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Gregory Razran

RAZRAN, GREGORY (1901–1973), U.S. psychologist. Razran was born in a village near Slutsk, Russia. He immigrated to the United States in 1920 and graduated from Columbia University in 1927, receiving his doctorate in 1933. He was a lecturer in psychology at Columbia from 1930 to 1938 and a research associate from 1938 to 1946. In 1946, he was appointed chairman of the Psychology Department of Queens College, and on his retirement in 1966 was appointed emeritus professor. He served as statistical consultant to the Office of Strategic Services in World War II. In 1952, he took a year's leave to serve as visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he helped to establish the Department of Psychology. In 1961 he was co-chairman of the International Pavlovian Conference on Higher Nervous Activity, which was held in Israel.

Razran's main contribution to psychology was twofold. His interest in conditioning led him early in his career (1933) to pioneering work in the study of conditioning of young infants. His later work on adults focused on the study of the meaning of words by a conditioning technique (1939). Other areas of conditioning theory to which he contributed were the transposition problem (1938) and conditioning to compound stimuli, particularly as an aid in analyzing perception (1965). Much of his activity consisted in bringing to the attention of his colleagues the work of the Russian school of conditioning, especially the use of conditioned stimuli of the internal organs in interoceptive conditioning. Razran served as president of the division on general psychology of the American Psychological Association and chairman of the psychology section of the New York Academy of Sciences. His only book Mind Evolution: An East-West Synthesis (1971) represents the culmination of his activities. He met his death by drowning.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.