GUSTAV JAHODA Department of Psychofogy, University of Stralhclyde


155 George Street, Glasgow G1 1 RD. U.K

European Journal of 'ocial P ycholog:, /ol. 16, 17-30 (1986)

Nature, culture andsocJal ,psy,chology'


It is proposed that ideas about 'nature' and 'culture'; key concepts it, tructurai anthropology) have an important bearing n assumptions underlying rival theoretical approaches in octal psychology. Experimental social psychologists tend to make the tacu assumption that they are dealing ani) wilh nature, while ethogenist like Harre explicitly concentrate on culture and treat nature as irrelevant. Others like Tajf-ei. and Moscol,jci occupy a middle ground, being concerned with both aspects. Perhaps the most radical critic is Gergen, whose reje lion of nature and culture i discussed in detail and shown to be largely basedon western cultural beliefs. 11 is further StLggesled rlilll mainstrearn e~perimental social pSJchology, epitomized b)1 Aronson' The Social Animal, is equally culture-bound, although masqu,etadit,zg as the smdy of nature. This contention is supported b 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 ps tchologies . and with Tajlel and Pepitone that social ps chological research must COII,~i{Jer file hider y tem within which social behaviour take place.

First of all I t me say that I feel greatl h noured to have been asked to deliver this first Henri Tajfel Memorial Lecture. 1 aU1 ihute this largely to my close relationship wlth Henri which date back to well before the foundation of OUT Assoeiarton, in which he was of course one of the prime movers. Henri was an extraordinarily creative person, and his enthusiasm wa Infectious. I can claim to have pre ent if not at the birth. then shortly after. one of his mo t influential ideas, namely that of the 'minimum' group. We w re t gether at a conference in Amsterdam walking through a busy street when I a ked what be wa working on. He stopped and launched upon an expo ilion f the bas ic notion, still struggling at the time with the problem of how to operationalizeit, In b:i: growing excitement, which I soon began to share, he became entirely oblivious of the bustling crowds and the noise 0:[ the traffic. TIl~S capacity for total asborption was one of hi great strengths,

11b.e Tujfel lemorial Lecture, presented lI't the 19!1.4 mee,ting of the European Association far Experimental oeial Psycho'iogy at Tilhurg, etherlands, l! \vII prepared during my st:ay [I't the Universia f Tilburg as a Vistlng Professor. and this hospitality is gratefully acknowledged.


@ 1986 b John Wiley & Sons. Ltd.

Re eived 29 May 1984

]8 G. Iahada

Probably the best overview of H nri's total achievement i to be found in hi Human Group and ocial Categories (1981). Intended as a mile 'lone b one who still had much to give, it has sadly become a testament that vividly con eys the author' very personal e mmirment to social psychology. It also display the broad

weep of his research Bad thinking, covering perceptual judgement and stereotypes, on which he threw entirely fresh light, studies of the development of ethnocentrism ill which I had the privilege of co-operating witb him and problems of intergroup conflict which occupied uta t of hi later years. There is one major thread running throughout Henri ajfel' work, and that is concern with the status of social psychology as an intellectual discipline. He had a pas ionate belief in it alue, though it was by no mean' an uncritical one, a' is evident from his piece on . Experiments in a uum' (1972). TIllS bas been very influential and widely cited, though sometimes in a destructive spirit of which Henri himself would probably have disapproved. He bad an abiding faith in the alue of empirical cial psychology, and was impati nt of the continuing erie. of a 'crisis'.

Thus ill Human Groups and Social Categories he devoted a mere few line to refuting orne ethogenic argument', and bas not to my knowledge dealt with the potentially more damaging threat po ed by Gergen' (1 Y73 famous article on 'Social psychology as history. his comment is not intended a. a critique, for Henri was reluctant to di sipate too much energy on polemics. toreover some of these issues have emerged very recently and my aim here i lO contribute to the di cu ion from the tandpoint fa somewhat marginal man with a foot in each of ociaJ and cr s-cultural psychology.

This kind of marginality is by [10 means unusual applying to many cross-cutlural p ychologists. Conversely man social psychoiogists,including 01 com e Henri Tajfel, have been interested in cross-cultural psychology and often even worked in that field. My own concern with era s-cultural psychology dates back a generation, before that term carne into u e .• hartly after I had been appointed lecturer in social psychology at the University of Manchester, we had a visit from a distingui hed p. ychologist from New Zealand, the late Ernest Beaglehole, who had worked with Maori, In the cou e of a conversation he uttered a sentence that has remained engraved 011 my mind: 'If you ant to be 8 goodocial p ychologi it, you hould

pend orne time living and working ill an entirely different culture'. At the rime [his merely seemed a good idea in th spirit of Kipling' lines 'and what should the know of England, who only ~ngland know?' A year later t left for West Africa.

