Is there an indigenous European social psychology?, 2009

This article is reprinted  from Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44 (Suppl. 1).

Is there an indigenous European social psychology?
Peter B. Smith
University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
European social psychology does not fit readily into the characterisations of indigenization that can be applied in other parts of the world. This is partly because Europe has provided the earliest origins of the academic study of psychology, and partly because of the great historical and linguistic diversity of the continent. It is shown that both before and after the upheavals caused by the Second World War, European social psychologists have consistently tended to give greater emphasis to contextual determinants of behaviour than have their North American counterparts. In recent decades this has led to the formulation of distinctive theories that focus upon social identity, social representation, and minority influence, each of which has been vigorously pursued in centres of excellence that are spread across differing regions of Europe. The genesis and maintenance of these indigenous attributes is attributed to the transnational cohesion that has been provided by the congresses and publications of the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology and to some extent by the strength of its indigenous doctoral training programmes. However, indigenization is not an all-or-nothing state, nor is it necessarily a stable one. Specific aspects of globalization, such as the pressure to allocate resources on the basis of citation counts and the impact indices of journals, provide powerful continuing incentives to merge indigenous and mainstream paradigms, and there is much current research conducted by European social psychologists that does not differ noticeably in its focus from North American work. The continuing cultural diversity of Europe is such that European theories cannot be thought of as expressing attributes of a specific and distinctive culture. It is more likely that despite their origins, they will prove to have value in a broad range of cultural contexts.

La psychologie sociale européenne ne correspond pas tout à fait aux caractéristiques de la tendance indigène qui peuvent être appliquées dans d’autres parties du monde. Ceci est surtout imputable au fait que l’Europe est le berceau de l’étude académique en psychologique et aussi en partie causé par la grande diversité historique et linguistique sur le continent. Il appert qu’à la fois avant et après les bouleversements causés par la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, les psychologues sociaux européens ont constamment tendu à accorder une plus grande place aux déterminants contextuels du comportement que leurs collègues nord-américains. Dans les récentes décennies, ceci a mené à l’élaboration de théories distinctives se concentrant sur l’identité sociale, la représentation sociale et l’influence de la minorité, lesquelles ont été énergiquement poursuivies dans les centres d’excellence qui se sont propagés à travers différentes régions d’Europe. La genèse et le maintien de ces attributs indigènes sont attribués à la cohésion transnationale qui a été possible grâce aux congrès et aux publications de l’Association européenne de psychologie sociale expérimentale et, à certains égards, grâce à la force de ses programmes de formation doctoraux indigènes. Cependant, le caractère indigène n’est pas un état absolu, ni nécessairement stable. Les aspects spécifiques de la globalisation, tels que la pression pour allouer des ressources sur la base du nombre de publications et des indices d’impact des revues, fournissent des motivations puissantes continuelles pour fusionner les paradigmes indigènes et dominants. De plus, il y a beaucoup d’études actuelles menées par les psychologues sociaux européens dont les buts ne diffèrent pas nettement de celles menées en Amérique du Nord. La diversité culturelle continue en Europe est telle que les théories européennes ne peuvent pas être pensées comme l’expression d’attributs d’une culture spécifique et distinctive. Il est davantage probable qu’en dépit de leurs origines, elles démontrent leur valeur dans des contextes culturels variés.

La psicología social europea no se ajusta fácilmente a las caracterizaciones del proceso hacia lo autóctono aplicable en otras partes del mundo. Esto se debe en parte a que Europa ha proporcionado los orígenes más tempranos del estudio académico de la psicología, y en parte por la gran diversidad histórica y lingüística del continente. Se muestra que tanto antes como después de los trastornos causados por la Segunda Guerra Mundial, los psicólogos sociales europeos han tendido consistentemente a conceder mayor énfasis a los determinantes contextuales del comportamiento que sus contrapartes estadounidenses. En décadas recientes esto ha conducido a la formulación de teorías distintivas que se concentran en la identidad social, la representación social y la influencia de la minoría, cada una de las cuales se ha promovido de manera vigorosa en centros de excelencia esparcidos en diversas regiones de Europa. La génesis y mantenimiento de estos atributos autóctonos se atribuye a la cohesión transnacional proporcionada por los congresos y publicaciones de la Asociación Europea para la Psicología Social Experimental y, en cierta medida, a la fuerza de sus programas de doctorado autóctonos. Sin embargo, el carácter autóctono no es un estado absoluto, tampoco es necesariamente estable. Algunos aspectos específicos de la globalización, tales como la presión para distribuir recursos con base en conteos de citas e índices de impacto en las revistas especializadas proporcionan incentivos poderosos para unir paradigmas autóctonos y prevalentes, y actualmente se realiza bastante investigación por parte de psicólogos sociales europeos cuyo enfoque no difiere notablemente del trabajo estadounidense. La continua diversidad cultural de Europa es tal que es difícil concebir que las teorías europeas expresen atributos de una cultura específica y distintiva. Es más probable que independientemente de sus orígenes, demuestren su valor en un amplio espectro de contextos culturales.

