Among distinguished sociologists, Robert King Merton is included among the founding fathers of modern day sociology. A Columbia UniversityProfessor Merton won the National Medal of Science. Robert King Merton developed concepts such as "unintended consequences", the "reference group", and "role strain", "role model" and "self-fulfilling prophecy." Role theory were a central piece of Merton's theory of social groups.
Robert King Merton's work on the "role model" first appeared in his study on the socialization of medical students at Columbia, a term that grew from his theory of a reference group. Merton came to publish about 50 papers in the sociology of science. He also contributed to the theory of deviant behavior.