Jt was only gradually that-the full import of Beaglehole' word, became dear to me: cross-oultural psychology can provide an excellent vantage point for looking at the problems of ocial psychology. Thi applies to ales er e lent to tho e who, a for example u ers of the Human Relations Area Files, work with data collected in various cultures but lack ally contact with live human' or to tho e who confine themsel e 10 the modernized ector of non-we tern cultures, The most effective les on is learnt if one. work with traditional people la king in literacy and with limit d western contact. Thi experience lead one to que tion a number of assumptions about people's idea .. and behaviour that tend to be taken for granted in much of social psychology.

It is worth noting that such as uraptions tend to be shared by experimentallyminded social psychologl ts regarded by their opponents as 'the establishmem', as well as by some of their critl . Lately these critic. have become highly vociferous

I ature. culture and social psy holog) )9

and their attack eek to und rmine the ery foundation' of the discipline. What is

at take here?

In my view tbe fundamental issue ha t do with the way one deal, deliberate I or otherwise, with the relation. hip between nature and culture. Th phrase is reminiscent of thai more familiar to p sych logist • namely 'nature and nurture', but

hould not be mistaken for it. The nature-culture contrast goes back to Rousseau. who was concerned with the transformation from one to the other. The outstanding contemporary discussion j that of Levi- iran s, who ha at arious time e poused incompatibl p itions. Fir t he prop ed a basic distinction between 'nature' and 'culture'. ature j that which i . rnrnon t all men given by heredity and independent of any specific cultural context. On the other band culture i a function o a particular form of social life and its r orm • acquired by I arning, This may be epitomized y saying that nature i- neces !1ry, while culture i es clltiaUyarbitrary . In another pan of his oeuvre, ho e er, he sought to fiad the key to culture in the characteristics of the human brain. thereby reducing culture to nature. Later again Levi-Straus uggesred tiI,at the narure-culture contrast is an artificial creation of culture thereby in effect reducing nature to Culture. (For details of Levi-Straus. ian idea , ct. MacCormack 1980).

In hat way, YOIl might well a k, are these speculations rcl vant for psy hology in general and social p yebology ill particular? M answer i thai they relate closely to the hidden curriculum of traditional main trearn p yehol g. xperimental p chologi ts who study uch part-function of the human organi m a percepti n or memory a ume that they are dealing only with nature and are nor usually concern d about culture. lthough the assumption i not justified, ascross-cultural psychologi ts have amply demon trate , it is at least under uandable. The remarkable fact: is that the assumption appears to be shared by experimental ocial p ychotogists whose concern i eclat b haviour, which urely does involve the per on as it whole. [ shall show in more d tail later, such experimental p cbologi ts in effect reduc cultur to nature, without, eemingly being aware of doing this, Unle they are 'kidding' 111e rest of u • the harbour the illusion of di co ering urn er al laws. For Instance Turner (19 I), in hi chapter on 'Generalizing ocial psych logy' repeated] refer to' nature' or 'natural law', a in the roll wing pas age:

' .. , laboratory and field are parts l)f the arne real world ... and social psychological, phenomena in both pia es follow the arne natural laws' (p .. 5).

Other cial p ychologisl' recogniz tit at ocial beha iouri. a function f an intricate and as yetinsuffici ntl under to >d interpla ber een nature and culture. They hold the view that empirical re .earcr , including e periment , are worth doing while remaining aware of it limitation. This I believe to have been the p ition of Henri Tajfel and also thai of Serge Me scovici who has him elf di cussed the nature-culture is ue (1972).

Finally there are the radical critic. who rejeet any mainstream oeial psycholog , thereby reducing nature to culture. ignoring the 'necessary' and confining themselves to the 'arbitrary'. They may be wrong, but at least they know wlla'l they are doing. Thu Harre (1983), without any false modesty. recently wrote:

'Virtually any stimulus conditi n may furnish the occasion for irruall. an '

behavioural e ent' (p. 15). .

• 0 the extent that people earch for means of being unique, there II· III be a continuouserasion of uniform and reliable patterns' (p. 20).

'If the individual conceptually constructs the environment, the environment

20 G. Jahoda

'. .. ocial psy hologj has come to be based on the idea r a collecti e cluster of rule system: III the fundamental I! planarory level who e further investigation lead' into hi tor ".' (p. 199),

Later on I pr pose to return (0 the tough-minded experimental ocial psycholo ists who reduce culture '10 nature, But first another radical viewpoint will he considered. lt is no! that f Harre which has been e .ten ively discussed, and it is doubtful whether 1 could add much to the debate. Instead, r have decided to concentrate on another outstanding figure who. a' will appear. is unique in disposing of both nature and culture: I am referring to (he recent work of Kenneth Gergen (19 2). A di tinguished social psychologist, he argue fran even more radical break with the pa 'I than Harre and pre en! hi' ca e in an equally thorough and scholarh manner.

