Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Lewin, Kurt

  • Sarah HillierEmail author
  • Katharine Ann Buck
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_882


Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) is recognized as the founder of experimental social psychology. Through his research on group dynamics, Lewin developed field theory, where he described the interactions between a person and his or her environment. His field theory concept of “life space” – the combination of factors that influence a person’s behavior – and his three-stage theory of change, “unfreeze, change, freeze,” are important contributions to the field of couple and family therapy.


Kurt Lewin began his studies at the University of Freiburg in 1909, but transferred to University of Berlin in 1910. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Lewin joined the German army during World War I. After serving in the army, he returned to the University of Berlin and worked at the Psychological Institute, completing a Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Carl Stumpf. Lewin’s research interests were influenced by his time in the army and his German contemporaries’, Wolfgang Kohler and...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Lewin, K. (1935). Psycho-sociological problems of a minority group. Character & Personality, 3(3), 175–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Lewin, K. (1943). Psychology and the process of group living. Journal of Social Psychology, 17(1), 113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Lewin, K. (1948). The background of conflict in marriage. In G. Lewin (Ed.), Resolving social conflicts: Selected papers on group dynamics (pp. 68–70). New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  4. Lewin, K., Lippitt, R., & White, R. K. (1939). Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates. Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Saint JosephWest HartfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of Saint JosephWest HartfordUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Rachel M. Diamond
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Saint JosephWest HartfordUSA