Edvard Westermarck

Edvard Alexander Westermarck (20 November 1862 – 3 September 1939) was a Finnish philosopher and sociologist. Among other subjects, he studied exogamy and the incest taboo.

The phenomenon of reverse sexual imprinting is when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, and both become desensitised to sexual attraction, now known as the Westermarck effect, was first formally described by him in his book The History of Human Marriage (1891).

He has been described as "first Darwinian sociologist" or "the first sociobiologist".[1]

He helped found academic sociology in the United Kingdom, becoming the first professor of sociology (with Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse) in 1907 in the University of London. Other chairs he held were in Helsinki and Turku.

A radical free thinker for his time, he critiqued Christian institutions and Christian ideas on the grounds that they lacked foundation.

In the UK, his name is often spelled Edward. His sister, Helena Westermarck, was a writer and artist.[2]

Edward Westermarck
Edward westermarck
Edvard Westermarck
Born20 November 1862
Died3 September 1939 (aged 76)
Known forWestermarck effect
Scientific career
InstitutionsLondon School of Economics
InfluencedBronisław Malinowski
Professor E.A. Westermarck, c1930s
Portrait of Westermarck


  • 1891: The History of Human Marriage. 3 Vol, Macmillan, London.
  • 1906: The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas. 2 Vol, MacMillan, London
  • 1907: Siveys ja kristinusko: Esitelmä. Ylioppilasyhdistys Prometheus, Helsinki.
  • 1914: Marriage Ceremonies in Morocco. Macmillan, London.
  • 1919: Tapojen historiaa: Kuusi akadeemista esitelmää: Pitänyt Turussa syksyllä 1911 Edward Westermarck. 2nd edition. Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, Helsinki.
  • 1920: Religion och magi (Religion and magick), Studentföreningen Verdandis Småskrifter 149, Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm
  • 1926: Ritual and Belief in Morocco. 2 Vol.
  • 1926: A short History of Human Marriage. Macmillan, London.
  • 1930: Wit and Wisdom in Morocco. Routledge, London.
  • 1932: Ethical Relativity.
  • 1932: Avioliiton historia. WSOY, Helsinki.
  • 1932: Early Beliefs and Their Social Influence. London: Macmillan.
  • 1933: Pagan Survivals in Mohammedan Civilisation. London: Macmillan.
  • 1933: Moraalin synty ja kehitys. WSOY, Helsinki.
  • 1934: Three Essays on Sex and Marriage. Macmillan, London.
  • 1934: Freuds teori on Oedipuskomplexen i sociologisk belysning. Vetenskap och bildning, 45. Bonnier, Stockholm.
  • 1936: The future of Marriage in Western Civilisation. Macmillan, London.
  • 1937: "Forward" in The Wandering Spirit: A Study of Human Migration. Macmillan, London
  • 1939: Kristinusko ja moraali (Christianity and Morals). Otava, Helsinki.


  2. ^ Petteys, Chris (1985). Dictionary of women artists : an international dictionary of women artists born before 1900. Boston, Mass: G.K. Hall. ISBN 0816184569.

Further reading

  • Kirsti Suolinna, Catherine af Hällström & Tommy Lahtinen: Portraying Morocco: Edward Westermarck's fieldwork and photographs 1898-1913. Åbo: Akademis Förl, 2000; ISBN 951-765-046-9
  • Juhani Ihanus: Multiple origins: Edward Westermarck in search of mankind. Frankfurt am Main [u.a.]: Lang, 1999 (Europäische Studien zur Ideen- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte; 6); ISBN 3-631-34455-4

External links

Aicha Kandicha

Aicha Kandicha (Moroccan Arabic: عيشة قنديشة‎, translit. ʿayša qəndiša, referred to in some works as Qandisa) is a female mythological figure in northern Moroccan folklore. One of a number of folkloric characters who are similar to jinn, but have distinct personalities, she is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman who has the legs of a hoofed animal such as a goat or camel. Although descriptions of Aicha Kandicha vary from region to region within Morocco, she is generally thought to live near water sources, and is said to use her beauty to seduce local men and then madden or kill them.

