Jacob Gewirtz - In Memoriam

Professor Emeritus


Specialty: Developmental Science

From Kenneth G. Furton, Provost and Executive Vice President - March 5, 2021:

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Professor Emeritus Jacob (Jack) Gewirtz from the Department of Psychology. Professor Gewirtz died at the age of 96 on February 12.

Jack was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1945. He received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and Experimental Psychology from the University of Iowa in 1948.

In an extraordinary career spanning almost 70 years, Professor Gewirtz taught in psychology departments at the University of Chicago; the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Temple University; and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he was professor/director of the doctoral program in Developmental Psychology as well as professor of pediatrics. From 1956 to 1976, he served as chief of the Infant Conditioning and Development Lab in the Clinical Center of the National Institute of Mental Health. In 1981, Professor Gewirtz moved to Florida International University where he became chair of the Department of Psychology, director of the Developmental Psychology doctoral program, and established the Behavior Analysis programs. He served concurrently as a clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Miami Medical School.

Professor Gewirtz’s research and theory interests were in social and attachment learning, and behavior analytical explanations of imitation, moral development, and fears. The depth and breadth of his research and professional accomplishments are likely to be unmatched around developmental psychology and, in particular, the role of behavior analysis in understanding child development and parenting. He was a pioneering researcher in this area who produced more than 100 scholarly works and trained some of the most eminent figures in behavioral development. He was recognized for his substantial contributions by his selection as an American Psychological Association Fellow in six different divisions.

Professor Gewirtz has been described by his colleagues as a “larger than life” force, both socially and intellectually. He was utterly charming and caring. At conferences, he was always surrounded by colleagues and admirers listening intently, because he was sometimes extraordinarily erudite, sometimes provocative, but always worth listening to.

He retired from FIU in 2013 as Emeritus Professor in Psychology. Professor Gewirtz was a devoted father and is survived by his sons Jonathan and Dan. Many of his former colleagues and doctoral students who work at FIU will miss him dearly.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.

Selected Publications

Gewirtz, J. L. (2005). Book review: A small matter of proof: The legacy of donald M. baer. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 41(2), 188-190.

Gewirtz, J. L., & Peláez-Nogueras, M. (2000). Infant emotions under the positive-reinforcer control of caregiver attention and touch. Reno, NV, US: Context Press.

Gewirtz, J. L. (1997). The response-stimulus contingency and reinforcement learning as a context for considering two non-behavior-analytic views of contingency learning. Behavior Analyst, 20(2), 121-128.

Gewirtz, J. L., & Peláez-Nogueras, M. (1993). "Expectancy": Sleight-of-hand mentalism, not mechanism or process. American Psychologist, 48(11), 1156-1157

Gewirtz, J. L., & Peláez-Nogueras, M. (1992). B. F. skinner's legacy in human infant behavior and development. American Psychologist.Special Issue: Reflections on B.F.Skinner and Psychology, 47(11), 1411-1422.

Gewirtz, J. L., & Boyd, E. F. (1977). Does maternal responding imply reduced infant crying? A critique of the 1972 bell and ainsworth report. Child Development, 48(4), 1200-1207.

Gewirtz, J. L., & Boyd, E. F. (1977). In reply to the rejoinder to our critique of the 1972 bell and ainsworth report. Child Development, 48(4), 1217-1218.

Gewirtz, J. L. (1976). The attachment acquisition process as evidenced in the maternal conditioning of cued infant responding (particularly crying). Human Development, 19(3), 143-155.

Gewirtz, J. L. (1969). Levels of conceptual analysis in environment-infant interaction research. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 15(1), 7-47.

Gewirtz, J. L. (1969). Potency of a social reinforcer as a function of satiation and recovery. Developmental Psychology, 1(1), 2-13.

Courses Taught

  • Advanced Experimental Psychology (Lecture and Lab)
  • Advanced Behavior Analysis (Lecture and Lab)
  • Child Psychology
  • Advanced Methods of Behavior Change
  • Children's Learning
  • Behavior Analysis in Life Settings
  • Current Experimental Theories
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Developmental Behavior Analysis
  • Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Intro. to the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Methods of Developmental Research
  • Learning and Motivation
  • Principles of Behavior Modification
  • Seminar in Social Psychology
  • Single-case Research Methods


  • PhD in Developmental & Experimental Psychology, University of Iowa - Ames, Iowa
  • MA in Child Psychology, University of Iowa - Ames, Iowa
  • BA, CUNY Brooklyn College - Brooklyn, New York