Chapter 14

Alexander H. Leighton: Interdisciplinary Research and Personality Theory
Thomas Weaver

Then and Now: Some Notes on the Interaction of Person and Social Environment
Alexander H. Leighton

A physician with a medical doctorate, Alexander Leighton (1908–) was professor of anthropology and sociology at Cornell University from 1944 to 1966 and later of psychiatry at Harvard. Along with a number of other anthropologists, Leighton worked first with Japanese Americans in the War Relocation Authority concentration camps during World War II and then with the Foreign Morale Analysis Division of the Office of War Information. Later he was sent to Hiroshima to study the feelings and attitudes of the survivors of the nuclear explosion. In his 1984 Malinowski Award address, Leighton considered the theoretical and practical implications of viewing human behavior as based on a bio-psycho-social core of strivings that varies under the impact of both constitutional characteristics and cultural factors. He used his work with relocated Japanese Americans and cross-cultural studies of mental illness to illustrate this.