Stryker, S. 1977. Developments in Two Social Psychologies.

Stryker, Sheldon. 1977. “Developments in ‘Two Social Psychologies’: Toward an Appreciation of Mutual Relevance. Sociometry 40(2): 145-160.

Psychology and sociology have brands of social psychology, but they rarely converse with each other. Psychological SP – “psychological processes of individuals […] to understand the impact of social stimuli on individuals” (145). Sociology – explaining social interaction through understanding how society and individuals interrelate.

“Any sociological theory will make social psychological assumptions, and those assumptions should square with what is reasonable in light of the best social psychological theory and evidence available” (146) – to strengthen sociological theorizing.

Overviews six developments in social psychology:

  1. Attribution Theory – Perception and interpersonal relations impact social action, social differentiation (within interpersonal interactions), and one’s prediction of social behavior. “That is, an actor’s actions, attributions, and expectations are in part functions of the fact that others are themselves perceiving creatures” (147). Assigning qualities to environment and others to be able to organize and make meaning of the world.  Kelley (1959) – distinguishing between external and internal attributions.
  2. Exchange Theory/Sociological Behaviorism – Homans (1961) – all social behavior involves exchanges that reinforce/punish the behavior of the other. Leans toward psychological explanations with ideas of conditioning guiding behavior; has been traditionally used within deviance camps to explain learned behaviors. Emerson (1969) – norms as “discriminative stimulus” (149) – but not all discriminative stimuli are norms.
  3. Identity Theory – roots in symbolic interaction – behavior is based in a world where things carry meaning and associated behavioral expectations – some of which emerge from the social interaction itself. Things/concepts carry hierarchies and prescribe behaviors; social interaction relies upon the assumption that actors share these understandings. Actors name and identify themselves in relation to these concepts, creating expectations for their own behavior – fielding by social exchanges. Identity salience marks a degree of commitment to the position and roles that identity poses.
  4. Ethnomethodology – “is concerned with understanding the implicit rules that underly the ordinary conduct of persons as they unselfconsciously go about the business of conducting their everyday affairs” (152) – exposing presuppositions, methods behind meaning making. Assumes that social rules do not pre-exist but arise from social interaction – constantly in flux from re-negotiation.
  5. The “Discovery” of Experimenter Demand – examines interview/research bias that arises from subject-researcher interactions. “The experiment (or the interview) is a social situation and has a social psychology” (153). Assigning theoretical significance to what (at the time) was considered methodological shortcoming.
  6. Disaffection with Experimental Social Psychology – (70’s contemporary) movement that shifted away from labels that associated experimental methods and generalizing findings — taking the “science” out of the science? Identifies limitations, but what does this movement do to improve upon these shortcomings?


Emerson, Richard M. 1969. “Operant Psychology and Exchange Theory.” In Robert K. Burgess and Don Bushell, Jr. (eds) Behavioral Sociology. New York: Columbia University.

Homans, George C. 1961. Social Behavior: Its Elementary Forms. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

Kelley (1959)  – find CITE – year wrong.


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