Summary of The Nurture Assumption

Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do

Free Press,
First Edition: 1998 more...

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The Nurture Assumption book summary
Peer groups and genetics affect your child's future more than you do, so forget blame and put the kids with the right friends.


8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


This book is a refreshing break from the usual coverage of psychology, group behavior, parenting and the like. Judith Rich Harris exposes the flaws, presumptions and misguided assumptions in much "scientific" research about the psychological and behavioral impact parents have upon their children. Learning how poorly constructed some of the most influential studies and experiments have been is quite remarkable. getAbstract finds that the author does a masterful job of debunking what she calls "the nurture assumption" - that parents are powerful in shaping their children - and replacing it with a developmental theory that exalts the peer group. The author avoids jargon, and writes with a clear, witty, engaging style that should make her ideas accessible - although perhaps not necessarily agreeable - to most readers.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why parents have so little influence on how their children turn out;
  • How psychological and social research on this subject has been flawed; and
  • How and why peer groups and genetics are more important than parenting style in child development.


Nature and Nurture
For a long time, experts have considered heredity and environment, or nature and nurture, to be the two factors most responsible for how children develop. However, while heredity is indeed important, nurture is very overrated. No credible scientific evidence supports...
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About the Author

Judith Rich Harris also wrote No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality, and co-wrote The Child: Development from Birth Through Adolescence and Infant and Child: Development from Birth Through Middle Childhood.

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