An Outline of Social Psychology

Chapter 14: Social Psychological Phenomena as Components of Human Situations

Jacob Robert Kantor

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Up to this point we have studied social psychological phenomena as isolated events. In thus separating social reactions from the human situations in which they occur we have been treating them as autonomous. And yet it is impossible to disregard the fact that cultural responses are only aspects of larger events. Every happening involving social psychological phenomena comprises in addition a number of other factors.

Our isolating procedure therefore is entirely misleading. While it is necessary artificially to isolate social psychological data in order to study them, it is quite impossible to understand them without relating them with the other facts with which they are inevitably connected. Indeed we have already pointed out that social psychological and other aspects of humanistic phenomena influence each other. For example, we have indicated that the origin of certain sociological and economic institutions is to a certain extent owing to psychological conditions. Human phenomena of every sort, be they political, historical, or anthropological are in a genuine sense constituted in part of psychological activities.

On the other hand, we have already discovered that psychological occurrences of every variety are dependent upon humanistic events. Not to stress this point would mean that social psychological facts would be treated as though they were entities. Thus when we ask whence come such facts the obvious answer is that psychological phenomena are de-

( 368) -veloped in the interaction of persons with sociological, political, and historical happenings. It has also been suggested that psychological occurrences have numerous possibilities and limitations located in such humanistic data. In short, when we study human phenomena in intimate interrelationship we learn that human nature is not only a product of human circumstances, but also a factor conditioning these events.

But we must go still further. In order to deal adequately with social psychological phenomena we must not only refrain from disjoining them from other psychological and nonpsychological facts with which they are inevitably connected, but in addition we must show the actual interrelationships existing between these different sets of data.

Now a difficulty confronts us. How is it possible to bring so many different elements together in a single description? Immediately the suggestion occurs that we might show how the cultural personality performs behavior in various political, economic, intellectual, moral and other specific human situations. But this itself necessitates an isolating procedure, for concrete human situations are not marked off as purely economic, intellectual, or political.

Our best plan under the circumstances therefore is to choose a series of situations and attempt an analytic description of the various coordinate factors present. An example will indicate the program.

Buying a watch is a situation replete with both psychological and non-psychological factors. Among the former we discover all of the six types of behavior we have enumerated in the first chapter of this volume. For instance, purchasing a timepiece involves contingential action stimulated by the exigencies of personal circumstances. Obviously all sorts of cultural behavior also play a part in the situation. The necessity and desire to be punctual constitute distinct conformity responses to my occupational, social, and ethnic groups. Buying only a certain size watch, though another size might

(369) suit my non-cultural purposes better, illustrates my having been culturalized to share certain reactions. The effect of this socialization upon me is no less strong than that dictating the use of a watch at all. Idiosyncratic reactions are exemplified by the choice of style and pattern, made possible by the fact that I can perform some behavior independently of culturalization. That is, my watch will symbolize my personal tastes to a certain though perhaps a very slight extent. Other psychological adjustments in the situation comprise perceptions, inquiries, deliberations, choices, decisions, etc. Since these reactions constitute the behavior of a single individual there are no absolute barriers between them. Rather they are harmonious phases of a single person's conduct.

The non-psychological factors of our situation we may separate into (1) natural, (2) sociological and civilizational, and (3) historical types.

Among the natural conditions involved in buying a watch we note, for example, that the plenitude or scarcity of certain minerals determines directly the type and utility of the articles I will have an opportunity to see and purchase. As a more remote naturalistic feature we should include the person's biological construction as a participative factor in such an event.

The mere fact of buying a watch presupposes a whole host of anthropological and sociological conditions as components of our situation. The invention, existence, and use of timepieces, are dependent upon a very specific system of complicated anthropological circumstances.

Especially do the economic conditions force themselves upon our consideration. These, with the social organization factors, determining whether I purchase my watch in a department store, jeweler's shop, or by post, suggest some of the sociological elements connected with the behavior data.

We come finally to the interrelated occurrence of general historical facts with cultural conduct. At any particular mo-

( 370) -ment I may be compelled to purchase a particular kind of watch because historical circumstances prevent my doing otherwise. War interferes with trade. Accordingly, when certain countries are engaged in making history, only certain brands of goods are available. Such an illustration may be cited as representative of innumerable historical components of particular human situations.

It is plain that our study cannot be made in terms of such simple circumstances as our watch illustration. Accordingly, it will be our task in the present chapter to analyze a number of type situations, such as scientific, linguistic, political, religious, and aesthetic behavior events. As components of these happenings, we generalize a number of factors under the rubrics of individual and cultural conduct, anthropological, sociological, historical, and natural circumstances.


Individual Psychological Factors.—Individual psychological activities analyzed out of scientific situations may be roughly divided into two types. First, we have purely intellectual conduct. All scientific behavior centers about the interest and curiosity in discovering the nature of a fact, or the attempt to gain orientation for oneself with respect to certain phenomena. Generally speaking, the person's behavior is replete with knowledge, imagination, and thinking activities in addition to the perceptual responses involved. To these activities may be added all the responses concerned with the development of tools and techniques for the manipulation of the things, events, and circumstances constituting the stimuli of scientific responses. Probably the most important type of activity here is the idiosyncratic hind. For we assume that the individual is working out some problem or is engaged in some investigation which challenges him. Contingential reactions follow as a very close second.


