A dispassionate embrace of both theory-guided inquiry and theory-free empiricism.

READ REVIEW

THE ORIGINS OF YOU

HOW CHILDHOOD SHAPES LATER LIFE

Four prominent psychologists investigate a range of human development questions.

Belsky, Caspi, Moffitt, and Poulton bring together a variety of threads in this engaging account of the results of three longitudinal studies—“nonexperimental, observational research in which children are studied over time and no efforts are made to influence their development.” In mostly accessible, occasionally jargon-y prose, the authors explain that their field is a probabilistic rather than deterministic science, a dynamic process that mingles what is going on within the child and the environment in which they are raised. Taken together, a myriad of factors allows researchers to gain insight into—even to predict—future adult functioning. The volume displays scope and curiosity, as the authors look at genetic factors, whether early circumstances can forecast certain later developmental outcomes, how and if the family experience and the environmental situation shape aspects of later life, and the role of the childhood experience in determining elements of adult health. The authors also examine developmental mechanisms at work regarding how self-control displayed in childhood can lead to particular behavior in adulthood or how a diagnosis of childhood ADHD could affect elements of adult life. There is a clear mapping of how adverse family and neighborhood environments promoted enduring anti-social behavior, and there are evident indications that long hours spent in day care fostered disobedience and impulsivity (even in sensitive day care environments). There are wide-open, preliminary chapters on the roles of genetics and the environment on anti-social behavior and depression (and your chances of becoming a smoker), and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that adverse experiences in childhood, such as bullying, can undermine future health. Amid the grim news is evidence of the salubrious roles played by resilience and intervention.

A dispassionate embrace of both theory-guided inquiry and theory-free empiricism. (28 illustrations)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98345-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more