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Social psychology in a world dominated by the game of alternatives.

One of the observations made in a previous study(1) was that we are all making our way towards a future whose social <<stage>> will be dominated by the game of alternatives, free-thinking, a variety of interpretations. The formulated final-conclusions according to the comments of F.Fukuyama, R. Dahrendorf, and A. Toffler on the tendencies registered. In the last decades, in the new life of the human species: freedom of thinking and faith, a critical vision and an impressive relational diversity, the possibility of looking at life in unexpectedly various ways. The diminished political expansionism, noteworthy encouragement of private interests; in parallels with a large-scale endorsement of the most important sectors of public life (within which economy, religion, ethics, and education hold a top position). Alternatively, an ever increasing number of phenomena and events indicate a long-term establishment of a society which will value both the differences and the profound links manifested at the level of cultural identity, a society within which individualism will harmoniously coexist with collectivistic attitudes. How the "generations of tomorrow" will live will not hint at the communist society" proposed by K. Marx or at the "stationary condition" of J. Mill, but a "policy of controlled conflicts and a social economy is maximizing the chances of an individual life." In the office, in the supermarket, in the bank, in front of executive desks, in the church, hospitals, schools or at home, the old patterns of social life get modified, along still unknown directions and orientations. Both the superior of an office and the superintendent of a factory come to discover that their clerks and workers do not obey their orders blindly, as they used to do in the past. They ask questions and demand answers. The same holds for officers, in their intercession with the troops, or for law enforcement officers vs. their agents. Teachers vs. their students, doctors vs. patients, a.s.o. From one day to another, human society is facing more and more evident and urgent manifestations of emancipation and laicization.

The more recently registered tendencies--to be also traced, as already seen, in the interpretations of most prestigious philosophers, sociologists, political analysts or economists of today--bring into discussion the substantial re-evaluation of the knowledge we have on the human nature as such and on the relations people develop or intend to develop in various social contexts. Against this background, worth mentioning are, more and more frequently, the metamorphoses in progress in the field of social psychology. Within the so-called bridge-territory, which "takes over the social aspects of psychology and the psychologic ones of sociology," and were important is not "the individual, as a separate entity, or the community, as an autonomous social structure," but firstly the "individual-community interaction." It is exactly this area--characterized by multiple questions on the nature and consequences of interhuman relations. That should corroborate such a significant shifting of concerns, a reconfiguration capable of conferring another compass and a different meaning to a science focused on the systematic study of "individuals feeding a continuous relationship with their fellow men and with the cultural-ideologic milieu within which they live." If the game of alternatives, free thinking or the variety of interpretations--and not a secluded awareness or dynamism approach--come to represent the essence of people's daily life. If discontinuity, relativism or dynamism--and not stereotypy or preconceived ideas--appear, more and more frequently, as landmarks of one's behavioral attitudes and strategies, then it goes without saying that the modifications as mentioned above are not only essential but equally inevitable.

Apparently, it was S. Moscovici the first one to mention directly and in extremely concrete terms the defining characteristics of the new psycho-sociological science. In the second half of the XXth century, the one considered the founder of modern social psychology, the most brilliant representative of contemporary social psychology, a worldwide-reputed scientific authority and one of the most valued anthropologists and theoreticians of ecology and philosophers of science, launched the idea that the psycho-sociology of today is expected to shift its concerns from the "stable", coherent, organized and systematic society (which has actually "lived its life") to an "unstable", dynamic and rambling, rising world, so that a new area of research,--the street, the dynamics of social groups, social innovations, behavior of active minorities,--is emerging.

