Kurt Zadek Lewin (September 9, 1890 - February 12, 1947) was a German-American Psychologist, known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational, and applied psychology. Lewin is often recognized as the "founder of Social Psychology" and was one of the first to study group dynamics and organizational development.
In 1890, he was born into a Jewish family in Mogilno, Poland (then in County of Mogilno, province of Posen, Prussia). He was one of four children born into a middle-class family. His father owned a small general store and a farm. The family moved to Berlin in 1905. In 1909, he entered the University of Freiburg to study medicine, but transferred to University of Munich to study Biology. He became involved with the socialist movement and women's rights around this time. He served in the German army when World War I began. Due to a war wound, he returned to the University of Berlin to complete his Ph.D., with Carl Stumpf (1848–1936) the supervisor of his doctoral thesis.
Lewin had originally been involved with schools of behavioral psychology before changing directions in research and undertaking work with psychologists of the Gestalt School of Psychology, including Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Kohler. He also joined the Psychological Institute of the University of Berlin where he lectured and gave seminars on both philosophy and psychology. Lewin often associated with the early Frankfurt School, originated by an influential group of largely Jewish Marxists at the Institute for Social Research in Germany. But when Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 the Institute members had to disband, moving to England and then to America. In that year, he met with Eric Trist, of the London Tavistock Clinic. Trist was impressed with his theories and went on to use them in his studies on soldiers during the Second World War.
Lewin immigrated to the United States in August 1933 and became a naturalized citizen in 1940. Earlier, he had spent six months as a visiting professor at Stanford in 1930, but on his immigration to the United States, Lewin worked at Cornell University and for the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station at the University of Iowa. Later, he went on to become director of the Center for Group Dynamics at MIT. While working at MIT in 1946, Lewin received a phone call from the Director of the Connecticut State Inter Racial Commission requesting help to find an effective way to combat religious and racial prejudices. He set up a workshop to conduct a 'change' experiment, which laid the foundations for what is now known as sensitivity training. In 1947, this led to the establishment of the National Training Laboratories, at Bethel, Maine. Carl Rogers believed that sensitivity training is "perhaps the most significant social invention of this century."
Lewin worked on the fields like: Force field analysis, Action research, Leadership climates, Change process
The Lewin's Equation, B=ƒ(P,E), is a psychological equation of behavior developed by Kurt Lewin. It states that behavior is a function of the person and their environment .
The equation is the psychologist's most well known formula in Social Psychology, of which Lewin was a modern pioneer. When first presented in Lewin's book “Principles of Topological Psychology”, published in 1936, it contradicted most popular theories in that it gave importance to a person's momentary situation in understanding his or her behavior, rather than relying entirely on the past.
Kurt Lewin Awards: awards will be extended at each General Meeting in recognition of a significant research contribution in Social Psychology. The aim of this new award is to reward full members for outstanding scientific contributions to Social Psychology and to "bridge the gap" that existed in the old EASP award system whereby only people at the very beginning or toward the end of their career were recognized for their research contributions by the Association.
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