Arne Runeberg

Sven Arne Runeberg (7 April 1912 — 15 November 1979) was a Finnish anthropologist and linguist, best known for his studies on magic, witchcraft, and sociolinguistics.

Arne Runeberg was born in Helsinki into the Swedish-speaking cultural family Runeberg; his great grandfather was Finland’s national poet J. L. Runeberg. Arne Runeberg attained his B.A. degree at the University of Helsinki in 1939, but World War II made a stop to his postgraduate studies. In 1947, however, he was the first student to defend his doctoral thesis, Witches, Demons and Fertility Magic, at the new Faculty of Social Sciences in Helsinki University.

Representing evolutionary anthropology, Arne Runeberg was trained by two students of Edvard Westermarck, namely Gunnar Landtman and Rafael Karsten.

After his doctoral degree, Arne Runeberg had a versatile career at several colleges in Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, including London School of Economics (1961) and Umeå Social College (1964–1971). The last tenure was at his alma mater, as he was appointed the associate professor of social anthropology in Helsinki (1971–1979).

In addition to his doctoral thesis, Arne Runeberg wrote two substantial studies: Jesu korsfästelse i religionshistorisk belysning (1952) situates Jesus Christ in a long tradition of so-called carnival kings, and Some Observations on Linguistic Patterns in a Bilingual Society (1951–1954) discusses bilinguality. Runeberg himself was a bilingual Finn par excellence, using both Swedish and Finnish.

Arne Runeberg died in Helsinki, aged 67, soon after he was retired from the University.

Bronisław Malinowski

Bronisław Kasper Malinowski (; Polish: [brɔˈɲiswaf maliˈnɔfski]; 7 April 1884 – 16 May 1942) was an anthropologist whose writings on ethnography, social theory, and field research were a lasting influence on the discipline of anthropology.From 1910, Malinowski studied exchange and economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) under Seligman and Westermarck, analysing patterns of exchange in Aboriginal Australia through ethnographic documents. In 1914, he was given a chance to travel to New Guinea accompanying anthropologist R.R. Marett, but as World War I broke out and Malinowski was an Austrian subject, and thereby an enemy of the British commonwealth, he was unable to travel back to England. The Australian government nonetheless provided him with permission and funds to undertake ethnographic work within their territories and Malinowski chose to go to the Trobriand Islands, in Melanesia where he stayed for several years, studying the indigenous culture. Upon his return to England after the war he published his main work Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), which established him as one of the most important anthropologists in Europe of that time. He took posts as lecturer and later as a chair in anthropology at the LSE, attracting large numbers of students and exerting great influence on the development of British Social Anthropology. Among his students in this period were such prominent anthropologists as Raymond Firth, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Hortense Powdermaker, Edmund Leach, Audrey Richards and Meyer Fortes. From 1933 he visited several American universities, and when World War II broke out he decided to stay there, taking an appointment at Yale. There he stayed the remainder of his life, also influencing a generation of American anthropologists.

His ethnography of the Trobriand Islands described the complex institution of the Kula ring, and became foundational for subsequent theories of reciprocity and exchange. He was also widely regarded as an eminent fieldworker and his texts regarding the anthropological field methods were foundational to early anthropology, for example coining the term participatory observation. His approach to social theory was a brand of psychological functionalism emphasising how social and cultural institutions serve basic human needs, a perspective opposed to Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism that emphasised the ways in which social institutions function in relation to society as a whole.

Ethical Relativity

Ethical Relativity is a 1932 book by the Finnish philosopher Edvard Westermarck, one of his main works.


Exogamy is a social arrangement where marriage is allowed only outside a social group. The social groups define the scope and extent of exogamy, and the rules and enforcement mechanisms that ensure its continuity. In social studies, exogamy is viewed as a combination of two related aspects: biological and cultural. Biological exogamy is marriage of nonblood-related beings, regulated by forms of incest law. A form of exogamy is dual exogamy, in which two groups engage in continual wife exchange. Cultural exogamy is marrying outside a specific cultural group; the opposite being endogamy, marriage within a social group.

