Kurt Lewin was one of the most influential psychologists in history.He is considered the father ofthepsychology social and psychology organizations. His approaches and theory are now applied in many fields, especially in the organizational world.
Kurt Lewin was born in a small Prussian village called Mogilno in 1890. His family moved to Berlin (Germany) when he was very young. Lewin studied medicine and biology in Munich.He was also interested from an early age in philosophyand psychology, areas that he began formally to study in 1911.
” If you really want to understand something, try to change it. “
He was also an ardent political activist of socialism. He thought psychology could be very helpful in getting more justiceand equity in the world. Kurt Lewin obtained his doctorate of philosophy. He was nevertheless sent to the front as a gunner during the First World War. Wounded quickly, he soon returned to his normal life.
Upon his return, he began to study at the Institute of Psychology in Berlin.He contacted several representatives of the psychology of the Gestalt et was very interested in this current fashionable.
A new stage for Kurt Lewin
Kurt Lewin was of Jewish origin. That is why he knew, with the rise of Nazism in 1933 he had no choice but to leave Germany. He first tried to take refuge in Jerusalem, but he did not succeed. With the help of a few colleagues, he managed to leave for the United States.
He obtained, thanks to one of his German friends, a professorship at Cornell University. He was later a professor at the University of Iowa.He then became director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT Massachusetts.
Kurt Lewin concentrated his research on social phenomena.He studied in detail the social interaction, as well as the effects of social pressure on behavior and work dynamics in organizations. He thus laid the foundations of what would be social psychology.
A new vision of psychology
The dominant psychological current when Kurt Lewin arrived in the United States was behaviorism. The latter considered that the man was like a black box. It was born like a blank sheet. The influence of others was what shaped the personality and made everyone what they were.For Lewin, on the other hand, considers that the individual is not passive. The individual rather establishes an interaction with his environment.
Kurt Lewin establishes new assumptions to understand human behavior.He borrowed the concept of "field" from physics. In this discipline, this term refers to an area of space with certain properties or factors giving it a specific configuration.
For Kurt Lewin, human behavior is also the result of a field. The latter comprises a set of coexisting events in which the change of a part affects the change of the whole in its entirety.The subject thus perceives these facts and their dynamics in a particular way. All this is what Kurt Lewin called "living space".
The variables that operate in this dynamic field, or vital space, are basically three. It's about tension, strength and necessity. It is the latter that gives a specific purpose to the behavior.
Kurt Lewin's main contribution was to postulate that the individual and the environment should never be considered as two distinct realities. In practice, these are two instances that always interact with each other. That mutually change, in real time. It happens at any time. Lewin's field theory calls for studying the individual according to these dynamics.
hehighlighted furthermore, in order to understand human behavior, we must take into account all the variables that can affect your living space. It goes from the degree of illumination of a speaker to the socialization patterns that are in the group.
Kurt Lewintherefore considers that it is perfectly justified to introduce changes in this environment to study the reactions of the subjects interacting in him and with him. This was a new research perspective that gave rise to hundreds of studies of this style around the world. To date, this method, called research / action, continues to be implemented.