The traditional investigation patterns created in laboratories, spaces dominated by an artificial, and not real life, can no longer be accepted and applied. From now on, S. Moscovici states firmly. One should consider seriously the authentic relation the individual develops with the society in which he lives, and, more than that, the unavoidable conflict always manifested between the individual and the society. Observable in the time-serving pressures of the people of the majority, in the deviations from mass orthodoxism, in the inter-group discussions conducted for the elaboration of common decisions or in the monopolization of the individual by some community. Accordingly, the new social psychology should be redefined as a "discipline analyzing the interactions between social change and choice", as a "domain of knowledge involving a thorough examination of all phenomena related to ideology and communication.Organized according to their genesis, symmetry and functions" or as a "scientific branch studying the ideology of time, inquiry, fables and faith documents, of the daily manner of thinking and feeling" (2, 3, 4, 5). Sharing, on the whole, the conception of S. Moscovici, A. Neculau Makes the following observation: the times characterized by their capacity of "setting people in motion," or "awakening" them and of "pushing them on the stage" (thus convincing them to get engaged, in full responsibility, with pleasure or even anger, in various searchings, (self) explanations, building up and social involvement actions). Create the premises for the establishment of social psychology interested not only in an isolated study of individual or social aspects (a situation quite frequently observed with North-American researchers) but mainly in a study focused on the identification and elucidation of the anxieties, confrontations, contradictions, and social "combats." He states that, nowadays, social psychology should "leave the laboratory" and "go in the open," participating to "real life." Under the new historical conditions, it is obliged to take into account the spontaneous character of daily realities, the alert rhythm of events, the new language of people, focusing on a most rigorous analysis of the movements occurring as a contrecoup to secluded, stone-still, isolated societies (6). In the opinion of A. Neculau (7, 8), it is the moment in which the psychosociological science is obliged "to get rid" of the obsession of socialization and to reorient itself towards a minute examination of social non-homogeneity, of the factors and mechanisms which urge people to think and act in unique ways. Stating that the psychosociologist of our time are confronting with less ordinary--and, respectively, quite different from the old preconceived ideas on the individual-society cleavage--questions. (How are the notions of <<justice," <<truth," <<opinion," <<faith>> established in the mind of each person? Why different opinions, attitudes, theories are registering concerning the same phenomenon or event? Why each social performer is convinced, when divergent opinions are debating, that he and only he is right, and the other one is wrong? How are the theories upon reality elaborated?, a.s.o.), the distinguished Romanian researcher considers that finding correct answers to such issues might establish a new conception about the world we are living in (mainly about the so largely diffused yet hardly studied intolerant attitudes vs. fellows with a manner of thinking and behavior different from ours). The Russian scientist V. Novikov (9), president of the International Academy of Psychological Sciences, sharing the ideas of S. Moscovici and A. Neculau, states that the anxieties of the contemporary world--especially the situations characterized by unrest and incertitude--appear in the context of a more and more apparent social polarization. On one side, says he, social life is the life of millions of simple persons (a life full of problems, troubles, and hopes) while, on the other, it is also the life of the high and mightiest (a life guided by interests and aspirations utterly different from those of the crowds). Against the background of such a discrepancy, inevitable in an existential climate decisively influenced by the ethos of competition, a many-sided examination of the situation in which the social performers are bound to act, of the manner in which they build up their relations with the surrounding world--for attaining spiritual comfort and a decent material status--is absolutely necessary. According to the above-cited author, acknowledging the importance of such a type of analysis should necessarily lead to the design and substantiation of a new type of psychosociology, meant at describing, in a systemic and well-grounded manner, the ordinary life of individuals, groups or communities, in all its complexity and dynamism.

Another essential idea of the present study is that S. Moscovici, A. Neculau or V. Novikov are not the only ones to declare for social psychology centered on a sound analysis of the spontaneity, conflictual condition and diversity of the human universe. In respect, here are some of the other field specialists ideas:

* J. Maisonneuve: the specific domain of social psychology should include the interactions and relations--considering all meanings of such terms, as well as the social and psychic factors which intervene in concrete individual behaviors; social psychology is expected to study all communication and influential phenomena, their cognitive, affective and axiological aspects, viewed from both a pragmatic and symbolic perspective (10);

* R. Lindesmith, A. L. Strauss, N. Denzin: contemporary social psychology should take upon itself a thorough study of the interface between individual life and the social structure or--precisely--a detailed analysis of how people live the experience of freedom and coercion in their daily life (11);

* R. A. Baron, D. Byrne: authentic social psychology should appear as a domain of scientific research attempting at understanding and explaining the behavior of individuals in different social situations (12);

* H. H. Kelley: the exact domain of social psychology should be limited to the study of human interactions and of their immediate consequences (13);

* S. Chelcea defines social psychology (or psychosociology) as the study of the interaction between the present and past - real or imaginary in a social context--behaviors; equally, meant at studying, too, the results of such an interaction: the collective psychic states and processes, group situations and personality--as a product of social interactions (14).

