Lewin’s equation: B = ƒ(P, E)
It is indeed rare to find an equation that you can carry around in your pocket and pull out to make better sense of the world. Developed by social psychologist Kurt Lewin, it’s a little equation that says that your personality, your ‘inner self’, does not entirely derive from some special place deep inside you – but is strongly influenced by the society into which you are born. Lewin nicely refers to it as your “life space”.
In Lewin’s equation, B stands for behaviour, which is a function of the person (P) in the environment (E). In other words, how you act in everyday life is a function of your personality, but it’s also a function of the environment that surrounds you. Alter the environment (E), and behaviour (B) will shift accordingly, eventually affecting the underlying person (P).
If you seek fundamental change then you can start by shifting your behaviour, or habits. You can also seek change by altering your environment, or that which you allow yourself to see and hear on a daily basis.
When judging ourselves – and others – it’s worth remembering that environment, or society, always plays a part. Behavioural flaws and personality problems are not necessarily ‘innate’ in a person, but play out in a given environment. Lewin’s equation teaches us to be mindful of this little fact.