- FOUNDER OF THE FIELD OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
- applied Gestalt ideas to social behavior
- FIELD THEORY: the total of influences on an individual behavior
- a person's life space is the collection of forces upon the individual
- Valence, vector, and barrier and forces in the life space
- one of the first to study group dynamics and organizational development.
- Lewin's equation for behavior B = ƒ(P, E), behavior is a function of the person in their environment
- Force field analysis provides a framework for looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation, originally social situations. It looks at forces that are either driving movement toward a goal (helping forces) or blocking movement toward a goal (hindering forces). The principle, developed by Kurt Lewin, is a significant contribution to the fields of social science, psychology, social psychology, organizational development, process management, and change management.
- Lewin coined the term 'group dynamics', the way that groups and individuals act and react to changing circumstances.
- Lewin applied his interactionism formula B = ƒ(P, E), to explain group phenomena, where a member's personal characteristics (P) interact with the environmental factors of the group, (E) its members, and the situation to elicit behaviour (B). Given his background in Gestalt Psychology, Lewin justified group existence using the dictum "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts". He theorized that when a group is established it becomes a unified system with supervening qualities that cannot be understood by evaluating members individually. This notion - that a group is composed of more than the sum of its individual members - quickly gained support from sociologists and psychologists who understood the significance of this emerging field.
Attribution theory (as one part of the larger and more complex Heiderian account of social perception) describes how people come to explain (make attributions about) the behavior of others and themselves. Behavior is attributed to a disposition (e.g., personality traits, motives, attitudes), or behavior can be attributed to situations (e.g., external pressures, social norms, peer pressure, accidents of the environment, acts of God, random chance, etc.) Heider first made the argument that people tend to overweight internal, dispositional causes over external causes—this later became known as the fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977) or correspondence bias (Fiske & Taylor, 1991; Jones, 1979, 1990).