This paper considers the political underpinnings of the debate surrounding levels of explanation in social psychology. The development of this discipline since the late 1920s has been informed by an individualistic view of human nature inspired by political liberalism. The article first considers how social psychological research on attribution and forced compliance has questioned the validity of this view. With the latest development in social cognition and social neuroscience, this liberal view has been replaced by another variant of individualism which leaves little room to individual freedom. George Herbert Mead's view of the self and mind as outcomes of social organisation is presented as an alternative to these two forms of individualism. In conclusion, I suggest that, informed by a Meadian perspective, social psychology should address the challenge posed by the advent of neurosciences by considering how social factors may impact upon brain functioning.
How to Cite:
Klein, O., 2009. From Utopia to Dystopia: Levels of explanation and the politics of social psychology. Psychologica Belgica, 49(2-3), pp.85–100. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-49-2-3-85