Remote, to say the least, is the ideal that scientific work is detached from the personal needs and desires of scientists. Howsoever extraneous they may be to the interests of knowledge and discovery, scientific activity is never free from personal economic pressures or from conditions stimulating personal ambition. Accordingly, our most abstract intellectual attitudes are conditioned by our professional interests. Being scientists we must succeed, and to succeed we must be productive. To be productive one's work must be acceptable to those in power. How many scientific papers have been rejected by official journals because they did not conform, we only learn because some of them later become representatives of acceptable doctrines.[1]

Then there is the sad story of scientific politics and discipleship. Authorities cannot accept those whose ideas would upset their own hard-won successes. They are not to be blamed for thinking that newer ideas are inferior or unintelligible. The whole drama of the new versus the old is enacted in science as well as in every other field of human endeavor. The politics, jealousies, and intrigues that go to make up the sordid details of the several acts are familiar to all the actors involved. Posts and prizes go to the faithful and those who are intelligent enough to understand established truths. Scientific situations must perforce be cluttered up with intrigue and cunning as the career of Huxley amply illustrates. Thus he writes concerning his memoir "On the Morphology of the Cephalus Mollusca,"

"I told you I was very busy, and I must tell you what I am about and you will believe me. I have just finished a Memoir for the Royal Society, which has taken me a world of time, thought, and rending, and is, perhaps, the best thing I have done yet. It will not be read till May, and I do not know

( 372) whether they will print it or not afterwards; that will require care and a little manoeuvring on my part. You have no notion of the intrigues that go on in this blessed world of science. Science is, I fear, no purer than any other region of human activity; though it should be. Merit alone is very little good; it must be backed by tact and knowledge of the world to do very much.

"For instance, I know that the paper I have just sent in is very original and of some importance, and I am equally sure that if it is referred to the judgment of my `particular friend' that it will not be published. He won't be able to say a word against it, but he will pooh-pooh it to a dead certainty.

"You will ask with some wonderment, Why? Because for the last twenty years has been regarded as the great authority on these matters, and has had no one to tread on his heels, until at last, I think, he has come to look upon the Natural World as his special preserve, and `no poachers allowed'. So I must manoeuvre a little to get my poor memoir kept out of his hands.

"The necessity for these little stratagems utterly disgusts me. I would so willingly reverence and trust any man of high standing and ability. I am so utterly unable to comprehend this petty greediness. And yet withal you will smile at my perversity. I have a certain pleasure in overcoming these obstacles, and fighting these folks with their own weapons. I do so long to be able to trust men implicitly. I have such a horror of all this literary pettifogging. I could be so content myself, if the necessity of making a position would allow it, to work on anonymously, but I see is determined not to let either me or any one else rise if he can help it. Let him beware. On my own subjects I am his master, and am quite ready to fight half a dozen dragons. And although he has a bitter pen, I flatter myself that on occasions I can match him in that department also."[2]

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Social Psychological Factors.—Let the individual be ever so strongly bent upon solving his problem with regard only to his scientific interests and the character of this data, and let him be free also of political entanglement, his activity still shows him tugging at the chains of convention. Various inevitable culturalization factors grip him. Though we pursue our natural science thinking to its limits, the limits are prescribed by various group considerations, both of an ethnic or national form, or by smaller collectivities of a professional type.

What a spectacle. Behold the study of natural phenomena prejudiced by the fact that the scientist is a Continental or a British Islander. Historically this difference in origin was responsible for the dichotomy between so-called empiricists and rationalists. In the distinctly psychological field this sort of cultural influence determined that the English Locke should be an associationist, while the German Leibnitz should be an apperceptionist.

Within the particular scientific domain we find numerous examples of the way thinkers are influenced by culturalization. Here is a problem involving a physiological datum. We may predict at once that chemically trained students will envisage the situation from the physico-chemical standpoint. Likewise, those biologists culturalized more as naturalists will be distinctly determined by their biological or botanical training.

The student of psychology will be interested in several examples from his own field. Here it is plain that investigations of natural phenomena are prejudiced by the fact that the individual has been culturalized as a mentalistic or behavioristic psychologist. The result is a typifying of the investigation according to the previous socialization of the scientific worker.

Social psychological components of another sort may be analyzed out of psychological situations. This we call the

( 274) experimentalistic bias. Every activity which represents a manipulation of things, no matter how trivial, is always regarded as eminently worthwhile and as fulfilling the conditions of scientific study. Such a culturalization may condition the whole complexion of the science, leading to a great neglect of those important phenomena which do not lend themselves readily to manipulative techniques. Cultural emphasis upon exactness of observation and demonstration rather favors the retention of epiphenomena and other non-observable elements rather than their extrusion from a particular scientific field. Scientific culturalization makes one forget that alchemists were most scrupulous in their manipulations and most insistent upon their exactitude.

Culturalization influences in the psychological domain of science are similarly illustrated by calculative prejudices. Only that which is stateable in mathematical terms is deemed to be certain and worth while. But in the meantime calculations are substituted for facts and the actual data are not pursued because they cannot be mathematically treated.

Psychological science offers still another example. Even after neural explanations are shown to be exceedingly worthless for the handling of psychological phenomena, psychologists still persist in throwing their data into imaginary neural patterns. Culturalization, therefore, very decidedly leads to a shifting and fitting of facts to meet institutional ideas and conceptions, rather than correlating them with the nature of the phenomena themselves. In such circumstances we see worked out to the fullest extent the arbitrary and artificial characteristics of cultural psychological behavior.

Culturalized belief in native powers and forces we take as our final illustrative conventional factor in psychological scientific situations. This belief may be regarded as a fashion or convention which persists although its specific form undergoes numerous changes to fit newer circumstances.