As a result of the mentioned changes mentioned above, social psychology should consolidate its positions and eventually reconsider its controversial statute of "many-sided science." If, up to now, its classification into psychological, social psychology (15), sociological social psychology (16) and psychological sociology (or sociopsychology) (17) were, in a way or another, accepted and even encouraged, starting with today such a situation cannot be accepted, any longer. The nature of the anticipated changes requires harmonization of these three perspectives as a unitary structure never permitting their separation, once again (18). Acquiring, in this way, the attributes of a complex mechanism for the analysis and explanation of certain phenomena which, in the words of S. Moscovici, "are simultaneously psychological and social," the new social psychology will assert its conformity. While focusing, concomitantly and in equal parts, upon the "real or fictitious presence of other persons" and upon the "interpretation people give to the objective characteristics of the environment", upon the "interaction between individuals" and upon "society or culture viewed in all their complexity", upon "human groups", upon the "problems which affect a large number of social performers", upon "human nature" and upon the "social building up of reality". The analyses will have a similar and transcultural character, which means, as observed by M. Hewstone and A. S. R. Manstead, editors of the famous The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Psychology (19), a better understanding of ourselves and the events occurring around us.

To conclude one may say that, at present, social psychology cannot be viewed as a "contact", "connective" or "interference" science (20). The fundamental and permanent changes in progress in the world require a thorough reconsideration of its areas of interest, resizing of its research area, elaboration of a new methodological approach, a new interpretative platform, another positioning, and another status-quo.

More specifically, social psychology should become a sui-generis field of knowledge, always and permanently addressing the simultaneity of personal reality as well as of the social one. While taking into account the defining characteristics of the contemporary world (spontaneity, alert pace of events, diversified languages, high levels of social involvement, etc.) and combining the binary reading of reality [on one hand--the "ego"/the individual, and on the other--the "object"/the social phenomenon] with that of ternary extraction [on one and the same side, in the same context--the individual subject (ego) + social subject (alter) + physical/social object, real or imagined (object)].(21)


The authors state that they are no declared conflicts of interest regarding this paper


(1.) Sleahtitchi M. Secolul XXI si insemnele unei mari schimbari sociale. Bul Integr Psych.2016.2 (69): 71-75.

(2.) Mai '68 et la psychologie sociale. Un entretien avec S. Moscovici. Connexions. 1980.29: 127-141.

(3.) Moscovici S. New Problems for Social Psychology in a New Europe. European Bulletin of Social Psychology. 1990. 2. p.3.

(4.) Moscovici S. Domeniul psihologiei sociale // S. Moscovici. Psihologia sociala sau Masina de fabricat zei /Translated by O. Poparda; text selection and afterword by A. Neculau. Publishing House of the "Al. I. Cuza" University of Iasi, 1994. 5-8.

(5.) Moscovici S. Preface D. Jodelet. Folies et representation sociales. Paris: P.U.F., 1989. p. 9.

(6.) Neculau A. Postfata: Psihologia sociala in Noua Europa // S. Moscovici. Psihologia sociala sau Masina de fabricat zei / Translated by O. Poparda; text selection and afterword by A. Neculau. Publishing House of the "Al. I. Cuza" University of Iasi, 1994. p. 253-254.

(7.) Neculau A. Reprezentarile sociale--o noua cariera.Analele Stiintifice ale Universitatii "Al. I. Cuza". Serie Noua: Psihologie--Pedagogie. Tome I. Iasi: Publishing House of the "Al. I. Cuza" University of Iasi, 1992. p. 33.

(8.) Neculau A. Reprezentarile sociale (II). Analele Stiintifice ale Universitatii "Al. I. Cuza". Seria: Psihologie.Stiintele Educatiei. Tome II. Iasi: Publishing House of the "Al. I. Cuza" University of Iasi, 1993 p. 30-31.

