"The Rise and Fall of the High-Impact Experiment"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
The Scientist and the Humanist: A Festschrift in Honor of Elliot Aronson
Publication Type
Book Chapter

Few children dream of becoming a social psychologist. They imagine careers filled with excitement and applause: firefighters, ballerinas, basketball stars, artists, astronauts, kings and queens. Elliot Aronson was going to be a baseball player; I was going to be an artist. In high school the sensible ones begin to sort the world into medicine, law, and business, and the rebels into art, literature, and philosophy, with science somewhere in between. Most people scarcely know that the field of social psychology exists until they get to college. For a few, their first encounter with social psychology is an epiphany, especially if their textbook is The Social Animal (Aronson, 1972/2008). The foibles and biases and self-deceptions of people in everyday life can be scientifically studied, and so can their extraordinary acts of generosity, savagery, and love. In writing their personal statements for admission to graduate school, many applicants tell us that when they took their first course in social psychology they changed their major and were born again into a lifelong passion for the field.