Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

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In the eighteenth century, when the ideas which lie behind our Constitution and fundamental law were formulated, there was very little knowledge of the relationship between the deeper instinctive and emotional life of man and his intellectual development. It was assumed, for instance, that in politics a citizen made up his mind very deliberately and self-consciously and then went about to cast his ballot for this man or that measure on the basis of the best intellectual judgment he could give; and that he chose his mate or his business partner or his profession or vocation in much the same self-conscious, deliberate, rational way. Moreover, such men as Godwin and Condorcet in the time of the French Revolution imagined that man could go on perfecting himself indefinitely through the unlimited power of his rational capacities to better his condition.

These ideas, which were held by many of our early statesmen have come down to us in our own political and social history, so that the man in the street, the ordinary citizen, the usual student, imagines that what he does is done from a simple rational motive, that he "makes up his mind" and then goes ahead to do the pre-determined action. Through the work of Hall, McDougall, Wallas, Freud, Jung, Adler, and others we know that this simple rationalist method is thoroughly fallacious. Deeper than the intellectual powers lie the emotions and instinctive tendencies which rest on the racially older and more ancient foundations of our being. What we so frequently imagine to be self-consciously determined are in reality actions motivated from instinctive-emotional patterns that are simply covered over with intellectual rationalizations or excuses acceptable to our social group. Throughout this entire volume we shall see again and again how much of social behavior is really rooted in emotions and instinctive trends, and how little of it rests upon the purely

( 147) rational functions. In truth, the emotions and the instinctive trends furnish the motives, the drives, for behavior of all sorts. The intelligence serves its purpose, largely to modify and secure these ends in the directions laid down by culture patterns. When we come to discuss leadership we shall see that individual differences in drive and intelligence play important parts in setting off leaders from followers. In the discussion of crowd behavior and of public opinion we shall see how much appeal is made to emotions. The instinctive-emotional tendencies are far deeper in the race than intellectual capacities. Our culture, in fact, is basically organized in reference to these deeper trends, even though very wide divergencies in content of culture are everywhere evident. That is, the crises which gave rise to culture patterns were definitely related on the organic side to man's emotions and instincts.

It is with a view to giving a foundation for understanding the important place of instinctive tendencies and emotions that this chapter and the one following it are presented.

There are really two divergent views of instinct. One may be called the hormic, purposive or drive theory. Instinct so thought of is related to fundamental appetites, desires, or inner urges of the organism. Actually much that is described as instinct under this standpoint includes learned as well as innate features. These impulses result in a totality of actions, an integration of responses in satisfaction of these deep organic needs. McDougall's view is such. And although Dunlap has restated his concepts as desire, not instinct, he still has much the same view. So too, the psychoanalysts, with their emphasis upon sex and ego manifestations, or of sex, ego and herd instincts as with MacCurdy, belong in this school. This may be called a teleological view, but without employing the word "teleological" to mean any spiritual, non-material force, but merely in reference to biological mechanisms which function together in the survival of the living organism. In short, this standpoint concerns itself with treating the total response of the organism, not the single units, the single reflexes, which are native to it. Only by describing the totality of the organism in reference to its environment can we reach an adequate view.[1]

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The contrasted view of instinct is that held today by the bulk of American animal psychologists and by many social psychologists. This may be called, for want of a better term, the "reflex" or "mechanist" theory. They see very little in the general drive concept and they scout the purposive aspect of instinctive life. They put their attention to uncovering the simpler units of action in original behavior, namely, the reflexes. Allport's list of "prepotent reflexes,"of course, is really a series of complex patterns of various reflexes, and his view is somewhat intermediate between the two. His term seems largely a new one for the old familiar "instinct" but in more rudimentary form. The view of Bernard is more distinctly that of the "reflex" theory. He holds that instinct must be thought of in terms of structural units laid down at birth or developing with normal growth, and that in the case of the human being there are literally hundreds of these structural units which combine under environmental pressures to form the deeper combinations or integrations which have by other writers been glibly called "instincts."

When all is said and done, however, these two views are not so widely separated. The paper by Woodworth on the nature of a drive is important in indicating that "drive" and "mechanism" are much the same thing. Moreover, one mechanism may serve as a drive for a more elaborate one. Thus hunger or sex, as innate patterns, may in time become drives for an elaborate number of other mechanisms that are picked up in experience. Thus, for example, the peculiar conditioning of the pigeons cited in the earlier paper by Whitman simply means that the fundamental urges or mechanisms which we term "sex" may be associated with a variety of objects outside the organism. Thus the bird may mate with a distinctly different species or attempt mating with one of its own sex and so on, depending on its early training or conditioning.

The papers by Tolman are in point because they indicate clearly that the contrast between the "reflex"or "mechanistic"school (to adopt McDougall's term for the moment) and the hormic or "drive"school may be resolved by recognizing hierarchies of behavior units

( 149) from simple reflexes to those in combination or pattern. The latter may be called instincts as easily and as logically as the former. It is a matter of definition.

The lists of instincts by McDougall, Warren, and Thorndike are typical of the older classifications. These items represent patterns of behavior, at least in some instances, which contain learned as well as native features.

There is no doubt, however, that the term "instinct" has been fearfully abused and misused by unnumbered writers. This not only applies to literary persons and the pseudo-scientific popularizers of objective knowledge, but has been particularly true of the social scientists. Bernard's two papers are especially appropriate criticisms of this loose, ill-advised usage.

In the paper by Faris we have an attempt to give up the concept of instinct entirely and to substitute such a fairly objective term as "attitude." Is it not, however, at present a questionable thing to give up dealing with original reactions and to use only "attitudes" in describing behavior instead? Does this answer fully the need to consider the original, innate, and inherited roots of behavior? Are there not original patterns or reflexes, or instinctive tendencies, if you will, basic to these attitudes?

We must conclude, then, that most students of social, as of individual, behavior are concerned with original nature, and recognizing its place in man they do attempt some consistent formulation of the principles. Hence, we must give some consideration to this fundamental aspect of man's nature until more conclusive light has been shed on the question of dismissing the innate tendencies as of no concern in social psychology.

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