Sociological Factors.—Every scientific situation is located

(375) in some particular society. This fact affords us numerous suggestions concerning the sociological contributions to these situations. In a complex society we expect a larger number of scientific problems and pursuits than can be provided by a simpler community. An industrial society frequently contributes an absolutistic feature to its science, since technical processes and products of an industrial milieu make for stability and uniformity. An agricultural community on the other hand, provides circumstances more favorable to contingent and tentative scientific activity. Again, a progressive and expanding society injects a definite pragmatic element into its scientific attitudes and methods; namely, they are more experimental than is the case in a fixed and conservative community.

In the same way the economic circumstances of a sociological group provide their quota of scientific elements. A rich society has the means of promoting investigation, for it is able to furnish facilities for study. Only a wealthy community, for example, can afford laboratories, research stations, scientific expeditions, and investigating and well-equipped hospitals.

Economic factors likewise supply a direction and goal to scientific pursuits. The wealth of a society is derived from particular sources. At once we discover interests which force science to take certain moulds. In order that agricultural science shall flourish in a given society it is necessary that it shall have large agrarian interests. A primarily industrial community forces the study of physics and chemistry. Medical scientists in an acquisitive society do not stress those conditions of health that make for a good life and the pursuit of happiness, but attempt to make persons into economically useful members of society.

Anthropological Factors.—Science in our own civilization has not always been an object of worship as it is today and in many communities it is still dispensable. Anthropic or

(376) civilizational circumstances either promote or prevent the development of scientific situations. That is, anthropological conditions determine whether or not scientific or organized reflections will exist at all. The pursuit of knowledge and the development of intellectual attitudes from an anthropological standpoint is a matter of fashion.[3]

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By contrast with such an attitude our own civilization today demands that nothing in heaven or on earth shall be excluded from scientific research. So fashionable is science that even churchmen insist that God and the Bible shall be scientifically investigated.

Anthropic factors similarly determine the specific forms of scientific problems. Ideas and experiments must wait upon particular anthropic developments. Thus scientific problems shift. At one time in the development of western European civilization it was quite unheard of for science to be investigating anything but the most objective physical qualities of things. The study of human action and personality, and the nature of human society are enterprises that have had to wait for a number of civilizational conditions to make them important or even feasible.

Within specific domains of science also, anthropic conditions have their distinctive place. What the dominant issues shall be in the fields of chemistry, medicine, or social science, is a matter of fashion dictated by definite anthropological conditions and circumstances. The history of every individual science indicates the varied positions that certain problems have held in a given field at different time periods.

Historical Factors.—Only by avoiding the analysis of specific scientific situations can we escape their historical factors. Human changes, triumphs, and vicissitudes are mirrored in the activities and products of scientists. Chemistry, medicine, psychology, and physics, as well as the distinctly human sciences, all show their historic interaction. W 'e need

(378) only go back to the recent war to see the effect of political and historical conditions upon the development of new problems and techniques. Such are the new chemicals, the new cures, and the new thought. Or think how colonization instigates scientific investigations. Colonial expansion makes necessary research in malaria and sleeping sickness. Again, every student of psychology is familar with the impetus given to the whole testing movement by the military activities of the recent war.

More general suggestions of the place of history in science are found in the scientific changes which correlate point by point with historical events. In the ancient world scientific conditions differed from those of the mediaeval period, as both of these have varied from those of the renaissance and modern times. With respect to particular sciences, we may easily trace out their successive pagan, mohammedan and christian. characteristics as correlated with discoveries, conquests, and the dominations and alliances of nations.

Naturalistic Factors.—The contribution to scientific situations of natural phenomena hardly needs to be emphasized. For physical, biological and human objects and their conditions constitute the irreducible minima of scientific materials. The study of nature is obviously an indispensable feature of scientific enterprises even if it is true that thinkers sometimes reject the existence of natural phenomena because such things do not fit in with traditional doctrines.

Natural things must always be crude data for science. It is an absolute requirement that for such existing things nothing else be substituted. Upon the foundation of crude facts, of course, it is possible to erect all sorts of improbable superstructures. Sometimes the crude data themselves may force a variety of interpretations. Rut always the scientific situation must be built up around natural phenomena. For one scientist, light is undulation of ether, while for the other it is a series of emitted particles. Now in each case, the inter-

( 379) -pretation is conditioned by culturalization and perhaps even by personal considerations. Each, however, is a reaction to natural phenomena. Neither of these theories would be scientific if it did not in some fashion hold the mirror up to nature.


Individual Psychological Factors.—Of all human situations the linguistic one presents the most difficulty in isolating its numerous factors. Probably this is because the linguistic event is comprehensible in comparatively simple actions of persons. Of this we are certain, however, that the individual psychological components comprise definite adjustmental responses to simultaneously operating stimuli. The fundamental activity in language is simultaneously performing a reaction to some thing, event, or person, as referent and to some person (oneself or some other individual) as referee. When I ask you to bring me the book pointed to, you as referee serve as an auxiliary stimulus to the book (referent) which is regarded as the adjustment stimulus.[4] The character of linguistic responses may be of almost any describable form, such as ordinary verbal reactions, vocal, facial, or manual gesturing, or grosser movements of various sorts.

Coupled with these essentially linguistic activities are various other responses. Here we may point out the reaction of appreciating the need to refer to something or the necessity to have some work accomplished which is carried out in part by one's speech activity. Also included here are the responses constituting consent to speak or the decision that it is worth while to say something.

Social Psychological Factors.—Under ordinary circumstances the mutuality of the linguistic situation conditions it

(380) in a very definite way. One must necessarily speak as a member of some psychological collectivity. This means that the individual is bound to use a particular vocabulary with definite intonation and corresponding gestures of all sorts which fit into the scheme of the particular collectivity. Language is also cultural behavior in that a certain group determines the word order, the type of gender, time, and number references, etc. Therefore, it is quite permissible to say that from the standpoint of an immediate linguistic event the entire circumstance involves large numbers of cultural behavior factors. When we recall that the genesis of language gives us a picture exclusively social, there can be no question of the cultural behavior components of linguistic situations.