Europe

Most social psychological research is conducted with the implicit assumption that it is concerned with aspects of human behaviour that are universal. Within this frame of reference, variability of results obtained at different locations would most likely be attributed to variations in experimental design, experimenter technique, or differences in sampling. However, over time some researchers have come to believe that variable results can reflect important cultural differences in addition to these sources of error. These researchers have increasingly sought to develop “indigenous” theories and measures that validly reflect local phenomena.

Discussions of the indigenization of psychology over the past decade have typically focused on a process of divergence from what is seen as the mainstream or dominant body of theory and practice in psychology (Sinha, 1997). Church and Katigbak (2002), for instance, identify an idealized series of stages, commencing with the uncritical importation of theories and methods. Over time, dissatisfaction with the results achieved locally lead first to the modification or adaptation of tests and procedures, and then to the wholesale rejection of imported methods and their replacement by theories, concepts, and methods that grow out of local experience. Once an indigenous perspective has been created, dialogue can then be fruitfully reopened with interested colleagues working within the mainstream. Published accounts exist that support the occurrence of something like this sequence of stages within the career of specific individual researchers (e.g., Sinha, 1986). However, for a judgment to be possible that a fully indigenized psychology is present within a nation or region, evidence would be required for the predominance of locally developed theories and research methods, locally organized doctoral training, and locally controlled publication outlets (e.g., Adair, Puhan & Vohra, 1993). It is doubtful whether a fully indigenized psychology is defensible in the modern world, because elements in common between the social behaviours found in different parts of the world suggest that a universal social psychology rather than a series of indigenous psychologies will be the ultimate outcome of research endeavours (Berry & Kim, 1993).

Consideration of the history of the development of the academic study of psychology quickly indicates that a model of indigenization that is based on a reaction to the mainstream cannot be applied to Europe. Europe is where psychology is generally said to have begun, usually taking Wundt’s establishment of a psychology laboratory in Leipzig in 1879 as the marker point, although there were still earlier developments in Switzerland (Jahoda, 1993) and Italy (Cattaneo, 1864). However, it is not within the scope of this paper to trace the development of the whole of psychology through a continent of almost 30 nations. The focus is upon the field of social psychology, because that is the field of psychology in which cross-cultural psychologists anticipate greatest cultural variability on the outcomes of investigation (Poortinga, 1992).

The first textbooks in social psychology that were published were not the UK and US English language ones that are often noted (McDougall, 1908; Ross, 1908), but earlier works in French (Tarde, 1898) and Italian (Orano, 1902). In Germany, Wundt’s series of 10 volumes concerning Volkerpsychologie appeared between 1900 and 1920. The first published text on experimental social psychology was also in German (Moede, 1920), while what has become know as the Asch conformity design was first employed by Binet and Henri (1894) in France. During this early period there was substantial interchange between Europe and North America, with numerous subsequently influential Americans studying under Wundt and with McDougall migrating from Oxford to Harvard in 1920 (Farr, 1996). European social psychology during the interwar years did not develop as rapidly as did some other fields of psychology. However, the key element in common between many of the writers of the period was their emphasis upon collective rather than individualistic explanations of social behaviour. Particularly influential were McDougall’s (1920) The Group Mind and Durkheim’s (1898) focus upon collective representations. This contrasts with the more individualistic emphasis that developed increasingly within US social psychology at this time, reflected particularly by F. H. Allport’s (1924) text.

