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Updated 6:30 PM June 5, 2007




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Leonard Eron

Leonard Eron, who conducted four decades of research about the development of aggression and violence in children—including early studies on television's influence on these behaviors—died May 3.
(File Photo/Marica Ledford, U-M Photo Services)

A former School of Social Work associate dean for research and adjunct research scientist at the Institute for Social Research (ISR), Eron, 87, died of congestive heart failure at his home in Lindenhurst, Ill., the New York Times reported.

Eron and colleague L. Rowell Huesmann, the Amos Tversky Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies and Psychology, was known for his distinguished work on child violence, including the longitudinal Columbia County Study.

For the study that began in 1960, 856 subjects living in the New York county were tracked, beginning at age 8, then at age 18, and again as they approached age 50. The findings indicated that the amount of violence children watch on television when they are young predicts how violently they behaved in adulthood.

Eron started at U-M in 1992 as an adjunct research scientist at ISR and as adjunct professor of psychology. He served as associate dean for research at the School of Social Work from 2002-03.

"Len Eron was a very special friend of mine and a dear colleague to many here and around the world. He will be deeply missed," said Paula Allen-Meares, dean and the Norma Radin Collegiate Professor of Social Work and professor of education.

Eron received numerous commendations for outstanding performance throughout his career. He advised and served on key review panels and as principal reviewer on major research committees. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from Columbia University in 1942 and 1946. He served in the U.S. Army in North Africa and Italy for four years until 1945.

"The experience of fighting and living through the Second World War ... was formative in his interest in aggression and violence," Huesmann told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview.

Eron earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 1949. He was the chief psychologist at Yale University from 1948-55 and worked as a research associate there from 1956-60.

From 1950-62, he was a lecturer at Smith College School of Social Work. He was the chief psychologist and director of research at the Rip Van Winkle Clinic and Foundation in New York from 1955-62 and was a professor at the University of Iowa from 1962-69.

He transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1969 as a professor of psychology and research professor of the social sciences, retiring in 1990 as a professor emeritus.

He is survived by his wife, Madeline Marcus; a daughter, Barbara, of Lindenhurst, Ill.; a son, Don, of Boulder, Colo.; and two grandchildren.

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