Who is Fritz Heider?June 25, 2021
Fritz Heider Kim Born in Vienna in 1896, American psychologist Fritz Heider is considered one of the leading theorists of social psychology.
His 1958 book “The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships” is a theoretical masterpiece that laid the foundations of contemporary social psychology. In particular, he shed light on the scientific world with his studies on attribution, balance and cognitive consistency.
He made a name for himself with the concept he called “common sense psychology”. He argued that perceptions play an important role in explaining human behavior. He suggested that people use similar tools to understand their physical environment, and employ their cognitive skills to perceive their qualities and behaviors and to make sense of the relationship between objects and their environment. Heider’s thought pioneered the understanding that reflects the basic social nature of human beings, which tries to make sense of not only the physical world of objects, but also their social environment, offering new propositions about how they understand and relate to each other.
Heider, who started his studies at the University of Kansas in 1947, published his famous work, The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations, which is his most important contribution to the field of social psychology, after many years of research. The American Psychological Association awarded Heider the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1965 and the Psychological Science Gold Medal in 1987. Heider, who received the title of “distinguished professor” at the University of Kansas in 1965, retired in 1966. However, he continued his research. In particular, his autobiography and memoirs, published in 1983, include schematics and explanations of his theories. These notes were published in 6 volumes from 1987 to 1990.
Heider’s most important work, The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958), contains several ideas that led to the development of social psychology. Heider argued that social perception follows most of the rules of physical object perception and that there is a social perception in object perception. He argued that since biases in object perception sometimes lead to errors, biases in social perception may also lead to errors. Fritz Heider also argued that the order that people direct to their own perceptions follows the rule of “psychological balance”. Its core idea is that positive and negative emotions should be represented in a way that minimizes indecision and maximizes a simple, clear and effective representation of the person. The most important idea in his work is how people see the reasons for their behavior and the explanations they make for it, what Heider calls “attributions.” Attribution theory deals with how people are referred to and explaining the behavior of others and themselves. The theory suggests that people characterize the cause of events in two ways: ‘external’ or ‘internal’ attribution puts the person responsible for the event and puts causation on factors such as intelligence or personality levels. “Situational” or “external” association brings causation to an external factor such as the weather.
Fritz Heider died in Kansas in 1988.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Is it an Open Education Philosophy Textbook?