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Festinger, Leon (1919–1989)

Leon Festinger is known for his contributions to the study of group behavior, self-evaluation, and attitude change. Many scholars consider Festinger to be the person most responsible for moving the experimental study of social processes to the center stage of social psychology.

Background

Festinger graduated as a psychology major from the City College of New York in 1939 with a senior honors thesis on factors affecting how people set goals. Despite a passion for all kinds of games (initially chess, later Go, pinball, and crib-bage), he was persuaded to study at the University of Iowa with Kurt Lewin, who was known for his studies of motivation. However, Lewin was increasingly interested in group behavior. Conducting research on complex social processes in the laboratory to test theories and ...

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