At the outset it should be "aid that there is a great deal in Gergen' analysi with which 1 find my elf in entire agreement. For instance, there is the critique of experirnerrts in social psychology on which there is now quite a wide consensus, th ugh it seem to make very little difference in practice. However, there are rather curious a, peers of Gergen's stance regarding e .perirnent • that will be taken up later. Many of hi strictures directed against simpli tic determinism are also ~ ell taken. As regards theoretical model in ocial psychol gy. a rather chastening exert ise j described whereby advanced students were presented with set of four the rie and four Finding'. all randomly' elected fr m a total f seven. and each finding wa also randomly as igned to on of the theories. Student were then a ked LO indicate how the theor could explain the finding and apparently they had 110 trouble in doing so! While not having conducted uch an exerci e, the kind of errors made by students in examination. suggest to me that there is little reason to doubi Gergen's claim.

What. then. is hi own image of man? Fir t of all man is almost entirely unaffected by biolog which merely requires that certain function be fulfilled and sets limit to performance. Having thu dismi sed nature. une might hOI e expected that the empha i would be on culture. as i. the ca e with many biologists (e.g, Reynold .... J 976); oddl enough. this is not o. ulture 1. mentioned mainly for the purpo of illustra jog the endle s varietj of human behaviour regularirie being Ignored; the effort b cross-cultural psychologist-to establi h unlver als are

harply and, on the whole, fairly criticized. With nature and culture both eliminated, whitt is left'! A kind of Tennysonianviaion: 'For man is man and master of hi fate'; in other words, a free and auton rnous individual. There are occasional pas age where the existence of regularities of beha iour confined 10 particular' plac and time' are (one feels grudgingly) ackn wledged, but the major stre S is on the infinite diversity of human beha i ur which according to Gergen, doe not afford the behavioural cientist any leverage for con entional empirical tud. A few quotations will help to convey the flavour of the argument:

(J. ure, culture and social p rye/wing)' 21

e sentially the product of In indi idual .. .' (p. 157).

'. .. th possibilitie r r multiple symbolic tran lation of the same e periential condition .. . enabl the individual to move in any number of direction at any time .... (p. L6t)

One last example or what Gergen seems to regard as a prototype of action (he hOI used it more than once- tee Gergen L980) \ HI erve as a trail ilion to my corament en hi position. This is an ima!,inary scene h re: L ••• Ross and Laura approach each other at a social gatherin i and Ro s reache out and mornentarilj touch . Laura's hair ... (p. 60). We are told that there are innumerable po sible interpretati ms of such an action, and Gergen has no trouble in constructing a variety f. cenario in which the ge ture ha quite diff rent meaning .. At the 'end 0 what he him elf describes 8. the 'turgid aga' he reache toe conclu ion that 'in identif ing any given action on must fal back On a network of under landings in the process of continuous era, ion and reconstitution' (p, 69). Therefore human action eludes the grasp of there earcner, because what he ba. taken to be solid ground turn out t . be e ery-shifting and.

How far i uch a conclu ion warranted? The ge .tur of troking i normally regarded as one of affection. Gergen eeks [0 show that ther interpretation - are po ibl , a ta k made e en easier by h . act that aura's re p nse was not reported. One mu t, of cour. e, agree a fragment of thi. kind referring to a unique e em, is not u ceptible to an u ambiguou interpretation. It .hould be noted however. that the same is true c.f such e ents in the non-human world: suppo e one a ked a phy icis t to e 'plain iI stone rolling down a hill! Thus a unique micro-event can hardl be used to demo urate that all human action is open to an infinite number of interpretations, 'er ainly the mainline p yehologists whom Gergen attacks would not claim to be able to explicate it as ii. rands. Moreover,

alternari e approaches more mpatbetically viewed b Gergen, such a

ethogcnics, would not b able (0 handle i either. For if Ro s were a ked to give an account in Harre's sense) f his behavio r, he might ~ r e ample nOI , ish to admit that he had been deceitful and thu give a fal e account.

In the absence of additional evidence the ensible course would be to take the .troking of hair as a sign of affection, and there are g d reason for doing o. The. e reasons are of the general. kind re levant for (he tudy of social behaviour. Beginning with hair, there is considerahle evidence that it constitutes a exual symbol in a, wide range of culture, and frequently it is quite. an explicit one (Leach, 195H).

Touch as a pecific form of boll contae l ha been uudied b. biologi ts as ell a' . mhropologi land p 'ychologists. The t eking of b dily contact i a fundamental need characteri tic of the in fane of both animals and human. It i connected with the e tabli shrnent of a bond. and among adults contact other than those fonnaU ritualized (a. in greetings) tend to be ex al in nature. It is no doubt for this reason that the public touching of a woman by a nan is pro ribed in some cultures, and at the ery least Gergen's de cription of the episode allows us to infer that it did not take place in one of tho e.

