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Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

Publication Date



The International Journal of Education and Human Developments

Document Type



The demand for understanding human behavior during World War II, created an unprecedented approach to social scientific research that required cross-disciplinary collaboration among anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists. For many, this was a first opportunity to work with scholars from other academic disciplines (Dallenbach, 1946). In addition to the challenging nature of measuring an attitude, these assignments led psychologists and sociologists to envision research problems in ways that they had never imagined, and to experiment with new methodologies in research design and data analysis (Smith, 1984). What resulted from these innovations was a new ability to quantify human attitudes and morale, which would eventually lead to the emergence of a new field of psychology, called “Social Psychology” in the years following the war (Triplet, 1992). This article explains the ways in which historians and practitioners characterize the causal and/or correlative relationship between the research conducted by social scientists on behalf of the United States Government during WWII and the emergence of Social Psychology as an independent discipline in the years following WWII. Both substantive and methodological advances were made in social science research during this time, which created the conditions for the evolution of Social Psychology as an academic and a scientific discipline (Allport & Schmeidler, 1943; Allport & Veltfort, 1943). I illustrate the extent to which the methodological innovations are overlooked in the retelling of this history.

Publisher City

New York


History of Science, Social Psychology, World War II, Intellectual History



Bias and Bifurcation in the Telling of the History of Social Psychology.



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