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By Jerome Kagan

We have visible those children--the shy and the sociable, the wary and the daring--and questioned what makes one stay away from new adventure and one other avidly pursue it. on the crux of the problem surrounding the contribution of nature to improvement is the research that Jerome Kagan and his colleagues were accomplishing for greater than twenty years. In The lengthy Shadow of Temperament, Kagan and Nancy Snidman summarize the result of this certain inquiry into human temperaments, one of many best-known longitudinal reports in developmental psychology. those effects demonstrate how deeply definite basic temperamental biases should be preserved over development.

Identifying severe temperamental types--inhibited and uninhibited in formative years, and high-reactive and low-reactive in very younger babies--Kagan and his colleagues back to those kids as kids. strangely, one of many temperaments published in infancy anticipated a wary, anxious character in early youth and a dour temper in formative years. the opposite bias expected a daring adolescence character and an exuberant, sanguine temper in early life. those personalities have been matched via diversified organic homes. In a masterly precis in their wide-ranging exploration, Kagan and Snidman finish that those temperaments are the results of inherited biologies most likely rooted within the differential excitability of specific mind constructions. even though the authors delight in that temperamental traits will be changed by means of adventure, this compelling work--an empirical and conceptual tour-de-force--shows how lengthy the shadow of temperament is solid over mental development.

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Each was given different sets of cards with printed statements descriptive of the child. The mother was given 28 descriptions; the child was given 20. The mother and child, sitting in different rooms, arranged these descriptions from most to least characteristic of the child. As anticipated, more children who had been high-reactive infants were quiet and serious while interacting with the examiner; more low-reactives were talkative and relaxed and smiled frequently. About 33 percent of the high- and low-reactives displayed a style of social behavior that was in accord with their infant temperament, while 16 percent of each group behaved in ways that were inconsistent with expectations—a ratio of 2 to 1.

However, the children’s descriptions of their usual moods and preference for novelty were linked to their infant temperaments. The low-reactives were most likely to report that they enjoyed new places to visit and novel experiences. One item in the child’s selfdescriptions was especially revealing. ” We will see that most of these “happy” children had been low-reactive infants and had a distinct biology at 11 years of age. To our surprise, the level of fear in response to unfamiliar events during the second year did not predict the child’s behavior at age 11.

There are over 290,000 combinations of the 12 known blood types and their variants; hence, the chance of any two people having the same combination is only 3/10,000 (Lewontin, 1995). Because there are many more distinct neurochemical profiles than blood types, the chance of any two people having the same temperamental profile will be far less than 3/10,000. Some temperamental categories, like some blood types, will be very rare, while others will be more common. , 2001, 2003). She posits two primary dimensions on which infants vary—reactivity and self-regulation—and both are controlled by the social environment.

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