You will no doubt have noticed how biology has crept into the discussion even of th is tri te piece of behaviour. It \ uld be ifflcult to exclude it Irorn more important issues such as 'ex difference' in behaviou ., de elopmental p ehol gy or abnormal

22 G. Johoda

behaviour. Per onall I would agree with tro be (19 0, p. J 97) tha] there has been an excessive bias in social ps chology against c nsiderin genetic factor and would even go 0 far a to give at least a tentative welcome to sociobiology. Its possible implications for psychology were pelled out in an important paper by

arnpbell (L975), though the lively discu sion stimulated by that paper has, with a few exceptions (e.g. 'ine, 1 Y83)., subsided into indifference. Anthropologi ts continue a more active debate, Many object that 'kin 'hip' by no means coincides with biological links; rather, it refer. [0 a pattern of named relati nship varying widely in different culture. Others lake a differem s iew; for instance Chagnon

1980) claimed on the basi of hi work with Yanornarno Indian of Venezuela that their behaviour is more predictable from a ociobi logical the ry of kin selection than from a knowledge of their kinship classification and their usage of kin hip term.

Whatever [he answer, there is no doubt of the existence of powerful regularities in behaviour. While not altogether ignoring these Gergen plays them down in favour of 'autonomous self-direction' by the individual. The sources of this notion deserve careful scrutiny. In his efforts to establish what he considers to be general human characteristics, Gergen parade ically relies largely on the findings of 'I he despi ed experimental social psychology, rna t of it American! Thus he cite the rheor of p ych logical reactance, and tudies showing that when people learn that they are similar to others th ir sclf-c teem L de rea ed and they feel uncomfortable. All thi is unfortunately very parochial for in the words of a di tinguished anrhrop legist. narnel Geertz (1974):

'The Westerner's conception of lire per 'on as a hounded. unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive univers e, a dynamic center of emotion, judgement, and action organized into a distinctive whole and set against both ather uch whole and again ,t a natural and s cial background is , .. a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world s culture ' (p. 3 L).

Geettz is by no mean. unusual in his judgement, and, hweder and Bourne (19 2) have recent! ummarized the literature on this topic a. wen as rep rting

tudie c nducted in India, They adduce ample evidenc h ,wing that the Dation 0 'the aut nornous distinct. e individual' a dear to Gergen is a peculiarly We tern one: 'Americans are culturally primed to search for abstract sumrnarie of the autonomous individual behind the social tole and social appearance I p. DO). They

uggest that for m rnbers of what l.Jhey call 'sociocentric organic culruresvsuch a concept seems alien and bizarre, Thus we find that Gergen d nie nature and yet paradoxically postulates U univer .a! human nature which turns out to be little more than a reflection of American cultural. belief!

While his central thesi is thereby gravely, if not fatally undcrminded, Uti in it elf doe Dot dispose of the problem of the relation hip between the individual as an acti e agent and ociety, a problem [hat al 0 greatly preoccupi d Henri Tajfel, Far from being a mere pawn, as De harm (19b ) phra ed it. the individual is not merely influenced but also Influences his social environment. The common treatment of the individual as mere passive Clay rnu t be admitted to be one of the chief weaknesses of present-day social ·cience. In seeking for a . elution, Gergen ls among the increasing number of tho e who opt for a dialectical approach (see Georgoudi (1983) for a recent survey).

at Ire, culture and octal P' ycholog '23

M 0\ n first erious encouru r with dialecti in relation to sial p ychology was through the chapter contributed by Israel to the I rael and ajfel (197~) book. It already contained many of the ideas st. b: equently elaborated by Gergen: For instance, the need for reflexivi ,or the Junction f theorie as helping to change

celery; on the other hand there is hardly any mention of the autonomous individual. In 1977 a sympoium in dialectical social psychology was published in the Personality and nda! P~'YcllUloFi Bulletin. On r ading it [ found myself agreein with the comment b Brew rer- mith (1977): ., .. it has increasingly

eerned to me that ocial ps_ chology ougl t to be dialect ical. et the more 1 read in hat purport LO be dialectical p ychology, the more confu ed I become .. .' (p. 719). The rea-on i , in m case, that di lecties i atlracti e becau it promises a W3 of d aling with dynamic proce se: I \11 there appear to b widely divergent

iew a to 11 w thi might be brought about, Thus Allman, Vinsel and Brown (1981) discussed the appli arion of dialer tics to what they tall 'social penetration and privacy regulation', Inch is made of the dialectical idea of oppo itions, in olving the interplay of "inner-biological, indtvidual-p: ychological, cultural- ociological and other-physical di nenslon '; in fact we find here, tenderly di iguised. the old natllre- ulture dilemma, Unfortunatel One is not really told how it i LO be resol eel. When it comes to 11111Hrali ns concerning actual re arch. a lot of graph are pre ented: [heir dialectical character is apparently deri d from the fact that the con ist mainl otv iggl liner, ill contrast to th straightone favour d in po itivl t-empirici it research. Perhap In rely failed I un r tand it.

