BA (Sydney), PhD (Harvard), DSc (Macquarie)
(Deceased), 2014-06-24

Jacqueline Goodnow died peacefully on June 24 this year at the age of 89, in the care of her family. She was well known to many Fellows, and regarded as one of our most distinguished, most admired, and most loved colleagues.

Jacqueline, or Jackie as she was often known, made numerous and outstanding contributions to the fields of developmental and cognitive psychology, illuminating how people think and solve problems at different ages and in different cultural contexts. She also developed a strong interest in applying developmental thinking to social policy and social justice issues, particularly after she returned to Australia, to Macquarie University, in 1975.

Many people have written about Jacqueline[1]. My aim here is to highlight a few of her extraordinary achievements in scholarship, while also drawing attention to her qualities as a caring friend and engaged citizen[2]. Jacqueline exercised huge influence by graciously sharing her time and acute intelligence with a wide range of students, colleagues and friends, and through her engagement with social problems from the platform of rigorous research.

Jacqueline completed her PhD in 1951 after only two years – a Harvard record. Her book with Jerome Bruner, completed at Harvard in 1953, became a citation classic (Bruner, Goodnow and Austin, 'A Study of Thinking'). Over her long career Jacqueline authored and co-edited eight books and over 200 peer-reviewed articles.

Among her many often cited works was a book on Men, Women and Household Work (Goodnow and Bowes, 1994) analysing ways in which household work underlies views of gender and relationship obligations. It was a book appreciated by feminists but not by some politicians who saw the division of household labour as a trivial issue. Like much of her research and scholarship, it was underpinned by a sharp sense of social justice and based on solid research and careful analysis and insight.

Her main interests in recent years had to do with cultural contexts, development, and the relevance of concepts and procedures developed in one context to research in others. She explored these themes with Jeanette Lawrence in her most recent chapter on children and culture for the landmark Carmichael Handbook of Child Psychology, Volume 4 (in press, 2014). Other recent work includes another scholarly handbook chapter on refugees and displaced people with particular attention to unaccompanied minors (Goodnow, 2014); and a book Inheriting as People Think it Should Be (Goodnow and Lawrence, 2013).

Recognition of Jacqueline’s work includes awards for Distinguished Contributions to Research by the Australian Psychological Society (1988), the G. Stanley Hall Medal for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Psychology by the American Psychological Association (1989), and the Society for Research in Child Development (1997). She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Macquarie University in 1995, and elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Social Sciences, the Australian Psychological Society, and the American Psychological Association.

Jacqueline personally felt most honored by the citation accompanying inclusion in a list of Distinguished Women in Psychology (American Psychological Association, 1992):' Significant contributions: Opening up new content areas, indicating not only their significance but also how one might proceed with research; integrating areas of knowledge, bringing together models from several fields ... and consistently underlining the significance ... of the social context.'

In 1992, Jacqueline was appointed as an AC (Companion of the Order of Australia) for her pioneering and lasting contribution to Psychology and Education in Australia. This was a tremendous honour and indeed the highest official recognition that an Australian citizen can receive, but even that hardly does justice to her influence on Australian society and the social policy landscape. To illustrate this I will give one example, drawn directly from my own experience.

In 1996 I invited Jacqueline to join a group I was convening that we dubbed ‘the Developmental Crime Prevention Consortium.’ The group comprised a number of highly talented social scientists from a range of disciplines, many of whom were close friends and colleagues of Jacqueline. The Consortium produced a landmark report in 1999 called Pathways to Prevention that helped put prevention and early intervention on the social policy map in Australia.

The influence of the report since 1999 when it was published by the Federal Government has been immense. Even a brief perusal will demonstrate to any reader who is at all familiar with Jacqueline’s writing that the report is, to a very large extent, vintage Goodnow. Her mark is on every one of the 400 pages, and indeed it is not too much to claim that to the extent that policies aiming at early intervention and prevention in Australia still hold sway, that is down to Jacqueline and the persuasive power of her scholarship and incisive writing.

Jacqueline also exercised great influence through supervising and mentoring many PhD and post-doctoral students who went on to distinguished careers in their own right, including Judy Cashmore, AO, now Associate Professor, Law School, University of Sydney and Alan Hayes, AM, now Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She was my own PhD supervisor in the early 1980s. Although she knew little of my topic (a criminological one), her critique of my first draft was both devastating and uplifting. She was always a wise and strategic mentor who was generous with her time, passing on her expertise and guidance even in areas far from her core interests.

Several research centres have been the beneficiaries of that wisdom – advising the director, Jennifer Bowes, another of her PhD graduates on the development of the Children and Families Research Centre at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University from 2007; and a foundation member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University for 10 years from 2004. She was advisor to a number of state and national government agencies, and a foundation member of the Board of the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 1980.

Many people have very positive memories of their interactions with Jacqueline. Professor Kevin McConkey has, for example, commented that Jacqueline highlighted to him (and always modelled in her own behaviour) that the person in front of you at the time is the most important person, and their concerns are the most important things in the world at that moment. As he put it, 'Jackie brought an authentic focus to the people in front of her, and those people felt understood and valued.'

Jacqueline leaves a very substantial professional and personal legacy. She was an exceptional interdisciplinary scholar, an astute observer of people and situations, and always understated, gracious and unpretentious. Her interactions with others were marked by honesty, integrity and kindness. Jacqueline is survived by her two children, five grandchildren, and four brothers and sisters.

Ross Homel

August 14, 2014


[2] I am especially indebted to the comments and contributions of Jennifer Bowes, Judy Cashmore, Alan Hayes, and Jeanette Lawrence.

  • Goodnow, J.J. (2002) Parents' knowledge and expectation: Using what we know, In Handbook of Parenting (2nd ed.). M.H. Bornstein (eds.). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Goodnow, J.J. (2002) Adding culture to studies of human development: changes in procedure and theory, Human Development, 45: 237-245.
  • Goodnow, J.J., Lawrence, J. AA., Ryan, J.K., Karantzas, G., and King, K. (2002) Extending studies of collaborative cognition by way of caregiving situations, Behavioral Development, 26: 16-25.
  • This consortium was led by Ross Homel, Griffith University (1999) Pathways to prevention: Developmental and early intervention approaches to crirne in Australia. Canberra: Attorney General's Department (National crime Prevention): ISN 0642 (ca. 200 pages, with 130 pages appendices), The report has been through several printings, and is being revised and extended for book publication.
  • Goodnow, J.J., Miller, P.M., and Kessel, F. (eds.) (1995) Cultural Practices as Context for Developement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.