(9.) Novikov V. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya segodnya: otvechat' deystviyami.Psikhologicheskiy zhurnal. 1993.14(4):16-24.

(10.) Interview with Jean Maisonneuve (realized on March 2, 2001 by Jean-Marie Seca). Psihologia sociala: Buletinul Laboratorului "Psihologia campului social".Universitatea "Al. I. Cuza", Iasi. 2002. nr. 9. p. 156.

(11.) Lindsmith A.R., Strauss A. L., Denzin N. K. Social Psychology. VIIth edition, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1991. p.2.

(12.) Baron R. A., Byrne D. Social Psychology. VIIIth edition. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India, 2001. p. 6.

(13.) Kelley H. H. The proper study of social psychology.Social Psychology Quarterly. 2000. 1 (63):11.

(14.) Chelcea S. Definitiile psihosociologiei. S. Chelcea (coord.). Psihosociologie: teorii, cercetari, aplicatii. IInd edition, revised and enlarged. Iasi: Polirom, 2008.20.

(15.) Psychological, social psychology attempts at understanding social behavior through analysis of immediate stimuli. Of mental states and specific traits of personality.

(16.) According to the formulation of R. M. Farr, which defines it as a "specifically American phenomenon", this branch of science analyzes the modifications intervening in the life of individuals under the influence of other individuals, of the group (to which they belong or to which they refer) and of the society, in general. Essentially, the individual hinted at by social psychology involves the concept of "social cognition,' attempting at discovering and interpreting "human nature" (and mainly the manner of processing the information "about oneself" and "about the others").

Bringing into a discussion, in such a context, the name of W. Doise and the four levels of analysis of the social phenomena he put forward. It is clear that social psychological psychology makes use of the notion of "intraindividual." Study of the psychic mechanisms for the organization of perceptions and attitudes or of that of "interindividual" study of the reciprocal influences exercised by individuals in different circumstances and contexts, and not of that of "social-positional" analysis of the extra-situational differences manifested at individual or group levels. More details on social psychological psychology are in Branaman A. Self and Society. Malden: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 2001. p. 1-5; Chelcea S. Psihosociologia--domeniu de studiu interdisciplinar // S. Chelcea (coord.) Psihosociologie: teorii, cercetari, aplicatii. IInd edition, revised and enlarged. Iasi: Polirom, 2008. p. 15-35; Delamater J. (ed.) Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Springer, 2006. p. IX--XI; Farr R. M. The Roots of Modern Psychology: 1872-1954. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1996. p. 5-15; Franzoi St. L. Social Psychology. Boston: McGraw Hill Companies Inc., 1996 (2000). p. 3-36; Ilut P. Psihologia sociala--un domeniu deschis si dinamic // P. Ilut. Psihologie sociala si sociopsihologie: teme recurente si noi viziuni. Iasi: Polirom, 2009. p. 35-59; Ralea M., Hariton (Herseni) T. Introducere in psihologia sociala. Bucuresti: Scientific Publishing House, 1966 and Stephan C., Stephan W. Two social psychology. Homewood: The Dorsey Press, 1985. p. 7-10.

