- Oct 20, 2003
October 19, 2003
Beatrice Whiting, 89, Expert on Culture's Role in Personality, Dies
By STUART LAVIETES
Dr. Beatrice Blyth Whiting, an anthropologist at Harvard and an expert on the influence of culture on personality, died on Sept. 29 in Cambridge, Mass. She was 89.
Dr. Whiting and her husband, Dr. John W. M. Whiting, a fellow Harvard anthropologist, traveled extensively to study parental practices and child behavior, hoping to identify aspects of human development found in all cultures.
In 1954, she and her husband began the Six Cultures Study of Socialization, a project that involved field studies in Mexico, India, Kenya, Okinawa, the Philippines and the United States. Their work with the project resulted in many scholarly articles.
Twelve years later, they founded the Child Development Research Unit at the University of Nairobi to conduct more intensive studies in Kenya.
In the 1980's, after their retirement from Harvard, the Whitings turned their attention to older children, directing the Comparative Adolescence Project.
Dr. Whiting developed a particular interest in the development of gender roles, a subject she covered in her 1988 book, "Children of Different Worlds: The Formation of Social Behavior," written with Dr. Carolyn P. Edwards. Her book on the lives of Kenyan women, "Ngecha: A Kenyan Community in a Time of Rapid Social Change," also written with Dr. Edwards, is to be published later this year.
Dr. Whiting, who joined Harvard's faculty in 1952, became one of the first women at the university to receive tenure when she was named professor of education at the graduate school of education in 1974. She was a graduate of Bryn Mawr and received a doctorate in anthropology from Yale in 1943.
She lived in Cambridge and in Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard.
Beatrice Blyth Whiting was born on Staten Island on April 14, 1914. She is survived by her daughter, Susan Whiting of Chilmark and Stuart, Fla. Her husband died in 1999.
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