Milton Rokeach

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Milton Rokeach (born in Hrubieszów as Mendel Rokicz, December 27, 1918 – October 25, 1988) was a Polish-American social psychologist. He taught at Michigan State University, the University of Western Ontario, Washington State University, and the University of Southern California. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Rokeach as the 85th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.[1]

Early life

Born to Jewish parents in Hrubieszów, Poland, Rokeach emigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of seven. After graduation from Brooklyn College, Rokeach received his Ph.D from University of California, Berkeley in 1947.

Contributions to psychology

Rokeach conducted a well-known experiment in which he observed the interaction of three mentally ill patients at Ypsilanti State Hospital - each of whom believed they were Jesus Christ - from 1959-1961.[2] The book he wrote about the experiment, The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, was subsequently adapted into a screenplay, a stage play, and two operas.[3]

Rokeach also conducted a mid-20th century study in the American South in which he tried to determine the basis for racial prejudice. He found racial prejudice to be inversely related to socio-economic status, and thus concluded that such bias is used in an attempt to elevate one's own status.[4]

His book The Nature of Human Values (1973), and the Rokeach Value Survey (see values scales), which the book served as the test manual for, occupied the final years of his career. In it, he posited that a relatively few "terminal human values" are the internal reference points that all people use to formulate attitudes and opinions, and that by measuring the "relative ranking" of these values one could predict a wide variety of behavior, including political affiliation and religious belief. This theory led to a series of experiments in which changes in values led to measurable changes in opinion for an entire small city in the state of Washington.


Rokeach received the Kurt Lewin Memorial Award of American Psychological Association in 1984 and the Harold Lasswell Award from the International Society of Political Psychology in 1988.



  1. Haggbloom, Steven J.; Warnick, Jason E.; Jones, Vinessa K.; Yarbrough, Gary L.; Russell, Tenea M.; Borecky, Chris M.; McGahhey, Reagan; et al. (2002). "The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century". Review of General Psychology. 6 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.139. Explicit use of et al. in: |last2= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Benjamin Maack (January 19, 2010). "Irre Experimente" (in German). Der Spiegel. Retrieved January 19, 2010.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti". Retrieved May 10, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. T.L. Brink. (2008) Psychology: A Student Friendly Approach. "Unit 13: Social Psychology." pp. 300 [1]