Increasing social and political turbulence in the inter-war years was recorded through the progressive development of systematic surveys and ethnographic studies (e.g., Jahoda, 1983). The effects of unemployment in Austria were identified (Jahoda, Lazarsfeld, & Zeisel, 1933/1972) and portrayals of everyday life were recorded through “mass observation” in the UK, which involved the collection of large numbers of diaries (Harrisson & Madge, 1937). From 1933 onward, the persecution of Jews led to many key figures in the field moving to the US, and to a lesser extent to the UK. The subsequent upheaval leading to the Second World War caused the cessation of academic activity in most of the countries of mainland Europe. Perhaps because of the lack of physical damage to UK universities, and certainly because of the movement there of key European figures, we can best follow the growth of European social psychology by first considering subsequent events within the UK.

BRITISH SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

The British Psychological Society was established in 1901, but it was not until 1940 that it was decided to create a social psychology section to represent and foster development in that field (Hearnshaw, 1964). As in the USA, in the years that followed the termination of the Second World War, many of the figures who were central in establishing social psychology within the UK were those whom the events leading up to and including the war had caused to leave their countries. These included Henri Tajfel, Marie Jahoda, Hilde Himmelweit, and Gustav Jahoda. The one key UK figure of this period who was British born was Michael Argyle, who was appointed as Lecturer in Social Psychology at Oxford University in 1952. By the time of his retirement 40 years later, Argyle and other members of his group had supervised the successful completion of 67 doctoral theses in various aspects of social psychology (Argyle, 2001). He had also been instrumental in reviving the social psychology section of the British Psychological Society and was the first editor of the British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology (later divided into separate social and clinical journals). Here, it appears, might have been a base for an indigenous British social psychology. Oxford is an attractive location and, over the years, Argyle’s group played host to numerous short- and long-term visiting social psychologists from the USA. As Argyle (2001) observed:

…all were a great source of stimulation, information and help. Our group became an important channel for the transfer of American social psychology to Britain. And yet we kept our distance from American social psychology. They had colonised us, perhaps intentionally, but we altered the message. We were impressed by their ingenious and well designed experiments, but we found them too artificial, insufficiently related to real behaviour. We could not see how this kind of research could be applied to real problems. We were looking for a different way of doing it. The way we favoured could also be found in several places in the US, but not in the mainstream. (pp. 340-341)

The interests of the Argyle group evolved as British social psychology expanded. In the early stages, their emphasis upon the study of various aspects of social skill could be seen as an extension of the then current emphasis upon the study of manual and other skills among a particularly active group of British applied psychologists. However, no explicitly articulated theory emerged from the focus of the Argyle group. The contrast with contemporary US approaches was rather a matter of preference for more contextualized, less laboratory-focused research methods. A similar focus on the broader social context was notable in work emerging from the other major UK social psychology group at that time, at the London School of Economics (Himmelweit, Oppenheim, & Vince, 1958). Over time, both these groups were influenced by contemporary developments in both European and US social psychology, which we discuss below.

The development of post-war social psychology in other European nations was more directly influenced by contacts with the USA. Van Strien (1997) documents developments within the Netherlands by analysing citations in selected doctoral dissertations. The difficulties inherent in the process of reconstruction led to strong reliance on the most readily available sources of help. Already by the end of the 1950s, 90% or more of citations were to US authors, replacing earlier predominant citation of German language authors. Van Strien suggests that similar patterns of what he terms neocolonization were characteristic of other Northern European nations. It remains true to this day that many European social psychologists conduct studies that relate directly to the US literature and, increasingly, that they publish their work in US journals. There is insufficient space in this paper to touch on their work, since the intention is to determine what evidence there is for Europeanization. The sections below give particular emphasis to some theories that originated in the UK and in France. It should be noted in passing that much high-quality research in areas of social psychology unrelated to the theories highlighted in this paper also occurs in other European nations, most notably in Germany (Semin & Krahé, 1987), the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, and the UK.

TOWARDS EUROPEANIZATION

Among those social psychologists who arrived in the UK after the Second World War, Henri Tajfel has undoubtedly had the greatest influence. Although he had yet to undertake his academic training when he arrived in the UK in 1951, his prior experiences during and after the war had already established within him an intensely internationalist perspective. After holding posts briefly at Durham and Oxford, and some work with Jerome Bruner at Harvard, he moved to Bristol University. Focusing initially on basic perceptual processes (Tajfel & Wilkes, 1963), he quickly saw the applicability of his ideas to the processes of social categorization and stereotyping. He and a group around him gradually developed a series of ideas that led ultimately to the formulation of social identity theory (Tajfel, 1981). This theory is the prime candidate to be considered as an indigenous European theory of social psychology. The theory is discussed below, but before doing so it is important to note the ways in which Tajfel’s activities contributed to its genesis.