Gunnar Landtman

Gunnar Landtman (6 May 1878, Helsinki – 30 October 1940, Helsinki) was a Finnish philosopher as well as a sociology and philosophy professor. A pupil of Edvard Westermarck, he graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1905. He later became an associate professor there from 1910 to 1927 and then a temporary professor until his death in 1940. Landtman was the first modern sociological anthropologist. His most important journey was a two-year trip to Papua New Guinea where he lived with the Kiwai Papuans from 1910 to 1912. He was from 1922 to 1924 a member of the Parliament of Finland, where he represented the Swedish People's Party of Finland (SFP).

Helena Westermarck

Helena Charlotta Westermarck (20 November 1857, Helsinki – 5 April 1938, Helsinki) was a Swedish-speaking Finnish artist and writer. She was the sister of Edvard Westermarck. She worked for long periods in France, often in the company of Helene Schjerfbeck, and developed a sensible realistic style especially with portraits and figure compositions. At the Exposition Universelle (1889), she received honorable mention for her painting Strykerskor. Then she abandoned painting and devoted herself to writing as a critic. Westermarck also made a significant contribution as a researcher through her cultural and historical works, among which are a series of biographies of female figures, Mathilda Rotkirch (1926), Adelaide Ehrnrooth (1928), and Rosina Heikel (1930). Westermarck's memoir was published in 1941.

Hilma Granqvist

Hilma Natalia Granqvist (17 July 1890 Sipoo – 25 February 1972 Helsinki) was a Swedish-speaking Finnish anthropologist who conducted long field studies of Palestinians. She was a student of Edvard Westermarck.

Imprinting (psychology)

In psychology and ethology, imprinting is any kind of phase-sensitive learning (learning occurring at a particular age or a particular life stage) that is rapid and apparently independent of the consequences of behaviour. It was first used to describe situations in which an animal or person learns the characteristics of some stimulus, which is therefore said to be "imprinted" onto the subject. Imprinting is hypothesized to have a critical period.

Irreligion in Finland

According to Finland's Population Information System, in 2010 the number of persons with no religious affiliation exceeded one million. Nearly one out of every five people in the country is not a member of a religious organisation, and the number of people with no religious affiliation has doubled in two decades.

List of Swedish-speaking Finns

This is a list of notable Swedish-speaking Finns.


Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behaviors and functions. The term sexology does not generally refer to the non-scientific study of sexuality, such as political science or social criticism.Sexologists apply tools from several academic fields, such as biology, medicine, psychology, epidemiology, sociology, and criminology. Topics of study include sexual development (puberty), sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual relationships, sexual activities, paraphilias, atypical sexual interests. It also includes the study of sexuality across the lifespan, including child sexuality, puberty, adolescent sexuality, and sexuality among the elderly. Sexology also spans sexuality among the mentally and/or physically disabled. The sexological study of sexual dysfunctions and disorders, including erectile dysfunction, anorgasmia, and pedophilia, are also mainstays.

The History of Human Marriage

The History of Human Marriage is an 1891 book about the history of human marriage by the Finnish philosopher Edvard Westermarck. The work is a classic in its field.

The International Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method

The International Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method was an influential series of monographs published from 1922 to 1965 under the general editorship of Charles Kay Ogden by Kegan Paul Trench & Trubner in London. This series published some of the landmark works on psychology and philosophy, particularly the thought of the Vienna Circle in English. It published some of the major psychologists and philosophers of the time, such as Alfred Adler, C. D. Broad, Rudolf Carnap, F. M. Cornford, Edmund Husserl, Carl Jung, Kurt Koffka, Ernst Kretschmer, Bronisław Malinowski, Karl Mannheim, George Edward Moore, Jean Nicod, Jean Piaget, Frank P. Ramsey, Otto Rank, W. H. R. Rivers, Louis Leon Thurstone, Jakob von Uexküll, Hans Vaihinger, Edvard Westermarck, William Morton Wheeler, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. N. Findlay and others. Most of the 204 volumes in the series have been reprinted, some in revised editions.

