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No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality [Paperback]

Judith Rich Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: £15.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 July 2007
The author of the controversial "The Nurture Assumption" tackles the biggest mystery of psychology: What makes people differ so much in personality and behaviour? The search leads Judith Rich Harris into fascinating byways of science - from classic experiments in social psychology to cutting-edge research in neuroscience, from studies of twins to studies of ants. And Harris' solution is startlingly original: the first completely new theory of personality since Freud's. This is the story of a scientific quest, but it is also the story of a courageous woman who refused to be satisfied with "what everyone knows is true".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (6 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393329712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329711
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Once again, [Harris] looks likely to generate a lot of heat with her ideas about how we become not like our parents, or our peers, or even our identical twin, but like, well, ourselves." Liz Else, New Scientist"

About the Author

JUDITH RICH HARRIS is an independent investigator and a former writer of textbooks on child development.

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From shibboleths to systems 30 Jun 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
For someone nearly housebound and bereft of academic qualifications, Harris is an imposing figure in the world of social behaviour. Her earlier book having raised a storm of controversy among academics, this one will extend the arena to family relations. There is probably no greater shibboleth than the notion that parents are wholly responsible for how their children develop. In this book, Harris demolishes that idea. She applies the mode of a "detective story" to line up evidence and possible perpetrators. Although much of the focus in this book relies on the study of twins, she also raises the issue of birth order and how each of us interacts at home, school and social contact. With an easy, conversational style and use of much evidence, Harris has once again built a cogent and convincing argument.

As with every "detective novel", the investigator must eliminate possible perpetrators. Harris defines a number of "red herrings" that she must dispense with prior to presenting her own thesis of what drives our relationships with others. Among the outdated or mistaken ideas she tackles are those of Freud and the "blank slate" aficionados. This latter has come to dominate both academic and family thinking about raising offspring. Whatever the shifting fashions of psychology have favoured, the one element long overlooked has been the evolutionary basis of family development. The growing field of evolutionary psychology is helping to fill that gap. Harris draws on many scholars of the past generation in support of her desire to call attention to our genetic roots. Steven Pinker, John Tooby and Leda Cosmides loom large in her narrative. Skirting the term "sociobiology" as likely too inflammatory, she still pays homage to Edward O. Wilson's efforts to equate the social species of our world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly excellent book! 11 Dec 2006
Format:Hardcover
Rich Harris shows yet again that coming at an old topic armed with an evolutionary perspective and an unorthodox and very perceptive mind, vast improvements in our understanding can be achieved. A must read for anyone seriously interested in moving personality psychology out of fantasy land and into the realm of natural science.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Dennis Littrell TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is an outstanding book on social and developmental psychology based primarily on evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience--the new paradigm that's revolutionizing academic psychology. It's engagingly written, authoritative, witty, ingeniously argued, and filled with information and wisdom. Judith Rich Harris is that rare, very rare, individual who is a top academic without a position at a major university, a professor without portfolio, so to speak.

When I first picked this up I almost put it down again. The title "No Two Alike" sounds suspiciously like another feel good, shallow celebration of human diversity. Right. We're all wonderful. Thanks, I needed that. Furthermore, I kind of creeped out at the joined-at-the-heads twins that were the subject near the beginning of the book. In fact I stopped reading from the beginning and put the book aside. When I returned to it, I noticed that chapters six through nine were entitled, The Modular Mind, The Relationship System, The Socialization System, and The Status System. That rekindled my interest.

The idea of the modular mind comes from fairly recent advances in neuroscience and cognitive psychology as understood from an evolutionary perspective. I started reading on page 143 where the chapter on the modular mind begins. What I discovered is that Harris' understanding of who we are and how we got that way begins with evidence from genetics and ends with insights from social psychology. She sees the relationship system as the way we learn to form and maintain relationships with others. The infant begins with a relationship with its mother. Harris states that the child's first job is to get the mother to love her.
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