In the early post-war years, a number of US social psychologists spent time in European locations and collaborated with Europeans in undertaking replications of experiments conducted earlier in the US (e.g., Schachter et al., 1954; French, Israel, & As, 1960). The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) was a major sponsor of social psychological research during this period. As part of their outreach toward European social psychologists, ONR maintained an office in London for a number of years, with a staff that included US social psychologists, one of whom was John Lanzetta. In 1961, Tajfel, along with two Americans (Lanzetta and Thibaut), Robert Pagès from France, and Mauk Mulder from the Netherlands, set about identifying who were the social psychologists working in different European nations. This process led in stages to the creation of the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology, whose first conference was held in 1963. Initially it appeared that the social psychologists from each country were more likely to be acquainted with Americans than with social psychologists from neighbouring nations. The European Association has held triennial conferences ever since 1963, and now has nearly 600 full members. To the present day, the Association grants only affiliate membership to non-Europeans. The Association has also conducted a series of workshops for doctoral students, thereby strengthening links between social psychologists from the broad range of participating nations and encouraging a shared perspective on experimentally based research methods. They also quickly established the European Journal of Social Psychology and a monograph series, whose purpose was defined by Tajfel in the foreword to the first volume, in a manner that argued both for the universalism of social psychology and for the necessity of local relevance:

…[the European] titles are not meant to reflect some new version of a ‘wider’ or ‘continental’ nationalism…. [We] do not set out to be European in opposition, competition or contradistinction to anything else… But a discipline concerned with the analysis and understanding of human social life must, in order to acquire its full significance, be tested and measured against the intellectual and social requirements of many cultures. (Tajfel, 1971, pp. vii-viii)

The creation of links between European social psychologists inevitably led to discussions of the work that they were doing and comparisons with the increasingly influential work of US colleagues. At the conference of the Association in 1969, a theme emerged that focused upon discontent with the theories and experimental methods that were then current. This led to the publication of an edited volume that defined and explored these concerns, Israel and Tajfel’s (1972) The Context of Social Psychology: A Critical Assessment. Tajfel’s own chapter, entitled Experiments in a vacuum, identified the need for concepts and designs that explored more fully the interplay of individuals and their social context. Moscovici’s (1972) chapter in the same volume provided one of the first English language statements of a distinctive perspective on social psychology that was by then well established in France, namely the perspective of social representations. The separation of anglophone and francophone social psychologies cannot be attributed solely to a lack of language skills. However, it is likely that widespread awareness of what were to become three of the key European approaches to social psychology—social identity theory, the theory of social representations, and the theory of minority influence—was only achieved through the creation of the European Association, its journal, and its monograph series. The development and diffusion of each of these theories is now considered briefly in turn.

SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORIES

The original formulation of social identity theory was built upon the premise that mere awareness that one was a member of an otherwise undefined group would provide a sufficient guide to one’s identity to cause attitudes and behaviour favouring the in-group (Tajfel, Flament, Billig, & Bundy, 1971). Fuller exposition of the consequences of group membership and more extensive testing, as well as discussion of applications to intergroup relations in nonlaboratory settings, were provided in the years that followed (Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). The theory was subsequently developed into self-categorization theory, whereby it was proposed that persons may define identities either on the basis of group memberships (social identity) or on the basis of personal identities (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987). Both types of identity involve comparison with the surrounding context. The choice is whether one presents oneself as a member of a collective category that differs from other categories or as an individual who differs from other individuals. The central core of social identity theories is thus that comparisons with one’s social context are a prime determiner of one’s identity and consequently of one’s actions.

The subsequent development of research into social identity theory and self-categorization theory is too extensive to review here. The point of particular interest lies in the nationalities and predominant locations of researchers working within this tradition. The great majority of those who have been most active in developing the field have been British in origin. Some are located in the UK (Dominic Abrams, Rupert Brown, Steven Reicher, Alex Haslam), some in the Netherlands (Russell Spears), and some in Australia (John Turner, Michael Hogg). Other particularly active social identity researchers include Naomi Ellemers (Netherlands), Bernd Simon, and Amelie Mummendey (Germany).