o far n thing ha been aid about M rxi '( dialectics at such, which is . aid to underpin 0 ial psychology in the sociali t coumrie . hen one reads. ay, Andreeva's (1979) account of the develoornent of ocial psych logy in the USSR. one is more truck by tb similaritles between social psychology there and el. ewhere than by the difference' and rruch the same could be said of th . work reported at c nferences by re carch ts from various other ast Eur pean countries, This i not to a. that ther .. have been no important rheoreti at contributi ns, one of the outstanding ner being the traditi n reared b Vygotsky that stres es th ocio-cultural and hi tori .:11 determinant of mental processe .. Thi has be n highly influential a far a. cr ss-cuttural psychol gy I,. C ncerned. largely

wing to the writings of Michael Cole [c.g. 1978), H we er, ir seems to ha e had a greater impact on cognitive and developr iental than s cial p ychology,

My own conclusion about dialectics is thai it bas the virtue of pinpointing orne crucial weaknesses in main trearn ccial p: ychology, but has 0 far failed \0 provide a viable ahernative.

Mention of mainstream so ial psycholc gy reminds us that the discus ion, 0 far has b en Jik Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark: its critics have themselves been criticized, and it is n w lime to look at main tr am cia! p yehol gy as ir is portrayed in merican textbooks. he picture u uatl conve cd i that social p chc log, is c ncerned \i ith nature, while culture tends t be largely ignored. The titl f Aron on (11)80) enormou I successful text, The Soda; Animal, l pifie this stance. At the end of not nly that oak, but numerous others, reader are likel~ to come away with the impres ion f having learnt about universal natural law. governing the behaviour of the ocial animal. There i rarely any mention of culture, a term that doe not appar in Aronson' index; and there i. perhaps reason to su peel that such ornis ion' are not unintentional but possibl motivated

by the wish to avoid polling (he image of a neat science of the nature of the .oeial animal. Le t you might regard this u picion as unworthj let m explain: some . ears ago 1 congratulated IJ prominent American social p chologist on including cross-cultural material in hi textbook: rather wistfully he told me that hi publi: hers had encountered considerable objection, and such material was cut out from later editions,

Aron on's is the pure milk 'of American experimental ocial ps chology. almost entirely unsullied b. any European work-neither Henri Tajfel nor 'erge Moscovici are even menti ned. With a few convenient e ception ,the s cial animal in question is sirnpl Homo Arnericanus . Even that, howe er. is misleadin : mo t of the e perirnent were undertaken with merican College students in introductory psychology courses. This j 0 hackneyed that! feel embarra sed 10 mention it, \ ere it not for the fact that the repetition of this critiqu has produced no noticeable change. Before writing this sentence I took the trouble of checking this statement hy examinino the late I. bound volume of the lournal Of Experimental Social Psychology in our library, which happens to be 1981. Among H total of 32 empirical tudies reported, two-thirds had psychology students as subjects: 6 had other or non-specified students, 3 had school children, 1 1:1 general population

ample and I rat! This practice ha been defended by Gerard and ConoHey (1972) \l ho claim that oeial ps. chology studie 'ba ic uni ersals of humankind'-in other word. nature: the author. had to admit that their claim re ted OD faith, and aver naive one it is in my opinion.

The only way to a icertain the range of applicability of a social psychological generalization is through eros' cultural replieatlons.Tf one wanted to be ure that a given theory is trul universal, uieh replications would al: 0 have 10 be done in traditional cultures. Unfortunately this may involve problems that are well-nigh insuperable. Having discus ed these at length elsewhere (Jahoda, 1979), I shall have to be brief and dogmatic: the design of most experiments in social p. ychology entail a et of as umption about features of the social world which general! cannot be met within traditional non-lit rate cultures. Thu the difficultie are not merely practical ones, but orne of the major theories of experimental social P ychol g_

r , I would submit. incapable ill principle of being tested in mall non-literate communities.

It i of caul" e true that some attempts have been made at replication in Third-World culture . A far a I know. howe er, thee have invariably been confined to the modernized eetor ofuch culture .. Even 0, the outcome is hardly ever a irnple and direct confirmation of the [he .ry. An example is Whetherall's Study seeking to replicate Tajfel's minimal group experiment with Polynesian subject, \l hich yielded findings at variance with th European ones. It was characteri ric of Henri Tajfel that he welcomed this tud in hi boo, ami particularly the fact that it pointed to 'concrete po - ibilitie of research' (Tajfel, 1982) concerning the era -cultural validity of assumption about inter-group behaviour. In the same book Ja. pars and Warnaen (1982) applied th _ les 'On from their Indonesian study to sugg st a more generalized social comparison process which modifies Tajfel's model '0 as 10 make it more widely rele ant. Thill effort at 'em' -cultural replications not merely show up the limitation of Euramerican-based theories, but they can enrich them by widening their scope.

