George Herbert Mead, an American social psychologist, taught at the University of Chicago for his entire career. The task he set for himself was to explain how humans learn to think in abstractions, become self-conscious, and behave purposefully and morally. He contended that these attributes rest on language and are acquired and maintained through group life. Social psychology, for Mead, was the study of regularities in individual behavior that result from participation in groups. Mead was very much influenced by pragmatist philosophers, especially John Dewey and Charles H. Cooley. He was something of a cult figure during and after his lifetime; he published no books, and his posthumous books were reconstructed from his notes and from the notes of students. He was a man far ahead of his time, and many of the concepts he developed at the turn of the century are widely accepted today: the selective nature of perception, cognition through linguistic symbols, role playing, decision processes, reference groups, and socialization through participation in group activities.
Charles W. Morris (1901-1979) was an American semiotician and philosopher. Morris studied engineering and psychology at Northwestern University, where he graduated with a B.S. in 1922. Later that same year, he entered the University of Chicago where he became a doctoral student in philosophy under the direction of George Herbert Mead.