THE THEORY OF SOCIAL REPRESENTATIONS

Moscovici (1984) derives his usage of the phrase “social representations” rather directly from Durkheim’s concept of collective representations. However, he emphasises that while Durkheim treated the collective representations that exist within a society as fixed and given, the task of social psychology is to explore the ways in which social representations are created, sustained, and changed. His conception of social representations is most fully expressed in his 1961 study of the way in which psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic concepts are referred to within French discourse (Moscovici, 1961). By studying conversation, written materials, and media messages, he was able to sustain a distinction between attitudes, which are the property of individuals, and representations, which are shared between the large- or small-scale parties that are involved. A representation thus includes elements of the social context within which an individual is located, in a way that an attitude does not. Deutscher (1984) notes that interpretations and subsequent usage of Durkheim’s writings in terms of structural-functionalism by US sociologists diverge substantially from Moscovici’s perspective on Durkheim. He sees Moscovici’s approach as closer to that employed by US ethnomethodologists. More recently it is closer to the work of some cultural psychologists (Wagner, 1998). However, for present purposes, the important point is that conceptions of social representation have taken root in the work of numerous European social psychologists in a manner that is absent from the mainstream social psychology of North America. Many researchers into social representation favour primarily qualitative approaches, but some have devised more quantitative procedures (Flament, 1984). Aside from Moscovici, particularly active researchers have been Willem Doise, Gabriel Mugny, and Dario Spini (Switzerland), Wolfgang Wagner (Austria), Jean-Claude Abric, Claude Flament, and J-P Codol (France), Fran Elejabarrieta, Dario Paez, and Juan Antonio Perez (Spain), and Jorge Vala (Portugal). British researchers have also been active in this field, notably Glynis Breakwell, Robert Farr, and Gerard Duveen.

THE THEORY OF MINORITY INFLUENCE

Moscovici’s (1976) theory of minority influence could also be considered as an indigenous European theory. Moscovici and his colleagues were able to demonstrate experimentally that, under certain circumstances, minority persons within a group could influence the majority. They proposed that minorities who were consistent in the position that they sustained gained credibility and could therefore achieve a process of “indirect” influence, quite distinct from the more direct process of group conformity. North American researchers were initially sceptical that there could be two separate processes of social influence in groups. However, some of them were provoked into testing Moscovici’s predictions. Wood, Lundgren, Ouellette, Busceme, and Blackstone (1994) reported a meta-analysis of minority influence studies and concluded that minority effects had been found in studies conducted on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the effects were different in kind. Minorities in studies conducted in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece showed indirect influence effects, as Moscovici’s theory predicts, whereas among studies in Northern Europe and the USA, direct effects were stronger (Smith & Bond, 1998). Minority influence studies are thus no longer distinctively European, but await fuller investigations of the reasons for cross-national differences in effects that have been detected.

CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS: MERGERS OR MISUNDERSTANDINGS?

In terms of Adair et al.’s (1993) definition of indigenization, there is clear evidence that European social psychologists have a set of locally based procedures for developing and training new generations of researchers. They also have a range of locally based journals, and a professional association that is additional to and more prestigious than the social psychological divisions or sections of European national psychology associations. Finally, there are several theories (some may prefer to call them approaches or perspectives) that arose locally and command widespread local support.

At the same time, European social psychologists read, meet with, and conduct collaborative projects with US social psychologists. There is transatlantic representation on the editorial boards of many social psychology journals. Increasingly, the “European” theories are also known to at least those US social psychologists with whose interests they converge. The congresses of the European Association are attended by numerous Americans and some American doctoral students attend the summer schools. For many years, the European Journal of Social Psychology was thought of as a “social identity theory” journal, and consequently tended to attract contributions from researchers with interests in intergroup relations, regardless of their location. Meertens, Nederhof, and Wilke (1992) compared the topics of papers appearing in leading US and European social psychology journals between 1987 and 1990. Seventeen per cent of the papers in the European journals concerned intergroup and intragroup relations compared with only 5% in the US journals. Social perception and cognition accounted for 48% of papers in US journals, but only 27% in the European journals. Of the 51 papers published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2002, 17 (33%) took social identity theory or its derivative social categorization theory as their theoretical basis. The locations of the first authors of these papers gives an approximate indication of the current spread of influence of these theories: Netherlands 5, Germany 3, UK, Italy, and USA 2 each, France and Australia 1 each. In contrast, papers using a social representations perspective only rarely appear in the European Journal of Social Psychology (Wagner, Elejabarrieta, & Lahnsteiner, 1995; Marková et al., 1998). The social representations literature more frequently appears in francophone journals and in books (Breakwell & Canter, 1993; Doise, Clemence, & Lorenzi-Cioldi, 1993; Jodelet, 1989; Kaes, 1996; Lahlou, 1998; Mugny & Carugati, 1989; Paez, 1987; von Cranach, Doise, & Mugny, 1992).