There are some indications that the general message is coming across, at lea t to'

Nature, culture Gild social psychology 2.5

the e tent ih • at more research reports not make a ritual bow in the direction of the n ed for ros i-cultural replication. Frequently a little reflection would have made it evident to (he authors Ihat theirs was a futile gesture. Let me illustrate thi. with an example drawn from the recent literature.

Tile study is by Traupman, Hatfield In d Wexler ( 1983) testirn predictions from equity theory and propo ing thatmen and women who feel their relationship to be equitable hould ha e more sausfying sexual relationship. Subject were young merrtb rs of dating couple enrolled in 31 introductory human sexuality class ho w re asked, among other • the following que tion : do you gel a better deal than

ur pann r, the re e e, r about equal? How do ou feel, and how do you think your partner feels, after e.?

Th authors themselves are awar tlu t their sample \ a a iomewhat odd on . and they expre ed the hope that further tudie w uld be done with 'men and women of a. variety of age and from a variety of cultures', LeI us give credit for this worthy aim. but is it a realistic one? A moment's reflection will make it obvious that it is not. Imagine attempting to ask such questions in a Hindu village. where girls are never allowed to be alone with a bo before marriage' n r could it have been dne in Victorian England' it i ev 11 doubtful whether it would be feasible in

meric it elf with a more representative sample of men and women of different a es. Th Iact is that the IUd depended critically n the mores of a particular sub-cultur .

It. might be aid that equity could bl tested eros -culturally in more effecti e ~ ays, but in my iew that is al (J highly questionable. The theory. defined in termof perceived input/output ratios for self lind other, and discus .ed with uch phrase asm esrments and cost, '. i replete with the assumptions of an industrial culture. lt is probably no coincidence that it origi rater, Adams (1965), was ernplo ed at the

time at the General Electri ornpany!

Wbile this wa a rather rimple and crude example. careful scanning of the literature of experimental social ps chol gy would re eal that the ast majority of

tudies rep ned have what I have calle a hidden cultural curriculum, and a ueh cann t 1t::11 us much ab lit nature, oreover, .ince the bulk of research in e perimental social psycholog is doru in the Unit d States, the predominant cultural Ies tures are likelj i he orth merican one. When this argument wa originally devel ped r could not 'uppc n it with much empirical data, It is rhus Iortunate for me that orne important evidence. has recently become available, In the form of extensive replication attempts of American studies in Israel.

Amir and haront 11)84) read and ca egorized all articles that appeared in fOllr lap journals of American ocial Psychology for the period 1973-75_ They identified seven major c ntent area uch as interper nal attraction, attribution theory. group dynamic and so on. \ ith n each of these areas, article dealing with the more ba ic social-ps ychol gical prirciples were singled out, Then five studie from each of the area were randomly sampled, Amir and Sharon then communicated with the original aurh rs to obtain fuller detail of de ign and procedures. which Jed to the exclu i In of experiments demanding excessive resource ' Finally nine studies, ach containing several hypothe e , were selected for replication; these studies coveredall seven areas. Five of the nine studle . were r plicared twice: once with the sarne jype of (univen it student) population in Israel the other with a different (high school) population. The remaining replications were confined 10 rudems,

_6 C. Laboda

It will be apparent e en from thi brief summarj that the work wa exten ive and thorough. What wai the outc me? Before giving details it mu t be explained that notal! the data from this rna ive study bad been analysed in lime for inclusion in the report. However, a total of 30 data sets wa. available, ranging over several of the content areas . Out of these 30, si were fully replicable in both population ; a further four were replicable in the same type of <;ample (i.e. students). but not in ,!l different one. The remaining 20 were not replicable and yielded differen; findings.

Now Israeli culture has powerful uropean roots and one might have expected

at lea r universit tudenti not to be all that different from their merican

counterparts. H nee the fact that two-third of the re ults were not replicated i rather shattering. What ar the implications for th e of us who stand omewhere on the middle ground? In m iew there are two ba ic one, th first negative and the second positive. First of all, \ e mu I give up pretending that findings of current social psyehol gy are in large measure Universally alid. Secondly, we should recognize the necessity of looking ttl behaviour ithin a particular socio-cultural framework that.shnuld be made explicit.

Let me pursue the first point with reference to Willem Doi e s recent book O[J Explanation ill So ial Ps Jch%g)' tl982). which put forward some challenging ideas,

Doi e propose four distinct level: of analysi of. ocial ps ychologieal phenomena as follow:

(I) Intra-individual: {hi Iocusc on the mechanism ithin the individual which serve to organize experience and behaviour: at the moment 1I cognit ive approach is most popular at th is level.

