Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist

Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist

Elliot Aronson

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0465031390

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


How does a boy from a financially and intellectually impoverished background grow up to become a Harvard researcher, win international acclaim for his groundbreaking work, and catch fire as a pioneering psychologist? As the only person in the history of the American Psychological Association to have won all three of its highest honors—for distinguished research, teaching, and writing— Elliot Aronson is living proof that humans are capable of capturing the power of the situation and conquering the prison of personality.

A personal and compelling look into Aronson’s profound contributions to the field of social psychology, Not by Chance Alone is a lifelong story of human potential and the power of social change.

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hear you have little kids. Is that true?” I was flattered that he seemed to know something about me. I thought he was trying to be friendly, so I relaxed a little. “Only one so far—a little boy; he just had his first birthday,” I gushed. It was a mistake. Festinger was not making small talk. He didn’t smile. He grunted again, pointed to the manuscript, and informed me that it was a book he had just written, that he had sent the original to the publisher, and that this carbon was the only copy he

professors were ready to throw in the tenure towel. My old pal Dick Alpert had his eye on the prize. Dick had arrived at Harvard as an assistant professor of child development two years earlier and was eager to remain there for the rest of his life. One evening he and I decided to go to dinner and a movie together. After dinner he said that he needed to stop off at his office for a minute on the way to the theater. When we walked in he flicked on the light and then said, “Okay, let’s go.” “What

you aren’t telling me?” Stan assured me that there was nothing wrong. It was just that as a native New Yorker, he missed the city terribly and yearned to get back there, and that Hal Kelley had always wanted to live in California. “Believe me, the University of Minnesota is a great place,” he said, “especially for a social psychologist. It’s just that losing both of us within two years puts the social psychology program in jeopardy. That’s why I am coming to you. You are the young guy who can

of death, but at the end, because the pain is so intense, I can feel myself getting ready to let go.” My brother was dealt the lousiest hand imaginable, and he played it right, to the end. CHAPTER SEVEN The Warmth of Minnesota “I wanted to be the best husband and father I could be.” Jason and I are in a huge, cavernous railroad station, something like Grand Central Terminal. We know that the train is about to leave, but we don’t have tickets and we don’t know which of the multilevel

time at bat. Once Jeff, Carrie, and Ruth had earned their doctorates and moved on to teaching positions at fine universities, I lost interest in mentoring new students and found myself more or less marking time as my laboratory rooms gathered dust. As I might have predicted from the Life Cycle course that Ellen Suckiel and I had been teaching, my priorities had shifted. I had grown impatient with doing experiments because I no longer wanted to contribute one brick at a time to the edifice of our

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