A package of definitive articles

Stereotypes and Prejudice. First edition - Motivational Science - Intergroup Relations. First edition - Social Psychology and Human Sexuality. First edition - The Self in Social Psychology. First edition - Emotions in Social Psychology. First edition
November 30, 2001

This series has six volumes with a further seven listed as forthcoming. Aimed at senior undergraduate and graduate students, it provides articles (between 17 and 23 per volume) in six areas of social psychology, including historical development as well as current issues and directions of research. Each contains an extensive overview chapter, introductions to the different sections and articles, questions for class discussion, bibliographies, and author and subject indexes. At the end of each volume is an appendix titled "How to read a journal article in social psychology" by Christian Jordan and Mark Zanna, which contains a detailed breakdown of the structure of research reports and advice on how to read and construct them.

Given the need to be selective and to provide a coherent perspective on each theme within a single book, the editors have generally tackled a difficult brief extremely well. The breadth and depth make a volume suitable for use in many final-year and masters-degree courses in social psychology. It also provides an ideal introduction to top-level original research articles that should motivate students to pursue the current literature in a more targeted way.

The focus, both among the editors and in the selections, is generally very North American. This may reflect the relatively greater support for and emphasis on social psychology in the United States, as well as the general dominance of US research agendas in psychology. All but five of the journal articles included were first published in US journals, though some were written by European authors. By implicitly obscuring the considerable strengths of European and Asian research, the selection reflects, rather than corrects, distortions in definitions of what is important in social psychology. However, this is an excellent series that will provide an invaluable compendium of the themes that have dominated the 20th century.

The Self in Social Psychology contains the articles rated most highly in a poll of members of the International Society for Self and Identity, along with some of the most recent work in the field. The introduction is a scholarly overview of the study of the self. There are sections on motivation, information processing, self-presentation, self-esteem, self-regulation and culture. Contributions span almost a century and range from William James's The Self to Robert Cialdini's "Basking in reflected glory: three (football) field studies".

The second volume, Motivational Science : Social and Personality Perspectives , includes basic wants, when wants change, bridging the gap between knowing and doing, getting what one wants, knowing from wanting, and wanting from knowing. This book is devoted almost entirely to intrapersonal psychological dynamics and regulatory processes. Many of the articles consider the tensions between actual and desired or undesired alternative states. Most of the research is contemporary, but this volume complements The Self very well.

Emotions in Social Psychology presents the most influential (and readable) articles on the nature of emotions and their role in social psychological phenomena, along with recent work. The volume contains some classic, if flawed, studies (such as Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer's work on misattribution of arousal), but its main advantage is that it sets out clearly the research establishing the social psychological nature of emotion, and the causes and effects of emotion in other social psychological processes, such as persuasion, aggression and depression. All is set in context by an excellent introductory chapter.

Stereotypes and Prejudice provides comprehensive coverage of the American and the European perspectives on intergroup relations. The volume places a strong emphasis on the cognitive processes that flow from learning that individuals are members of social categories. The sections include conceptualisations of stereotypes and prejudice, measurement, how stereotypes change, why inaccurate stereotypes persist, when stereotypes are used, the consequences of stereotyping and prejudice, and improving intergroup relations. There is an interesting mixture of laboratory and field research (such as Susan Fiske et al's description of how stereotyping research has informed legal decisions), classic papers and cutting-edge research.

Intergroup Relations more directly considers relationships within and between groups. The sections build historically to show how different levels of analysis have been incorporated into the focal research questions. They include personality and individual differences, goal relations and interdependence, social identity and self-categorisation, intergroup attitudes, behaviour and discrimination, motives, influence, disadvantage, relative deprivation and protest, and intergroup contact and harmony. Along with many contemporary articles, this volume gives a good representation of pivotal papers that have defined the field's trajectory, such as Henri Tajfel and John Turner's chapter on social identity theory, Serge Moscovici and Bernard Personnaz's research on minority influence and Muzafer Sherif's work on superordinate goals.

Social Psychology and Human Sexuality includes sections on gender and sexual behaviour, nature and culture, sex and the peer group, homosexuality and homophobia, rape and harassment, infidelity and paraphilias. Besides the sensational topics, the theoretical perspectives are challenging too; there is a strong strand of evolutionary theory, but psychodynamic, cognitive and socialisation theories are also well represented. Whether it is David Buss and David Schmitt's evolutionary perspective on mating, Roy Baumeister's views on "erotic plasticity" or Craig Palmer's critique of 12 reasons why rape is not sexually motivated, the volume contains much that will enliven any discussion.

Diane Houston is senior lecturer in psychology, University of Kent.

Stereotypes and Prejudice. First edition

Editor - Charles Stangor
ISBN - 0 86377 588 8 and 589 6
Publisher - Psychology Press
Price - £49.95 and £15.95
Pages - 464

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