(2) Inter-individuat and situational: this relates to inter-individual proce sses occurring within a given situation, without concern for the different positions uch individual may OC€llPY outwith the ituation.

(3) ocial positianal: here any differences in .ocial position prior to the interaction which might exist between different categories of sub 'eel are taken into ace unto

(4) ldeoiogicul: this refers to the ideologic, i.e. the s terns of belief and representati n , of evaluations and norm, which erve t ju tify and maintain a given rder f ocial relations.

Dolse then goes to demon. trate how this scheme i capable of organizing an inchoate mass of soclal P' chological theories and findings into a more sy ternauc and coherent order. thereby bridging the arbitrary boundary between psychological. and ociological phenomena. What is missing, however, is the eros -cultural dirnen ion.

This is not to sa tha; Doi e tails Eo bring in eros -cultural example -he i better informed ill this phere than most social p ychologists, The example crop up at the thjrd and r urth Ie els, but they do not fit neatly and are omehow out of place.

he rea. on, in my viev . is that rhe cross-cultural dimen i n is orthogonal to the whol scheme; in other ords, [here ought to be four level wilhin each di tinct culture area, hov ever defined. This would give an expanded meaning 10 the sentence with which Doi e begins his chapter 011 "Tentative conclusions', and one with which I. heartily agree. namely: There (Ire multiple social psychologies,

This is an idea thati beginning to germinate. and may take root in the not too

Nature, culture Gild social psychology '27

distant future. Thu Berry (1 78) arguec for the recognition of ocial p ychol gie that are 'I cat in character', which will r: r vide a more, ecure take-off ground for the eventual development of univer al theories; 0 doubt there will be orne reluctance to lake what rna be regarded b many as a backv ard tep .. cience, it will be said, is concerned with the genen.l rather than the particular, nature rather than culture. Let me therefore remind uch objectors that science is also cumulative; regrettably we ha e not gl eat deal to ho n on that core, and thu remain wide open to the attack of th anti-empirici t criti . Tho I feel that mo ing in the direction of an expanded ver ion of Doi e' 'multiple social p ychologie 'VI uld not be a backward l p. hut a cas e of reculer pour mieu auter,

A regard the cond p int, namely the need to consider the cultural etting, a prelirnina word f caution i indicated. shall assume that. cial p chology is· I ilJ aiming at eliciting causal link whenever po sib! .withour a iergen (1973) has rightly warned us taking the e Ito be eternal verities. rom this taadpoint it would be sterile to attribute particular behavioers or beha loural difference simple to 'culture'. This was recognized long ago by Henri Tajfel (1969) in the conte t of perception when he wrote:

. , , concepts ueh a "society" OJ "culture" cannot be v ry useful in the establi hment of hyp the e predict ng various kind of perceptual respc n es.

lJ • uch pr diction mu t originare from defin d ets of c nditions either creat U b a society r in which a . oriety lives lind dey lop. The e hypothese mu t then formulate the link. bet -een the e conditions nd the perceptual re ponses which are e peered to occur' (p. 320).

Although that pa sage was concerned with perception, if is equally true of social behaviour. The pa sage contains an unstated assumption that should he brought ut in tile present come t: namel: that tl ere is a perceptual s s: stem (nature), 11 ho 'e functioning will be influenced by the p ysical and ocial environment (culture). ow in the ca e of perception there will be certain invariants across differing tting that will enabl us to say omcthing about th nature of the perceptual stem whose functioning i being modified by pecific factor which as a

horthand, \ might call 'culture'. In lh! ca e f ocial behaviour the prospect of getting al the underlying invariant 'rrature' at present does not cern very bright. There are some cross-cultural ocial ps ychologi ts who have. truggled with the problem and one, Triandi. ([978), recxons fhat he has the olutlon at least in principle. Triandis believes that we already have a fair idea ahout the ba ic universal. of social behaviour, which c rrre- pond at least roughl- [Q nature. In future social psychological theories will, n his view, consists uf computer program' in \ hich these univer al ~ ill feature as f undamental parameter .. upplernenred b_ culture- pecilic ones. Thi ill allow pecific prediction of beha jour with pecific probabilitie .

Although f per onall would r gard thi. e. semially as sci nee ficti n, Triandi at lea t d serves credit for having devoted < great deal of th ught 10 an is ue the large majority of social psychologi t are content ['0 ignore. I would hold that as yet we know rather little about non-trivial ul1h ers als of social behaviour, and would be inclined to invert the strategy advocated by Triandis, This means, Cl5 mggested by Henri Taj el, searching for specific cultural features that might account for some


2 C. Iahod«

type of social behaviour r behavioural differences. Thu . one might a k what face! of American and 1 raeli culture influence b haviour in the kind of experimental

citing thai were.studied, This is of course a difficult ta sk, because one would have 10 consider broader structural aspects than i usual in ocial p'iyehol,ogy. This has in fact been sugge ted. orne rime ago by one American ocial psychologi t who shares the unorthodox !View being presented here, namely Pepitone (I976): '.,. the cau es of bella jour cannot be dearly and validly. pecified unle s one definesthe c ntours of the ystern ... in which the causal processes operate' (p. 642). 1 could not irnpro e upon this elegant f rrnulation of the ke issue.