The following is the statement about the series as it appears on the title page of the book by R. Carnap The Logical Syntax of Language (1937) published in the series in 1959:

The purpose of The International Library is to give expression, in a convenient format at moderate price, to the remarkable developments which have recently occurred in Psychology and its allied sciences. The older philosophers were preoccupied by metaphysical interests which, for the most part, have ceased to attract the younger investigators, and their forbidding terminology too often acted as a deterrent for the general reader. The attempt to deal in clear language with current tendencies, has met with a very encouraging reception, and not only have accepted authorities been invited to explain the newer theories, but it has been found possible to include a number of original contributions of high merit.

The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas

The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas is a book by the Finnish philosopher Edvard Westermarck, published between 1906 and 1908. One of his main works, it is a monumental study and a classic in its field, though now antiquated.

Westermarck effect

The Westermarck effect, or reverse sexual imprinting, is a hypothetical psychological effect through which people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to sexual attraction. This phenomenon was first hypothesized by Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck in his book The History of Human Marriage (1891) as one explanation for the incest taboo. Observations interpreted as evidence for the Westermarck effect have since been made in many places and cultures, including in the Israeli kibbutz system, and the Chinese Shim-pua marriage customs, as well as in biologically-related families.

In the case of the Israeli kibbutzim (collective farms), children were reared somewhat communally in peer groups, based on age, not biological relation. A study of the marriage patterns of these children later in life revealed that out of the nearly 3,000 marriages that occurred across the kibbutz system, only fourteen were between children from the same peer group. Of those fourteen, none had been reared together during the first six years of life. This result suggests that the Westermarck effect operates during the period from birth to the age of six.When proximity during this critical period does not occur—for example, where a brother and sister are brought up separately, never meeting one another—they may find one another highly sexually attractive when they meet as adults or adolescents, according to the hypothesis of genetic sexual attraction. This supports the theory that the populations that appear to exhibit the hypothetical Westermarck effect became predominant because of the deleterious effects of inbreeding on those that did not.


Westermark is a Swedish surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Axel Westermark (1875–1911), American sailor

Herbert Westermark (1891–1981), Swedish sailor

Nils Westermark (1892–1980), Swedish sailor and radiologist

Åbo Akademi University

Åbo Akademi University (Swedish: Åbo Akademi [ˈoːbʊ akadɛˈmiː]) is the only exclusively Swedish language multi-faculty university in Finland (or anywhere outside Sweden). It is located mainly in Turku (Åbo is the Swedish name of the city) but has also activities in Vaasa. It is said to have one of the most prestigious business programs in the world (in 1999). Åbo Akademi should not be confused with the Royal Academy of Åbo, which was founded in 1640, but moved to Helsinki after the Turku fire of 1827 and is today known as the University of Helsinki.

Åbo Akademi was founded by private donations in 1918 as the third university in Finland, both to let Turku again become a university town and because it was felt that the Swedish language was threatened at the University of Helsinki. The Finnish University of Turku was founded in 1920, also by private donations and for similar reasons. Åbo Akademi was a private institution until 1981, when it was turned into a public institution.

As the only uni-lingually Swedish multi-faculty university in the world outside Sweden and consequently the only one in Finland, Åbo Akademi University is responsible for higher education for a large proportion of the Swedish-speaking population. This role has many implications for education and research as well as for the social environment. As there are few students in most subjects, cooperation between faculties and with other universities is very important.

A significant minority of the students are Finnish-speaking. While Turku in itself is mostly Finnish, the university provides a strong Swedish environment. Most of the students, regardless of original language, will be functionally bilingual when finishing their studies.

The university has a policy that non-Swedish speaking applicants from the Nordic countries are required to participate in a Swedish language test, in order to prove their ability to successfully study in Swedish. Applicants from non-Nordic countries can, however, choose between Swedish or English language tests.

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