A History of Small Group Research

Authored by: John M. Levine , Richard L. Moreland

Handbook of the History of Social Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9781848728684
eBook ISBN: 9780203808498
Adobe ISBN: 9781136668999


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Small groups have occupied a prominent place in social psychology since it began at the end of the 19th century. Indeed, many of the core principles critical to the development of the discipline (e.g., imitation, suggestion) have a distinctly group flavor. Moreover, the dominant methodology in social psychology—experimentation—is rooted in the study of groups (see Allport, 1954). More recent historical accounts of social psychology have also emphasized the importance of small groups. For example, in discussing central research areas in social psychology, Jones (1985) focused on interdependence and group dynamics. This emphasis was recently echoed by Ross, Lepper, and Ward (2010), who identified intragroup/ intergroup processes as a basic content area in social psychology and group influence as a central theme in the discipline.

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