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Elliot Aronson is an American psychologist, best-known for his Jigsaw Classroom experiment, cognitive dissonance research, and bestselling Social Psychology textbooks.


He earned his Bachelor's degree from Brandeis University in 1954, his Master's degree from Wesleyan University in 1956 and Ph.D. from Stanford University. His doctoral advisor and mentor was Leon Festinger.

Professional History

He has taught at Harvard University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Research Topics

One of Aronson's key areas of interest and research has been the theory of cognitive dissonance. Aronson is credited with refining the theory, which posits that when attitudes and behaviors are inconsistent with one another that psychological discomfort results. This discomfort motivates the person experiencing it to either change their behavior or attitude so that consonance is restored.

Aronson is famous for the Jigsaw Classroom experiment conducted in 1971. The experiment was aimed at identifying methods of reducing prejudice in the newly desegregated Austin school system. Classrooms using traditional individual competitive learning techniques were compared to those requiring cooperative learning in race-integrated groups. The cooperative learning groups were referred to as Jigsaw Groups and required that students rely on one another to succeed on exams. The results showed that compared to traditional classrooms, Jigsaw classroom students had lower levels of prejudicial attitudes and negative stereotyping. Group participants demonstrated higher self-confidence, lower absenteeism, and higher academic achievement than students in the competitive classrooms.

Elliot Aronson has authored many books including the popular textbook The Social Animal (ISBN 0716733129), currently in its ninth edition.

See also



  • Aronson, E. (1976) The Social Animal, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman

=Book chapters

  • Aronson, E. and Osherow, N. (1980) Co-operation, prosocial behaviour, and academic performance: experiments in the desegregated classroom. In: L, Bickerman (ed.) Applied Social Psychology Annual, Beverley Hills: Sage.


devaluation of forbidden behaviour Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 6, 584-8.

External links

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