Lewin's Field Theory

Lewin's Field Theory

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Kurt Lewin He is considered by many to be the father of the Social psychology modern, thanks to the use of scientific methods in the study of social behavior. His approach is a fusion of the psychology with the philosophy of science it resulted in a large number of empirical studies conducted in the fields of child development, motivation and social behavior. He formulated the famous Lewin Field Theory of human behavior.

What Lewin's theory tells us

According to this theory, human behavior depends on two factors:

  1. Human behavior derives from all the events present in certain situations. Events that are in your environment.
  2. These events have the character of a dynamic field of forces; where each event interacts dynamically with others to influence or be influenced by them. This dynamic field causes the so-called psychological field of each person: an organized pattern of an individual's perceptions, which adapts their way of seeing and perceiving things to the surrounding environment.

He was one of the first psychologists to propose that The development of an individual is the product of the interaction between innate predispositions (nature) and life experiences (parenting).

Lewin said that the behavior of an individual is always oriented towards a goal or objective and it is precisely this intention the most important in the performance of their behavior. These intentions, supposedly, follow the field principles and are influenced by psychological forces such as the way in which the individual perceives a situation.

Lewin's psychological field idea

According to Lewin, the behavior is the result of a total number of interactions between events that comprise the same dynamic field. Circumstances or conditions in any part of the field are influenced and all other parts of the field depend. This psychological field is also known as the space that comprises the life of the individual and their psychological or behavioral environment, which are the events that affect the individual's behavior or thoughts at a given time.

So that psychological field it is the living space constituted by the person and his psychological environment (Kurt Lewin, "Principles of Topological Psychology", 1936). The psychological or behavioral environment is what the person perceives and interprets from the external environment; Even more, it is the environment related to your real needs. Objects, people or situations can gain strength in the psychological environment and determine a dynamic field of psychological forces. Strength is positive when objects, people or situations can meet the needs of the individual, and is negative when they can cause some damage or harm. Objects, people or situations full of positive force tend to attract the individual, while those of negative force tend to cause repulsion and estrangement.

Attraction is a force or vector that is directed towards the object, towards the person or towards the situation, while the repulsion is the force or vector that drives away, trying to escape the object, the person or the situation. A vector always tends to produce a "movement" in any direction. When two or more vectors act at the same time on a person, the movement is a result of forces. On some occasions, the movement produced by vectors can be contained by a barrier. In general, the movement can be zoomed in or out.

According to field theory, the human behavior model can be represented by the equation:

C = f (P, M)

C: is the behavior.
P: person.
M: environment or environment of the person.

Or what is the same, the behavior is a function of the person and their environment.

In this equation, the person (P) is determined by genetic characteristics and characteristics acquired through learning through contact with the environment.

Field theory explains why each individual can perceive and interpret the same object, situation or person differently.