in the nature of social control to insure its exercise in a truly democratic way.

It is clear, then, that a broader and more critical approach than that of the applied social sciences is needed if the purposes of all individuals, rather than those merely of the administrator or social strategist, are to be realized. We must know, not only the principles of human psychology and how they can be applied in regulating action, but the origin, process, and human significance o f such regulation as it is being

exercised. We must observe the drives or motives of the controlling agents, the stimuli (words, gestures, official acts) through which they control the behavior of others, the responses made by those controlled, and the effect of the whole process upon the needs, habits, and personalities of those concerned. We need a science which shows us the individual, not as isolated in the psychologist's laboratory, but as stimulating and responding to others, as influencing and being influenced by others in the give and take of daily life-a science, in other words, of social behavior. Such a science is social psychology.


To make our meaning a little clearer let us consider the following illustration. The other day two of my children, a boy of eight and a girl of five, were taken by their grandmother to a movie. The next day, as I sat writing in my study, my glance fell upon a neat row of boxes at the left of my desk bearing inscriptions in the handwriting of my small son. At the head of the row stood a piece of cardboard upon which the initials "U.S.A." were printed conspicuously about ten times. The labels upon the boxes, evidently spelled out phonetically, read, respectively, "guns,". "cannon balls," "bullets," and "dangerous torpedoes." Upon lifting the covers I found under them a quantity of paper rifles, nails, paper clips, and other appropriate missiles. At the foot of the row was an aeroplane-landing constructed out of paper. As I

(376) came down to dinner I was accosted by my little daughter, who took me to task as follows, shaking her finger: "Daddy, the Germans are too terrible people. They did come over and try to steal our country. I saw them do it-so there ! "

It is evident that there are here at work processes of social control which, if multiplied, as we may suppose they are, by approximately the number, of boys and girls in the country, present gigantic possibilities. For it is of popular attitudes of this sort that wars are largely made.' The psychology of the situation is vague and is entangled with the purposes,of the various persons responsible for it. To attempt a brief analysis, however, we may refer to a feeling of patriotism which exists, not only in children, but also in motion-picture producers, governmental officials, professional military men, entrepreneurs, and, in fact, in the public generally. Patriotism is considered to be a noble and righteous feeling, the very spirit of America. Hence it is natural that we should desire to instil in our children a love of our national symbols, a belief in the righteousness of our national cause, and a hatred of the turpitude of our enemies. In all this, patriotism and patriotic teaching are assumed to be both the purpose of the controls exerted and the human values to be defended.

But there is another way to look at the matter. It is possible that there are other, scarcely recognized, objects to be achieved, purposes, not of every human being in the situation, but only of certain ones. It is not unlikely, for example, that motion-picture directors and producers are looking for themes which will have the widest appeal and will play upon the deep and universal emotions aroused by warlike situations. To give the people that which interests them is to control them in the direction of increasing ticket-office receipts. It is also possible that among leaders who use these passions for their war-time propaganda, motivation is not so simple as the naïve patriot might imagine. We have to consider not only the habit of professional militarists who think of safeguarding "national in-

(377) -terests" in terms of armies and navies, but also the foreign investments of capital which may constitute such national interests. Then too, there are certain nationalist-patriots who crave the feeling of power and moral exaltation which rise through an identification of one's self with the embattled righteousness of the nation. In so far as these possibilities are true, patriotic feeling per se is not the true purpose of nationalistic teaching, but only a disguise of more powerful motives lying beneath. To say that the movie director is expressing the patriotic purpose of the nation may be merely to conceal the fact that he is using human beings who have such a purpose as tools for his personal advantage. Patriotism may thus be regarded not as an end but as the means to an end.

