Jewish Journal


January 30, 2003

Harold B. Gerard

UCLA Scholar and Pioneer in Social Psychology, Dies at 79


Harold B. Gerard, professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA and one of the pioneers of experimental social psychology, died Jan. 16 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, from a cerebral hemorrhage following a lengthy bout with kidney failure. The Venice resident was 79.

Gerard -- co-author with the late Edward E. Jones of one of the most influential social psychology texts, "Foundations of Social Psychology" -- was a frequent contributor to the literature of experimental social psychology.

"Hal did some of the early work on group pressures, including his theory and research on group influences on attitudes and behavior," said Bertram Raven, professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA and a colleague of Gerard's for 53 years. "Hal was a unique scholar, because he transitioned from being an academic scholar to also working as a practicing psychotherapist, and combined his clinical work with patients with his research on unconscious psychodynamics."

A World War II veteran, Gerard completed his undergraduate studies at Brooklyn College in 1947. He also carried out field research with famed cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, who urged him to continue doctoral studies with her. When he instead chose to study social psychology, she encouraged him to pursue his doctorate at the University of Michigan. At Michigan, Gerard joined the staff of the renowned Research Center for Group Dynamics and received his doctorate in 1952 with Leon Festinger.

Besides his imaginative and creative contributions to experimental social psychology, Gerard is known for one of the earliest systematic studies of school desegregation and its effects on the academic achievements of minority students, which he carried out in collaboration with professor Norman Miller. Gerard was particularly disappointed to find that the expected dramatic improvements in minority student performance did not appear. An important factor, it turns out, was the effect of teachers' expectations for their students.

Gerard joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at UCLA in 1962. He continued to teach and conduct research in social psychology until his retirement in 1992.

In mid-career, Gerard turned to psychoanalysis, seeking to apply his experimental talent and imagination to the understanding of unconscious phenomena. At 59, he entered psychoanalytic training in the Psychoanalytic Center of California in Los Angeles. After receiving his psychoanalytic certification, he built a clinical practice in Los Angeles while continuing his academic work at UCLA.

Among the many distinctions, Gerard was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and was twice a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Gerard is survived by his wife, psychoanalyst Desy Safán-Gerard, who is also a prolific painter; children, Denise and Mauricio Mankewitz, Anthony, Sarah and Annie; eight grandchildren; great-grandchild, Samantha; and brother, Robert Golden.

A memorial service for Gerard will be held on Sunday, Feb. 2, at 1  p.m. on the UCLA campus. Please call (310) 450-6685 or (310) 552 -6695 for the time and location. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages contributions to the National Kidney Foundation, which can be reached at (310) 641-8152.

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