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The Origins of You

How Childhood Shapes Later Life

Jay Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E. Moffitt, Richie Poulton

ISBN 9780674293854

Publication date: 08/22/2023

A Marginal Revolution Book of the Year

“Brings the groundbreaking research of the top developmental psychologists of the past quarter-century to a wider audience…A masterpiece!”—Dante Cicchetti, Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota

“Deliver[s] a flood of insights around the book’s central question: To what degree do our childhood personalities and behaviors predict our adult selves?”—Wall Street Journal

“One of the best and most important works of the last few years…Fascinating.”—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Does childhood temperament predict adult personality? What role do parents play in shaping how a child matures? Is day care bad—or good—for children? Does adolescent delinquency forecast a life of crime? Do genes influence success in life? Is one’s health shaped by childhood experiences? In search of answers to these questions, four leading psychologists dedicated their careers to studying thousands of people, observing them as they grew and emerging with unprecedented insight into what makes us who we are.

They found that human development is not subject to ironclad laws so much as a matter of possibilities and probabilities—multiple forces that together determine the direction of one’s life. The early years do predict who we become, but they do so imperfectly. At once actionable and revelatory, The Origins of You is an invaluable guide for parents, teachers, and anyone working with or caring for children.

Praise

  • This book’s authors, having plumbed their data in depth, deliver a flood of insights around the book’s central question: To what degree do our childhood personalities and behaviors predict our adult selves?

    —John Donvan, Wall Street Journal

Authors

  • Jay Belsky is the Robert M. and Natalie Reid Dorn Professor of Human Development at the University of California, Davis. He was a founding investigator of the NIH Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development in the United States and the National Evaluation of Sure Start in the United Kingdom. He received the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award from the American Psychological Association.
  • Avshalom Caspi is the Edward M. Arnett Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University and Professor of Personality Development at King’s College London. He is a recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology.
  • Terrie E. Moffitt is the Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor at Duke University and Professor of Social Behaviour and Development at King’s College London. She has received a host of honors, including the 2022 Grawemeyer Award in Psychology and the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
  • Richie Poulton is Professor of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, where he serves as codirector of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research. An elected fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, he received the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Science Prize for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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