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Is there space for time in social psychology publications? A content analysis across five journals

, Guy Elcheroth, Daniel Figini

Abstract: To what extent can social psychology study individuals within social contexts without strengthening theories and methods appropriate for the analysis of individual development within changing societies? Theoretical and epistemological arguments stressing the centrality of a temporal dimension are reviewed. In order to generate an objective picture of the current research practices, a standardized content analysis was carried out on 699 empirical studies published around 2000 in the European Journal of Social Psychology (EJSP), the British Journal of Social Psychology (BJSP), the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (JCASP) and Social Psychology Quarterly (SPQ). This corpus was completed by a four-point longitudinal analysis—1972/1986/1993/2000—of BJSP, EJSP and JPSP publications. Findings reveal that most empirical studies are carried out on student samples and do not include time- or age-related explanatory variables, particularly in European mainstream publications. Structural analyses taking into account research methods, research topics, journals, and countries of the first authors suggest two oppositions that organize the field of research: a laboratory versus contextualized approach and a developmental versus monographic approach of social psychology. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keywords: history of social psychology / temporal analyses / methodology / research paradigms

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