The only solution of this tangle is to abstract one's self temporarily from the alleged "purpose of the nation" and watch the process with the detachment of a disinterested observer. As a social psychologist, I thrust to one side the strong emotional appeal of my country's symbols and my patriotic impulse to obey the "will of my country." I cease to be interested in psychology as a means of making my children loyal and patriotic. I am concerned only with finding out just how and why my children have acquired their interest in warfare and their hatred of Germans. When in such a mood certain significant and guiding questions come to my mind, questions which are very different from those asked by the defenders of national morale. Who, I ask, were the persons directly or ultimately responsible for screening and exhibiting the picture which has so impressed my children, and what were their motives? Why should the scenes presented have taken such a hold upon childish fancy-upon what earlier experiences of childhood did they build? Why has this influence been more potent than my own parental example along anti-nationalistic lines? How long will it persist, and what is the likelihood of its being modified by a more critical attitude toward one's country? What is the probable effect of this influence upon

(378) the future personalities of my children? Will it cause them later to participate in cruel or thoughtless acts in the name of their country? How general is this condition among other children, and what are the social results?

We have selected nationalism merely as one field in which the approach of social psychology could be profitably followed. Nearly every piece of propaganda used in social movements presents similar problems. The members of the Ku Klux Klan have felt themselves imbued with the purpose of maintaining racial purity and freedom from foreign religious control within the United States. These motives, though possessed for many years before the organization of the modern Klan, were in the main dormant. But when Clarke and Tyler came upon the scene with an entirely different set of purposes of their own, these millions of substantial citizens were pulled, by clever manipulation, into the ranks of a new crusade. Their purposes, which they thought were receiving entirely spontaneous expression, were being used for the ends of a select group of promoters and officials who knew the psychology of racial and religious prejudice and how it could be profitably applied. Here again the task of the social psychologist is to survey the process as a whole in the attempt to distinguish the means from the ends. Not only must he know that such widespread prejudices exist; he must study their origin and their operation. He must observe the technique of suggestion, the personalities of the organizers and leaders, the value of Klan membership to the self-assertive cravings of the members, and the impression that the "Invisible Empire" is universal and therefore irresistible.

A few further examples may be briefly cited. The sensational newspaper editor knows his "psychology" well enough to be a good judge of potential news value, whether the occasion be the transatlantic flight of a handsome aviator or the brutal murder of a child. For social psychology, however, he has little use; for this shows him the reverse side of his own

(379) technique. It exposes the psychology of his own motivation and his play upon the susceptibility of people to what he represents as "public opinion." In the religious field the ordinary human psychology, as practiced by Aimee McPherson, enables her to bring many a sinner to repentance. But social psychology shows us Aimee McPherson as she is doing it. The labor agitator holds up to scorn the psychology of the mill owners and exploits freely the habits of thinking and feeling which he knows so well among the workers. The capitalistic publicity agents are quick to discover mental twists of the strikers and to work upon the neutral public through insidious suggestions concerning the "reds." Each i5 an adept at the psychology of the other fellow, but cheerfully ignorant of his own. It is the business of the social psychologist, on the other hand, to point out motivation upon all sides of the conflict.

The situation in crowds and social movements is not different from the intimate, face-to-face contacts of social life. Within the home, ordinary parental efficiency consists, when the children are small, in knowing enough of their natures to subdue them and make them behave according to conventional standards. Some parents do this through dark threats concerning bears, policemen, and doctors. Some, who think they are wiser, indulge and lavish affection upon a child in some directions, and then appeal to his "love" to gain control over him in others. Some decry all attempts to control their children and adapt themselves, like the weaker dog, to the whims of the infant terrible. A few, of course, appeal to reason, and try with greater or less success to build up habits of self-control within the child. Social psychology in each case is concerned with the longer view. Its problem is, not how to make children mind, but to discover what is happening day by day in their life-habits as parents are making them mind. It inquires to what extent the purposes of one are being used as a means of gratification and convenience to the other, and

(380) what is the final result of giving up continually to the tyranny of the younger generation. In each instance the social psychologist's interest is somewhat different from the immediate concern of the average parent. Or, from another standpoint, the greatest success in parenthood may arise through detaching one's self occasionally from the mêlée of family life and becoming a social psychologist.

