Tension

Kurt Lewin was a theorist of everyday life. His field theory attempts to explain people's everyday behavior, such as how a waiter remembers an order, what determines the morale and productivity of a work group, what causes intergroup prejudice, how a child encounters a new environment, or why people eat the foods that they do.

For Lewin, what determines everyday behavior is the "life space" of the individual. The life space represents the psychological reality of the individual; it is the totality of all psychological facts and social forces that influence an individual at a given time and place. For example, the life space of a child entering a novel domain is, for the most part, undifferentiated, and thus results in exploration on the part of the child. On the other hand, the life space of an employee at work may be well differentiated and populated with demands from the employer to produce more goods, from coworkers to follow a production norm, and from home for more income. There might, additionally, be physical needs to slow down.

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