Behavior Genetics

By John L. Fuller; W. Robert Thompson | Go to book overview

1
The scope of behavior genetics

Behavior genetics is a science which has aroused more than its share of controversy. Some disputation is inevitable in a developing field of knowledge, for scholars in all honesty interpret the same facts in different ways, but in the field of behavior genetics a more important source of conflict arises from the social and political implications of the subject. Pastore ( 1949a) has persuasively argued that the attitudes of scientists on the issues are affected by their liberal or their conservative social views. It is not a coincidence that genetics has been the biological science most prostituted in both Fascist and Communist states. Men are different, but man has not always been open-minded in seeking for the source of these differences.

The vigor of the nature-nurture controversy has declined in America since the 1920's; thus fewer scientists can be classified as "hereditarians" or "environmentalists." Exaltation of Nordic man ( Grant, 1921), violent anti-heredity positions ( Kuo, 1924), arbitrary ratios in the order of 5:1 for the relative importance of heredity to environment ( Hirsch, 1930); all these are now of historic significance only. Even in midcentury, however, discourses on heredity and behavior between men trained in different disciplines often uncover disagreements. Several fairly recent series of polemics in the scientific press are ample evidence that some biologists and social scientists still hold unreconciled views ( Dice, 1944; Herskovits, 1944; Strandskov, 1944a,b; Ashley-Montagu, 1944; Pastore, 1949b, 1952; Hurst, 1951, 1952). A beginning student of psychology might well be confused to read in one journal that ". . . at the present time practically all responsible workers in the field recognize that conclusive proof of the heritability of mental ability is still lacking where no organic or metabolic pathology is involved" ( Sarason and Gladwin, 1958) and to find in the same year an eminent psychologist publishing a table showing that

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Behavior Genetics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - The Scope of Behavior Genetics 1
  • 2 - Some Principles of Genetics 10
  • 3 - Experimental Methods in Behavior Genetics 48
  • 4 - Methods of Human Behavior Genetics 95
  • 5 - Variation in Sensory and Perceptual Processes 117
  • 6 - Response Processes 137
  • 7 - Intellectual Abilities 188
  • 8 - Personality and Temperament 230
  • 9 - Mental Disorders 270
  • 10 - Heredity and Individual Differences in Behavior 317
  • References 347
  • Author Index 381
  • Subject Index 389
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