On This Day … 05 June

People (Deaths)

Jerome Bruner

Jerome Seymour Bruner (01 October 1915 to 05 June 2016) was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. Bruner was a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a B.A. in 1937 from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941. He taught and did research at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and New York University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Bruner was born blind (due to cataracts) in New York City, to Herman and Rose Bruner, who were Polish Jewish immigrants. An operation at age 2 restored his vision. He received a bachelor’s of arts degree in Psychology, in 1937 from Duke University, and went on to earn a master’s degree in Psychology in 1939 and then a doctorate in Psychology in 1941 from Harvard University. In 1939, Bruner published his first psychological article on the effect of thymus extract on the sexual behaviour of the female rat. During World War II, Bruner served on the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force committee under General Dwight D. Eisenhower, researching social psychological phenomena.

In 1945, Bruner returned to Harvard as a psychology professor and was heavily involved in research relating to cognitive psychology and educational psychology. In 1972, Bruner left Harvard to teach at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States in 1980, to continue his research in developmental psychology. In 1991, Bruner joined the faculty at New York University (NYU), where he taught primarily in the School of Law.

As an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law, Bruner studied how psychology affects legal practice. During his career, Bruner was awarded honorary doctorates from Yale University, Columbia University, The New School, the Sorbonne, the ISPA Instituto Universitário, as well as colleges and universities in such locations as Berlin and Rome, and was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Bruner is a distinguished member of PSI CHI International Honour Society for Psychology. He turned 100 in October 2015 and died on 05 June 2016.

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