(17.) Social, sociological psychology aims at explaining the behavioral attitudes of individuals starting from a careful analysis of societal variables (states, positions, values, beliefs, norms). According to some specialists--the first to be mentioned in this respect being A. Branaman--, it focuses mainly on aspects treating (a) the social construction of reality, (b) sociology of emotions and of thinking, (c) the self in a social context and (d) the interactions and inequities. In opposition to social psychological psychology, the social, sociological psychology ignores how the factors of personality contribute to the answers given to social influence or to the mode in which processing of information "about oneself" and "about the others." Considering only how individual thinking, behavior and, personality was determined by the place one occupies in the social structure. In the opinion of A. Branaman, the most important questions the type of person had in view by social psychology tries to answer are the following: Why, in some society, in a historically-determined moment, certain beliefs, values, norms, and categories of persons exercise a greater influence than others? Which is the relation established between culture, language, and thinking? Which is the content of the norms directing the daily behavior of people? Do psychosocial processes play in the role of manifestation and perpetuation of social discrimination? The same author states that "study of the interrelations between the self, social interaction and social structure represents the distinctive element of social, sociological psychology." Coming back to W. Doise and the four levels of analysis of social phenomena he proposed, we may conclude: one may say that social, sociological psychology is centered on "social positional" or on "ideological" [= level at which the system of beliefs, representations and social norms assumed by the human subjects. Not on "intraindividual" [=level at which the psychic mechanisms involved in the organization of perceptions and attitudes investigated] or on "interindividual" [=the level at which the mutual influences exercised by individuals in various circumstances and contexts studied] levels. Additional information on social, sociological psychology in Branaman A. Self and Society. Malden: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 2001. p. 1-5; Chelcea S. Psihosociologia--domeniu de studiu interdisciplinar // S. Chelcea (coord.) Psihosociologie: teorii, cercetari, aplicatii. IInd edition, revised and enlarged. Iasi: Polirom, 2008. p. 15-35; Delamater J. (ed.) Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Springer, 2006. p. IX-XI; Franzoi St. L. Social Psychology. Boston: McGraw Hill Companies Inc., 1996 (2000). p. 3-36; Ilut P. Psihologia sociala--un domeniu deschis si dinamic // P. Ilut. Psihologie sociala si sociopsihologie: teme recurente si noi viziuni. Iasi: Polirom, 2009. p. 35-59; Ralea M., Hariton (Herseni) T. Introducere in psihologia sociala. Bucuresti: Scientific Publishing House, 1966 and Stephan C., Stephan W. Two social psychology. Homewood: The Dorsey Press, 1985. p. 10-14.

(18.) Specialists in the field state that psychological sociology (or sociopsychology) "distinguishes itself by the attempt at connecting the macrosocial level of analysis with the individual one, in favor of quantitative aspects (of psychosociological inquiries type), to the detriment of the qualitative one." Unlike social psychology, focusing on the "interface between the intraindividual states and conditions and the social contexts," it is especially interested in the "interface between the psychosocial characteristics, processes and mechanisms and the social determinants." In other words, the researches outlining this "side" of social psychology "try to understand the behavior of crowds by both psychosocial-structural variables (groups, social structures, values, formal and informal norms, social networks, etc.), and psychosocial variables of interaction and processes (the manner in which the social and emotional charge works, trust, involvement in action, social movements, etc.)".

(19.) A more ample discussion on psychological sociology (or sociopsychology) in Borgotta E. Social Psychology // R. Corsini (ed.). Encyclopedia of Psychology. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1994. p. 441-443; Chelcea S. Psihosociologia --domeniu de studiu interdisciplinar // S. Chelcea (coord.) Psihosociologie: teorii, cercetari, aplicatii. IInd edition, revised and enlarged. Iasi: Polirom, 2008. p. 15-35; Delamater J. (ed.) Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Springer, 2006. p. IX-X; House J. The three faces of social psychology // Sociometry. 1977. no 40. p.161-177; Ilut P. Psihologia sociala--un domeniu deschis si dinamic // P. Ilut. Psihologie sociala si sociopsihologie: teme recurente si noi viziuni. Iasi: Polirom, 2009. p. 35-59 and Ilut P. Sociopsihologia si Antropologia familiei. Iasi: Polirom, 2005.

(20.) How can this separation be explained?, is the question S. Chelcea--author of some remarkable works: Personalitate si societate in tranzitie (1994), Vademecum in psihosociologie (1997), Un secol de cercetari in psihosociologie, 1897-1997 (2002), Psihosociologie. Teorie si practica (2006), Psihosociologia publicitatii. Despre reclamele vizuale (2012)--repeatedly asks himself and asks us. The answer provided by the reputed Romanian analyst is the following: "Division of psychosociology into two or three directions explains why, nowadays, in their departments of psychology, the universities develop education and research programs different from those of sociology departments. Such a splitting involves even claims on their representative personalities. For social psychological psychology, for example, the <<pioneers>> and <<heroes>> are Floyd H. Allport, Gordon W. Allport, Solomon Asch, Donald Campbell, Leon Festinger, Kurt Levin, Stanley Schachter while, for social sociological psychology--Robert Bales, John R. P. French, Erving Goffman, George C. Homans, George H. Mead. In the main journals of psychosociology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, issued by the American Association of Psychology, and Social Psychology Quarterly, issued by the American Association of Sociology, the works written by the representatives of the other <<side>> of the field mentioned." Fissuring of social psychology into several distinct worldsaverts S. Chelcea, and does not serve the advance of knowledge. See, in this respect, Chelcea S. Psihosociologia azi // S. Chelcea (coord.) Psihosociologie: teorii, cercetari, aplicatii. IInd edition, revised and enlarged. Iasi: Polirom, 2008. p. 27.

