Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

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That the child is father to the adult is literally true. The adult personality can not be understood independently of the life history of the man or woman from infancy through childhood and adolescence. While in the earlier chapters we have revealed the essential foundations of personality, in this chapter we shall present two papers on the relation of occupational choice to personality. Then we shall quote from James' classic description of the social self, indicating with perspicacity, as it does, the intimate connection between the social setting of others with their class and professional standards and the self or personality.

The selection from Bogardus on wit and humor reviews the classical theories of wit and laughter, and then gives a brief discussion of this essentially social function. Man is the only animal that laughs, just as he is the only animal that blushes. No account of laughter would be complete without a recognition of the place it has in social interaction, its relation to superiority feelings, its relation to sex and ego patterns, its relation to whole groups of language forms such as we see in autistic thinking. Like play, laughter is rather a part of the normal life than any simple mechanism for release of energy or other mere physiological manifestation. It is an intimate part of the personal organization of life around one's social and self-centered objects and situations.

The paper by Williams gives, on the basis of a wide experience with men, his formulation of the mainspring of human action. Williams has arrived rather empirically at the general conception already discussed of the place of status and of the desire to play a rôle in the group in reference to personality. If his "desire to shine" is considered, however, as the only root of social behavior it suffers

( 383) from being too narrow. The next selection, one from Thomas, presents, again, from empirical evidence, four fundamental wishes as the key to understanding personal response. All four of these have social as well as individual roots. It should not be thought, however, that these four wishes exhaust the possible sources of attitude and action. They are a tentative working scheme for descriptive, classificatory purposes only.

The paper by Conklin presents an analysis of personality organization in terms of introversion, extroversion and ambiversion. These concepts relate to the direction of attention, in large part. The introvert is he who is more or less bound up with his internal machinery, with his images, ideas and thought processes. The extrovert, in contrast, is he who is concerned with externalities, with the world of persons and objects outside himself. We might say for convenience that the introvert lives on the inside of his head, the extrovert on the outside. As Conklin shows, however, no doubt the bulk of people fall in between these extremes. To describe this middle range of life interests, he has invented the word "ambivert."

In the second section of the chapter are three papers presenting three somewhat divergent theories of personality, one from a psychologist who follows McDougall rather closely; the second from a psychiatrist, who is not, however, a Freudian ; the third is from a sociologist whose standpoint has been influenced by Thomas. Other standpoints might be presented but these three illustrate the treatment of personality from three distinct angles. The psychologist tends to see the personality in terms of his intellectual, his affective and his volitional characteristics. Bridges, in fact, describes personality very much as Burgess would describe the individual. Rosanoff divides personality into four types which he considers develop from inborn tendencies. Here we see the attempt to understand the personality in terms of manifestations seen in the borderline and truly pathological field. He emphasizes the constitutional background upon which personality develops. Finally, the paper by Burgess approaches the problem from the angle of the social rôle of the individual, from the nature of his social status and his conception of his place in the group or groups to which he belongs. He holds that personality can not be understood without taking into account the social conditioning of groups. Hence, while the

( 384) psychologist and psychiatrist contribute much to an understanding of the psycho-biological foundations of personality, the full picture can not be revealed without taking into account the social relations of the individual.

Throughout our entire treatment we have seen how the social environment plays upon the organism to bend it this way or that, to enclose it here and to expand it there. The result of these pressures is something very different than the mere combination of intellect, feeling, and will which Bridges describes, or the four-fold divisions of Rosanoff.

'While it 'is legitimate to use the term "personality" under any definition desired, for social psychology it is apparently more satisfactory to follow the organization of materials given emphasis in this volume. At the outset we saw the place of group behavior and of the culture patterns. Then we described the mechanisms of the individual considered as an organism. Following this, we indicated how the culture patterns and the presence of other persons combining with the individual mechanisms produced the personality—the human organism in his social and culture setting.

In certain chapters which follow we shall discuss the personality in more particular reference to his interaction with others, in reference to prejudice, to leadership, and in regard to collective behavior. But before coming to a description of these social phenomena from the angle of the group-and-individual situation, we shall have to examine more closely into some of the features of the mental patterns which relate the person to his various groupings : primary, secondary, institutional and non-institutional, temporary or permanent. This will be the task of the two chapters which follow the present one.

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