ABOUT THIS BOOK
A Marginal Revolution Best Book of the Year
After tracking the lives of thousands of people from birth to midlife, four of the world’s preeminent psychologists reveal what they have learned about how humans develop.
Does temperament in childhood 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 health in adulthood shaped by childhood experiences? In search of answers to these and similar questions, four leading psychologists have spent their careers studying thousands of people, observing them as they’ve grown up and grown older. The result is unprecedented insight into what makes each of us who we are.
In The Origins of You, Jay Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt, and Richie Poulton share what they have learned about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, about genes and parenting, and about vulnerability, resilience, and success. The evidence shows that human development is not subject to ironclad laws but instead is a matter of possibilities and probabilities—multiple forces that together determine the direction a life will take. A child’s early years do predict who they will become later in life, but they do so imperfectly. For example, genes and troubled families both play a role in violent male behavior, and, though health and heredity sometimes go hand in hand, childhood adversity and severe bullying in adolescence can affect even physical well-being in midlife.
Painstaking and revelatory, the discoveries in The Origins of You promise to help schools, parents, and all people foster well-being and ameliorate or prevent developmental problems.
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
Will prove one of the best and most important works of the last few years…Fascinating.
-- Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution
The Origins of You brings the groundbreaking research of the top developmental psychologists of the past quarter-century to a wider audience. The book captures the genius and visionary stature of its authors and illustrates their profound influence on the current and future thinking of the field. A masterpiece!
-- Dante Cicchetti, Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota
It’s hard to imagine a better introduction to the way that contemporary developmental scientists think than The Origins of You, and it is hard to think of a more qualified group of writers, themselves among the most important, creative, and accomplished scholars in the field, to serve as guides. In much the same way that Bronfenbrenner’s The Ecology of Human Development forever changed the way we think about the environment, this book will change the way we think about the process of development itself. The Origins of You is destined to become a classic.
-- Laurence Steinberg, author of Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence
The Origins of You poses a question that is both timely and timeless: how does each of us become the unique person we are? Drawing upon the most authoritative psychological studies ever conducted on the topic, the authors offer a treasure trove of remarkable insights that both underscore the complexity of human development and affirm the power of human resilience.
-- Dan P. McAdams, author of The Art and Science of Personality Development
For those new to cohort literature, The Origins of You is an engaging introduction. For those familiar with this work, it is a chance to hear the authors thinking aloud, debating the best approaches and pondering what to study next. We can be certain that those conversations will now include how best to use these rich longitudinal resources to understand the effects of COVID-19.
-- Barbara Maughan Nature
A fascinating book from an outstanding team of scientists, dedicated to answering the central questions about how lives develop.
-- Anne Petersen, University of Michigan
The Origins of You deserves to be read by everyone who wants to understand human development.
-- David P. Farrington, Cambridge University
Engaging…Displays scope and curiosity, as the authors look at genetic factors, whether early circumstances can forecast certain later developmental outcomes, how and if the family experience and the environmental situation shape aspects of later life, and the role of the childhood experience in determining elements of adult health.
-- Kirkus Reviews
This thought-provoking volume should fascinate psychology students.
-- Publishers Weekly
Tells us which types of children grow up to be which types of adults, and it offers hints as to how childhood experiences can aid or hinder human development…A must-read.
-- Robert VerBruggen Institute for Family Studies blog
A compelling journey exploring the results of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study…Its findings are the x-marks-the-spot treasure trove that will help teachers, school administrators, and child psychologists support the growth and development of children.
-- Laura Petillo New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Lives through Time
II. THE CHILD AS THE FATHER OF THE MAN
2. Moving Against the World, Moving Away from the World
3. To Be or Not to Be Self-Controlled
4. ADHD in Childhood and Adulthood
III. THE FAMILY
5. Why Parents Parent the Way They Do
6. Troubled Families and Bad Boys
7. Early-Maturing Girls, Troubled Families, and Bad Boys
IV. BEYOND THE FAMILY
8. Good News and Bad News about Day Care
9. What about Neighborhoods?
11. Early and Persistent Cannabis Use
12. Is Smoking in Our Genes?
13. Genetics of Life Success?
14. Child Maltreatment, Genotype, and Violent Male Behavior
15. Life Stress, Genotype, and Depression in Young Adulthood
16. Epigenetics, or Genes as Dependent Variables
VI. AGING IN MIDLIFE
17. Childhood Adversity and Physical Health in Midlife
18. Biological Embedding of Childhood Adversity
19. Aging Fast, Aging Slow
20. Miles to Go Before We Sleep