No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

Paul F. Lazarsfeld (1901-1976) was born in Vienna, Austria and emigrated to the United States, where he worked at Newark, now Rutgers University, and Columbia University (Manhattan).

Below, a very short piece of one of Lazarsfeld articles. (I will add more, later.)


When studying sociotechnical systems, we now often hear the term local rationality, which is based on Karl Popper's rationality principle. It means that people, in a specific situation, use their knowledge to pursue their goals based on their view of the situation.

In the 1930s, psychologists analyzed action from instantaneous, biographical and biological determinants.

The sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld has a funny way of using the biological determinants of action in his 1935 article:

“These [different determinants of action] are easy to demonstrate in a purchase which is, of course, just a special case of action:

Someone buys a book. He wants to read on the train, therefore he selects a detective story. He is especially fond of a certain author. He is in a cheerful mood, and therefore he spends more money on it than he intended. These are all determinants of the first degree.

We could go on in our investigation: Why doesn't he like to read historical novels on the train? Why is he fond of this special author? What gave him his cheerful mood? The answers to these questions would be biographical determinants. They might lead us, more or less, far back into the biography of our respondents.

The biological determinants are so obvious that we need not bother with them in an interview. Why does he read the book instead of eat it? Goats like to eat paper, but the biological composition of our respondent makes paper-eating uncomfortable for him.”

Source: Lazarsfeld, Paul F. (1935), The Art of Asking WHY in Marketing Research: Three Principles Underlying the Formulation of Questionnaires, in: National Marketing Review, January 1935.