Eleanor Maccoby, PhD


Eleanor Maccoby, PhD

In Memory Of… Eleanor Maccoby

Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.

Eleanor Maccoby, PhD (1917-2018)
Professor Emeritus of Psychology
Stanford University


Eleanor Emmons Maccoby was a professor emeritus at Stanford University. During her long and interesting career, Maccoby also worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in D.C., under the direction of Rensis Likert, where she carried out attitude and opinion studies for a number of government agencies. Maccoby worked there as a study director through World War II. Additionally, she did her dissertation research in B.F. Skinner’s Harvard laboratory.

During her years at Stanford, Maccoby’s research took several turns, her perspective becoming more and more distant from the behavioral orientation of her early years. In the 1960’s, Maccoby conducted a series of important developmental studies on selective listening at Stanford University (e.g., Maccoby and Konrad, 1966). She also organized a year-long faculty seminar on sex differences and edited the book emerging from this seminar (The Development of Sex Differences, 1966). Maccoby participated in an SSRC working group on Socialization, writing the chapter on moral development (1968), and wrote a chapter on Attachment and Dependency for the 1969 edition of the Manual of Child Psychology (1969). The 1970’s saw a continuation of her interest in attachment, but the major focus of work in the 70’s and early 80’s was on sex differences. She and Carol Jacklin undertook a review and analysis of the then-existing research in this field (The Psychology of Sex Differences, 1974) and then undertook a longitudinal study of three cohorts of children from birth to age 6 years. This study involved observations of parent-child interaction from infancy up to school-entry age and led to several papers on methods of analyzing time-interval data on dyadic interaction, as well as papers reflecting Maccoby’s growing interest in the reciprocity of influence between interaction partners, and the way in which reciprocal processes changed with age. With John Martin, she wrote an extensive review of parent-child interaction research for the 1983 edition of the Manual of Child Psychology. Playground observations of the longitudinal cohorts at preschool and first grade also led to an increasing awareness of the importance of gender in children’s spontaneous social groupings (Gender Segregation in Childhood, 1987).

Beginning in the 1980’s, Maccoby spearheaded a longitudinal study of custody arrangements for the children of a large sample of divorcing parents (Maccoby and Mnookin, 1992). In 1998, Maccoby published a book on childhood gender segregation and its implications for adult life: The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together.

Maccoby’s work has been recognized by many honors. She received awards for distinguished scientific contributions from the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the Society for Research in Child Development. In 1993, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1996, she received the American Psychological Foundation’s Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Some of her key accomplishments include having served as president of the Society for Research in Child Development (1981-83), of the Western Psychological Association (1974-75), and of Division 7 of the American Psychological Association (1971-72). She served as a member of the Carnegie Commission on Adolescence and co-chair of the Carnegie task force on meeting the needs of young children.


Individuals Honoring Eleanor Maccoby: 

Sheri Berenbaum, Pennsylvania State University
Rebecca S. Bigler, University of Texas
Laura L. Carstensen, Stanford University
D. Bruce Carter, Syracuse University
Kay Deaux, City University of New York
Janet D. DiPietro, Johns Hopkins University
Carol S. Dweck, Stanford University
Jacque Eccles, University of Michigan
Richard Fabes, Arizona State University
* Susan Fiske, Princeton University
Susan Gelman, University of Michigan
Melissa Hines, City University, London
Campbell Leaper, University of California, Santa Cruz
Carol Martin, Arizona State University
Eva Marie Pomerantz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
* Diane N. Ruble, New York University
Lisa Serbin, Concordia University
Margaret Signorella, Pennsylvania State University, McKeesport
Marion K. Underwood, University of Texas, Dallas
Kenneth Zucker, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

* The FABBS Foundation would like to thank Dr. Diane Ruble and Dr. Susan Fiske for nominating Dr. Maccoby for this honor and for leading the effort to spread the word about her nomination.


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