Development, Genetics, and Psychology

Development, Genetics, and Psychology

Development, Genetics, and Psychology

Development, Genetics, and Psychology

Excerpt

This book is based on two simple ideas. The first is that genes are involved in change as well as continuity in development. The second is that the best way to study effects of environment on behavior is through the study of genetic influences, employing the theory and methods of quantitative genetics. These are the major themes of a new interdiscipline, developmental behavioral genetics, which applies the tools of quantitative genetics to the study of behavioral development. Over a decade ago, the integration of behavioral genetics and developmental psychology was viewed as "overdue" ( Gottesman, 1974). Research in developmental behavioral genetics has just begun; nonetheless, significant advances already have been made and these have important implications for developmental psychologists.

The approach of behavioral genetics is highly empirical, an orientation that is reflected in this book. I do not attempt to argue or persuade as much as to present methods and data that I hope speak for themselves. The inductive approach of behavioral genetics appears plodding and tedious as we watch bricks being put into place one at a time, often in different parts of the building, and sometimes so far away from the building that the brick serves no purpose other than tripping workers on their way to the construction site. No foreman seems to be on the job and many of the workers are temporary. However, this has been going on for half of a century and, when we step back to look at it, it is clear that something substantial is being built. In contrast, a disturbing trend in developmental psychology is the construction of instant edifices in which the bricks are pronouncements rather than facts. These fabrications are mirages, disappearing when approached for closer examination, or facades soon blown over by the mercurial winds of fashion.

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