Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy

Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy

Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy

Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy


During the last forty years, Hans Eysenck's brilliant contribution to knowledge has beenwell-known world-wide. From its early transmission, his work has not been without itscritics. Naturally, criticisms persist, although his work continues to be frequentlyacknowledged with great admiration in the channels of psychology. With such prolificwork, it would seem justified to consider the discrepancies, the omissions, together withthe various interpretations which have been and are currently being highlighted.


John C. Loehlin

History will surely judge that Eysenck's multifarious contributions to psychology centre on the description, elaboration and interpretation of the key personality dimensions of extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism, which along with intelligence form the major axes of his theory of individual differences. For Eysenck, an important aspect of the interpretation of these behavioural dimensions has always been an inquiry into their biological bases. One form this biological inquiry has taken is the assessment of the roles of genetic and environmental factors in accounting for individual variation in these traits. These efforts of Eysenck and his collaborators have drawn on the data and methods of behaviour genetics, and in turn have themselves made a substantial contribution to that discipline.

Eysenck's work in behaviour genetics has spanned a considerable range. First, there were the early twin studies in extraversion-introversion and neuroticism in the 1950s, with Prell, Blewett and MacLeod. Second, there are the later twin and family studies in the 1970s and 1980s of neuroticism, psychoticism and extra version, done in collaboration with Eaves, Martin, Young and others. Third, there are the miscellaneous twin studies on various other topics, for example, sexual behaviour, social attitudes and smoking. Fourth, there are the animal studies, mostly connected with the development by Broadhurst in Eysenck's laboratory of the Maudsley reactive and non-reactive strains of rats. and fifth, there are Eysenck's writings on intelligence, in which he has often addressed behaviour genetic issues, although he has not, so as far as I know, himself actually carried out behaviour genetic studies in this area.

Eysenck's publications on these various topics have been numerous. a bibliography of his writings in the area of behaviour genetics, kindly provided to me by Professor Eysenck, lists no less than thirty articles and book chapters-and this does not include a number of books with extensive behaviour genetic material, such as Sex and Personality (1976), The Structure and Measurement of Intelligence (1979b) and The Causes and Effects of Smoking (1980).

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