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Lück, H. (2010). Group processes in scientific research (on example of Kurt Levin's topological group)

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Journal
Methodology and History of Psychology. 2010. Volume 5. Issue 3
Section
Social Methodology of Psychology
Pages
77-89
Type
Scientific article
Title
Group processes in scientific research (on example of Kurt Levin's topological group)
Authors
Lück, Helmut
Abstract
Based on the idea that scientific achievements are usually attributed to individuals, and social conditions of research and socio-psychological nature of scientific research is usually underestimated, the author shows that in modern science in general and in psychology in particular, scientific achievements are the result of group processes, and value of group processes in science is increasing. The theoretical basis for the study of group dynamics in science is social-psychological concept of coherent group (like-minded group) – small group whose members directly interact with each other, followed by the common goals and adhere to certain rules. Typical social and psychological processes in coherent group are leadership, cohesion, conformity, the formation of the group sense of "we-ness" and separation from other groups. The role of groups of scientists in the research of psychological issues considered by the example of three groups: the "Wednesday Psychological Society" by Sigmund Freud, "Cerebral cortex" by Oskar Pfungst, "Topological group" by Kurt Lewin (the latter is given special attention). Analyzing the activities of Kurt Lewin, the author stresses that Lewin was inclined to group discussion of scientific ideas: in the University of Berlin around him gathered group of students and doctoral candidates, and after emigrating of Lewin in the University of Iowa the similar group of students appeared. "Topological group", which from 1933 to 1964 (except for a few years during World War II) met every year for a few days, mainly during the Christmas holidays, played a special role in the development and dissemination of ideas of Lewin. Comparative analysis of the groups of scientists around Freud and Lewin shows that Lewin did not aspire to own scientific schools organization: colleagues and students of Lewin noted stimulating group atmosphere, informal and public nature of the group, the lack of strict liability to the ideas of Lewin. In its role as discussion platform, which was opened for discussion of ideas, including those different from topological theory, "Topological meetings" played significant role in the development of important research projects of modern psychology, including those related to the theoretical and applied areas of the teachings of Kurt Lewin.
Keywords
  • Kurt Lewin
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Oskar Pfungst
  • social psychology of science
  • role of group processes in scientific research
  • styles of thinking in group
  • processes of group dynamics in schools of psychology
  • "Topological group"
  • "Wednesday Psychological Society"
  • "Cerebral cortex"
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To cite this article
Lück, H. (2010). Group processes in scientific research (on example of Kurt Levin's topological group). Methodology and History of Psychology, 5(3), 77-89.

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