Not only the family, but other institutions-the school, the state, the economic system, and the church-are fields for the study of the processes of control'. Here, however, it is more difficult to determine who is actually the controlling agent. There seem to be invisible influences acting upon individuals, impelling them to behave in a uniform and conventional manner, so that one sometimes imagines there is a societal pattern, more enduring and powerful than human beings, which impresses itself upon them as if from without. Such a view, however, overlooks the important rôle of the educational process. It is in the social, civic, and religious instruction of the younger by the older generations that we must look for the origins of institutional control. In addition to the common branches and the science, lore, and handicrafts of his people, the school child receives careful discipline in respect toward the constituted authorities, the law, and Constitution, and in lip-service to the so-called "national ideals." Subservience to the divine authority of the ritual and the clergy is inculcated through the church school. Within the family are developed common attitudes of honesty and conventional morality. Home, school, and playground, moreover, are places where the prevailing spirit of the national civilization is fostered, attitudes, for example, such as the Prussian or Fascist subordination of the individual to the state, the English tradition of individual liberty, or the American urge toward competitive business enterprise.

In pedagogy, as elsewhere, those concerned in the direction of human behavior rely upon psychology, the science of

(381) human nature, for their most effective methods. The content of the teaching, however, as distinguished from the technique, is determined by the particular values of those who shape the curricula. And here the social psychologist enters to observe how the student is controlled through the choice of stimuli, the selection of facts, theories, and viewpoints presented for his assimilation. Detached from the institutional objectives and the spirit of the times, the social psychologist watches the process as a whole. He sees the control of society over the individual through education only as a subtle form of the control of one individual over another, a control often exercised in blind ignorance of the direction in which we are going. His absorbing interest is to observe' what happens to the individual when caught up in this network of custom and convention through which he is made to serve the purposes of everyone else.

Let us take, for example, the industrial and economic system. We have been trained by our culture and the attitudes of those about us from infancy to regard our technical era as the culmination of human civilization. Our watchword tends to be production and sales efficiency rather than human values as expressed in work. Business management becomes the art of so controlling men as to bring their drives into alignment rather than cross-purposes with commercial objectives. The personnel psychologist must fit the individual into the scheme of specialized machine labor, rather than adapt the methods of production to the individual as a personality. Psychology is applied, not to human welfare, but to business and industry. The social psychologist, however, looks at the matter from a very different angle. For maintaining the standard output of factories and keeping up our high level of American prosperity he has not the slightest concern. He is interested only in the motivation, technique of control, and human consequences of the industrial process. The large volume and high activity of business are not necessarily, as Presi-

(382) -dent Coolidge supposes, an indication of widespread prosperity in the fullest sense. The institution of "business" is often personified and considered as a being having a purpose of its own which is directly aligned with the purpose of national welfare. But this is a fallacious use of the term, one which serves only as a respectable camouflage. The purpose of "Business" is merely the purpose of business men. In spite of an apparent rise in the standard of American living, the social psychologist still sees business as a system in which certain individuals attain their satisfactions by manipulating others and by using the life-purposes of others as a means of fulfilling their own.

A similar institutional fallacy pervades popular education and thinking respecting the church. Loyal members are accustomed to "support their church" as a reality existing apart from themselves. They regard it also as a mentor of ethical standard and practice whose commandments they must obey or, at least, treat with verbal respect. Ecclesiastical officials, by playing upon the religious emotions, and sometimes the fears, of the people, strengthen and solidify the acceptance of the church as a transcendental reality. Whether or not there is deliberate abuse of this tendency, it is certainly true that when parishioners believe in the church as transcendent reality divinely established above their heads, the words of the clergyman will have more force and sanction than when it is considered merely as a habit which the parishioners have of meeting and worshipping together. While the institutional fallacy is thus a powerful instrument for clerical control, its power is, no doubt, seldom consciously exercised; and when it is used, it is not necessarily employed as a tool for selfish interests. Nevertheless, the social psychologist is inclined to reject such unprecise expressions as the "purpose" or "mission of the church," and to substitute a statement of the specific individuals whose purposes are included by this phrase. For it is here possible, as in the case of nationalism, to use the al-

(383) -leged purpose of the institution to cover the action of a few strategic individuals. The real processes of control are thus concealed; for people, believe that the controlling agency is not specific individuals, but some higher, metaphysical entity, such as society, the church, or the state. And since this higher being is supposed to be mysteriously endowed either with the common human purpose or with divine wisdom, it is regarded as a safe regulator of human conduct.

