Societal Psychology: Social Psychology’s contribution to understanding and changing society. Saadi Lahlou Institute of Social Psychology London School of Economics and Political Science. The problem: “real World” issues. Changing a society, an endeavour that goes beyond psychology.
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Institute of Social Psychology
London School of Economics and Political Science
Changing a society, an endeavour that goes beyond psychology.
Needs understanding (rerum causas cognoscere):
To practice : innovation, conflict, structuration, decision-making, agency, negotiation.
1943: Lewin (changing food habits)
1947: Simon (administrative behaviour)
1961: Moscovici (diffusion of Psychoanalysis)
1964 : ISP founded at LSE
1975 : Societal Psychology (Himmelweit et al.)
2011-12: another promotion of ISP trained to change to World
Cooperative, Competitive, Communicative, Educable, Instrumented
Control : 1 participant out of 35 gave an incorrect answer
Experiment : 75% of participants gave at least one incorrect answer
Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs, 70 (Whole no. 416).
Nazi extermination camps
Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem,
Dec. 11, 1961
Humans are a mix of competition and cooperation > groups, hierarchy
Humans communicate, learn, are instrumented > organisations, culture
Individuals have membership (role/status) in specific groups/organisations/cultures.
They feel and act as group members.
humans are by design prone to assemble and create social super-organisms
individuals tend to:
- act as group organs,
- behave according to given role
- use the environment as storage/ external scaffolding
- individual well-being in groups
- emulation, motivation
- leverage of agency with labour division
- cumulativity of creation
- superorganisms have their own conatus and dynamics
- care little about individuals
2. Humans interpret objects and situations
3. Institutions control
Installation Theory artefacts
Affordances at physical level artefacts
« Roughly, the affordances of things are what they furnish, for good or ill, that is what they afford the observer. (…) they are ecological, in the sense that they are properties of the environment relative to an animal. (…) Affordances do not cause behavior but constrain or control it. Needs control the perception of affordances (selective attention) and also initiate acts.
An observer is not ‘bombarded ’ by stimuli. He extracts invariants from a flux of stimulation. »
[Gibson, 1967, passim]
NB: Jacob Von Uexküll’s notion of connotationof activity (1952) is more philosophically solid because not tied into realism, but may be less usable for didactic/operational purposes.
James J. Gibson (1904-1981)
Davies, CA, 1978.
Interpretation into action artefactsshould I push or pull this door?
Installation Theory artefacts
Attatürk 1925 : « no fez » artefacts
Institutions in social space : rules and laws about hats
3. installation theory artefacts
Behaviour is simultaneously determined at 3 levels:
material, psychological, social
Understanding and changing the system needs to address the 3 levels
Societal psychology’s domain is the psychological level, but the overlaps with the 2 other levels
There is nothing so practical as a good theory (Kurt Lewin)
The best way to understand a complex system is to try to change it (Kurt Lewin)
If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough (Robert Capa)
Need not hope to endeavour, need not succeed to persevere (William of Orange)
daily practice guidance
Embodied form of Rep.
conservation of artifacts
« I love this Company ! » artefacts