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Elliot Aronson is an eminent American psychologist, best known for his Jigsaw Classroom experiments, cognitive dissonance research, and bestselling Social Psychology textbooks. He is the only person in the 120-year history of the American Psychological Association to have won all three of its major awards: For distinguished research, distinguished teaching, and distinguished writing.


He earned his Bachelor's degree from Brandeis University in 1954 (where he worked with Abraham Maslow), his Master's degree from Wesleyan University in 1956 (where he worked with David McClelland), and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Stanford University in 1959. His doctoral advisor and mentor was Leon Festinger.

Professional historyEdit

He has taught at Harvard University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Aronson is the recipient of many honors. He was chosen by his peers as one of the 100 most influential psychologists of the twentieth century, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he won the prestigious William James award from the Association for Psychological Science for his lifetime achievements. He has won distinguished research awards from a variety of professional organizations including The American Psychological Association, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Society of Experimental Social Psychologists, etc. He also won the Gordon Allport Prize for his work on reducing prejudice. In 1982 he was named "Professor of the Year" by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Awards and honorsEdit

Professor Aronson is the only psychologist ever to have won APA's highest awards in all three major academic categories: For distinguished writing (1973), for distinguished teaching (1980), and for distinguished research (1999).

In 2002, he was listed among the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th Century (APA Monitor, July/August, 2002). In 2007 he received the William James Award for Distinguished Research from APS.

Research topicsEdit

One of Aronson's key areas of interest and research has been the theory of cognitive dissonance. Aronson is credited with refining the theory, which posits that when attitudes and behaviors are inconsistent with one another that psychological discomfort results. This discomfort motivates the person experiencing it to either change their behavior or attitude so that consonance is restored. He conducted a controlled experiment showing that people who underwent a tougher initiation have more favorable evalutation of the group they have joined.[1]

Aronson is also famous for the Jigsaw Classroom experiment conducted in 1971. The experiment was aimed at identifying methods of reducing prejudice in the newly desegregated Austin school system. Classrooms using traditional individual competitive learning techniques were compared to those requiring cooperative learning in race-integrated groups. The cooperative learning groups were referred to as Jigsaw Groups and required that students rely on one another to succeed on exams. The results showed that compared to traditional classrooms, Jigsaw classroom students had lower levels of prejudicial attitudes and negative stereotyping. Group participants demonstrated higher self-confidence, lower absenteeism, and higher academic achievement than students in the competitive classrooms.

Aronson has authored some twenty-three books including the influential textbook The Social Animal (ISBN 0-7167-5715-X), (currently in its tenth edition), "Nobody Left to Hate," and "Age of Propaganda." Most recently, he wrote a popular trade book (with Carol Tavris), Mistakes were made (but not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts (ISBN 978-0-15-101098-1). He also co-edited the 2nd and 3rd editions of the monumental "Handbook of Social Psychology" (with Gardner Lindzey).

See also Edit



  • Aronson, E. (2008). The social animal (10th ed.). New York: Worth/Freeman. [Translated into 14 foreign languages]
  • Aronson, E. (2000). Nobody left to hate: Teaching compassion after Columbine. New York: Henry Holt.
  • Aronson, E., & Aronson, R. (2005). The adventures of Ruthie and a little boy named Grandpa--A children's book. iUniverse.
  • Aronson, E., Ellsworth, P., Carslmith, J. M., & Gonzales, M. (1990). Methods of research in social psychology (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Aronson, E., & Lindzey, G. (1985). The handbook of social psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Random House.
  • Aronson, E., & Patnoe, S. (1997). The jigsaw classroom: Building cooperation in the classroom (2nd ed.). New York: Longman.
  • Aronson, E., & Pines, A. (1988). Career burnout. New York: Free Press.
  • Aronson, E., & Pratkanis, A. R. (1993). Social psychology: The most outstanding research (Vol. 1, 2, & 3). London: Elgar Ltd.
  • Aronson, E., & Stern, P. C. (1984). Energy use: The human dimension. New York: W. H. Freeman.
  • Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2007). Social psychology (6th ed.). Garden City, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Aronson, J. & Aronson, E. (Ed.). (2008). Readings about the social animal (10th ed.). New York: Worth/Freeman.
  • Pratkanis, A. R. & Aronson, E., (2001). Age of propaganda: The everyday use and abuse of persuasion. New York: Henry Holt.
  • Tavris, C., & Aronson, E. (2007). Mistakes were made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. New York: Harcourt.

Other Publications:

  • Aronson, E. (2002). Drifting my own way: Following my nose and my heart. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), Psychologists defying the crowd: Stories of those who battled the establishment and won. Washington, DC: APA Books.
  • Aronson, E. (1999). Adventures in experimental social psychology: Roots, branches, and sticky new leaves. In A. Rodrigues & R. Levine (Eds.), Reflections on 100 years of experimental social psychology. Los Angeles, CA: Westview.

External linksEdit

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