Synopses & Reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
How much credit do parents deserve when their children turn out welt? How much blame when they turn out badly? Judith Rich Harris has a message that will change parents' lives: The "nurture assumption" -- the belief that what makes children turn out the way they do, aside from their genes, is the way their parents bring them up -- is nothing more than a cultural myth. This electrifying book explodes some of our unquestioned beliefs about children and parents and gives us a radically new view of childhood.
Harris looks with a fresh eye at the real lives of real children to show that it is what they experience outside the home, in the company of their peers, that matters most, Parents don't socialize children; children socialize children. With eloquence and humor, Judith Harris explains why parents have little power to determine the sort of people their children will become.
The Nurture Assumption is an important and entertaining work that brings together insights from psychology, sociology, anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary biology to offer a startling new view of who we are and how we got that way.
Sharon BegleyNewsweekA leading tome on child development published in 1934 didn't even include a chapter on parents....With an impish wit and a chatty style, Harris spins a persuasive argument that the 1934 book got it right.
from the Foreword by Steven Pinker
author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works
The Nurture Assumption is truly rare. Though its thesis is at first counterintuitive, one gets a sense of real children and parents walking through these pages....Being among the first to read this electrifying book has been one of the high points of my career as a psychologist. One seldom sees a work that is at once scholarly, revolutionary, insightful, and wonderfully clear and witty....I predict it will come to be seen as a turning point in the history of psychology.
Ann HulbertThe New RepublicMixing logic-chopping rigor and wise-cracking humor, Harris turns academic overviews and her own sleuthing into a brisk tour of controversial data collection and interpretation. She deftly leads her readers through the inadequacies of socialization research.
Carol TavrisThe New York Times Book ReviewImportant...lively anecdotes about real children suffuse this book....Harris writes beautifully, in a tone both persuasive and conversational.
The New York Review of Books
Harris's book is well written, toughly argued, filled with telling anecdotes and biting wit.
Carol TavrisThe New York TimesImportant...Lively...Harris's brilliant stroke was to change the discussion from nature (genes) and nurture (parents) to its older version; heredity and environment.
Lynn SmithLos Angeles TimesA cool compress for feverish parents who fear their every action...will mark their child's psyche for life.
Robert WrightTimeGranted, parents can shape behavior within the home. But in the wider world, Harris argues, the child is a different person, and there lie the roots of the budding adult. Harris's clever and witty book makes this argument with power....Harris's core, convincing message -- that many parents wildly overestimate their influence -- may usefully calm some nerves in this age of high-anxiety parenting.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 419-450) and index.
About the Author
Judith Rich Harris is also the author of No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality. A former writer of college textbooks, Harris is a recipient of the George A. Miller Award, given to the author of an outstanding article in psychology. She is an independent investigator and theoretician whose interests include evolutionary psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, and behavioral genetics.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Steven Pinker
1 "Nurture" Is Not the Same as Environment
2 The Nature (and Nurture) of the Evidence
3 Nature, Nurture, and None of the Above
4 Separate Worlds
5 Other Times, Other Places
6 Human Nature
7 Us and Them
8 In the Company of Children
9 The Transmission of Culture
10 Gender Rules
11 Schools of Children
12 Growing Up
13 Dysfunctional Families and Problem Kids
14 What Parents Can Do
15 The Nurture Assumption on Trial
1 Personality and Birth Order
2 Testing Theories of Child Development