Leon Festinger – Biography of Leon Festinger

The psychologist Leon Festinger was born on May 8, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York City, in the United States.

His parents were Russian immigrants, of Jewish religion. The father, Alex Festinger, was an embroidery maker. As for his mother, her name was Sara Salomón Festinger.

Leon studied at Boys High School in Brookly, and later enrolled at New York University, where He graduated in Psychology in 1939.

In 1942 he received his doctorate from the University of Iowa, with a thesis on the behavior of children.

Until 1943 he worked as a researcher at this same university, then later to occupy a position, until 1945, in the Commission and Selection of Aircraft Pilots at the University of Rochester, his mission being that of a statistician.

In 1945 he became an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was here that Leon began to take an interest in social psychology.

Festinger began to direct his research towards this field, passing through different universities, such as Michigan, Minnesota or Stanford, the latter in 1955. During this time he published his theory of social comparison.

In 1957 he published another of his theories, that of cognitive dissonance, considered by many to be his most valuable contribution to the field of social psychology.

This work earned Leon a great number of recognitions, being awarded, in 1959, with the Distinguished Scientific Contribution of the American Psychological Association. In addition, he was also named as one of the ten most promising scientists on the American continent.

In 1964 he decided to put aside his research in social psychology, and turned to the study of the visual system, focusing especially on the perception of colors.

In 1968 he returned to New York, continuing these investigations on color at the New School, where he remained until 1979, when he decided to close his laboratory. Later, in 1983, he claimed to have done so because he felt dissatisfied with his research.

Later, Leon began to be interested in archeology and the data it can provide, going to excavations and studying primitive tools above all. Later, he writes a book on the subject, entitled “The Human legacy”.

After a short time a cancer is detected, before which he decides not to follow any treatment.

Leon Festinger passed away on February 11, 1989 in New York City.