Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 41:4 (2010), pp. 485–498; doi: 10.1177/0022022110362566 Copyright © 2010 Carolyn Pope Edwards and Marianne Bloch. Published by Sage Publications. Used by permission.


This article presents a brief intellectual biography of John and Beatrice Whiting, followed by an examination of five key ideas that they put forward to the fields of psychology and anthropology through their theoretical and empirical writings. These key ideas are (a) the assumption of the psychic unity of humankind, (b) the cultural learning environment, (c) the psychocultural model, (d) the synergistic relationship of the disciplines of psychology and anthropology, and (e) the role of mothers as agents of social change through child-rearing roles as well as through various other ways they guide change in the communities and learning environments of their families and children. The authors provide readers with an introduction to several aspects of the Whitings’ contributions to social science and an evaluation of the Whitings’ enduring intellectual legacy.