Social Phases of Psychology

G. Stanley Hall
Clark University

Psychology and sociology have, I think, far more in common than either yet realizes. If, instead of being from the very first social and gregarious, man had been a solitary animal, his psychology would have been a very meager thing. Even individual psychology in the sense of Stern and the Würtzburg introspectionists studies personalities as society has shaped them. Again, you are interested, as we are, in philosophical systems like those of Plato, Fichte, and Kant, that were so largely shaped by social and political conditions, which it was their chief end to improve if not to reconstruct. You have a more or less speculative, logical section, as we have, which refines, defines, tabulates, makes schedules, claims everything possible for its own science, and another that gets down as close as possible to hard facts and actual concrete conditions. Both our sciences have passed through a stage of criticism, not to say suspicion, and have only rather lately reached general academic recognition and developed methods and results that are generally recognized as scientific. In the half-hour allotted to me I can do little more than enumerate a few psychological domains in which you also have an interest. The first of these is animal societies, beginning with higher insects which are evolved from the very first denizens of dry land and which are aeons older than man and so have had vastly more time to perfect and consolidate the organization of their institutions. Here we find castes---soldiers, workers, idlers, rulers, slaves---wars, migrations, elaborate and specialized industries, provisions of food, nuptial flights, care of larvae and young, periodic massacres of the useless classes, property, and, in some degree, specialization and marvelous cooperation and sense and feeling of kind. Some ants seem to clear ground, plant, and harvest. Architectural sense is highly developed. They know and fear their enemies and develop many

(39) strategies to escape or overcome them. Some seem to have almost a moral code that it is death to violate. Each of the forty-five hundred species of wild bees, e.g., seem to have as many types of constitution as they have morphologic differences. In some cases, like the wasp and bumblebee, we can study the phyletic, developmental stages by which the state arose and know something of the way in which the rights and duties of citizenship evolved. Now if on the basis of the many scores of tediously painstaking empirical studies we could have for each species a free and frankly humanistic résumé of what is definitely known, such as, for instance, Maeterlinck has given us of the bee, we should find here a source of wisdom and insight into human social and even political conditions which is only just beginning to appear. In no society is the individual so completely incorporated in the larger group to which he belongs and which his every act from birth to death seems designed to serve. For one, I believe this field might be far more utilized than it has yet been by a sociologist who would put himself abreast of the latest studies here, some of which show not only the fixity of very complex relations but also amazing plasticity in adjusting to new conditions. Here, too, I should like if there were time to say a word in favor of clever biological analogies between far more rudimentary organisms, down to the parasitism, commensalism, and mutualism about which Espinas long ago made illuminating generalizations, and even between individuals in the community and cells, tissues and organs in the human body, which Lilienfeld and others since have stressed. In the social organizations of creatures too, articulates and certain species of fishes, birds, and mammals, we find countless suggestive and illuminating devices of mutual help, which show at least how much wiser as well as older and more varied animal instinct is in some respects than reason itself.

A second interest of genetic psychology which seems to me very illuminating for sociology is the organization of children, especially those which are spontaneous. Every large city has scores of gangs which reproduce most essential features of the savage tribe, in a composite portrait of which, indeed, almost no feature of the latter would be omitted. In a few striking cases boys left to them-

( 40) -selves have, whether by the blind instinct of recapitulation or by more or less consciously parodied imitation of adult institutions in their plays and games or probably both, developed elaborate social organizations that show many of the traits of primitive society, which not only have great phyletic interest but have stimulated adults' intervention and attempted control or betterment, that has resulted in the scores of more or less controlled juvenile organizations, some of which, like the George Junior Republic and the school city, have embodied the most essential elementary features of the social life of grown-ups. Some believe that by a judicious use of this gregarious instinct it may be found strong enough almost to reconstruct our educational system or. a new basis, fantastic and sentimental as some of these adult revisions now seem. In this connection I think should be mentioned, too, the remarkable new interest in childhood, which in many respects in this country had grown colder, more formal and oblivious than in any land or period in the world, but which has lately resulted in the formation of some hundred and eleven (as we classify them) organizations for child welfare and benefit, and in a renaissance of interest in work for children so great that some enthusiasts have even wanted to call this the century of the child. What does this recent awakening to the nature and needs of children, that is now pervading all civilized countries and has resulted in the institution of many academic chairs, laboratories, clinics, journals, and a vast and rapidly growing body of literature, really mean ? It certainly marks an extension of our social consciousness, an enlargement of our interests, and a new awakening to our duties to the young.