Sociological Factors.—Conjoined with the numerous other phases of the linguistic event are myriads of circumstances having to do with the various societies in which the language action takes place. The organization of the community, its industrial and economic circumstances, determine the form and character of linguistic activity. Tersely put, the sociological features provide the numerous specific occasions for speaking. Social conditions make possible what the person is talking about as well as determine how he performs the reaction. The multiplication of objects, techniques, and events in a particular group means that reference responses and various symbols will have to be developed in order to refer to them. A society without science has no terminology for the handling of that type of referent. Further, whatever sociological factors are not directly connected with the behavior side of the linguistic situation are concerned with its stimuli circumstances.

Anthropological Factors.—We may look to the anthropological factors of linguistic situations for the traditional forms which constitute both the standards and records of speech in a given anthroppc unit. Anthropological factors mould the language activities into certain patterns. All of the characteristics of speech in the way of vocabulary, word order, in-

(381) -flection, etc. constitute conditions imposed upon the speaking individual by the cultural development of the community in which he lives. Moreover, the changes and transformations of speech, such as ungrammatical language, slang, etc., testify to the operation of the anthropological concomitants of group stratification and culturalization changes in linguistic circumstances.

Historical Factors.—No linguistic situation may be regarded as sufficiently described without referring to the interrelations between groups, whether ethnic, national, or sociological. It is these factors which lie at the basis of the changes and transformations of language systems. Although English and German have a common parentage, historical circumstances have brought about marked differences between them. Similarly the specific kind of English and German one speaks is determined by numerous conquests, migrations, and group mixtures. The many vicissitudes undergone by Latin as spoken by different sets of persons correspond to the historical experiences of the several peoples who speak the various Romance languages derived from the Latin ancestor. In the study of language some of the most important factors are the conditions which separate off and isolate groups with the resulting development of dialects and even smaller linguistic divisions. Such conditions make for gross modifications in linguistic character and performance.

Natural Phenomena.—Beyond the evolution of vocalizing and gesturing, linguistic situations derive very little from natural circumstances. This proposition refers of course to actual linguistic action, and is valid because language is a kind of human activity which individuals perform without the use of tools or materials. Our proposition requires modifications when we turn from verbal or gestural speech to writing. For the latter activity is quite dependent upon natural sources for tools and materials upon which to write. The same thing applies, of course, to printing. Perhaps the origin and de-

(382) -velopment of writing and printing has been favored by the presence of natural phenomena at certain times and places. At once the problematic connection between the papyrus of Egypt, and the origin and spread of writing reactions is suggested.


Individual Psychological Factors.—We may summarize what are essentially aesthetic responses as either creation, appreciation, criticism, or evaluation. It is not at all unusual that aesthetic behavior may include all of these types of responses at once. Perhaps in most cases, however, one or a combination of several operates.

Motivation reactions of varying description constitute closely related individual behavior factors. Numerous suggestions have been made as to the motives dominating the creation and appreciation of art objects. In this role are mentioned desires of various sorts and such responses as are summed up as the attempt to escape from reality. Other suggestions are made to the effect that art creation is essentially sublimated and metamorphosed sex conduct. Undoubtedly, these activities are all found in aesthetic situations, among innumerable others that are not so prominently featured. From a strictly psychological standpoint there is no special reason why we should exclude as behavior elements in aesthetic circumstances the activities of making a living, or sheerly engaging in some satisfactory occupation.

Social Psychological Factors.—Although aesthetic activities are among the most individualistic of behavior we find that at every point they are dominated and influenced by various forms of culturalization. While aesthetic situations give freest rein to imaginative and inventive activity a study of aesthetic products reveals the heavy hand of convention. Starting with aesthetic conceptions and passing through all the stages of technique and choice of medium, the artist shows

( 383) himself to be a member of a psychological collectivity. Aesthetic creation appears to be inevitably conditioned by culturalization of an occupational and professional sort; so that the marks of school and tendency are prominent features of aesthetic products. Still more, our aesthetic conduct is quite definitely acquired in contact with ethnic, sociological and nationalistic groups. Hence it is obviously cultural. These stigmatizing features characterize the artist as exceedingly sensitive to institutional stimuli in the form of standards and prescriptions of all sorts. These stimulate his reactions of taste, subject matter, style, composition, and technique.

That culturalization sweetens or poisons the springs of appreciation we have already had occasion to see. Thus great variations exist between the admiration and judgments of beauty of persons culturalized in different ethnic communities, while those socialized in the same groups respond with a wearisome uniformity.

Sociological Factors.—Every aesthetic situation varies according to contributing sociological conditions. In a sense certain economic circumstances interpenetrate with the other factors in aesthetic situations. Especially in complex societies the existence of objects and materials depends decidedly upon the economic status of the group. In order that contrived beauty should prevail at all, it seems that a certain amount of wealth should exist, either concentrated in the hands of patrons or in some community generally. Quite convincingly does the history of art indicate that the flourishing periods are those in which economic conditions make possible the leisure to pursue aesthetic work. The existence of art museums implies a unique economic factor in aesthetic situations. When a community is prosperous it can build and maintain such permanent repositories for artistic patterns and models. Whether it is true that these institutions operate for woe, as agencies in the perpetuation of wrong standards and techniques, or for weal, in making access possible to great works,

(384) they unquestionably play an important role in the aesthetic life of persons and groups.