L t me say before concluding that 1 would have liked the reactions of Henri LO who e memory this addre has been dictated. While we were travelling along rather different paths. It ,. as preci ely the divergence of perspective that made his comments s frequ ntly helpful 10 me. Hence it would al 0 be unwi e to imagine that he would have agreed with the ideas: developed here. Nonetheless] venture to think that he would not have been entirely uns. mpathetic. This is because in his . Experiments in a vacuum' he expressed considerable scepticism about 'grand theory', empha ising that our data fire of the 'middle range', and hewed himself fully aware of the cultural context of behaviour. I also believe that the position taken here is con i tent with Henri Tajfel" (L981) fundamental position as expre sed in one of his last works:

'It can ists of the iew that social psychology can and must include in ih 1 heoretical and research preoccupations II direct concern wi th the relationship bet ween human psychological functioning and the large-: cale proce .. e. and events which hape this functioning and are haped bit' (p. 7).

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30 G. Jahoda


L'auteur propose que les idees Concernant In 'nature' et la 'culture', qui ont de concepts-cles en arrrhropulogtc . tructurale, ant des implications importantes pour le po tulat qui sous-tendern I approehes theoriques rivalcs en psyehologie sociale, Le psyebologues sociaux experimentaux ont tendance a P stuler taciiemem qu'i1s ne traiiern que de la nature, alms que les ethogenisles comme Harre se c ncenrrent explicitemern sur Ius culture et corrslderent In nature conune non pertmenre, D'autre , c ,mme Tajfel et MO'coviei, occupent une position lntermediaire car ils son! concernes par les deux aspect. Gergen e -l peut-etre le critique I.: plu.- radical, qui rcjctte ct la culture et la nature, L "auteur d' cute en detail ce rejet CI montrc qU'jl est largemcnt dlt a des croyances culturelles occidentales. 1\ uggere de plus que le principal courant, de psychologic socialc e perimenrate. qui trouve < quintessence dan); It! livre d'Aron on Tire Sodul Anima]: est egalernent lie a lu cultur qu'il deguise ccpendant en Cluue de la nature, ~ette affirman m trou e un Support dans Ie grand nombre d'echees i't repliquer ties re ultat dans tine culture qui n'est past tellernent di semhlable, L'autcur conclut, avec Doise et Berr . que nous 3Vl1m he oin de 'multiples psych('llogie~ soeiales' et, avec Tajfel et Pepitone. que 1;1 recherche en psyc!101ogie ociale dolt considerer te systeme plu large dans Iequel prcnd place le comporremem ' oelal.


Ideen uber • iarur' and 'Kultur', chlus elbergriffc der strukturcllcn nthropologie, ind meiner Meinung nuch , ichug im Zu ammcnghang mil grundlegenden V rausserzungen fur verschiedene soziaJps: chologi cite Theorien. Ezperimentalle -oz.ialp·ycholugen rnachen im allgernelnen die tillschweigende Voraussctzung UB.!lS ie ich nur urn atur ktlmrnern. wahrend thogeniker \" ie Harre ich dcutlich auf Kulrure konzernricren und die Natur als irrelevant betrachten, ndere, wie Tajfel und Moscovici, srehen lazwi eben und interessieren sich filr beidc Aspekte. Dcr radlkalste Kritiker lst mogJisilerweisc Gergen. dessen A.blehnung von atur 'SO\ ohl OIls auch Kuuur im D(?r8,i.1 besprochen wird; es iSI gezeigt worden. dass die. e Abtehnung hauptachlich auf westltchem kulturellen Glauben basiert. Es 011 auch noeh nahegelegi werden, da. die Hauptrichtung der experlmentallen

ozialpsychologie, verkorp rt in ronson's The Social Animal, ebenso kulturbedingt L I.

ObZWM sie sich <II die tudie del" utur verkleidlgt. Diese Behauptung wird durch eine Besehreibung eines orherrschenden Misserfolg's on Wiederhohmgeo in einer nlcht ehr e chlcdenen KUllUT unterstiitzt. ran komrnt dann zum chlu s, mit Doi e und Berry, dass wir rnehrere Sozialpsycholo ien hrauchen, und mil Tajfel unci Pepitone, das die ozlalp chologische Forshung das grossere System, in dem ieh das soziale erhalten befindet. bertlcksichtigen muss.

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