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“Field Theory” by Kurt Lewin


The group of three children is observed by the group of three adults (a teacher who are not familiar with children). The children are given the task to compose a short poem together. They are informed that they will be given a mark for the assignment. Mary likes poems and has earlier demonstrated her skill of poeticizing. She takes up the role of the leader in the group. Brian is a modest boy, though he is a diligent student and he participates in the work of the group. Linda is not usually shy but she is afraid of the observers. She is a backward student.

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The given scenario can be successfully analyzed from the point of view of field theory introduced by Kurt Lewin. Lewin recognizes that human behavior is usually determined by the environment and its interaction with the personal characteristics of the individual (Fraser, 1986, p. 6). The term “field” as Lewin understands it, stands for what surrounds a phenomenon which is its part (Shane, 1996, p. 24). The total psychological field is called “the living space” (Alexander, 2007, p. 343).

The behavior of the children can be characterized as dependent on the situation they experience at the present moment. They are given the task and they are working together to complete it. The actions are guided by interdependence of the goals of the group members (Smith, 2001, unpaged). All the children have needs that should be satisfied by their goals that have positive or negative valences (Rummel, 2002, unpaged). The needs of the children can be determined as follows: all of them aspire after academic success, Mary also aspires after showing her worth, she wants to present her skills and these needs have positive valences. Brian’s positive valence is his future excellent mark and the presents of the observers who can become his future teachers and he wants to put his best foot forward. At the same time, group work determines his behavior; he is an element of the group and does not want to let it down despite his modesty. Linda’s behavior is greatly determined by the situation since it is known that she behaves differently under conventional conditions. She is driven by the need of tranquility for the observers make her nervous. The very situation the children appear in is of great importance since it is known that the usual behavior of Linda does not coincide with the behavior during the experiment.

Though the behavior of children is determined by the situation, their characteristics also make a great contribution to the behavior. Linda is a backward student; her passive behavior can be explained by low academic motivation. At the same time, Brian is usually shy, be he is an assiduous student, his positive valence determines his behavior, the future mark is of great importance and he behaves actively to get it. As for Mary, her skill of poeticizing and her love of poems are the decisive factors shaping her behavior.


On the whole, the behavior of the students is determined by the environment (the classroom, the observers, the participants themselves). Equally important are the personal characteristics of the participants, their long-term motivations, and their sets of values. At the same time, the study shows that the person and environment are interdependent and their complex consideration can give an adequate picture of the situation.

Reference List

Alexander, T. (2007). Children and Adolescents: A Biocultural Approach to Psychological Development. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Fraser, B.F. (1986). Classroom Management. NY: Rotledge.

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Rummel, R.J. (2002). Understanding Conflict and War. Web.

Shane, P.G. (1996). What about America’s Homeless Children?: Hide and Seek. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Smith, M. (2001). Kurt Lewin: Groups, Experiential Learning and Action Research. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "“Field Theory” by Kurt Lewin." January 5, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "“Field Theory” by Kurt Lewin." January 5, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) '“Field Theory” by Kurt Lewin'. 5 January.

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