This special issue aims to bridge history and social psychology by bringing together historians and social psychologists in an exercise of reading and learning from each other’s work. This interdisciplinary exercise is not only timely but of great importance for both disciplines. Social psychologists can benefit from engaging with historical sources by being able to contextualise their findings and enrich their theoretical models. It is not only that all social and psychological phenomena have a history but this history is very much part of present-day and future developments. On the other hand historians can enhance their analysis of historical sources by drawing upon the conceptual tools developed in social psychology. They can “test” these tools and contribute to their validation and enrichment from completely different perspectives. Most important, as contributions to this special issue amply demonstrate, psychology’s “historical turn” has the potential to shed a new light on striking, yet underexplored, similarities between contemporary public spheres and their pre-modern counterparts. This issue thereby calls into question the dichotomy between traditional and de-traditionalized societies—a distinction that lies at the heart of many social psychology accounts of the world we live in. The present editorial will introduce and consider this act of bridging history and social psychology by focusing on three main questions: What is the bridge made of? How can the two disciplines be bridged? and Why we cross this interdisciplinary bridge? In the end a reflection on the future of this collaboration will be offered.
Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 2012, Vol 46, Issue 4, p. 431-439