The paper analyses how social psychology developed in Hungary, in connection with the reinstallation and institutionalization of psychology in the 1960s. It concentrates on the works and activities of the most influential figures in the history of modern social psychology in the country: Ferenc Mérei and Ferenc Pataki. They both represented the collectivistic approach to their discipline. While Mérei, for political reasons, remained in a marginal position in academic life, it was Pataki, who achieved ideological legitimation of social psychology in the face of political leadership. The paper outlines the international context of these developments, and the ultimate failure of Pataki to maintain the balance between scientific quality and ideological pressure.