In Chapters 16 and 18, I reported on progress in the study of cognition, and in Chapter 17 on progress in physiological psychology. In the present chapter, I shall review some events that led to continuity and progress in social, personality, and evolutionary biological psychology. In Chapters 14 and 15, I reported that the study of social psychology and personality in the 1970s had ended in what many regarded as a crisis. In the present chapter, I shall also account for some of the progress in these two areas that contributed to keeping the interest in them alive.
In social psychology, progress was made in the study of attitudes, the oldest – and regarded by many as the central study – of social psychology. In the 1970s, attribution research attracted enormous interest, and some of this research must be reviewed. Around 1970, health psychology emerged as an important new area in which the knowledge and techniques of social psychology proved useful. Other new areas have attracted the interest of psychologists. Of these, in my opinion, attraction and close relationships are of particular interest because they may help integrate a number of problem areas in psychology, as well as integrate psychology with the other social sciences.
In personality psychology, there seems to have been progress, particularly in attempts to describe personality in terms of traits, an undertaking begun by Gordon Allport and Odbert in 1933. Advances have also been made in the study of the self. Made central in psychology by James, Baldwin, and Mead in the late 1800s, this area is again a main concern of psychologists.
Social psychology and personality psychology developed more or less in parallel, and there is considerable overlap between the two. Since the debate in the 1960s and 1970s, the relationship between them does not seem to have been a question of major concern to psychologists. I shall therefore not go into it but merely point out that, if the study of personality is the study of the human being as some sort of psychological totality, it seems problematic to regard a social being as a separate part of this being. There is also considerable overlap between these two areas and developmental psychology.
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