Profiles In Social Justice Research—Morton Deutsch

2217 words - 9 pages

Social Justice Research, Vol. 19, No. 1, March 2006 ( C 2006) DOI: 10.1007/s11211-006-9997-4

Profiles in Social Justice Research—Morton Deutsch
John T. Jost1

Morton Deutsch has been a leading figure in the social psychological study of social justice for more than 50 years. His experimental and field research on such pivotal topics as conformity, intergroup relations, cooperation and competition, trust and suspicion, conflict resolution, and distributive justice has profoundly influenced several generations of social scientists and practitioners. I am delighted to publish in this issue a new article by Morton Deutsch (2006) in which he outlines “A Framework for Thinking about ...view middle of the document...

After he obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940, Deutsch’s academic career was put on hold following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Deutsch joined the air force
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correspondence should be addressed to John T. Jost, Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, Room 578, New York 10003-6634; e-mail:


2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.



and, after requesting training as a navigator, later flew in thirty bombing missions against the Germans. Looking back on the experience, he wrote that, “Although I had no doubt of the justness of the war against the Nazis, I was appalled by its destructiveness” (Deutsch, 1999, p. 6). His abiding interest in conflict resolution was no doubt informed by first-hand knowledge of the tragic costs of war. After the end of World War II, Deutsch entered the doctoral program at the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied with Kurt Lewin and received his Ph.D. in 1948. He found Lewin to be a “brilliant, enthusiastic, effervescent, youthful, middle-aged man” who inspired others by fostering “open and vigorous conflict about ideas and methods” (Deutsch, 1999, pp. 7–9). At M.I.T., Deutsch not only ignited his research career but also encountered his wife-to-be, Lydia Shapiro, who was then working for Lewin as an interviewer in a study of self-hatred among Jews. Witnesses at the 1947 wedding included fellow Lewin students and Deutsch roommates, Stanley Schachter and Albert Pepitone, both of whom were also to become eminent social psychologists. Deutsch’s dissertation research on the effects of cooperation and competition resulted in the publication of a ground-breaking article (Deutsch, 1949). In 1949 Deutsch joined the faculty at New York University, where he engaged in enormously fruitful collaborations with Mary Evan Collins on the subject of Interracial Housing (Deutsch and Collins, 1951), with Marie Jahoda and Stuart Cook on a textbook on Research Methods in Social Relations (Jahoda et al., 1951), and with Harold Gerard on normative and informational routes to social influence (Deutsch and Gerard, 1955). Deutsch also developed an early interest in the Prisoner’s Dilemma and other experimental approaches to suspicion, trust, and conflict dilemmas. Exhibiting tremendous intellectual breadth, Deutsch also sought psychoanalytic training at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, where he received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis in 1958. By that time, Deutsch had accepted Carl Hovland’s invitation to join the basic research group in psychology at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. The reasons for leaving his academic post were both financial and political. Deutsch (1999, p. 15) wrote that:
During my tenure at New York University, most of my salary was...

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