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Neal Miller

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Neal Miller

For those of a similar name, see Neil Miller (disambiguation).

Neal E. Miller
File:Neal Elgar Miller.jpg
Born August 3, 1909
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died March 23, 2002(2002-03-23) (aged 92)
Hamden, Connecticut
Nationality American
Fields Psychology
Alma mater University of Washington
Stanford University
Yale University
Known for Biofeedback

Neal Elgar Miller (August 3, 1909 – March 23, 2002)[1] was an American psychologist whose work was an important bridge between behaviorism and personality psychology.[2]

Life and career

Miller was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1909. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Washington (1931), an M.S. from Stanford University (1932), and a Ph.D. degree in Psychology from Yale University (1935). He was a social science research fellow at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Vienna for one year (1935–36) before returning to Yale as a faculty member in 1936. He spent 30 years at Yale University (1936–1966), where he became the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology, and 15 more years at Rockefeller University (1966–1981) before becoming Professor Emeritus at Rockefeller (1981-1985) and Research Affiliate at Yale (1985-?).

Miller was instrumental in the development of biofeedback. He discovered that even the autonomic nervous system could be susceptible to classical conditioning. His findings regarding voluntary control of autonomic systems were later disproven due to an inability to replicate his results.[3]

Neal Miller along with John Dollard and O. Hobart Mowrer helped to integrate behavioral and psychoanalytic concepts.[2] They were able to translate psychological analytic concepts into behavioral terms that would be more easily understood. These three men also recognized Sigmund Freud's understanding of anxiety as a "signal of danger" and that some things in Freud's work could be altered to fix this. Neal, John and Hobert believed that a person who was relieved of high anxiety levels would experience what is called "anxiety relief". These three men also realized that classical conditioning could be followed by operant conditioning.

In 1964 he received the National Medal of Science from President Johnson.

His best known student is Philip Zimbardo.[4]

Key texts


Miller wrote eight books, among them:

  • "Frustration and Aggression"
  • "Social Learning and Imitation." Yale Univ. Press, New Haven (1964)
  • "Personality and Psychotherapy"
  • "Graphic Communication and the Crisis in Education"
  • "Selected Papers on Learning, Motivation and Their Physiological Mechanisms". MW Books, Chicago, Aldine, Atherton, 1971. ISBN 0-202-25038-5
  • "Conflict, Displacement, Learned Drives and Theory." Aldine, ISBN 978-0-202-36142-0


  • 1948: Minor studies in aggression: The influence of frustrations imposed by the in-group on attitudes expressed by the out-group. (with R. Bugelski), Journal of Psychology, 25, 437-442


  • Jonas, Gerald. 1973. Visceral Learning. Viking.

External links

  • A picture [not] of Neal E. Miller
  • Obituary in the New York Times
  • Noted psychologist Neal E. Miller, pioneer in research on brain and behavior, dies
  • Neal Miller - 100 Year Anniversary

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