Robert F. Bales

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Robert Freed Bales (March 9, 1916 – June 16, 2004) was an American social psychologist.[1] He specialized in small group interpersonal interaction. He developed the SYMLOG (SYstematic MultiLevel Observation of Groups) method of group observation.[2]


Bales was born in Ellington, Missouri on March 9, 1916.[1] He received a B.A. and M.S. in sociology from the University of Oregon. In 1945 he received a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. Bales then became a professor at Harvard.[2]

Bales died in San Diego, California on June 16, 2004 at the age of 88.[1]


  • Distinguished Career Award of the American Association of Specialists in Group Work (1982)[2]
  • Cooley-Mead Award of the American Sociological Association (1983)[2]
  • Distinguished Teaching Award of the American Psychological Foundation (1984)[2]


  • Hare, Alexander Paul, Edgar F. Borgatta, and Robert Freed Bales. Small groups. Knopf, 1965.
  • Bales, Robert Freed. "Personality and interpersonal behavior." (1970).
  • Bales, Robert Freed, Stephen P. Cohen, and Stephen A. Williamson. SYMLOG: A system for the multiple level observation of groups. Vol. 67. New York: Free Press, 1979.
  • Parsons, Talcott, Robert Freed Bales, and Edward A. Shils. Working papers in the theory of action. Greenwood Press, 1981.
  • Bales, Robert Freed. "Social Interaction Systems: Theory and Measurement: Book review." (2000): 199.


  1. ^ a b c "Robert Freed Bales Obituary". San Diego Union-Tribune. June 22, 2004. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Robert Freed Bales : Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Memorial Minute". Harvard University Gazette. November 22, 2005.