Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

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To understand social behavior it is essential to describe the organic basis of the mechanisms on which it rests. Too frequently the social scientist has ignored the biological background of individual action. As we noted in the general introduction, one can not understand the social process without recognizing the place which the biological foundations of behavior play in this same process. An important contribution to this field came through the work of Charles Darwin and for psychology especially through that of his cousin, Francis Galton, with his study of the importance of individual differences. Another contribution to social psychology came from McDougall with his insistence on the important place which the emotions and the instincts take in social conduct. Finally, we shall have to look to the contribution from general psychology on the nature of the learning process and the forms of mental organization which arise in the individual. In the present chapter we shall deal with the factors of individual differences and with the contrast between original and learned or acquired nature. We shall also consider the organic basis of intelligence.

The biological roots of human behavior are far deeper than the product of this behavior which we term "culture." Thorndike in his per on original versus acquired nature indicates some of the fundamental contrasts that may be recognized at the outset in studying the individual. He indicates the units of original nature and the method by which they are combined into larger patterns. Kellogg's per deals with the inheritance of mental abilities first clearly pointed out by Galton. The law of ancestral inheritance has been somewhat modified, since it is now recognized that the percentage of

(122) influence of various ancestors is not quite what Galton estimated it to be. Nevertheless, his fundamental point of a diminishing effect of any particular ancestor upon the present individual, in terms of the remoteness of this ancestor, is sound. Likewise, his law of filial regression shows that any combination of traits rests upon a variety of ancestral characters coming from a wide selection of persons. The work started by Galton in the field of inheritance of mental abilities is still going on. While many of the earlier assumptions are being modified by more careful study of early physical and social conditionings, thus upsetting the assurance of some of the earlier work, it still remains true that there is everywhere overwhelming evidence of the importance of heredity in human behavior.

Turner's paper reviews further the nature of individual differences, giving some statistical evidence from the field of intelligence. Man's life rests not only on his original nature, but also on the fact that this original nature varies, one man with another. Furthermore, social experience makes for further differentiation among men. But the fact remains that men differ in physical condition, in resistance to disease, innate mental abilities, in volitional qualities and even, perhaps, in instinctive and emotional tendencies. There is perhaps less variability in the racially older instinctive tendencies than in the newer abilities such as intelligence or learning capacity, which rest more particularly upon the higher nervous centers—those which were last to evolve. In short, while social surroundings play an enormous rôle in determining the direction which life organization takes, certainly heredity has a distinct part in limiting the direction and extent of this social influence.

White's review of Kretschmer's work on the relation of physical make-up to character traits is important. While the character or personality organization is taken up later, this paper is introduced here to show the possible correlation of physique and the whole personality development. Certainly the correlations reported by Kretschmer are significant if further study shows that his own results are at all universal.

In the second section of this chapter are three papers dealing with intelligence. Herrick indicates the neurological foundation of both original and learned nature. One should consult Herrick's Intro-

( 123) -duction to Neurology for a fuller and more complete understanding of the interrelation of original to acquired nature on the neurological side. This is followed by a series of short definitions of intelligence from Thorndike, Terman, and Colvin. Finally there is a selection from Peterson indicating a probable mechanistic explanation of intelligence. By such conception intellectual capacity is more adequately brought into line with the functioning of the nervous system.

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