In the political, as in the religious, field the concern of the social psychologist is clear thinking about the nature of institutions themselves and the concealment of controls and confusion of means with ends which are carried on in their name. The administrator and the jurist try continually to build up a popular respect for "law" as a transcendent reality. Their aim, in part, is to foster a veneration of courts and high executives and a morale for civic participation. - For the social psychologist, however, there remains the task of discovering how such fictions as a superhuman law, infallible courts, and sacrosanct presidents have come to be a part of the social heritage. He must inquire what errors and abuses of power are sometimes committed under the cover of these doctrines. In every field of institutional behavior the social psychologist finds material for studying, from a disinterested standpoint, the processes of control over individuals. He is ever on the alert to observe, not how human beings can best be adapted to serve human purposes, but what happens in the process through which such an adaptation takes place. When we speak of the interests of groups and institutions, whose interests are really being satisfied, whose purpose dictates the ends to be achieved, and whose behavior furnishes the means?


When once we grasp the problem of a pure science of social behavior, important and somewhat novel values appear. For through such a science we can illuminate the task of dis-

(384) -tinguishing means from ends in social living. Human beings, like plants and animals, are subject to use for the purposes of other human beings. But, unlike the lower forms of life, they are capable of observing and understanding the processes by which they are used. And this knowledge may eventually make a difference both in the nature of the controls employed and the degree to which individuals will submit to them. If the little dog who scurries off at the faintest growl of another dog could really understand something of how his emotions had been conditioned by such rumblings, he might be able to restrain his precipitate flight long enough to treat each case upon its own merits. He might learn to distinguish the instances in which the bark is likely to be worse than the bite. We have found that this is true in emotional conflicts growing out of family life. At least one branch of modern psychiatry proceeds by getting the individual to look back objectively upon the early memories of his parents and associates so as to understand the controls which have been built from infancy upon his natural impulses. To gain such a perspective is one of the first steps toward a re-education which will liberate the personality from its nesting habits.

Within the field of popular suggestion the science of social behavior offers the same values. In many ways it is a countercheck or antidote to the use of psychology for practical social control. Thus if psychology enables the sensational journalist and politician to capture attention and stampede audiences, social psychology, through its insight into the process, may help us to fortify ourselves against such appeals. Although there is growing up a powerful psychology of advertising, we have also a social psychology of how to resist the advertiser. The writer has a witty friend who floors the high-powered salesman by analyzing with him the probable motives behind his arguments and commenting appreciatively upon his skilful use of psychological principles. Public discussions of the social psychology of nationalism and propaganda, carried on

(385) during a period of war hysteria, would go far toward the reduction of the warlike impulse. The very intolerance of such discussions in war time, as manifested by governmental officials and crowd leaders, is evidence of their devastating power against the propagandist.

In our institutional life a popular interest in social psychology might lead toward a reconsideration of the ends toward which we seem to be striving. From the psychology of fitting workers to machines, or human behavior generally to the skyscraper and the traffic signal, we might turn to social psychology and inquire in whose interests all this machinery is operating. We might consider whether for the purposes of individuals, such gigantic machine production and such confusion are necessary. We might even speculate a little upon what the worker's purposes would really be could he be released from the domination of a commercial and technological age. Instead of inquiring how to use human motives to increase profits, attention could be turned to the nature of the profit motive itself and how its possession by some individuals is affecting the lives of others. Loud insistence upon respect for law and the solemnity of the courts might give way to studies of the psychology of judges and jurors, the efficacy of our penal methods, and the meaning of law in human life. Schools and colleges would not be merely places of apprenticeship for entrepreneurs and seekers of special advantage. Education would gradually come to mean the gaining of insight into human values and the understanding of contemporary forces in their bearing upon self-realization. Social psychologists would thus join other agencies in opening the way for a continual challenge and criticism of our institutions.

