Psychology 310: The Origins of Personality
|Instructor: Al Cheyne
Office: PAS 4006
Phone: ext. 3054
TA: Avigail Ram
Office: PAS 4017
| Why do we have the personalities we do? Many
of us, including most developmental psychologists, have long believed that
personality is largely a consequence of the way our parents treat us as
infants and young children. Our assumption has been that parental nurture
during the early years of life is an important factor, perhaps the major
factor, in determining our personalities. This powerful and pervasive assumption
of both mainstream developmental psychology and Western culture more generally
has recently been called into question. The author of our text, J. R. Harris
makes a counter claim that the effect of parental nurture on adult personality
is modest at best. She further argues that a far more important environmental
influence is that of peers and, in particular, of peer groups.
In this course we will review arguments and
empirical research on parenting and its effects, as well as research that
speaks to alternate claims that personality is largely shaped by biological
inheritance and/or broader cultural factors, such as the groups and institutions
within which we function.
Room: AL 105
Harris, J. R. (1998). The nurture assumption. New York: Free Press.
There will be additional readings assigned each week. These will consist of both scholarly and popular articles addressing the issues of concern to the course.
Prerequisite: Psychology 211
|Judith Rich Harris's arguments regarding the Nurture Assumption
has generated considerable interest and comment. There are a number of
web sites with reviews and commentaries.
An exceptionally thorough book review is provided by Mary Eberstadt
There is a Nurture Assumption Home page at:
From the APA Monitor:
The following link is to the first in a series of exchanges between
Harris and Kagan. The exchanges become increasingly acrimonious over the
series. Probably best serves as an example that debates are not good contexts
for settling scientific disputes.
Class meeting will be a combination of lecture and discussion aimed at reviewing and supplementing material from the readings. Class members will be expected to have read the assigned chapters from the text as well as the additional readings assigned before each meeting. In addition, students will prepare a brief (1-2 pages, approximately 500 words) response to either the reading from the text or the supplementary reading. This will be submitted at the beginning of each Monday class. The format and substance of the weekly written responses are up to the student. Feel free to pose questions, make critical comments, draw further conclusions, and to present supplementary or opposing information and arguments.
There will be one in-class mid-term on October 25 and a final exam during the regular Exam Period. The exams will be brief essay format.
|Note on avoidance of academic offenses:
All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes an academic offense, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for their academic actions. When the commission of an offense is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline). For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline) which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (p.1:11). If you need help in learning how to avoid offenses such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission, or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your course instructor for guidance. Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean.
|Schedule of Meetings:|
|Week||Dates:||Reading from Harris:|
|1||Sept 11, 13 Link to Overheads||Poem, Foreword, & Preface|
|2||Sept 18, 20 Link to Overheads||Ch. 1 & 2|
|3||Sept 25, 27 Link to Overheads||Ch. 3 & Appendix 1|
|4||Oct 2, 4 Link to Overheads||Ch. 4 & 5|
|5||Thanksgiving, Oct 11 Link to Overheads||Ch. 6 & 7|
|6||Oct 16, 18 Link to Overheads||Ch. 8|
|7||Oct 23, 25* Link to Midterm Questions||Midterm Test on Wednesday|
|8||Oct 30, Nov 1 Link to Overheads||Ch. 9|
|9||Nov 6, 9 Link to Overheads||Ch 10|
|10||Nov 13, 15 Link to Overheads||Ch 11, 12 (to bottom of p. 273)|
|11||Nov 20, 22 Link
You may check our records of weekly assignments received here.
|Ch 12 (p. 274 - end), 13|
|12||Nov 27, 29 Link to Overheads||Ch 14, 15|
|13||Dec 4 Link to Overheads||Appendix 2|
|Dec 7 Final Exam Questions||Time: 2:00 - 4:00 Place: AL 105|
|Schedule or Readings: (As we proceed in the course
I may add or replace readings from time to time)
Readings outside the text are indented. These readings will be made available each week in PAS 4005 (open from 8:30-4:30 Monday to Friday). For those who wish to photocopy the readings, there are two available photocopiers in the PAS building in PAS 4028 and PAS 3080.
The readings will also be available on reserve at Dana Porter.
Note: TNA refers to the text The Nurture Assumption.
Week 1 (Sept 11, 13)
Harris, J. R The Nurture Assumption (TNA). Gibran poem, Pinker Foreword, Harris Preface
Week 2 (Sept 18, 20)
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 1: "Nurture" is not the Same as "Environment"
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 3 Nature, Nurture, and None of the Above & Appendix 1:Personality and Birth Order
Plomin, R. DeFries, J. C., McClearn, G. E., & Rutter, M. (1997). Chapter 11. Personality and Personality Disorders. In R. Plomin et al. Behavior Genetics (Third Edition). New York Freeman. (pp. 195-216)
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 4: Separate worlds & Ch. 5: Other Times, Other Places
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 6: Human Nature & Ch 7: Us and Them
Sherif, M., Harvey, O. J., White, B. J., Hood, W. R., Sherif, C. W.
(1961). Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The robber's cave experiment.
Norman OK: Institute of
Of related interest :
Web site: Chimpanzee cultures
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 8: In the company of Children
You might be interested in this recent New York Times Book Review of:
Catch-up and Midterm
Week 8: (October 30, November 1)
Harris, (TNA). Harris, Ch. 9: The Transmission of Culture
Fry, D. P. (1988). Intercommunity differences in aggression among Zapotec children. Child Development, 59, 1008-1019.
Chimp Culture Recognized (ABC Science News) June 16, 1999
Harris, (TNA). Ch 10: Gender Rules
Altermatt, E. R., Jovanovic, J., & Perry, M. (1998). Bias or responsivity: Sex and achievement-level effects on teachers' classroom questioning practice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 516-527.
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 11: Schools of Children and Ch. 12 (Growing up - to p. 173)
News Item: Women perform better in math without men (Science Daily, Sept. 13, 2000)
Harris, (TNA). Ch 12 (p. 174 - to end): Growing up and Chapter 13: Dysfunctional Families.
Controversial News Item:
The abortion-crime rate puzzle. The Chicago Tribune. August 8, 1999
Harris, (TNA). Ch. 14: What parents can do, Ch. 15: The nurture assumption
on trial & Appendix 2: Testing theories of child development
Harris, J. R. (2000). Socialization, personality development, and the child's environments: Comment on Vandell (2000). Developmental Psychology, 36, 711-723