Third, the anthropological section of psychology has a new interest in savage society. The more we know and understand it, the more we find good in it. Among a number of large tribes in the English dependencies in Africa, British criminal law has been deliberately set aside for a codification of tribal customs, as the latter have been found to be far more adequate and effective. In another African province a school system has been established which insists that for the first four years nothing but native languages and indigenous folklore and custom shall be cultivated, although half a dozen different native languages with small vocabu-

( 41) -laries have to be given dictionaries and grammar, and learned by teachers, in order to accomplish this end, the idea being to make good Kaffirs instead of pinchbeck imitations of Englishmen. Only in the higher grades of the school and for the brighter students are English language, customs, rudiments of science, and civilization taught. With every race that becomes extinct like the Tasmanians and Boethuks, we are learning that something valuable or at least suggestive in the way of social organization passes out of the world and leaves no trace, perhaps not even an Ossian to record its ideals. It is now almost a commonplace that an administrator of affairs in savage lands should first of all make a careful and sympathetic study, of the kind that Cushing and Miss Fletcher made of the Indian tribes they know so well, of the way in which long and unwritten experience has caused the world to seem to those in their charge and how other ethnic stocks have solved the problems of life and social order rather than to assume that we are the beati possidentes and that our ways are always best. Thus they should always strive as far as possible to conserve and fulfil, destroying as little as possible, recognizing that progress is a matter not of years but of centuries, and that it is not impossible that ethnic stocks now obscure may at some time inherit the accumulated resources of the civilization we now represent and wield the resources of the world for good or evil, somewhat according as we now shape their plastic stages, as, indeed, has happened in the world before, as we realize when we think of the Germans in the days of Tacitus, or the Angles and Saxons in the days of the Roman dominion in England.

Fourth, imitation, a decade or more ago when it was most studied, seemed to some psychologists to account for about every psychic process. Beginning with memory and custom, it was by some given such an extent that there seemed hardly any room left in the world for originality' or creativeness. We were all constantly setting or following copy. Our thoughts and inflections, as well as our manners and customs, were all borrowed. Conduct, too, if not merely conventional, was essentially initiative, while feelings, sentiments, imagination were most of all contagious. Imitation was conscious and unconscious, automatic and volitional. Even

( 42) in science we were imitating Nature or thinking God's thoughts after him. We had studies of school children which showed how scores of fads, like spit-curls, manners of wearing bows and ribbons, bookmarks, and expressions, spread like wild-fire through school communities, how every peculiarity of the teacher, even her lisp or her limp, was unconsciously imitated by pupils who admired her. This kind of psychic contagion was studied with illustrations galore which seemed to show that even children thought, acted, and felt in common to a far larger degree than had been realized, and that individual differences were small by comparison. So panics, crazes, great popular delusions and certain mental distempers are communicated by contagion and the larger the crowd the simpler and more elemental the emotions that they share with each other. One prominent philosopher wrote a very clever treatise explaining how all inventions were really imitations, until this theme itself became almost a fad which is now relegated to a comparatively modest place among psychological topics. Men are certainly prone to follow leaders and it is very hard to stand out from the mass, which is not infrequently prone to persecute those who go too far in declaring their independence. So deep is the instinct for feeling, thinking, and acting with others that it is sometimes simulated, even perhaps against better insight, although the opposite trend in human nature tends to assert itself by forms of originality that lack substance and are little more than poses or whimsies. The saving fact remains that there are those who are unhappy if there are those who agree, act, or feel with them, and who wish to be unique, although this instinct may never bear fruit. An old custom is often an iron one, and while an adequate knowledge of history does make havoc with our originalities, it also teaches the impressiveness of numbers and majorities, while individualities that cannot in Max Stirne's sense maximize themselves alone can always find some degree of satisfaction in joining schools, sects, or parties, so that all who portray their sentiments or beliefs still can have the consciousness of kind that goes by finding others who keep step with them. In its largest sense society would have little organic wholeness but would be a mere congeries of units but for imitation, and most of us may count ourselves fortunate