"An ambitious program indeed!" the ultra-conservative thinker may retort. We are not, however, prophesying a millenium of popular intelligence, but merely stating a hope of what may be done if social psychology, like other pure sciences, can be put to the service of human welfare. The proc-

(386) -ess must be slow. Negative criticism and exposure may clear the air for a new approach, but they cannot of themselves build up a successful method of social living. The sudden shuffling off of one form of control only to submit unthinkingly to another will accomplish no good. Large portions, moreover, of our present institutional pattern may be of enduring value in the light of newer insights. The application of our knowledge must therefore be gradual, an adventure, fraught with the vicissitudes of trial and error. A certain truth also must be accredited to Barnum's sage remark about the predilection of human beings for being deceived. But in spite of these qualifications the faith of the social psychologist points toward a gradual increase of popular insight and a revival of individual purpose as the basis of the social order.

If, therefore, pursuing man's twofold quest of knowledge and its application, one should inquire the objective to which social psychology is to be applied, we would reply that its goal is the releasing of individual values from their unseen control by other individuals. The older psychology, dealing with human beings as reacting apart from their group, affords many principles by which we may direct action. But since it shows us no picture of social, processes, it does not help us to understand or reflect upon the controls to which we are subjected. Hence there is no opportunity to acquire free moral responsibility and control over one's self. Insight into the psychology of social relations, on the other hand, reveals the subtle processes through which one individual dominates others and gives to each, so long as liberty does not extend to license, a greater freedom to arrange his life according to his own pattern. The potential service of social psychology, therefore, lies in its bestowal of power, not over human nature, but over the agencies which exercise power. It gives control over control.

An issue now emerges which is fundamental to our whole discussion and must be squarely faced. If insight into public

(387) opinion, family coercion, and all our institutions decreases the power exerted through these agencies, it decreases this power not only for evil, but also for good. And there are many who believe that this control, even such as is based upon popular credulity and lack of insight, is necessary for the maintenance of social order. A cry of atheism and anarchism is raised. Those who renounce their belief in government and deity are regarded as baser than those who commit unlawful or ungodly acts. Pope Pius XI, in a recent encyclical, has declared it a dangerous procedure to ii trust to the masses of people the responsibility for their own moral and religious views. The institutions are often pictured by their high authorities as being something more than the attitudes and feelings of those who conform to them. They are thought to be the repositories of the righteousness and wisdom of the race, patterns worked out under divine guidance, through which society is to mold and guide the individual.

To this view the social psychologist is vigorously opposed, on the ground that it fosters special privilege and is based upon ignorance and superstition. The common man may not know at all times just what is best for him. But in general, and touching all the needs of his personality, he is likely to know more about it than anyone else. The real truths and the more enduring values of life are simple, or can at least be stated in simple terms. Only error is persistently complex and raises dilemmas which require generations of philosophers and theologians to solve. It seems unlikely, therefore, that a hegemony either of 'the true or the good is possible; and certainly those who have a stake in the maintenance of institutional power should not be the final arbiters of this important question. Just as the welfare of the state consists in the welfare of individuals, so the good which is in the state must be present in the acts of the citizens, and not merely in the purposes of the rulers. The righteousness of the church is not safeguarded by the purity of priests so much as by the virtu-

(388) -ous impulses of the worshipers. The task, therefore, of the social psychologist is to teach individuals to examine the ends for which they submit themselves to regulation. For the aims and ideals ascribed by officials to the family, or to business, industry, the church, or the nation, he would have them substitute the purposes of actual men and women, purposes such as each sees expressed in himself and in those about him. In this way the ends of social regulation can be truly distinguished from the means, and human values brought down from "society" and restored to the individual. The control of man over nature, though an intelligible expression as applied to the lower sciences, becomes a fiction in the field of social relationships. For men are controlled, not by man in the abstract, but by men. And the full realization of human values is possible only when the individual places above such control the freedom of his own intellectual and moral judgment.



  1. A chapter in one volume of the forthcoming "New World Series," edited by Baker Brownell and published by D. Van Nostrand Co., New York.

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