Social organization supplies its threads to the general web of the aesthetic circumstances. Thus in a simple society we do not find decided differentiation between the artist and other members of the group as is true in a complex society. Rather, we have situations in which every one is both a craftsman and an artist. Everyone participates in the production of the tools, weapons, and other accoutrements of the group. In the most casual fashion the enhancement and decoration of these objects supply stimuli for the development of essentially artistic products.

Anthropological Factors.—Anthropic components bring civilizational pattern to aesthetic situations. Depending upon the particular anthropic circumstances, art objects and techniques conform in great detail to certain models. Such models represent aesthetic traditions. And so we have Greek, Hellenistic, Byzantine, Italian, and other aesthetic civilizations.

If it is true that the North Europeans or the Americans are developing a new architecture we may regard this event as in part a process of new anthropological conditions effecting a displacement of the thoroughly established classic and Gothic traditions. It is only aesthetic tradition which decrees that the Semites shall not employ the human figure as an aesthetic motif. Hence Arabian architectural decoration is limited to mosaics and Arabesques of every variety depending upon the nature of the materials they use. Again, were not anthropic traditions responsible for the mediaeval and early renaissance painting taking the form of religious decoration as contrasted with pagan motifs? Very strikingly are civilization patterns demonstrated when artists of different periods or places depict some particular subject. How vastly different is the Eastern Christ with its oriental features from the Western Christ with its occidental traits! Similarly, an object which in a Greek aesthetic situation attains to the most idealistic notion

( 385) of perfection, is in the eyes of a Hindu not aesthetic at all.

Historical Factors.— It is evident that the constant changes in human circumstances brought about by group contacts leave their mark upon aesthetic situations, in the same manner that we encountered in scientific and linguistic situations. For illustrative purposes, it suffices to mention the various waves of tradition that have swept over the American group from the time that it was a British colony through its enlarging contacts with other European peoples.

Natural Factors.—Phenomena of nature make greater contributions to aesthetic than to other situations, for natural conditions especially affect aesthetic materials and techniques, as well as appreciative responses. Each separate aesthetic domain, of course, supplies different naturalistic concomitants. For example, in painting, the natural influence upon subject matter is decidedly emphasized. The type of natural surroundings undoubtedly stimulates the development of different conceptions and in general supplies a very distinct form to the art inspiration of different nations. In the field of music the availability of materials for the development of instruments determines the musical products. Similarly, climate and geological formation undoubtedly condition the form and medium with which the architect works.

A rather extraneous but telling influence of natural surroundings upon many aspects of the aesthetic situation concerns the preservation of art objects. It is impossible to overestimate the preservative character of the Egyptian climate, since it has made possible the prolonged existence of so many monuments. After all these centuries they serve as genuine motifs for present day aesthetic activities.


Individual Psychological Factors.—Before attempting to isolate the individual behavior components of religious situa-

( 386) -tions it is necessary to define the religious field. For there are no sharp lines to be drawn here. We shall assume then that within the religious domain is comprised all that contrasts with the everyday world. The religious realm then is different from all that exists, is known, or is subject to man's control. Since this conception requires so much to be defended we submit that it at least allows for the constant and universal presence of religious phenomena in human society.

So far as existence and knowledge are concerned the religious domain contrasts with science as the home of the mystical and supernatural. All ultimate forces, creative powers, and mysterious and supernatural objects find their abode there. Again, the religious field is the fountain head of supreme authority. Whenever man regards some idea or suggestion especially worth while, he finds it sanctioned when he can use the expression, "Thus sayeth the Lord." Furthermore, the religious world is regarded as the source and goal of all man's highest aspirations and ideals. It is the home of "something not ourselves which makes for righteousness."

Religion as we have delimited it may be called personal. It is from that source that we select our examples of individual conduct. In this way we can avoid to a certain extent confusing religious behavior with political or legal action. We must recall that in the period when the priest was scholar, law giver and diplomat, we could not very well distinguish a religious response from an action conforming to the religious organization of society. A church in such a situation was not merely a religious institution; it was at the same time a court of law, a school, and an instrument of social and political administration.

Individual religious responses fall under various headings, such as intellectual and affective attitudes, and behavior habits. As intellectual attitudes we include the numerous beliefs in the existence of powers and forces. Here, too, we have various forms of speculation and reflection concerning

( 387) the nature and possibilities of these powers and personalities which one cannot know but which are presumed somehow to manifest their existence and omnipotence.

Prominent among the effectively surcharged attitudes are the responses of awe and reverence. The former may be regarded as types of pleasurable dejection and self-effacement in the presence of a gigantic power or personality. Reverential reactions take the form of exaltation and affective appreciation of the greatness and grandeur of the religious object. Closely connected with these reactions are the attitudes of mystic union with and dependence upon unknowable forces, and the faith and fear responses which are likewise conduct components of religious situations. Of the innumerable religious practices acts of worship, praise and adoration suggest themselves. The multitude of responses which find a place under these categories obviously take every possible form, as the students of various anthropic groups report. In a series they might be arranged from the sacrifice of human beings, through the killing of animals, down to the gregarious hymning of appraising songs. Nor should such a list exclude various indulgences or ascetic practices. Think only of the fastings, self-torturing, and simple acts of self-denial. We conclude our list with acts of prayer in all its forms. These include sheer attempts to commune with the unknown, as well as bargaining and begging.

Social Psychological Factors.—Religious culturalization is doubtless among the strongest and most enduring. No society is free from an omnipresent religious aura. Every individual is gradually and imperceptibly led into a psychological religious unit in much the same fashion as he enters a linguistic collectivity. This is true especially of general ethnic religious socialization. Resides, there exist in every group many forms of particularized religious institutions harbored by special cults to which individuals acquire responses.

