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Social Psychology and Literature: Toward Possible Correspondence

  • Alberta Contarello

Abstract

“We are all social psychologists” declare Tajfel and Fraser (1978) and, by way of explanation, they offer one of the most complete definitions of the discipline. It is the study of “the various aspects of the interaction between individuals, between and within social groups, and between individuals and social systems, small or large, of which they are part” (Tajfel and Fraser 1978, p. 22). Similar in their interests and passions, what, above all, distinguishes a professional social psychologist from an “amateur” or naive one is the method, or rather methods, used. The former follows strict research rules and procedures which are logical and systematic, explicitly sets out the hypotheses and tries to support them with references to scholarly shared criteria. The latter worries much less about the logical consistency of his or her convictions, develops naive, often post hoc, theories to explain events — especially when faced with the unexpected — and, being closely tied to pre-existing ideas, tends to confirm the underlying bias in a kind of vicious circle. There is, however, a third category. Because of their mastery and competence in treating psychosocial phenomena, authors of literary texts emerge as bearers of a type of knowledge which is different both from that of the scientist and that of the “practical” person, busy getting on with everyday life. Psychologists tend to appreciate this ability and often refer to the richness and depth shown by poets and writers when considering the psychic and relational aspects of life, or the familiarity with which they approach such extreme themes as life, love and death.

Keywords

Social Psychology Social Representation Literary Critic Literary Work Literary Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberta Contarello
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly

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