Personality development

What makes us the way we are?

Personality development is explored in The Nurture Assumption. There is a mountain of evidence pointing away from parents and toward peer groups as the strongest environmental influence.

Maybe it's in our genes, maybe it's how we were raised, maybe it's a little of both--in any case, Mom and Dad usually receive both the credit and the blame.

But not so fast, says developmental psychology writer Judith Rich Harris.

While it has been shown that genetics is only partly responsible for behavior, it is also true, Harris says, that parents play a very minor role in mental and emotional development.

She is upset about the blame laid on parents of troubled children and has much to say (mostly negative) about "professional parental advice-givers."

Her own advice may be summarized as "guide your child's peer-group choices wisely," but the aim of the book is less to offer guidance than to tear off cultural blinders.

Harris's ideas are so thought-provoking, challenging, and potentially controversial that anyone concerned with parenting issues will find The Nurture Assumption refreshing, important, and possibly life-changing.