No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality

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W. W. Norton & Company, Jun 17, 2007 - Psychology - 344 pages
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The author of the controversial book The Nurture Assumption tackles the biggest mystery in all of psychology: What makes people differ so much in personality and behavior? It can't just be "nature and nurture," because even identical twins who grow up together--same genes, same parents--have different personalities. And if psychologists can't explain why identical twins are different, they also can't explain why each of us differs from everyone else. Why no two people are alike.

Harris turns out to be well suited for the role of detective--it isn't easy to pull the wool over her eyes. She rounds up the usual suspects and shows why none of the currently popular explanations for human differences--birth order effects, for example, or interactions between genes and environment--can be the perpetrator she is looking for. None of these theories can solve the mystery of human individuality.

The search for clues carries Harris into some fascinating byways of science. The evidence she examines ranges from classic experiments in social psychology to cutting-edge research in neuroscience. She looks at studies of twins, research on autistic children, observations of chimpanzees, birds, and even ants.

Her solution is a startlingly original one: the first completely new theory of personality since Freud's. Based on a principle of evolutionary psychology--the idea that the human mind is a toolbox of special-purpose devices--Harris's theory explains how attributes we all have in common can make us different.

This is the story of a scientific quest, but it is also the personal story of a courageous and innovative woman who refused to be satisfied with "what everyone knows is true."

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

Judith Harris, author of the previously reviewed The Nurture Assumption, follows up with another book on personality development, No Two Alike. This has the same strengths and flaws as the previous ... Read full review

NO TWO LOOK ALIKE: Human Nature and Human Individuality

User Review  - Kirkus

As she did in The Nurture Assumption (1998), independent scholar Harris makes waves again with a new theory of personality to explain why no two people are alike.Based on behavioral genetics and ... Read full review


An Appreciation ofDifferences
That Damn Rectangle
Monkey Business
Birth Order and Other Environmental Differences
The Person and the Situation
The Modular Mind
The Relationship System
The Socialization System
The Status System

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About the author (2007)

Judith Rich Harris is an independent investigator and a former writer of textbooks in child development. She lives in New Jersey with her husband.

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