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Michael Argyle (1925-2002)

Michael Argyle, Emeritus Reader in Social Psychology at Oxford, and one of Britain's best known and most productive academic psychologists, died on September 6.

Michael Argyle was born in Nottingham in 1925. He first read Mathematics, but following an interruption in his studies in WWII and service as a navigator in the Royal Air Force, he read Moral Science and Experimental Psychology at Cambridge. In 1950-1952 he worked at the Psychological Laboratory at Cambridge, and in 1952 became lecturer in Social Psychology at Oxford University, where he spent the whole of his academic career, being promoted to Reader in 1969. He was also tutor in psychology at Balliol College and a Founding Fellow of Wolfson College.

The United States Library of Congress catalog lists 44 titles of books authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited by Michael. He himself listed as his main research interests the psychology of happiness, social skills and social competence, non-verbal communication, and the psychology of religion.

The APA Historical Database, lists under August 30 in Psychology:
"1965 - Michael Argyle and Janet Dean's article "Eye-Contact, Distance, and Affiliation" was published in Sociometry. In 1979, this article was featured as a "citation classic" by the journal Current Contents. The Social Psychology of Religion (1975, with Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi) was also a citation classic, having been cited more than 400 times.

Among his recent book titles were The Anatomy of Relationships (1985), The Psychology of Interpersonal Behaviour (fifth edition, 1994), The Social Psychology of Work (second edition, 1989), The Social Psychology of Leisure (1996) and The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief, and Experience (1997, with Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi).

Michael was deservedly famous for his readiness to collaborate with students and colleagues and for his openness to ideas, methods, and interpretations. Nowhere was this clearer than in his work on religion, when this experimental psychologist was ready not just to accept, but to propose, explanations derived from psychoanalytic theories.

-Dr. Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
Tel Aviv