Strodtbeck, Fred L. 1919–2005

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Strodtbeck, Fred L. 1919–2005

(Fred Louis Strodtbeck)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born June 10, 1919, in Middletown, OH; died of Parkinson's disease-related heart failure, August 7, 2005, in Chicago, IL. Sociologist, educator, and author. Strodtbeck was a retired University of Chicago professor who was best known for his work studying group dynamics and how groups of people choose their leaders. His undergraduate studies were done at Miami University, where he earned a B.A. in 1940; he then earned a master's degree from Indiana University in 1942. With his studies interrupted by World War II, he served in the U.S. Army as a researcher. After returning to civilian life, Strodtbeck taught for two years at the University of California at Los Angeles before finishing his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1950. During the early 1950s, he was an assistant professor at Yale University. He then joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1953, and he remained there for the rest of his academic career, retiring in 1989. While at the University of Chicago Strodtbeck served as the director of the Social Psychology Laboratory and as founding director of the Inter-university Project for Behavioral Science Training. His interest in the ways that people interact with one another led to several important studies, including one on how juries select a foreman (he was director of experimental research at the university law school's American Jury Project from 1953 to 1959). He also researched how family members relate to one another and how street gangs pick their leaders. The jury study concluded that several factors are involved when juries pick a spokesman, including gender, age, occupation, and even where people sit around a table. Strodtbeck, furthermore, was codeveloper of the values orientation theory, which is still used by sociologists conducting cross-cultural research. A contributor to many professional journals, encyclopedias, and books, he was the author or coauthor of such titles as Group Process and Gang Delinquency (1965) and A Study of Husband-Wife Interaction in Three Cultures (1980).



Chicago Tribune, August 21, 2005, section 4, p. 9.


University of Chicago News Office Web site, (August 17, 2005).