The prominent place of social psychological factors in re-

( 388) -ligious situations is suggested by the existence of numerous initiations and admission ceremonies connected with culturalization by professional religious groups, as well as by the processes of excommunication. Whether a person belongs to an orthodox collectivity, or has undergone the socialization of a heterodox organization with an overt departure from some previous religious culturalization, his participation in a religious situation involves many cultural behavior elements. Whatever religious actions the person performs are moulded and shaped by the conventions of his numerous psychological collectivities.

Sociological Factors.— Whether religious activity is personal or entirely communal the sociological contribution is presupposed. For instance, in a simple society, religious phenomena consist mainly of organized group practices such as dances and sacrifices. In a more complex community, on the other hand, religious responses tend to be more private. Among other sociological aspects are the admixtures of faith and reason and the character of religion as social service or aesthetic experience.

Generally speaking, the social organization of a particular society contributes a distinctive quality of religious behavior. When there is little or no specialization of religious function, as was the case in mediaeval Europe, our religious situation is entirely different than when religious life is a distinct and separate feature of social existence. It is essential to recall that the church might be a state, or that religious organizations, in varying degrees, may perform social functions which sometimes are the activities of a state. For instance, the church in modern society cares for the poor and sick when the state does not provide institutions for such a purpose. Religious organizations also establish schools and colleges for the propagation of both sacred and secular learning.

Anthropological Factors.—While suggesting the anthropic institutions that in part compose religious situations, we will

(389) refer to two general types. On the one hand, there is a general institution to which we may refer as the Sacred or Holy, corresponding to the mystic and unknowable powers which we have previously mentioned. These powers, operating through the medium of ceremonies and legends, serve as stimuli for awe and worship responses. Cathedrals, temples, and various religious institutions concretely and permanently embody these legends.

A second type of religious institution centers about persons. Surveying the whole range of religious situations we find that in some ultimate fashion they are connected with an impersonal personality such as God the Father, or some other personalized form of the unknowable. A considerably more concrete situation arises when powerful individuals are accepted or imagined as the fathers of a clan or group, or as personalities in whom reside the heroism and support of the anthropic collectivity. An example is the whole troop of Greek deities, who in their Olympian behavior were thought to aid, justify and reward the community in their various activities. Practically all religions have a multiplicity of great leaders, prophets, and saints who constitute mediators between the concrete world of human affairs and the impalpable region of the beyond. Here the names of Moses, Zoroaster, Christ, Mohammed, and the Virgin Mary are immediately suggested. Conspicuous also in contributing to the character of religious situations are the civilizational qualities resident in the actual shepherds of the flocks, the priests and ministers who always occupy a large place in the religious world.

Historical Factors.—The contribution of history to religious situations, at least in more complex societies, is primarily though not entirely genetic. Historical factors are not so prominent in current religious happenings; that is, they do not affect greatly the present-day religious life of complex groups. In no case would it be possible for religious institutions and behavior to be as profoundly conditioned as they

(390) were in their formative stages. To determine to what an extent historical factors have influenced European religion it is only necessary to recall that all of its fundamental features are derived from Oriental sources rather than from Occidental ones. Early historical connections between the East and West have left their complicated effects upon all the religious phenomena of Western European civilization.

Natural Phenomena.—Because religious situations are of such an intimate and humanistic character we must expect natural happenings to play a rather indirect role in this domain. Natural phenomena, however, do supply the occasions for belief in uncontrollable forces. The inabilities of man to control life and growth, to stem tides and floods or prevent earthquakes, serve as stimuli for the belief in supernatural powers. Also, the conflicts and frustrations of civil life bring to the fore the helplessness of man and provoke attitudes concerning better and more permanent circumstances in some other than the present existence.


Individual Phychological Factors.—Despite the fact that political phenomena are inevitably tied up with all varieties of economic and sociological facts, they are after all very definite types of humanistic data. The limits marking off the political field circumscribe all the facts concerned with the administration of a territory or group of individuals.

Hence, individual political behavior may be summed up under such headings as voting, tax-paying, law making, and law obeying, all regarded as either coequal or hierarchial organizations of functions, having as their end the living together of persons. Such activities are primarily internal with respect to a given unit. Other responses connected with the interrelations of political groups take the form of diplomatic, protective, and aggressive military acts.

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These activities are merely suggestions of classes of action covering an enormous number of particular responses. It is hardly necessary to draw up elaborate tables of the specific activities comprised under these class headings. We should not neglect, however, to point out that they not only include overt forms of conduct but also more subtle adjustments, such as believing and thinking. In other words, political behavior embraces all manner of adjustments which have as their stimuli the circumstances connected with the relations of men. Nor do we exclude from the political situation those borderline responses between political conduct proper and the economic phases of political life. These consist of actions involved in discovery, and colonization as aspects of extended political administration.

Social Psychological Factors.—Whatever may be the actual circumstances which divide off the persons of a political unit into various collectivities, it is a truism that political life presents very definite and imperious culturalizing conditions. Depending upon the character of the political group, individuals are inevitably socialized as one or another type of political thinker or actor. When political organization is an issue, parties arise defending and objecting to the existing order. Thus we have royalists and republicans side by side. These parties, so far as their influence upon the culturalization of persons is concerned, operate as imperiously as a linguistic or an ethnic group. Traits of thinking and acting are forced upon people which constitute fundamental features of their personality make-up and determine the nature of most of their other forms of activity. In a republican group where the form of organization is not questioned, the large suborganizations may center about some kind of economic issue such as a tariff, but here, too, the influence of the political situation is just as compelling.

