We are now ready to return to a question that was raised in the introductory chapter to this volume and repeated, in a variety of contexts, in some of the chapters that followed: What relevance, if any, do social–psychological approaches have to basic problems in international relations? Specifically, what is their potential relevance to the analysis of issues underlying policy formulation? And what is their potential relevance to the development of theory in international relations?
During that past decade or so, ever–increasing attention has been paid to the systematic analysis of the psychological aspects of international relations. There has been a steady growth of theory and empirical research on problems of international behavior in general, which has included the concerted use of psychological – and particularly social–psychological – concepts and methods. Part of this development has involved the attempt to define certain aspects of war and peace as researchable problems, to which the tools of behavioral science can be applied. At the same time, psychologists and social scientists in related fields have increasingly addressed themselves to matters of policy in the field of international relations: They have questioned some of the psychological assumptions underlying various approaches to foreign policy and have developed policy recommendations based, at least in part, on psychological considerations.
Psychotherapy can be regarded as a social influence situation in which the patient's relationship to the therapist is the primary vehicle for the production of therapeutic change. In individual psychotherapy, the situation is so arranged as to maximize the probability that the patient's interactions with the therapist will facilitate desirable changes in his attitudes, values, and action–tendencies. In group psychotherapy, the patient's relationships to his fellow–patients and to the group as a whole become additional vehicles for the production of therapeutic change. In choosing between group and individual therapy, one has to keep in mind, of course, that while group and individual therapy, one has to keep in mind, of course, that while the patient group–relationship may serve to strengthen forces toward change, it may also bring certain counterforces into play, thus reducing the potentiality for change contained in the dyadic relationship. Whether or not group therapy seems to be indicated, given these competing forces, will depend on the characteristics of the patient, the nature of his problems, and the current status of his general treatment program. Group therapy will be resorted to when there is a reason to believe that the combination of therapist and group wil lmake for more effective influence situation and facilitate the occurrence of the particular changes that are desired.
Attitude and opinion data provide a basis for inferring the meaning of opinions held by individuals and groups and also for predictions about their future behavior. Such inferences and predictions, if they are to be made effectively, require a theoretical foundation which explains the processes by which people adopt and express particular opinions. Here is a theory of three processes by which persons respond to social influence.
A crucial issue in communication research relates to the nature of changes (if any) that are brought about by a particular communication or type of communication. It is not enough to know that there has been some measurable change in attitude; usually we would also want to know what kind of change it is. Is it a superficial change, on a verbal level, which disappears after a short lapse of time? Or is it a more lasting change in attitude and belief, which manifests itself in a wide range of situations and which is integrated into the person?s value system? Or, to put it in other terms, did the communication produce public conformity without private acceptance, or did it produce public conformity coupled with private acceptance? (Cf. 1, 4.) Only if we know something about the nature and depth of changes can we make meaningful predictions about the way in which attitude changes will be reflected in subsequent actions and reactions to events.
A number of studies have reported on factors that affect conformity to social pressures and social norms (e.g., 2, 5, 13, 19, 24). Very little is known, however, about the relationship between conformity to social norms and actual changes in attitude. From everyday observations we are familiar with two opposing phenomena. On the one hand, there are individuals who conform outwardly to the norms of their social group, but do not really accept these norms (ef. the distinction between public and private attitudes). On the other hand, there are individuals who at first conform behaviorally and verbally to the norms of the group to which they want to belong, but who gradually internalize these norms and begin to believe them. The questions arises, then, as to the conditions under which conformity leads to actual changes in attitude, and the conditions under which it fails to do so.