The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do

This groundbreaking book, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times notable pick, rattled the psychological establishment when it was first published in 1998 by claiming that parents have little impact on their children’s development. 

In this tenth anniversary edition of The Nurture Assumption, Judith Harris has updated material throughout and provided a fresh introduction.

Combining insights from psychology, sociology, anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary biology, she explains how and why the tendency of children to take cues from their peers works to their evolutionary advantage. 

This electrifying book explodes many of our unquestioned beliefs about children and parents and gives us a radically new view of childhood.

Picture of Judith Rich Harris

Judith Rich Harris

Judith Rich Harris was an American psychology researcher and the author of The Nurture Assumption, a book criticizing the belief that parents are the most important factor in child development, and presenting evidence which contradicts that belief. Harris was a resident of Middletown Township, New Jersey.

“The nurture assumption is a huge cultural myth. That’s because a child’s environment is about a lot more than the way her parents raise her. Think about all the important people in a child’s life who are outside her family, such as friends, peer groups, an adoring teacher or an authoritarian football coach.

“Why do kids grow up to be adults? Many people have said that it happens because children want to be like their parents, but the process actually has nothing to do with their parents at all. In fact, it’s about maintaining their status in the group.”

“Once they categorize themselves as a boy or a girl, children pay close attention to how children of their gender behave and act accordingly. Essentially, they socialize themselves to be like the other kids with their gender.”

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