Early years and education
Born in Beloit, Wisconsin, LaPiere obtained his B.A. in Economics in 1926, followed by his M.A in Sociology in 1927 and his Ph.D in Sociology in 1930, all of which were obtained at Stanford University.
LaPiere is best known for his 1934 article "Attitudes Versus Actions" that appeared in the journal Social Forces. LaPiere spent two years traveling the United States by car with a couple of Chinese ethnicity. During that time they visited 251 hotels and restaurants and were turned away only once. At the conclusion of their travels LaPiere mailed a survey to all of the businesses they visited with the question, "Will you accept members of the Chinese race in your establishment?" The available responses were "Yes", "No", and "Depends upon the circumstances". Of the 128 that responded 92% answered No. The study was seminal in establishing the gap between attitudes and behaviors.
Memberships and accolades
LaPiere was an elected member of Alpha Kappa Delta and the Sociological Research Association, and a past president of the Pacific Sociological Association. In 1941 he was awarded a California Book Award silver medal for his fiction work When the Living Strive.
LaPiere married in 1934 and died of cancer in 1986. The Department of Sociology at Stanford University's annual research award for best graduate student paper is named in LaPiere's honor.