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Kurt Lewin

Lewin's field theory

definition and description / examples

Kurt Lewins field theory was one of his most important results in his psychologigal works. In this theory he speaks about the power of vectors, that have a strong psychological relevance on the behaviour in concrete situations.

The need/ the desire causes energy, gives valence and sets the behaviour of an individuum in a direction. Therfore he was the first psychologist, who included the complete social environment in his theory by using a mathematic formula.

In his fiel theory there were three variables: the behaviour=b, the person=p and the environment=e. They all depend on each other. The social environment was for him the topological area in his mathematic construct.

The behaviour of an individuum was in his theory all times a fiel behaviour. The actual situation is allways in the subjective way of seeing. The concrete behaviour (he called it in his field theory the locomotions) is a result of the approaching and rejecting field powers

We want to explain it with an easy example:

A human being can be hungy or not. That depends on the time of the day. Early in the morning he would be hungry. In that case he has the desire, to eat something. The result is, that he produces energy und gives a valence to his desire. This causes perhaps stomach growling or he must think about eating. In this concrete situation of hunger he gives a positive valence to eating something. The bigger the hunger, the more positive this valence. The power of the vectors begin to increase. His cognition will notice everything in his area, that has a relevance to food.

He will try to supply his want to eat something. All his powers work now in the direction to get food. When he is sated, everything to eat becomes unimportant. The valence wil become negative. In this case he will not notice a concrete tv-sport for food.

With his field theory Kurt Lewin also spoke first time about group dynamics. In a group of persons the interactions cause a power field. The behaviour of the different persons in this group is influenced be this existing power field. Therfore the field theory has also relevance in groups, the same mathematic rules exist, that we noticed in the beginning.

People in groups wil valuate each other very fast. The will decide, if someone is sympathic or antipathic. The persons, who have the same interests seem to be more symphatic than for example opponents. We see, that there are a lot of facts, that can influence the vectors, ther power and there direction. In group dynamics everythings depends on everything.


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