(21.) Manstead A. S. R., Hewstone M. (eds.). The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of social psychology. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995. p. 590.

(22.) Neculau A. Prefata // W. Doise, J.-C. Deschamps, G. Mugnu. Psihologie sociala experimental / translated by I. Marasescu. Iasi: Polirom, 1996. p. 9.

(23.) For better understanding, the significance of each of the two modalities of reading reality and also of the substitution of one of them = binary with the other = ternary, cited below is a fragment written by S. Moscovici: "Once grasped the content of science, its specificity, namely what distinguishes it from It is a challenging problem to solve, no fully satisfactory answer being possible. Any answer has a slightly artificial character. The only assurance is that no precise border distinguishes social psychology from other domains of psychology, such as the psychology of the child, clinical psychology and even what we use to define as general psychology. Equally, no precise borders can be between social psychology and anthropology. All these disciplines have in common, to a considerable extent, the interest in human interactions and human groups. More than that, they have numerous common concepts, such as those of representation, influence, learning. Having all these in view, how can one distinguish social psychology from these disciplines? In the search for answers, various historical and logical analyses could perform, all of them of utmost importance, leading, nevertheless, to top scientific theories. However, without neglecting the role of theory, one should observe that, in the real world, our discipline is different less by its territory, and more by a specific perspective. In this context, the first thing to be grasped by practitioners and researchers in the domain is the particular manner of looking at phenomena and relations, so that the assertion may be about the existence of a psychosocial point of view--an idea demonstrated in the following. Let us begin with how the psychologist and, quite frequently, the sociologist, look at the world around them. Both of them usually apply a binary pattern of lecture, corresponding to the separation of the subject from the object, which considered and defined independently on one another. More precisely, the psychologist situates the "ego" (the individual, the organism) on one side and the "object" on the other, in other words. On one side a series of answers and on the other, the stimulus: E--O or R--S. When studying, for example, visual perception, considered in the analysis are the visual apparatus and the color or intensity of a light spot, and the manner in which the eye reacts to the bright stimulus. In the same way, when analyzing intellectual processes, the interest is focused on how our brain processes a piece of information coming from the outside and on how it gets it, organizes and transforms it into a well-defined behavior.

In this way, the schematic representation of the relationship established:

Individual subject (ego, organism) Object (environment, stimulus)

An almost similar scheme is present in the field of sociology, the only difference being that the subject is not an individual, any longer, but a community (group, social class, the state) or even a multitude of changing subjects which negotiate, share the same ideas about the world.

As to the object, it has, in its turn, a social value, representing some interest or an institution; in some cases, it is formed of other persons or groups, creating the so-called social ambient milieu.

Obviously involved in all these cases are a subject, and an object differentiated according to economic or political, ethical or historical criteria. Whichever the type of differentiation, it is essential to know the manner in which various categories of individuals behave in society, how do they reproduce the existing hierarchy, share their richness or exercise the power, or the manner in which the action of each--guided by his interests and scopes--becomes a collective action. One may nevertheless imagine, beyond any explanations and analyses, a mode of thinking guided by the following pattern:
Collective subject              -      Object differentiated in
differentiated according               social/non-social
to economic or historical

Undoubtedly, this is a much-simplified vision. We should need a whole volume for defending each assertion and for demonstrating the extent to which it corresponds to reality. We should necessarily add that a significant number of specialists in social psychology made use of similar schemes, which explains a series of errors and misunderstandings.

