- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press; 43917th edition (June 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674032330
- ISBN-13: 978-0674032330
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Long Shadow of Temperament 43917th Edition
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Jerome Kagan and Nancy Snidman resolve many puzzling observations and theoretical controversies about the importance of innate vs. environmental factors in child development, in a book that is both intellectually satisfying and a pleasure to read. The Long Shadow of Temperament is a great delight. (John T. Cacioppo, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago)
Jerome Kagan is one of the major thinkers in developmental psychology today and a new book by him is always to be welcomed. He has always taken provocative positions and he does it so well that his readers rethink their old ideas and look at the world in a new way. (Michael Rutter, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London)
For forty years, Jerome Kagan and his colleagues have done research that has allowed us to follow children's lives over time. In this new book with Nancy Snidman, he traces children's temperament and personality, from their reactivity in early infancy to their behavior and biology at age eleven. The reader will find surprising outcomes and exciting new links between psychology and biology that will be sure to influence future research in psychology. (Mary K. Rothbart
Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, University of Oregon)
A highly readable and comprehensive summary of a remarkable twenty-five year program of research on the nature and consequences of temperament. Broad, incisive and provocative, this volume should be mandatory reading for any student of development, personality or psychopathology. (Richard J. Davidson, William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
This work has the potential to function as a bridge between more humanistic theories of human development and contemporary research and perspectives that are more thoroughly grounded in the natural sciences...[This] new book stands alongside Kagan‘s previous works in terms of being thoughtful and stimulating. Regardless of the extent to which one agrees with Kagan and Snidman‘s assertions about the role of temperament, their concept of how it interacts with parenting and context, or their ideas regarding the degree to which it is genetic, the authors are always interesting and thought provoking. Together, Kagan and Snidman have provided a timely work on the relationship between biology and psychology that many readers will find provocative. (John Snarey and Lynn Bridgers PsycCritiques 2005-06-09)
Jerome Kagan and Nancy Snidman resolve many puzzling observations and theoretical controversies about the importance of innate vs. environmental factors in child development, in a book that is both intellectually satisfying and a pleasure to read. The Long Shadow of Temperament is a great delight. (John T. Cacioppo, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book, Jerome Kagan and Nancy Snidman describe, explain, and analyze their longitudinal study of high- and low-reactive infants. They sought to determine whether, how, and to what extent high- and low-reactive infants retained their basic profiles of inhibition and uninhibitedness over time. The findings are intricate and cannot be summed up in a single sentence. Overall, about a fourth of high-reactive infants and a fourth of low-reactive infants showed behavioral and biological profiles at age 11 that corresponded with those of infancy. (There's a lot more to this; the sentence oversimplifies things.) But only a small percentage showed the opposite profile. Thus, while infant temperament does not *predict* later temperament--the authors emphasize this repeatedly--there are signs of a persistent strain.
The best part of this book is its wisdom, which could help many budding psychologists (and writers on psychology) avoid common errors. Here are just a few examples.
On pp. 48-50, the authors point to some of the difficulty of understanding the relation between biological and psychological processes. The first is semantic; neuroscience and psychology use different vocabularies that invoke different concepts. In addition, any biological description of a mental state must also consider context--but it is difficult, if not impossible, to translate such context into biological vocabulary. Second, the current methodology does not allow for full examination of complex brain activity. They give the example of a snake: to simulate people's reactions to snakes, scientists might put people on an fMRI scanner and show them photos of snakes. But the experience of a photo of a snake is quite different from the experience of an actual snake.
On p. 51 and onward, there is a fascinating and important discussion of continua and categories. Most psychologists prefer to treat temperaments as continuous rather than discrete states--but this is largely due to the role of inferential statistics in social science. In fact, it seems that certain temperamental profiles are in fact discrete--that is, fundamentally different from the others. The controversy regarding continua and categories is ongoing--the authors do not claim the last word--but it helps to see this in perspective.
Within this discussion, on p. 57, the authors bring up the problematic nature of questionnaires. (Yay! Everyone should read this!) Here's a key point: "Because questionnaires rely on semantic networks, respondents vary in the particular schema that are linked to the words in the questionnaire item; hence individuals do not always extract the same meaning from a question." The authors make many more important observations; this section is so important that it deserves an article or book of its own.
I could go on and on--but I want to draw attention to an important question they raise near the end (on p. 233): "It is not clear why American and European social scientists maintain a preference for broad psychological properties for individuals that ignore the contexts in which they act." They suggest that it may have to do with some social scientists' "psychological biases that favor particular social arrangements and human qualities." (They make clear that not all social scientists hold such biases.) I have often wondered why social scientists insist on dividing humans into "introvert" and "extravert," for instance, when so many of our feelings and actions can only be defined in context. The authors do not address this particular issue, but they offer some insights into it.
The book's only drawback (in my view) is its abundance. It has so much for the researcher, general reader, and parent, and so many angles on each question, that some of the best passages can get lost. I wonder whether the topics of methodology and semantics might have done better in chapters of their own. On the other hand, I appreciate how the authors kept returning to these topics of the course of the text, thus insisting on a nuanced understanding of their own work and findings.
I admire this work for its integrity and accomplishment. It will never be dated; even if the authors' research is one day superseded (by their own or others' work), their insights and questions will continue to illuminate psychology and other fields. I look forward to rereading many passages over the years to come.