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Robert Aubrey Hinde

British biologist, ethologist, psychologist, and author who has played an important role in integrating ethology with other fields.

Robert Aubrey Hinde has played an important role in integrating ethology (the scientific study of typical behavior patterns in animals) with other fields, such as psychology. He was born in 1923 in Norwich, England. The youngest of four children, Hinde's father, Ernest Bertram, was a doctor, and his mother Isabella (maiden name Taylor) was a nurse. He got much of his early education at an English boarding school called Oundle that emphasized natural history.

After serving as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he entered St. John's College at Cambridge, where he received his bachelor's degree with first class honors in 1948. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1950. At Oxford he was influenced by the eminent ecologist David Lack and Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Dutch-born British zoologist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1973.

After receiving his degree, Hinde became curator of the Ornithological Field Station of the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge (now it is a sub-department of Animal Behaviour). In this early research on birds Hinde focused on such behaviors as those involved in courtship and conflicts in motivation. During the 1950s, spurred in part by research in imprinting (an ethological term for rapid learning that only takes place in a certain developmental period that is very resistant to change and effects later social interaction), and an interdisciplinary conference led by psychoanalyst John Bowlby, Hinde became interested in human and primate development. In the late 1950s Hinde established a group of rhesus monkeys at the field station to look at the consequences of short-term separation between mother and infant.

Hinde's research with non-human primates in the 1960s and 1970s led to his interest in the nature and dynamics of relationships between people, and eventually to relationships between family members and between peers. Hinde's interest in how psychology and ethology are related lead him to write Animal Behaviour: A Synthesis of Ethology and Comparative Psychology (1966), a groundbreaking scholarly work that helped integrate research in psychology and ethology.

Some of Hinde's numerous books include Biological Bases of Human Social Behaviour (1974) and Individuals, Relationships and Culture (1987). His book, Towards Understanding Relationships (1979), classifies the chief dimensions of interpersonal relationships, and shows how his categories of behavior relate to the major theories of interpersonal dynamics. In the 1980s, Hinde and his wife Joan Stevenson-Hinde researched preschool children's family and school relationships, and how they affected personality development. In 1997 he published Relationships: A Dialectical Perspective.

He also has had an interest in how cross-cultural psychological characteristics have been adaptive biologically. In this respect he has looked at sexual relationships, mother-child relationships, and, more recently, religious systems as well as international wars. His most recent book is Why Gods Persist (1999).

Hinde was married to Hester Cecily Cotts in 1968. They had four children before divorcing three years later. He married his current wife, Joan Stevenson-Hinde, in 1971. They had two children. He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, U.K.

Marie Doorey

Further Reading

Cambridge University Website. Hinde's Page http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/zoostaff/hinde.htm.

Corsini, R.J., editor. "Hinde, Robert A, (1923-)" In Encyclopedia of psychology, 2nd Ed., V. 4. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1994.

Hinde, Robert A. Curriculum Vitae. (courtesy of Robert Hinde), 2000.

Timberlake, W. "Hinde, Robert Aubrey." In Biographical dictionary of psychology. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

Further Information

St. John's College University of Cambridge. Department of Zoology, Downing Street, Cambridge, U.K. CB2 3EJ.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaFamous Psychologists & Scientists