The Tajfel Memorial Lecture, presented at the 1984 meeting of the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology at Tilburg, Netherlands. It was prepared during my stay at the University of Tilburg as a Visting Professor, and this hospitality is gratefully acknowledged.
Nature, culture and social psychology†
Article first published online: 22 FEB 2006
Copyright © 1986 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 16, Issue 1, pages 17–30, January/March 1986
How to Cite
Jahoda, G. (1986), Nature, culture and social psychology. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 16: 17–30. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2420160106
- Issue published online: 22 FEB 2006
- Article first published online: 22 FEB 2006
- Manuscript Received: 29 MAY 1984
It is proposed that ideas about ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, key concepts in structural anthropology, have an important bearing on assumptions underlying rival theoretical approaches in social psychology. Experimental social psychologists tend to make the tacit assumption that they are dealing only with nature, while ethogenists like Harré explicitly concentrate on culture and treat nature as irrelevant. Others like Tajfel and Moscovici occupy a middle ground, being concerned with both aspects. Perhaps the most radical critic is Gergen, whose rejection of nature and culture is discussed in detail and shown to be largely based on western cultural beliefs. It is further suggested that mainstream experimental social psychology, epitomized by Aronson's The Social Animal, is equally culture-bound, although masquerading as the study of nature. This contention is supported by an account of predominant failure of replication in a not greatly dissimilar culture. It is concluded, with Doise and Berry, that we need ‘multiple social psychologies’, and with Tajfel and Pepitone that social psychological research must consider the wider system within which social behaviour takes place.