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Daryl Bem

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Daryl J. Bem is a noted social psychologist at Cornell University, USA, and the originator of the self-perception theory of attitude change. Bem received a BA from Reed College in physics in 1960. He later dropped out of graduate study in physics at MIT to pursue social psychology, for which he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1964. He has also carried out research on Psi phenomena (a technical term for "ESP"), group decision making, handwriting analysis, sexual orientation, and personality theory and assessment.

Bem is perhaps best known for his theory of "self-perception" as the most oft-cited competitor to Leon Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory. According to the self-perception account, people infer their attitudes from their own behavior much as an outside behavior might, so a person asked to give a pro-Fidel Castro speech would subsequently view themselves as being more in favor of Castro.

He is also known in parapsychology for his defense of the ganzfeld experiment as empirical evidence of a mild, but significant "psi", more commonly known as psychic phenomenon and also supports the idea of a connection between non-physical consciousness and the quantum phenomena.


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