HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human…
Loading...

No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality (2005)

by Judith Rich Harris

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
136388,280 (3.74)3

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 3 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
Judith Harris, author of the previously reviewed The Nurture Assumption, follows up with another book on personality development, No Two Alike. This has the same strengths and flaws as the previous work; Ms. Harris makes good points but doesn’t present her arguments in an organized fashion. In this case, she’s going after explanations for human personality; again nature/nurture; birth order; genetics; and etc. She uses the unfortunate analogy to a detective story – which means rather than a dry but clear exposition we get a whole book full of red herrings before Harris explains her hypotheses: human personality is formed by the combination of innate systems and experience. The innate systems are a relationship system that allows us to tell family from strangers, a group socialization system that allows us to “fit in” to a group, and a status system that allows us to determine where we rank in various social groups. And she leaves this as a hypothesis, challenging the field to falsify it; i.e. the “detective story” is left with a principal suspect but no arrest or conviction.


Still, despite the wandering around and the imperfectly satisfying conclusion there’s a lot to like about No Two Alike. With The Nurture Assumption, Harris became the academic psychology equivalent of the pajamaheddin who exposed the CBS/Rather Bush National Guard memo hoax. In No Two Alike a good part of the book’s first few chapters is devoted to Harris’ response to various academic attacks. Harris is confined to home with a debilitating disease and does her research from there; it was very imprudent for more traditional academics to dis’ somebody who is obviously very smart and who has a lot of time on her hands. Her detractors quoted various studies and ongoing but not yet published research (she fits this into her “detective story” theme by citing Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, which features a Scotland Yard inspector solving a very old case – the murder of the Princes in the Tower – while confined to a hospital bed). Harris tracked down all the studies thrown at her and demonstrated that they either didn’t say what the critics claimed they said or that they had ignored various confounding factors; and the not yet published research never showed up in her inbox even when repeatedly requested. And she names names, which has to be disconcerting for the named.


Other features include a nice dissection of “birth order” personality theories; the observation (also made frequently in The Nurture Assumption) that psychology researchers frequently fail to establish the direction of causality (are children well behaved because they get a lot of parental affection, or do they get a lot of parental affection because they are well behaved?); and overgeneralization of some studies (parenting methods that improve behavior at home do not improve behavior elsewhere, and vice versa).


One big improvement of The Nuture Assumption: endnotes rather than page number references, making it much easier to check Harris’ data. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 16, 2017 |
Good, but not as novel or interesting as Nurture Assumption
  jtfairbro | Sep 29, 2009 |
This is book is about the origin of personality differences in people, which Ms. Harris presents as something of a detective story. She begins by noting the surprising, but well known facts: identical twins raised separately are no less alike than raised together: unrelated siblings are no more alike when raised together than when raised apart. Evidently the home environment, parenting practices, nor siblings have anything to do with the variation of personality. She also discuses the well-known fact that personality is partly genetically determined (comes from the biological parents). Now she asks, where does the other part of the variation come from? Is it the peer group (as she suggested in her previous book) or is there some other source to be discovered?

She presents the story in a quite lively, readable manner, and I enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed her encounters with the "establishment" and the revealing stories about her rivals. There are, no doubt, more than one side to these things, but she is not obliged to tell them in this sort of work.

To answer her question, she describes several "modules" in the brain that are important in forming the personality. I found her resolution quite unsatisfying: she might have as well said that the origin of the variation was due to noise, or random factors, not under the control of anything at all. I don't see how positing their existence, which is entirely plausible, explains the variation at all. She sets forth no testable hypothesis based on this assumption, so far as I can see.

If you want to know the answer to her question, don't bother with this book. On the other hand, if you want an interesting book on personality and how evolutionary psychologists view it, and work on it, this could be the book for you. ( )
  DonSiano | Oct 19, 2006 |
Showing 3 of 3
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393329712, Paperback)

A groundbreaking theory of personality.

The author of the controversial book The Nurture Assumption tackles the biggest mystery in all of psychology: What makes people differ so much in personality and behavior? It can't just be "nature and nurture," because even identical twins who grow up together—same genes, same parents—have different personalities. And if psychologists can't explain why identical twins are different, they also can't explain why each of us differs from everyone else. Why no two people are alike.

Harris turns out to be well suited for the role of detective—it isn't easy to pull the wool over her eyes. She rounds up the usual suspects and shows why none of the currently popular explanations for human differences—birth order effects, for example, or interactions between genes and environment—can be the perpetrator she is looking for. None of these theories can solve the mystery of human individuality.

The search for clues carries Harris into some fascinating byways of science. The evidence she examines ranges from classic experiments in social psychology to cutting-edge research in neuroscience. She looks at studies of twins, research on autistic children, observations of chimpanzees, birds, and even ants.

Her solution is a startlingly original one: the first completely new theory of personality since Freud's. Based on a principle of evolutionary psychology—the idea that the human mind is a toolbox of special-purpose devices—Harris's theory explains how attributes we all have in common can make us different.

This is the story of a scientific quest, but it is also the personal story of a courageous and innovative woman who refused to be satisfied with "what everyone knows is true."

12 illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

What makes people differ so much in personality and behaviour? It can't just be 'nature and nurture', because even identical twins who grow up together - same genes, same parents - have different personalities. And if psychologists can't explain why identical twins are different, they also can't explain why each of us differs from everyone else - why no two people are alike. Judith Rich Harris shows why none of the currently popular theories for human differences - birth order effects, for example, or interactions between genes and environment - can solve the mystery of human individuality. The search for clues carries Harris into some fascinating byways of science. The evidence which she examines ranges from classic experiments in social psychology to cutting-edge research in neuroscience. She looks at studies of twins, research on autistic children, and observations of chimpanzees, birds and even ants. Her solution is a startlingly original one, the first completely new theory of personality since Freud's.… (more)

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.74)
0.5
1
1.5
2 2
2.5
3 6
3.5 2
4 8
4.5
5 5

W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393059480, 0393329712

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 127,245,316 books! | Top bar: Always visible