- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (September 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684857073
- ISBN-13: 978-0684857077
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 111 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,102,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The NURTURE ASSUMPTION: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do Paperback – September 1, 1999
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Howard Gardner The New York Review of Books Harris's book is well written, toughly argued, filled with telling anecdotes and biting wit. -- Review
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.
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Don't believe it? I didn't either - until I read this book, which made me consider the possibility seriously.
The author is a former writer of child psychology textbooks. The book reports the surprising facts and research that the author discovered in the course of her work that led her to the above conclusion, which she substantiates thoroughly. The book is also very well-written, and interesting to read. The real-life examples of children who had problems that originated with their peer group, and not with themselves, and the simple changes that these children's parents made in their environments to change their peer group, and which radically changed their lives for the better, were remarkable.
While I initially scoffed at its counter-intuitive premise, this book may have been the best book on child psychology that I read during my graduate studies at Columbia University. It contained well-substantiated, important information that most people don't know, in a very entertaining read. At a time when parents invest so much time and energy in their decisions with respect to their children, this information could be invaluable by helping parents recognize when a problem is not with their child, or in their home, but in their child's peer environment, and what they can do to fix it.
The reasoning and the experiences that she has collected to show that peer influence is more prevalent and lasting than the influence of parents is firmly established in the book. Many have already detailed these experiences in the comments and not worth it to repeat here.
Clearly, to improve the adaptability to the environment, is much more appropriate for children "adopt" rules for living with different groups that have little relation to what goes right or wrong at home. Thus, it makes sense the idea of "code switching", in different environments.
The resistance to most people accept even listen these ideas (which therefore implies the low book evaluation in Amazon) stems from the fact that they need and want to have control over the fate of their offspring. This also stems from the deep belief and morality that parents act as a master guide for their children.
Judith Harris, on the other hand, tells that the guilt burden that parents bear when something goes wrong is too heavy and unfair.
The core goes in the right direction, but it does not prevent, to my understanding, make inferences, at least, risky.
* I personally do not believe there is a separate module for interpersonal relationships and group relationship. There is even some kind of separation, but there are important links, both direct and indirect. Direct, because groups and friends have in common and share experiences. Indirect, because close friends influence you to select groups or subgroups by affinities.
* So, although the parents did not consist of a group, the books doesn't tells that love and family care does not implies identification and sharing experiences. Thus, for example, a very close relationship between a mother and a daughter who goes beyond the love and care, can direct the child to adopt behaviors and attitudes that may affect the way she faces the differents groups. No reseach is described in the book explores this possibility, which is lost in big and generic samples
* On the other hand, I think the issue of "abuse" is handled too much generically. Families of thieves or drunks does not mean that abuse continued happen to their children. The author even addresses this issue lightly, but not much stands out. All research that uses it quoted a very broad universe of maladjustment. If one single rape can cause sequelae in adults why a child continually mistreated will not be affected? Further research would need to be made on this issue.