Similar to all other groups, political units undergo all types of fractionalization. Individuals are politically attached and

( 392) organized in just as blind and imperious a way as they belong to some religious collectivity. They need neither know what are the political issues nor why they prefer one form of solution to another. On the other hand, other levels in the collectivity may be regarded as more intelligent. At least interest may be manifested in political phenomena. In still higher levels, the individuals may actually have intelligent opinions concerning the nature of the smaller collectivity and the inclusive political unit.

Sociological Factors.—Since the political situation centers about a definite administrative organization it is heavily dowered with social organization components. The many variations in political thought, actions, and institutions directly correspond to the differences between a confederation, a single state, a province, district, a territory, colony, or municipality. In these different administrative units the behavior elements involved may have to do with the relations between individuals in the sense of certain rights and obligations of a personal sort, or with the relations of numbers of people with respect to another aggregate of individuals. In the municipality we approach closer and closer to the former sort of situation. That is, political events arise because of very intimate connections between single persons, or between individuals and the rest of the municipality. Contrariwise, political phenomena in a colony or territory are conditioned by various relations involving groups of persons on both sides.

Whereas in the matter of political organization, rights and agreements concerning boundaries and tributes are stressed as features of the administrative circumstance, in the municipal situation, behavior is more concerned with questions of economic advantage or the development of articles and conditions necessary for maintenance and welfare. In this latter circumstance one's thinking and voting have reference to advantages and disadvantages in general life conditions, whereas

( 393) with respect to organizational conditions the issues center about power, dignity, or national group honor. Naturally, these two lines of political circumstances meet at a common point when tariff problems are concerned.

Anthropological Factors.—A large number of ethnic factors are usually involved in the problems of human relationship as found in large political units, such as nations, colonies, and territories. Such anthropological traditions are represented by the oriental institutions of personal rule and hierarchical domination of individuals, and the, theoretically at least, more equalized and formal distribution of sovereignty among western groups. Other cultural tendencies grant or deny political functions and powers to women as compared with men. These anthropological factors along with all sorts of tangible and intangible instruments for control and exploitation, take their place as influencing elements in any political situation.

Historical Factors.—Since no administrative unit is without constant stress and strain incidental to interaction with other units, the presence of historical factors in political situations needs no amplification. But even when a single unit is alone involved certain historical features present themselves, in the form of internal movements and development. Such circumstances of course involve the interaction of administrative sub-units or parties. The vicissitudes of such a political group include the various forms of party strife localizable within a single collectivity.

Natural Factors.—For the most part the contribution of natural phenomena to political situations concerns geographic and topographic circumstances which make for the cohesion of a certain number of persons into a unit and their separation from other groups. Such natural phenomena almost inevitably supply the bases for all sorts of differences between various types of political group's.

Lands, oil, minerals, or other materials of commerce or exploitation provide the naturalistic sources of administrative

( 394) problems and disputes. Quite frequently the causes of good or bad relations existing between adjoining political units or interrelated dominant .and dependent administrative groups may be attributed to natural phenomena. Were there no advantages to be derived from colonies there would probably be no scramble for them, nor would quarrels between colonists and colonizers arise. Such natural circumstances may of course be secondary and indirect conditions for the disputes concerning power and authority among nations. The effects of such natural phenomena upon political cultural reactions are nevertheless definite.


Individual Psychological Factors.—The behavior factors of our present situation are confined to the activities of the person being educated and not to the responses of those who use education as a means of treating other persons. In brief, the fundamental individual responses of which we speak are the deliberate activities of acquiring reaction systems. This is a process of adding all varieties of responses to one's behavior equipment. Educational behavior results in the acquisition of ideas, processes of thinking, skills, and techniques. But this is not all. The individual also learns to make responses of social adjustment. He must fit himself to live harmoniously with his fellows. Numbered among the stimuli for educational behavior are first, objects and tools of learning in the form of books and lectures, secondly, the persons connected with the learning situation, such as teachers, and fellow pupils, and finally the situations which made a demand for learning activities.

Social Psychological Factors.—How large a phase culturalization components occupy in learning situations is manifested by the fact that what individuals learn and the rate and effectiveness of learning are all determined by collectivis-

(395) -tic influences. Education and learning are for the most part matters of convention.

To illustrate, because the past culturalization of an individual serves as a deterrent to the acquisition of particular activities it functions as a discriminative factor of learning. In other words, culturalization conditions determine the interests of an individual in making certain things appear worth the learning. For this reason certain persons are influenced to choose opposing types of learning behavior from others. For example, individuals from certain culturalization levels are interested only in vocational education, or that which will make for their economic and social advantages, while others take more to what are ordinarily called cultivating and accomplishing subjects. Or the contribution of culturalization to the learning situation may operate in quite the opposite way. That is to say, some individuals whose social and economic circumstances necessitate a life of hard work, may choose to be culturalized as a person of accomplishment, whereas those who may well look forward to a life of leisure are attracted by a practical sort of education.

Culturalization, as the determiner of the intelligence level of individuals, plays its part in the conditioning of the efficiency with which the educational process goes on. Individuals coming from a group in which is found an elaborate intellectual orientation may prove to be better scholars than is otherwise the case.

Sociological Factors.—When equipment in the form of buildings and teachers is necessary, economic conditions decidedly condition the character of the educational situation. Naturally, that society which can afford adequate equipment can anticipate better educational results. As it happens, economic conditions are such that the educational process goes on much like an elaborate system of industrial mass production. Children are brought in large numbers into a single building and all of them treated as indifferent units in a class

(396) which is handled exactly the same way with regard to curriculum, discipline, etc. On the other hand, those children more fortunately placed, are considered as individuals by some teacher whose methods and procedures are adapted to the individual rather than to a large group.

