Aloofness and intimacy of husbands and wives: a cross-cultural study

Ethos Vol/Iss. 3 Published In Pages: 183-207
By Whiting, John W.M., Whiting, Beatrice Blyth


This study examines husband-wife relationships, specifically rooming and sleeping arrangements, as they relate to variables such as infant care, subsistence, residence, and cultural complexity. Several hypotheses are tested and all are supported.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Standard Cross Cultural Sample (SCCS)Other Researchers

Hypotheses (5)

". . .in a significant number of societies men and women who room together eat together. . . . Fathers [tend to] have a close relationship with their infants . . . [and in societies where husband and wife sleep together] . . . the husband is [generally] permitted to be present . . . when his wife is giving birth . . ."Supported
"[Most of the] . . . societies in which a husband and wife have separate bedrooms are situated in tropical climates where heating is not a problem. . . . [Societies where settlements are permanent rather than nomadic or seminomadic tend to have separate bedrooms for husband and wife]" (190, 191)Supported
"[There is] no association between wife beating [,] . . . another index of the relation between husband and wife [,] . . . and rooming arrangements. It is associated rather with independent versus extended households. Wife beating tends not to occur in . . . [extended] households" (190)Supported
"We propose that husbands and wives will room apart in those societies where warriors are needed to protect property [i.e. more commonly among farmers and herdsmen than among hunters, gatherers and fishermen] and that rooming apart has the psychological effect of producing hyperaggressive males" (192, 194)Supported
". . . husbands and wives should room together in . . . agricultural societies [with] complex [stratification] that have developed a constabulary and/or professional army as an alternative means of protecting property. . . . Rooming apart is most likely to occur in . . . societies at the middle level of development" (196)Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas Megan Farrer