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Abstract

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.