There is a range of sciences that are constantly investigating new approaches to better understand the nature of human being. Nevertheless, such fields as psychology and sociology have been considered as similar subjects by some means and have been unified into a new discipline of social psychology. Generally, social psychology deals with the behavioral aspect of humans and his/her interactions with the environment as a result of social influences. However, the power of the situation remains a dominant point for social psychology and is much more important than personality factors referring to behavior (Lecture 1, n.d.).
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There are a lot of researchers who tried to evolve new theories and then approve them with practical issues. Among many of them, there are the next five interesting theories to be focused on in this paper. These are investigations of Gordon Allport, John Tooby, Lee Ross, Kurt Lewin, and Elliot Aronson. They have their own opinions about social-psychological problems and use different perspectives for correct studying them (Lecture 1, n.d.).
The history of science goes back centuries ago and includes many stages of its development. Hence, among different perspectives, the following can be highlighted: evolutionary, socio-cultural, socio-learning, phenomenological, and social cognition. In addition, the cultural aspect of conducting research is vital for researchers because it allows a broader look at many social psychological concerns (Lecture 1, n.d.).
Gordon Allport underlined the uniqueness of each individual, and later, created a theory of individuality. Allport stated that healthy people in terms of psychology are driven by the present, and are not afraid to establish new tensions. In addition, humans often produce a kind of “proactive behavior” (Theories of personality, 2002). It may evolve new perspectives and creativity of personality behaviors that often helps to grow and change. These aspects can be seen in morphogenic science created by Allport. According to his opinion, each personality is nothing else than “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought” (Theories of personality, 2002). Moreover, personal dispositions and the proprium are the essential characteristics of humans. Therefore, the first criterion presupposes common and peculiar features in personality. At the same time, there are three levels of personal dispositions, when cardinal dispositions are dominant because they are undeniable and evident for other people. Allport said that not all people possess such kind of disposition, but 5-10 central characteristics are enough for the majority to revolve their existence. On the contrary, all people have a wide range of secondary dispositions which are of much lower reliability than central ones. Generally, Allport’s division concludes motivational and stylistic dispositions (Theories of personality, 2002). Consequently, one is responsible for action initiation and another for an individual’s behavioral manner. The author stated that the second important human feature, the proprium, is directly relevant to warm behaviors of humans taking their central role. Moreover, the author supported the idea of “…the term proprium over self or ego because the latter terms could imply an object or thing within a person that controls behavior, whereas proprium suggests the core of one’s personhood” (Theories of personality, 2002).
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The researches of Allport also deal with motivation of human being. Hence, his theory underlines the thoughts that as soon as people become mature enough to follow their wants, they are motivated. Simultaneously, there are two Theories of Motivation: Reactive and Proactive (Theories of personality, 2002). Allport emphasized that people tend to not only give reactions to their environment but also make it react to the back. According to a proactive approach, people often look for additional tension and it demands growth on their ways to psychological health. The theory of Motivation also touches Functional Autonomy, as well as Conscious and Unconscious Motivation. The contribution of Allport to social psychology is great, hence he studied the problems of the Psychologically Healthy Personality, the Concept of Humanity, the Study of the Individual, and made other related researches, for example, he established the connection between religious maturity and prejudice in society (Theories of personality, 2002). They all remain important for a better understanding of personality, his/her behavior, and influences within society.
The scientist found himself in the fields of cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary biology, paleoanthropology, and cultural anthropology, and applied some similar studies in order to create evolutionary psychology. The main purpose of the new field is “…the progressive mapping of the universe evolved cognitive and neural architecture that constitutes human nature, and provides the basis of the learning mechanisms responsible for culture” (Tooby, 2004). Peculiar knowledge helps to design the emotional as well as cognitive principles necessary for the general outcome. As one of the most responsible people at UCSB’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Tooby, collaborating with his colleagues, uses neuroscience, as well as experimental and cross-cultural approaches to discover specific questions regarding group psychology, human reasoning, coalitions, and cognitive specializations for cooperation (Tooby, 2004). In addition, he directs the project in Ecuadorian Amazonia because of its involvement in cross-cultural issues and the ability of adaptations in terms of psychology, and human ecology concerning behavior. This personality is also dealing with evolutionary biology, specifically the interconnections between genetic systems and the evolution of sexual reproduction.
Since 1969, Lee D. Ross has been working at Stanford University, and now he is a professor of psychology. The subjects conducted by him are about conflict resolution, social psychology, the nature of negotiation, bargaining, and other public issues in terms of the policy. Moreover, Ross has made a profound contribution to establishing of the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation. At the same time, this personality is known as the coauthor of the works “The Person and Situation” and “Human Inference” (Social Psychology Network, 2007). These books are not the only valuable sources of information written by Ross because he also created about 100 articles in journals. Interestingly, he also belongs to a special circle of people appreciated by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Social Psychology Network, 2007). Later on, he was awarded by the American Psychological Society and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. Professor Ross’s investigation emphasizes the points of human judgment, decision making, and biases in human inference, namely the cognitive, perceptual and motivational biases. These factors often make people misinterpret the behavior of others, hence they are considered to be the obstacles on the way of understanding. As an example of working closely to negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, Ross said that “Even when each side recognizes that the other side perceives the issues differently … each thinks that the other side is biased while they themselves are objective and that their own perceptions of reality should provide the basis for settlement” (Aronson, E., Wilson, T.D., Akert, R.M., 2013).
The Caucuses, Middle East, and Northern Ireland were important places for Ross to show his broad skills, knowledge, and experience in the sphere of diplomacy. Additionally, the world problems of the academic challenges, global warming, social security choices, minority of women in science and health care were not aside to Ross, too (Social Psychology Network, 2007).
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Lewin’s theories highlight the power of situations, which is well-explained in courses on social cognition, social psychology, and rehabilitation psychology. The last one touches upon psychological knowledge aiming at improving people’s lives with illnesses and disabilities. The main purpose of Lewin’s research in the area of rehabilitation psychology is to sustain the state of health or make it better. Hence, it improves general well-being, independence, and point of socialization. Organizational psychology is one more field good for studying group dynamics and used by Lewin (Dunn, Dana S., 2011).
The scientist believed that social perception had holistic and subjective gist. In addition, Lewin’s view was about the impossibility of interpretation of human behavior. Hence, it is a normal thing to ignore the “psychological forces attributed to nature” as well as nurture (Dunn, Dana S., 2011). Nevertheless, situational factors are connected with personal ones and influence each other. Consequently, it flows into the behavioral uniqueness of every person.
There are many theoretical perspectives shared between teaching, education, and social science. They are the pedagogical questions to which such social psychologists as Ross, Lewin, and others give explicit answers in their works.
Interest in social influence has involved Aronson in his further research concerning conducting specially developed experiments on making the human condition better. Hence, they have been directed to convince people to think about sustainability, limited natural resources, how to confine the feeling of prejudice, and other essential purposes (Social Psychology Network, 2007).
Professor Aronson was given APS awards of the highest rank in all academic categories: “For distinguished writing (1973), for distinguished teaching (1980), and for distinguished research (1999)” (Social Psychology Network, 2007).
Moreover, his name appeared in the list of “the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th Century” in 2002 (Social Psychology Network, 2007).
Several years later, he won the William James Fellow Award on the behalf of the Association for Psychological Science. It is not surprising, because Aronson has taught at several famous universities, such as the University of Minnesota, the University of California, the University of Texas, Stanford University, and also Harvard University. His contribution to social psychology is large and only constantly growing.