Social organization, too, determines the character of the educational situation. In a Protestant society where a great gap exists between church and state, the emphasis in state schools is entirely on book learning and in general on the acquisition of knowledge and skills, whereas in societies in which the church functions in close connection with administrative activities children are also given religious training in the school.

Anthropological Factors.—Anthropological factors contribute standards and aims to educational traditions. Such factors also determine to a great extent what kind of teaching situations shall exist. It is the anthropological circumstances which dictate whether education shall be the domestic and initiatory process of simple societies, or the complex techniques of intricate social life. Education in both cases is a process of initiating an individual into society. For the most part, then, it is a process of making individuals conform to a group of their elders. Individuals must be made into the image of the parents, or some kind of generalized model. Because of this conformity the educational reformer is all the more conspicuous a figure with his attitude of modifying standard conditions. Through the cultural traditions of a group certain studies and forms of behavior assume value. These conventions indicate or dictate what should be taught.

Were it not for the operation of cultural traditions in our educational system there would be no such absence of sex education as exists today. When a society is prudish in the sense of not admitting the discussion of sex matters, the educational situation is left without any provision for the teaching of sex knowledge.

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Historical Factors.—Upon analyzing educational situations we discover that much that transpires within them is attributable to historical conditions. While these features may occupy a rather indirect place they do, however, contribute their quota of components. Think only of the changes and uncertainties introduced into the educational world by wars, conquests, and annexations. With change of nationality and transformation in general life conditions, the problems and processes of education become quite altered. Thus the questions why one speaks a certain language, acquires certain manners, particular loyalties or disloyalties are traceable to various historical circumstances.

Natural Factors.—Only very limited contributions are made by natural phenomena to the educational complex. They function mostly in simpler civilizations. On the whole, such factors operate in all types of vocational education rather than in the intellectual type. Obviously, naturalistic factors have to do with the manipulation of things and various direct contacts with natural phenomena. As in most other situations, natural phenomena provide, of course, innumerable stimuli for all sorts of responses.

In concluding this chapter, we refer once more to the impossibility of indicating how each reaction, belonging to the various fields we have canvassed, displays all these different aspects. We must submit, however, that no question exists but that every instance of a humanistic event comprises a large number of psychological, anthropological, sociological and naturalistic factors of the types that we have been suggesting. What the student of human phenomena must do is to choose some specific happening and exercise his analytic and synthetic acumen upon it. Perhaps our former watch illustration will serve as a suggestive paradigm for such a study.


  1. For an excellent treatment of this phase of science, cf. Murray, Science and Scientists in the 19th Century, 1925.
  2. L. Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas H. Huxley; Vol. II, p. 106. Reprinted with the kind permission of D. Appleton and Co. New York.
  3. "The aspiration to be 'scientific' is such an idol of the tribe to the present generation, is so sucked in with his mother's milk by every one of us, that we find it hard to conceive of a creature who should not feel it, and harder still to treat it freely as the altogether peculiar and one-sided subjective interest which it is. But as a matter of fact, few even of the cultivated members of the race have shared it; it was invented but a generation or two ago. In the middle ages it meant only impious magic; and the way in which it even now strikes orientals is charmingly shown in the letter of a Turkish cadi to an English traveller asking him for statistical information, which Sir A. Layard prints at the end of his 'Nineveh and Babylon.' The document is too full of edification not to be given in full. It runs thus: 'My Illustrious Friend, and joy of my Liver!
    'The thing you ask of me is both difficult and useless. Although I have passed all my days in this place, I have neither counted the houses nor inquired into the number of the inhabitants; and as to what one person loads on his mules and the other stows away in the bottom of his ship, that is no business of mine. But, above all, as to the previous history of this city, God only knows the amount of dirt and confusion that the infidels may have eaten before the coming of the sword of Islam. It were unprofitable for us to inquire into it.
    'O my soul! O my lamb! seek not after the things which concern thee not. Thou tamest unto us and we welcomed thee: go in peace. 'Of a truth thou hast spoken many words; and there is no harm done. For the speaker is one and the listener is another. After the fashion of thy people thou hast wandered from one place to another, until thou art happy and content in none. We (praise be to God) were born here, and never desire to quit it. Is it possible, then, that the idea of a general intercourse between mankind should make any impression on our understandings? God forbid!
    'Listen, 0 my son! There is no wisdom equal unto the belief in God! He created the world, and shall we liken ourselves unto Him in seeking to penetrate into the mysteries of His creation? Shall we say, Behold this star spinneth round that star, and this other star with a tail goeth and cometh in so many years! Let it go! He from whose hand it came will guide and direct it.
    `But thou wilt say unto me, Stand aside, 0 man, fol I am more learned than thou art, and have seen more things. If thou thinkest that thou art in this respect better than I am, thou art welcome. I praise God that I seek not that which I require not. Thou art learned in the things I care not for; and as for that which thou hast seen, I spit upon it. Will much knowledge create thee a double belly, or wilt thou seek Paradise with thine eyes?
    'O my friend! if thou wilt be happy, say, There is no God but God! Do no evil, and thus wilt thou fear neither man nor death; for surely thine hour will come!
    The meek in spirit (El Fakir)
    Imaum Ali Zadi.' "

    Reprinted from James. Psychology, Vol. II, pp. 640-641, footnote, with the kind permission of Henry Holt & Co., New York.
  4. For an exhaustive analysis of linguistic phenomena see Kantor, Principles of Psychology, Vol. II, Chap. 23.


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