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Phillip Blumstein ’66

A social psychologist skilled at analyzing everyday encounters, friendships, and business relationships, Philip was hired as a sociology professor at the University of Washington in 1969 and became renowned for his research in human sexuality and relationships.

He had a reputation for fastidious methodology and a talent for interpreting data. In 1983, Philip and his longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, collaborated on the best-selling book American Couples. Based on research using 12,000 questionnaires and 600 follow-up interviews, the book covered everything from how often couples had sex to who did the housework. It was considered a landmark study of what contributes to the success or failure of relationships. Philip and Schwartz had begun studying sexual behavior in 1972, igniting a professional partnership that would last 18 years. In addition to numerous professional publications, the two men cowrote articles that appeared in such popular magazines as Ladies’ Home Journal, Playboy, and Redbook.

At Reed, Philip’s student thesis, “Effects of the Educational Reward System of a Professional Academically Oriented College” was written with Prof. John Pock [sociology 1955–98] advising. He received his MA and PhD from Vanderbilt University.

Because of his research in human sexuality and relationships, when he was dying of AIDS he wanted to be up-front about it.

“He wanted to make a political statement,” said Schwartz. “He hit the wrong moment of time epidemiologically.”

Philip is survived by his lifetime partner, Gerry Jordan.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2016

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