Record Unit 179, Smithsonian Institution, Research Group in Psychology and the Social Sciences, Records, 1957-1963
In 1959, the Smithsonian Institution established the Research Group in Psychology and the Social Sciences under Defense contract Nonr 1354(08) with the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering for the purpose of advising the latter concerning long-range research plans and programs. The Research Group consisted of sixty-five (65) leading U. S. psychologists and social scientists as consultants, with Dr. Charles W. Bray as the Special Research Director. The Scientific Officer for the contract was the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDRE). The closest technical contact was maintained with the Chief of the Division of Psychology and Social Sciences in the Office of Science, later the Office of the Assistant Director for Research, DDRE. In addition, close contact was maintained, particularly in the final year of the contract (1963), with the Group Psychology branch, Psychological Sciences Division, Office of Naval Research.
The Research Group conducted research and research planning studies in the Area of psychological and social sciences which included, but was not limited to the following: (1) Design and use of man-machine systems; (2) Human performance capabilities and limitations; (3) Decision processes; (4) Team functions; (5) Persuasion and motivation; and (6) Adaptation of complex organizations to changing demands. A series of reports was issued under the contract on the subjects listed above and extensive advice was furnished to the Department of Defense concerning implementation through the Advanced Research Projects Agency of some of the recommendations contained in the reports. In the first phase of the contract, emphasis was placed on the psychological knowledge needed by the Department of Defense in order to improve the management of its own personnel. The second phase included a series of studies, with emphasis on the social science research needed by the Department of Defense to improve its operations in relation to the peoples of other nations and cultures. These studies culminated in Social Science Research and National Security, published by the Office of Naval Research in 1963.