( 43) if after a large comparative acquaintance with many kinds of models we select those we wish to follow wisely and well, viz., those that fit and express our own personal proprium. Perhaps the great leaders in literature do their best when they are copying the folk-soul which is larger and loftier than they, and perhaps the great reformers are always imitating outwardly the more inward conceptions that they and those in their environment more deeply and inwardly feel. Perhaps science may be characterized as an attempt to make a perfect replica of Nature, and the best society may be an expression of the more intimate fellow-feeling of the people who constitute it. Perhaps in Deity man has only set himself an ideal to be copied, and in morals, standards to live up to. All these have been urged but this view seems to make little room for the Zeitgeist, spirit of progress or nisus or push-upward, which seems at every moment to be ,creating at least new variations of old themes which often grow later into specific originalities. Psychology finds an initial tendency indeed to imitate about anything or everything, as indeed is necessary to understand or even know it, as we see in extreme cases of imperative mimicry and even echolalia. But this tendency is prone to be checked, in some earlier and in some later, by an opposing inhibition which arrests and then enlightens, diverts, perhaps sublimates, and in morbid cases may take on the more pronounced aspects of negativism. Thus we have abundant motive power of revolt against almost every consensus concerning almost every human institution.

Fifth, crime is one ostensive instance of this. In its nature it is in a sense not only anti-social but solitary. Those who commit crime against person, property, or even good name thereby declare themselves enemies of the social order which they defy and step outside of, and hence must be restrained or perhaps eliminated in the interests of the community. What constitutes crime is for the law, instructed by sociology, to determine. The psychologist, on the other hand, is more interested in the heredity and the psychic diathesis of the criminal mind and how it is affected by confinement and other forms of punishment. He is not only on the way to find a pure thief, a pure murderer, a pure slanderer type, but is interested in personal psychoses and in all abnormal moral traits, as well as

( 44) in all kinds of aberrant traits which are really atypical. Modern criminology can hardly longer be said to hold with Lombroso that criminals are a unique species of man with their own particular physical traits and dimensions, to be determined by anthropological tests and measurements, but the later studies here are suggesting that some of the very greatest crimes have been committed by men in no way peculiar save in their temptation, opportunity, or provocation, with which perhaps any of us might have done as they did. Indeed a great German jurist has declared that every man has in him the possibilities of being a murderer, thief, or anything else, and may thank his stars if he is not, because he has not had sufficient provocation to overcome his various resistances. Psychoanalysis, which has already shown us something of the psychic processes that lead to crime, and which may at some time come to play a great rôle in its detection, has shown that criminals are far less abnormal and unique than was supposed but at worst have only different percentages of the same human ingredients found in the nature of all of us. The criminal insane, too, and even the raving maniac, the victim of delusions, and all the rest are found, when we know them thoroughly, to conform exactly to the laws of psychic action and to act as we should all act if our senses habitually went wrong or our motivations were differently compounded and constellated. In these days of psychic tests some are already dreaming of the time when they will take the place not only of every kind of examination in schools or for vocational guidance but will serve a preventive purpose by detection or morbid processes in a stage so early in their development that they can be rectified.