Increasing contact has also led to recent attempts to integrate US and European perspectives on self and social identity (e.g., Sedikides & Brewer, 2001). Theories advanced by US social psychologists in the past decade have addressed and sought to enhance social identity theory, for instance Brewer’s (1991) optimal distinctiveness theory and Deaux’s (1996) conceptualization of individual and collective selves. To date there is a continuing transatlantic contrast in formulations, with Europeans emphasizing the primacy of social or collective identity and the incompatibility of social and personal identities. American theorists have tended to treat personal identities as primary and social identities as compatible with or nested within personal identities. Perspectives from both sides of the Atlantic have also been used to explore links between social representations and social identity (Deaux & Philogène, 2001).

For present purposes, the outcome of these debates is less important than is the question of whether there is continuing usefulness for the notion of an indigenous European social psychology. Indigenous psychologies are typically considered to arise from studies conducted within cultural contexts that differ markedly from the United States, and which therefore exemplify processes that have been neglected by mainstream social psychologists. These contexts have typically been those whom Hofstede’s (1980) classic survey classified as relatively collectivist, in contrast to the strongly individualistic culture of the United States. However, the north European nations within which social identity theory has taken root most strongly are those that were also classified by Hofstede as strongly individualistic, If there are culturally distinctive attributes that caused social identity theory to arise and to continue to find favour in these nations, these attributes must be different ones, and have yet to be identified. Perhaps the theory initially became popular because of the shared legacy of concerns arising from experiences connected with the Second World War. Alternatively, if the theory arose simply because of the vision and panache of a group of researchers who happened to be in Europe, then we may expect a progressive merging of US and the predominantly northern European conceptions. Moghaddam (1987) interprets the transatlantic divergence in approaches to social psychology that was present at that time in terms of power relations between a dominant US perspective and a relatively powerless European perspective. More recent research collaborations suggest that this differential is substantially reduced. Van Strien (1997) also sees some evidence of movement beyond a simple colonization of Dutch social psychology by American perspectives. The proportion of citations of studies by other Dutch researchers in Dutch doctoral dissertations has increased. The newer flavour of negotiation and debate could perhaps by illustrated by the title chosen by Clark (1995) for his reply to a published critique of an earlier US study by him of minority influence: On being excommunicated from the European view of minority influence.

In the case of the greater southern European investment in the social representations approach, a merger appears much less likely, partly because of a greater preponderance of publication in languages other than English, and partly because of the preference for publication in books rather than journals. The theory of social representations currently commands much greater attention in Latin America, particularly in Brazil (e.g., Spink, 1995) than it does in North America.

Successful export of social identity theories into mainstream US social psychology would provide an instance of the fourth stage of indigenization specified in Church and Katigbak’s (2002) model, whereby theories developed within two separate and strongly indigenized local psychologies can be compared and tested for utility within one another’s cultural contexts. However, there are reasons to believe that the transatlantic traffic in social psychological theories may continue to flow in a predominantly eastern direction. Evaluation of research productivity among European researchers is typically based upon their success in publishing their work in APA journals. In the UK, an individual’s high rating in their periodic assessment of research productivity is based upon publication in “international” (i.e., APA) journals. In the interuniversity consortium of Dutch social psychologists known as the Kurt Lewin Institute, similar criteria are applied. Thus the design and conduct of studies is often undertaken with forethought given to the likely response of US reviewers to a journal submission. The greater appeal of the theory of social representations further south may reflect a lesser dependence on such criteria in these nations, and a stronger emphasis on training in more qualitative modes of data analysis. It may be that this openness to a wider range of research methods will prove to be the most enduring criterion of the indigenization of European social psychology.

This paper has focused upon culturally distinctive theories that have arisen with European social psychology. The past century has seen the creation of a coherent European network of active researchers in social psychology. Social psychologists are predominantly trained within the region and have become active in a wide range of theoretical and applied aspects of the field. By no means all researchers are concerned with the theories that do have indigenous origins, but it remains true, as it was in the past, that there exists a distinctively strong preference to take account of context in the conduct of studies.


NOTE

I am grateful to Viv Vignoles, Dario Paez, and Jacques-Philippe Leyens for comments on an earlier draft.

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DOI: 10.1080/00207590444000195

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