The Legacy of European Social Psychology

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


In the late 1940’s UNESCO had held a plea for a progressive internationalization of the social sciences. Cross-national comparative research and the foundation of international social science organizations were viewed as major instruments in this regard. In the spirit of this plea in the 1950’s an initial attempt was made at bringing social scientists from the US and Europe together around a common research project. With the encouragement of the American Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and with the support of the Ford Foundation, a crossnational and interdisciplinary ‘Seven Nations study’ on threat and rejection was prepared and carried out. Participants in the project were more than 30 European social scientists, along with a limited number of North Americans. Among the participants were several of the later founders and early members of our Association. Although the actual results of the study were less consistent than hoped for, the very fact that for the first time a joint enterprise of European social scientists had taken place set the stage for possible future cooperation.

It was, however, not until a few years later, but inspired by the same spirit, that an initiative was taken that would eventually lead to the foundation of our Association.