Merton, Robert King, 1910–2003, American sociologist, b. Philadelphia as Meyer Schkolnick, grad. Temple Univ. (A.B., 1931) and Harvard (M.A., 1932; Ph.D., 1936). From 1941 on he was a professor of sociology at Columbia Univ. and was especially known for his contributions to the study of social structure, bureaucracy, mass communications, and the sociology of science. Among his writings are Mass Persuasion (1946), Social Theory and Social Structure (1957), On the Shoulders of Giants (1965), and The Sociology of Science (1973). Merton developed such concepts as the "self-fulfilling prophecy,""role model,""deviant behavior," and focus groups. Robert C. Merton is his son.