Despite the interest and importance of the works which they inspired, their partial character remains. Even worse: they reduced the psychosocial phenomena to psychological ones and the social ones--to individual phenomena. However, the psychosocial approach still exists, being manifested by a ternary lecture of facts and relations. Its main characteristic is that of substituting a two-term relation--subject/object, taken over from classical philosophy, with a three-term one: individual subject--social subject--object.

In other words, the--undoubtedly differentiated--Ego-Alter-Object assumes a constant mediation, a "Tierney", to cite the term of the American philosopher Peirce:


b. (physical, social, imaginary or real)

c. [mathematical expression not reproducible]

d. Ego [right arrow] Alter

However, this relation from subject to subject vs. the object may be itself conceived either statically or dynamically, more precisely it may correspond to a simple "co-presence" or an "interaction" involving modifications related to the manner of thinking and behavior of each. Two mechanisms, which illustrate this distinction perfectly, may be distinguished, namely: social facilitation, on one side, and social influence, on the other. All these permit a more exact appreciation of how alterity (the individual or the group) may be viewed, for subsequent analysis of its relations with reality, with the social or non-social, real or symbolic object. Indeed, involved here is either a similar one, an alter ego or a different one, simply an altar. Therefore, distinct phenomena are considered. One may also assert that the theoretical and research directions are opposing to each other, as a function of the concept they develop about the "alter." Thus, most of the researches devoted to groups are inclined to view it as an "alter ego" similar to an "ego." In psychodrama or theatrical parts, the performers are asked to adopt the attitude of the other, to enter--let us say this--under one's skin. What happens then is analyzed as a function of one's capacity of assuming such an attitude as, in studies on conformity, mention is made of the tendency of subjects to compare themselves with someone similar, or with whom any similitude wished. Especially the persons with a deviating behavior (the so-called deviants), who, principally, have neither opinions nor convictions of their own, try to formulate their opinions and behavior according to the large mass of people or to a person embodying the power, for being like this privileged alter-ego. Different from this, the directions of research considering only a pure and simple "alter", are characterized by a clear-cut difference, such as the investigations upon innovation, for example, in which the minority, the individual persons have opinions and judgments of their own. They are confronted with a majority or with authority, whose own opinions and judgments represent the norm or the orthodoxy. The primary objective of these minorities and individuals are recognition of their specific identity and a well-established difference. One may observe that the two fundamental psychosocial mechanisms that of social comparison and that of social recognition correspond to two different manners of perceiving the other within the social milieu.

These few examples evidence a conception and a perspective which, going beyond the "subject-object" dichotomy, covers a broad range of mediations operated by the fundamental relationship with the other.

We admit the small distance taken from the typical pattern of reading in psychology and sometimes in sociology, and even in classical social psychology, influenced by behaviorism. However, this distance produces fundamental changes. Firstly, it makes specific the psychosocial perspective about which Maurice Merleau Ponty wrote: "By simple practicing of social psychology, we remain outside the objective ontology, and the only way of remaining within it is of exercising, upon the selected <<object,>> a constraint which affects the investigation ... If it is interested in seeing our society exactly as it is, social psychology cannot start from the postulate which is itself part of the Western psychology while, if adopting it, the conclusions to be reached will be anticipated". Secondly, such a movement assures shifting from the so largely spread binary conception upon human relations, to the ternary conception, known as equally complex and rich".

See, in this respect, Moscovici S. Punctul de vedere psihosocial // S. Moscovici.

Psihologia sociala sau Masina de fabricat zei / Translated by O. Poparda; text selection and afterword by A. Neculau. Publishing House of the "Al. I. Cuza" University of Iasi, 1994. p. 8-11.


Mihai Sleahtitchi Ph.D. in psychology and pedagogy, Associate professor International Free University Republic of Moldova,

Submission: 10 dec 2018

Acceptance: 15 feb 2019

Mihai Sleahtitchi--Ph.D. in psychology and pedagogy, Associate professor International Free University Republic of Moldova
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Title Annotation:Humanistic contributions
Author:Sleahtitchi, Mihai
Publication:Bulletin of Integrative Psychiatry
Article Type:Report
Date:Mar 1, 2019
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