The Legacy of European Social Psychology

An online compendium of ideas, schools and people in the field of Social Psychology

Early Activities: Visits and Meetings

Activities in the Early Years

The addresses held by the first two presidents of the Association, Serge Moscovici and Henri Tajfel, at the end of their term of office (in 1969 and 1972 respectively) testify to the multitude of activities that were being initiated. It is by the way interesting to observe that the structure of most of the addresses held by later presidents has always been very comparable to those of Moscovici and Tajfel. As such they show that through-out the years the original basic choices of categories of activities withstood the test of time. Of course, as the years went by changes in kind and procedures took place, but the essence remained intact.

Visits of Short Duration and Small Group Meetings

To promote inter-communication between European social psychologists, from early on the Association offered support for exchange visits of short duration, but both Moscovici and Tajfel report that in spite of repeated invitations by the Executive Committee relatively few applications were received. Small group meetings, which permitted researchers in the same area to exchange points of view and to develop plans for further collaboration, were more popular. And of course, there were the first East-West meetings and the summer schools.

The First East-West Meetings

From early on the Executive Committee invested major efforts at establishing contacts with social psychologists from countries behind the ‘Iron Curtain.’ It will come as no surprise that given the political conditions of that period this was not an easy undertaking. But through efforts on both sides a first East-West meeting could be organized in Vienna in 1967 in which, aside from some North Americans and researchers from Western Europe, eight Eastern European colleagues participated. A year later (1968) a second such meeting took place in Prague. In spite of the difficult political situation in Czechoslovakia in that year, because of the Spring repression by the Russian army earlier that year, this second meeting too turned out to be successful. It should be admitted that the organization of this second meeting was not self-evident from the perspective of the Association. Some of its members felt that having the conference itself would constitute an implicit approval of the political conditions that resulted from the Russian invasion and they therefore refused to attend.