Eron, Leonard D. 1920-2007 (Leonard David Eron)

views updated

Eron, Leonard D. 1920-2007 (Leonard David Eron)


See index for CA sketch: Born April 22, 1920, in Newark, NJ; died of congestive heart failure, May 3, 2007, in Lindenhurst, IL. Psychologist, educator, and author. Eron is best remembered for his research linking television violence with increased violent behavior in children. Initially intending to be an actor, he was going to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts when his father died. Eron decided it would be better for his family if he pursued a more stable career. He enrolled at the City College of New York and earned a B.A. in 1941. America entered World War II soon after that, and Eron served in the U.S. Army in Europe and North Africa. He rose to the rank of first lieutenant. Returning to school, he completed an M.A. at Columbia University in 1946 and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 1949. Yale University brought him onto their faculty, and Eron was an assistant professor there in the early 1950s. From 1955 to 1962 he served as director of research at the Rip Van Winkle Foundation. It was while there that he began his famous study. At first, Eron was just interested in learning more about how parents raise their children and how this affects them. He thought this might have something to do with later aggressive behavior in adults. Strangely, parents and the media were under the impression that Eron's work was some kind of mind control conspiracy. To help ease their concerns during the study, Eron and his colleagues Monroe M. Lefkowitz and Leopold O. Walder added questions at the beginning for parents. The questions were not significant to the study but were rather intended to relax the parents. Part of the interview included questions about kids' television viewing habits. After analyzing the responses and the behaviors of the 875 children in the study, the psychologists began to see a link. This became even more profound when Eron re-interviewed the subjects nine years later and found a clear connection to their earlier television habits and the amount of aggressive behavior they demonstrated as nineteen-year-olds. He wrote about his theories in Learning of Aggression in Children (1971). Eron thus set off the spark of a debate that still rages today. After leaving the Rip Van Winkle Foundation, Eron was a psychology professor at the University of Iowa and, from 1969 to 1989, research professor at the University of Illinois—Chicago. From 1992 to 2003 he was also professor of psychology and research scientist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He served as associate dean of research there from 2001 to 2003. The editor of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology from 1973 to 1980, Eron also coedited The Relation of Theory to Practice in Psychotherapy (1969), Television and the Aggressive Child: A Cross-National Comparison (1986), and Reason to Hope: A Psychosocial Perspective on Violence and Youth (1994).



Chicago Tribune, May 16, 2007, Section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, May 12, 2007, p. A15.

Washington Post, May 21, 2007, p. B6.