Sixth, and last, it seems hardly too much to say that justice is the cardinal virtue of social man. It has been called the very muse of legislation. Law has been called the technique of justice, the legislator its physician, called in to cure or prevent its distempers, the judge its high priest, the courts its temples, the prisons its hospitals, the reformatories its orthopedic institutions, the lawyer its clinician. Psychology differs as to whether justice had better be called an instinct, sentiment, or intuition, but it is as universal as the sense of fair play. At the bottom, analysis seems to trace it to the world-wide conviction in the bottom of every, human soul that happiness should go with goodness, that

( 45) pleasure and duty ought to be one and inseparable, now and forever, and that on the other hand, there is the same association between sin and suffering. What drives society into a frenzy is to realize that this equation is upset, that the bad are happy and prosperous and the good miserable. Righteousness must be profitable and unrighteousness unprofitable. Virtue for its own pure sake, apart from all relations to Hedonism, is a ghastly thing in our pragmatic day, and the masterpieces of pathos, like the crucifixion, are those which attach the greatest pain to the highest goodness. With the ancient Hebrews and the Homeric world, in the Indian doctrine of Karma, we always find that in an ideal state of things no evil can befall a good man, living or dead, and heavens and hells are to balance accounts between good and evil that are left over in this life. One great cause of historic and social unrest, if not the chief, whether in industry, society, politics, or education, is a deep ingrowing sense of injustice, half-unconscious though it may be. If the innocent suffer and the guilty are happy and successful, man revolts at the cosmic order that permits such things on whatever authority, whether God, Nature, or society. Men do desperate deeds when hard up against misfits and vice and pain. They have physical symptoms that have been listed and such incentives are the psychic stuff out of which most of the reforms have been made that have swept away social abuses. Man is never so terrible as when roused to the sense that injustice has been done that must be righted though the heavens fall. To doubt the union of virtue and happiness means despair and pessimism and has meant so from job to Huxley. Indeed, some psychologists are now teaching that it was the utter impossibility of believing that the cosmos was so made as a whole as to permit any permanent misfits between merit and demerit, and rewards and punishments, that first compelled the soul of man to conceive of a future state of rewards and punishments. Indeed it is the very point of Kant's philosophy that if justice had held perfect sway in this life man would never have wanted or conceived of another, because there would have been no discrepancies to rectify. The world and the inmost life of man demands, like the gallery gods in the theater, that the hero get his reward and the villain his. If this always occurred in fact as in the art world, what need of heaven and

( 46) hell? When this belief wanes, however, and man comes to believe that this life is all, then oppressors have to beware. If this comforting hope falls suddenly, the political and social danger is grave.

Again, both Cicero and Aristotle thought the orator and the lawyer should feel personal responsibility that no good deed should be unrecognized, and that both should cultivate the art of praising aright, and even courts of virtue have been suggested, where those who have done the community great service should be tried and given individual rewards, in the form of places in halls of fame or emoluments, that we should detect and reward virtue as certainly as we do vice. Thus indignation, when it becomes a great contagion and sweeps away thrones and privileges, is the minister of justice, for injustice is the chief inciter of anger in the world. Friedrich, the German jurist, declares that no man is so good that he might not kill if his sense of justice were sufficiently outraged, that he would become a minister of vengeance like the Greek furies or run amuck.

Finally comes the question whether we ever have any right to forgive as we often wish to, for we are now often told that to pardon is a violation of our social duty and that we should see that even our friends suffer for their misdeeds. Forgiveness is of course the easy way, especially for them, and it is very hard to inflict a fateful wound to a friend; love shields from punishment. Christianity has sometimes interpreted the Diety as longing to forgive and developing a tenderness and sentimentality in regard to crime and criminals which is a product partly of a misunderstood religion and partly of unstable nerves. The best psychotherapy for this moral distemper of the sense of justice is, instead of mitigating the deserts of those who should suffer for their own good and for that of society, to look about and find unrewarded and unrecognized merit, of which there is plenty all about us, and to see that it is brought to light and given its modicum of appreciation. Will and can the pleasure of the world ever be so distributed as to be rightly proportioned to the deserts of individuals ? Until this can be done, justice will never have a complete triumph in the world and perhaps this is never to be expected. But of all the various elements of human nature, on which sociology is founded, is there any that is more all-determining than that of justice ?


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