On This Day … 29 August

People (Births)

  • 1935 – László Garai, Hungarian psychologist and scholar.

Laszlo Garai

László Garai (born 29 August 1935) is a scholar of psychology: studies theoretical psychology, social psychology and economic psychology.

Early Life

Garai was born in Budapest. He graduated in philosophy and psychology from the Faculty of Arts of Budapest University (1959).

He obtained his Candidate degree from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences with a thesis on a specifically human basic need.

He obtained his Doctor of Science degree from the Hungarian Academy of Science with a thesis on social identity and paradoxes of its psychic elaboration.

Professional Work

László Garai started his career as editor at the Encyclopaedia Department of the Hungarian academic publishing house Akadémiai Kiadó. After the defence of his thesis above on specifically basic human need, he concluded this research as a fellow of the Institute for Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1964-1971). According to his hypothesis, a paradoxical need for a needfree activity is specific for humans and substantial for their other needs. The structure of the hypothesized need is isomorphic with that of the work considered as a “specifically human basic activity” and defined as that of arranging in one and the same structure ends and means. The hypothesis is based on the activity theory of Alexei Leontiev.

He won a Keldysh Scholarship (post doctoral scholarship founded by Keldysh, president of the USSR Academy of Sciences, to support joint Soviet-Hungarian academic research projects) to the Department of scientific discoveries’ psychology in the Institute for History of Natural Sciences and Technology in the Soviet Academy of Sciences (Moscow, 1969-1970)). There Garai studied simultaneous scientific discoveries (such as that of Bolyai and Lobachevsky).

In 1970, Garai founded in the Institute for Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences a research unit that became the first in Hungary research team of economic psychology and a centre of Vygotskian theoretical research. head of that department (1971-1979) and research advisor (1998-2002). He worked at the Laboratoire Européen de Psychologie Sociale (Paris, 1971, 1973 and 1977) and directed psycho-economic research supported by the National Scientific Research Foundation (1990-2005).

Garai was a member of the advisory board of the Hungarian Ministry of Finance. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Russian and East European Psychology.