L. L. Thurstone (autobiography)
作者: L. L. Thurstone / 32044次阅读 时间: 2011年12月02日
来源: www.brocku.ca

Social Psychology

Although I have not attempted to gain competence in the general field of social psychology, our work in psychological measurement has naturally turned to the measurement of social values. This was largely due to our attempt to introduce some life and interest in psychophysics, which was dominated for a long time by the trivial problems of lifted weights and limen determinations. The extension of psychophysical methods to the measurement of social values was especially tempting when it turned out that the law of comparative judgment is entirely independent of the physical stimulus magnitudes. This circumstance enables one to use the law in the measurement of social and aesthetic values where physical stimulus measurement is entirely irrelevant. Our work on attitudes was started when I had some correspondence with Floyd Allport about the appraisal of political opinions, and there was discussion here at that time about the concept of social distance which was introduced by Bogardus. It was in such a setting that I speculated about the possible use of the new psychophysical toys. I wrote

(311) a paper entitled "Attitudes can be measured."[19]Instead of gaining some approval for this effort, I found myself in a storm of criticism and controversy. The critics assumed that the essence of social attitudes was by definition something unmeasurable. There followed a number of other papers on the construction of particular attitude scales and on methodology, including a little monograph on The Measurement of Attitudeby Professor E. J. Chave and myself (1929). There was a good deal of interest in the subject and a lot of attitude scales were constructed for particular issues. These included attitude scales on the treatment of criminals, patriotism, Sunday observance, the church, war, the Negro, prohibition, unions, communism, public office, constitution of the United States, social position of women, immigration, birth control, the Chinese, the Germans, the law, censorship, evolution, capital punishment, economic position of women, and others.

Our best work in this field was a study, supported by the Payne Fund, on the effect of motion pictures on the social attitudes of high school children. The only adequate description of that work and the principal findings was in a lithoprinted monograph[20]which has long since been out of print. About thirty experiments were carried out on a large number of films. The procedure was to arrange with a local theater to run a particular film on a particular evening. The films were selected by special previews here in Chicago. Those films were selected which might have some effect on the social attitudes of high-school children on some debatable issue. Free tickets were distributed in the local high school and students were told that they must write their names on the tickets to validate them. In this way we had a record of the students who saw the film. A few days before and a few days after the film was shown, we gave attitude schedules in the high school on the issue which might be affected by the film. In this way we demonstrated, for example, that the film "The Birth of a Nation" has a very strong effect in making high school children less friendly toward the Negro. Similar studies were made with other films on other issues. At Mooseheart we succeeded in demonstrating by experiments the summation effect on social attitudes. When a single film did not give a statistically significant effect, and when two films a week apart gave a barely noticeable effect, we demonstrated that three films showed a significant effect. The summation effect is an important principle in a propaganda program with material in which a single film may not be adequate to demonstrate a significant shift in attitude.

There was heavy correspondence with people who were interested in attitude measurement, but they were concerned mostly with the selection of attitude scales on particular issues to be used on particular groups of people.

(312) There seemed to be very little interest in developing the theory of the subject. The construction of more and more attitude scales seemed to be unproductive, and I decided to stop any further work of this kind. Incomplete material for a dozen more attitude scales was thrown in the wastebasket and I discouraged any further work of that kind in my laboratory. I wanted to clear the place for work in developing multiple factor analysis.

Our social psychological studies have been opportunistic in a sense, because they have consisted in applications of new psychophysical methods on suitable occasions. Rarely have we set out to devise a measurement method for an existing social psychological problem. The question can be raised to what extent the development of a young science should be under pressure of the major problems of the day. Perhaps the principal reason why social psychology has very low prestige is that many authors in that field reveal that they have an axe to grind. It is doubtful whether one can be a propagandist and a scientist in the same field and at the same time. Similar comments can be made about many social studies. The excuse is often made that social phenomena are so complex that the relatively simple methods of the older sciences do not apply. This argument is probably false. The analytical study of social phenomena is probably not so difficult as is commonly believed. The principal difficulty is that the experts in social studies are frequently hostile to science. They try to describe the totality of a situation and their orientation is often to the market place or the election next week. They do not understand the thrill of discovering an invariance of some kind which never covers the totality of any situation. Social studies will not become science until students of social phenomena learn to appreciate this essential aspect of science.www.psychspace.com心理学空间网

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