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Born Together_Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study Hardcover – May 14, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Twins separated at birth are endlessly fascinating and give us some of the best scientific insights into nature and nurture. No one can tell this story better than Nancy Segal, gifted scientist, raconteur, and wise observer of human nature.
--Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

This is a vivid and intimate account of one of the classic episodes in the history of the nature-nurture debate by somebody who was part of the team. The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart made a vital difference, against often entrenched conventional wisdom, to the understanding of human development. Nancy Segal tells the story of the project superbly.
--Matt Ridley, author of Nature via Nurture

Born Together-Reared Apart is a tour-de-force in the history of psychology and twin research. Describing the twins' life stories as well as the scientific data, Segal gives us a compelling account of the findings, implications, and controversies from the world famous Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. The book will be essential for anyone seriously interested in the genetic and environmental influences affecting human health and behavior.
--Robert Plomin, Professor of Behavioral Genetics, King's College London --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

About the Author

Nancy L. Segal is Distinguished Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of the Twin Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (June 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780674055469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674055469
  • ASIN: 0674055462
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph A. Schrock on March 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was definitely worth my while to read -- jam-packed with important data on the relative importance of genes versus nurture. However, it might seem a bit strange, but I was inclined to agree with both those who gave the book 5 stars and those who largely trashed it with 1 star. The reason I say this is because the book was just loaded with very important data on identical twins that help to answer numerous questions about how much of human psychological, intellectual, and physical traits are genetically determined, versus how much are simply matters of environment, nurture,and opportunity. Therefore, from that angle, the book should get 5 stars; however, for many readers (myself included), the book was just too dry, had too many technical data, too many comparisons of MISTRA studies with other scientific studies, and was not very engagingly written. From that angle, the book would hardly get more than 1 star.

I take a positive view on the book, though, and I chose to give it 4 stars, simply because the importance and scientific value of the research involved in the MISTRA were so great that they overshadowed the fact that the book was too technical, detailed, and tedious for most non-scientists.

I believe that the author was writing the book in large part for the scientific community, with much detailed discussion surrounding efforts to vindicate the validity and authenticity of the research and conclusions of the MISTRA. As for myself, being a reader with much interest in technical science, but also much appreciation for good literature, this book could not have been written so as to please both aspects of my tastes -- the aesthetic versus the technical.
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Format: Hardcover
Identical twins share virtually all of their genes while fraternal twins share half. Comparing data from both types of twins is important in addressing the question of the relative importance of 'nature vs. nurture.' Segal's research on identical twins supports researchers who have concluded the genetics are the prime determinant of individual behavior and skills, and the environment plays a lesser role. Such conclusions date back to before 1970s Arthur Jensen at the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, who summarized research from both identical and fraternal twins in his 'Genetics and Education.' His data also included studies of twins raised apart.

Segal's book is much less comprehensive than Jensen's work, focusing on a single set of identical twins separated after one month and then raised in different families and didn't meet until they were both aged 39. The similarities in their interests and skills were remarkable, starting with height, and also including favorite interests and vacation spots. Her book also summarizes the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart project.

The importance of this finding, as well as others in the Minnesota study of 137 pairs is that education (part of environment) has limited effect on ultimate pupil achievement, and helps explain why tripling inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending over the last decades has achieved very little in terms of improved pupil performance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always found twins to be fascinating. Doesn't everybody? And when I say twins, I mean identical twins. I was watching a couple at the playground where I take my son (3 1/2 years old) the other day. They were dressed identically in every way, and they behaved in a very similar fashion. Really fascinating! Identical twins can be fascinating in a wide variety of other ways. For example, there are a very limited number of twins who have been separated at or shortly after birth and raised by different parents and under different environmental circumstances. Such separated twins can turn out to be remarkably similar in their adult lives, even though their post-birth circumstances may be remarkably different. Now, that's really fascinating and it says a lot about what traits might be genetic in origin and what are environmental. Nature vs. nurture, so to speak. Studying separated twins has been a long-term project at the University of Minnesota and Nancy Segal presents some results a in "Born Together - Reared Apart." Get ready for a lot of acronyms and difficult reading. Sorry, but I've grown to hate acronyms. They're such a cliche in academic writing and I've been in a university for the past five decades.

Somewhat strangely, my main interest is not in the twins themselves. I'm the father (first child) of a 3 1/2-year-old boy, and that's fascinating in itself. I'm interested in what human characteristics are genetically inherited and what aren't. The study of separated twins can be very revealing, and can go against the grain of popular opinion in many different ways. For example, I'd like my boy to be tall (6 feet or so runs in my family). Now, is there anything I can do in his raising that would aid in reaching that stature?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This large multi-year study compares many attributes of maternal and paternal twins separated at or near berth and reared apart, often in dramatically different environments. Controls are twins reared together. Far those with an interest in human behavior all the results are fascinating and many startling. The protocols and data are rigorously detailed such that scientists are able to judge the validity of the conclusions. Armatures will find themselves skipping much of the slog but still can appreciate the conclusions and antidotes.
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