Judith Rich Harris

Psychologist

Judith Rich Harris is a controversial psychologist who challenges the prevailing notion that an adult's personality is shaped primarily by his parents. Harris graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University in 1959 and went on to receive a master's degree in psychology from Harvard University. However, she was denied entrance to the doctoral program because of a "lack [of] originality and independence." 

Harris would never receive a Ph.D. For the next several decades, she focused on independent research and wrote textbooks about developmental psychology. But a 1995 research article won her the American Psychological Association's George A. Miller Award for an Outstanding Recent Article in General Psychology. Ironically, George A. Miller was the former chair of Harvard's Psychology Department who had overseen her dismissal from Harvard 35 years earlier. 

In 1998 Harris released "The Nurture Assumption," a book based on her earlier research article, which claims that parents have no effect on a child's personality. Harris expanded on this theory in 2006 with "No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality.

Harris was featured in Big Think's "Month of Thinking Dangerously," contributing the dangerous idea that parents should spend less time obsessing over their kids

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