The Nurture Assumption

  • by Judith Rich Harris
  • Narrated by Paula Parker
  • 3 hrs and 24 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

What makes children turn out the way they do? Why is it that good parents don't always turn out good kids? Judith Rich Harris questions the assumption that nurture is the crucial factor. Using examples from folklore, literature, and scientific research, Harris puts forth the electrifying theory that children aren't socialized by their parents, they're socialized by other children. It is what happens outside the home, while kids are in the company of their peers, that matters most. The Nurture Assumption challenges everything we've been taught about rearing children and everything we believe about the emotional hangups of adults. It offers wise counsel on what parents can and cannot do, and relief from guilt for those who have tried their hardest but have somehow failed to produce a happy, confident, well-adjusted child.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent book... on print.

'The nurture assumption' is a fantastic book on which many reviews have been written elsewhere on the web. I own the book both in its paperback and its audible version. I was disappointed by the audio quality (very compressed 12.5 MB for 3h30 of audio) and by the fact that large sections of the book are not covered in the audio version.
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- Luc

Egregiously oversimplified and horribly narrated

I wanted to listen to this book because it was referred to in Freakonomics (Levitt and Dubner 2005). I find the idea that peer groups have a very strong influence on enculturation throughout childhood interesting and I wanted to understand the idea in greater detail. But I was very disappointed. Harris essentially argues that parents and biology don't matter AT ALL and who we turn out to be is based ENTIRELY on peer group influence. This CAN'T be what she means to say. Perhaps the fact that this audio version is abridged is an extenuating factor. I actually buy her argument that researchers have been ignoring the important influence of peer groups and they matter more than we think, but to completely discount the affects of biology and family is silly. She uses an example of a U.S. child whose parents are Russian immigrants and points out that the child grows up to speak perfect English because that's the language of his peers. But she completely ignores the obvious observation that - in fact - the child ALSO speaks Russian because of his parents.

Furthermore, I am an anthropologist, and I was frankly stunned by her ridiculously oversimplified caricature of your average child in your average traditional society. She goes so far as to say these kids (they're all the same) don't fight much because they have no toys to fight over. Her lack of understanding of basic anthropology in the context of her research is unforgivable to me.

The death knell of this audiobook for me was the narrator. She reminds me of a syrupy singer in a cheap production of children's music.

In summary - who we turn out to be is a complicated mix of factors, not this ridiculously oversimplified monocausal scenario. Read the subheading on the book "parents matter less than you think and peers matter more" - that's probably right, but don't torture yourself listening to this book because it's not going to add any insight beyond this subheading.
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- Sabrina

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-02-2000
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio