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Number 5 (2007)

Kofta, M. (2007). Social Psychology: from naive to conscious universalism

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Mirosław Kofta
Faculty of Psychology & Institute of Social Science, University of Warsaw

Social psychology is plagued by limited replicability of findings. One of the reasons might be that sometimes our findings reveal universal rules of human social conduct; sometimes, however, they reflect a way of thinking and behaving characteristic of a given culture in a given historical time. In this paper I suggest replacing naive universalism ( i.e., simplistic assumption that, whatever we find, it exemplifies general rules of human social behavior) by a more reflective, conscious universalism. In contrast to ethnography or cultural anthropology, social psychology is naturally oriented toward discovering universals. This orientation allows our discipline to maintain intellectual bonds with biology (e.g., theory of evolution, neurophysiology and neuroscience) and the main stream of basic psychological research (e.g., in cognitive and developmental areas). However, instead of taking universality for granted, we should rather ask whether the relationships found are, indeed, universal or culturally varied and deliberately use methodologies appropriate for examining this issue. Also, we should carefully discriminate between a genuine culture-specific relationship and a general relationship in „cultural dressing” (i.e., its cultural instantiation).
Keywords: Social psychology, naive universalism, conscious universalism

Cite this article as:

Kofta, M. (2007). Social Psychology: from naive to conscious universalism. Psychologia Społeczna, 5, 266-270.
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