The origins and history of psychology is about as old as history itself. Philosophers and researchers have been interested and fascinated about the human condition and their behaviors for centenaries. This fascination about the human condition can be traced back to ancient philosophers, particularly Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Plato clearly favored aristocracy, where the wise and just govern, and allow individuals to develop their full potential. Aristotle, on the other hand, based his judgments on data, as he understood them. His idea that people naturally came together and that they could be trusted to use their varying talents to create the good society was based on a more generous view of human nature than Plato’s (Goethals, G. 2003).
According to Allport (1954), “one of the most enduring issues was whether human behavior was governed rationally or irrationally. And if irrationality was dominant, what were the qualities of the irrational forces which guided human behavior?” (p.4). It wasn’t until two centuries after till philosophers and scientists joined forces and started debating on the same questions about human behaviors. Once the scientific method emerged in the nineteenth century, the true science of psychology was born.
To this present day, Plato’s and Aristotle’s fundamental arguments about the nature of human beings, continues to inspire researchers to ask questions as it did centuries ago. Thus, the differing perspectives of these Greek philosophers defined enduring arguments that have since guided inquiry in social psychology and many other intellectual disciplines (Goethals, G. 2003).
The aims and objectives of this paper are to investigate the origins of social psychology, how it originated and how social psychology relates to both psychology and sociology. In addition, we will talk about a few keynote researchers who committed themselves to social psychology and how their research contributed and transformed the field we know of today.
Origins of social psychology
The idea of social psychology started in the 1860’s in Europe, but did not emerge as an official field until the 1890’s in the United States. According to Danziger (2000), “the historical origins of experimental social psychology have been controversial” (p. 329). A study conducted by Norman Triplett (1898) was considered the first social psychological experiment, a claim that was repeated by most textbook writers over several decades. Triplet was interested in how social forces affected bicycle racing. He wanted to know why cyclists’ times were faster while racing against other riders than when they were against the clock. The research question he was asking, was it the mere presence of others that produced enhanced performance? This question would continue having future researchers asking more questions than having answers. This is where the co-action effect ordinated from, which...