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Else Frenkel-Brunswik

Forced to flee pogroms in her childhood and the Anschluss as an adult, Else Frenkel-Brunswik strove to understand the psychological roots of racism. After her family relocated to Vienna, Frenkel-Brunswik earned a PhD in psychology from the University of Vienna in 1930. She worked as a research assistant at the Psychological Institute in Vienna before immigrating to the US in 1938 and marrying a colleague, Egon Brunswik, who taught at the University of California at Berkeley. Despite teaching many classes at Berkeley, Frenkel-Brunswik was barred from tenure because of the university’s nepotism rules. She continued to teach and do research at the Institute of Child Welfare and Cowell Memorial Hospital, where she also worked as a psychotherapist. During WWII, she designed and helped run psychological studies of anti-Semitism, and after the war used her research to co-write The Authoritarian Personality, a major text in the field, published in 1950. She also did important research on prejudice in children and on the “intolerance of ambiguity.” In 1954 she held a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In 1955 her husband committed suicide following a long illness, leaving her grief-stricken. She died of an overdose three years later.

Date of Birth
August 18, 1908
Place of Birth
Date of Death
March 31, 1958

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Else Frenkel-Brunswik ." (Viewed on January 21, 2019) <>.


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