Edvard Westermarck

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Edward Westermarck
Edward westermarck.jpg
Edvard Westermarck
Born (1862-11-20)20 November 1862
Helsinki, Finland
Died 3 September 1939(1939-09-03) (aged 76)
Tenala, Finland
Nationality Finnish
Fields Sociology
Institutions London School of Economics
Known for Westermarck effect
Influenced Bronisław Malinowski
Portrait of 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 (when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized 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.

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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 1939: Kristinusko ja moraali (Christianity and Morals). Otava, Helsinki.




  • 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