Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 31, 2012 | DOI: 10.4135/9781848607927 | Print ISBN: 9781412907804 | Online ISBN: 9781848607927| Publisher:SAGE Publications LtdAbout this handbook
Chapter 21: Social Psychology
Steven D. Brown & Abigail Locke
Social psychology Most traditional histories of social psychology single out two key works in the late nineteenth century as the founding moments for the discipline – Le Bon's study of crowd behaviour and Triplett's experimental research on social facilitation. Le Bon's (1895) The Crowd is a dense ‘philosophical’ treatise on the ‘minds’ and ‘opinions’ of crowds. This is illustrated by observations the author makes on the events around the fall of the Paris Commune. In stark contrast, Triplett's (1898) work is a more modest attempt to understand ‘competitiveness’ – how the presence of others seems to encourage individuals to apply greater efforts in the accomplishment of some task. Whilst reference is made to bicycle racing competitions, Triplett's work uses an experimental design where two children are engaged in a somewhat bizarrely staged task involving fishing reels. What is interesting about these two works is how very different they seem. Le ...