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No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  283 ratings  ·  30 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2006)
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Mark
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As a second grade teacher this book has probably had more of an effect on how I relate to my students than anything else I've read. It has freed me up to do what I can to help students become more successful without getting caught up in those things that I can't change: their genetic makeup and home lives.

I refer to it often in talking to parents, along with The Myth of Laziness and a couple of other books.

This book challenges our common thinking, a lot of recent 'research' and culturally
...more
Sam
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In her first book, The Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris presented evidence and analysis suggesting that parenting styles have little impact on long-term child development. No Two Alike has a different aim but in a way it more convincingly argues Nurture Assumption's case because it describes and rebuts criticism of the first book, and her critics support the factual basis of many of her claims.

The main point of this book, though, is Harris's speculation about what makes people so
...more
Pamela
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Judith Rich Harris, who broke into public consciousness over 10 years ago with her book The Nurture Assumption, has again assembled and analyzed countless studies on personality development in an attempt to answer the question: "What besides genetics shapes individual personality?" While it might seem obvious that the other factor is environment, Rich says not so fast. We tend to understand "environment" as "family environment," above all the way our parents raised us. According to Rich, the ...more
Dennis Littrell
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A masterful presentation of how we become who we are

This is an outstanding book on social and developmental psychology based primarily on evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience--the new paradigm that's revolutionizing academic psychology. It's engagingly written, authoritative, witty, ingeniously argued, and filled with information and wisdom. Judith Rich Harris is that rare, very rare, individual who is a top academic without a position at a major university, a professor
...more
Isaac
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
The premise of this book is brilliant, instead of examining how similar identical twins are she turns things around and attempts to explain why two people with identical genes and almost identical environments are so different. Her investigation is thorough; she cites dozens of fascinating studies and picks apart as many bad ones.

Following her logic is occasionally challenging but for the most part the book is accessible. My biggest gripes were with her style, she occasionally came across quite
...more
Rossdavidh
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: white
Subtitle: Human Nature and Human Individuality.

Once upon a time, a mother and housewife name Judith Rich Harris, with a business on the side writing psychology textbooks, lost her faith. Which is to say, she turned against the prevailing school of thought of mainstream psychology at the time, which believed that early parental behavior exerted profound influences over a child's behavior and personality, and would influence their development throughout the rest of their lives. She wrote a book,
...more
Eric Estrada
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking

An interesting perspective on why humans differ in personality. In my opinion (and Charlie Munger’s I’m sure) what’s more interesting is the way she challenges conventional wisdom and applies logic to the data that has already been compiled.
Amanda Lulewicz
Mar 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
I found the book to be a bit defensive and self-indulgent. While I found her perspective interesting, I was often a bit distracted by her efforts to defend herself against and even tear down her contemporaries. Disproving their theories is one thing, but this seemed much more personal. Overall interesting data that could have been presented better!
OD
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first book of Harris' that I've read. (Although I've read so many books drawing on the ideas in the "Nurture Assumption" that I doubt if I ever get round to reading it, I'll find anything new there. Much in the vein of "Seinfeld is Unfunny" TVTropes).

Harris proposes an interesting way to think about personality - as something formed through the interaction of three systems - the relationship, socialization and the status systems. A large chunk of the book is spent in eliminating the
...more
Hugh Fallon
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Judith Rich Harris "No Two Alike" provided for me the second half of understanding becoming a person, also referred to as building a self. This work, written during her life-threatening illness, uses the detective story model to understand how personality is build to temperament: the first part (chapter 7! is basic socialization: a supportive mothering! (Check Blum, Deborah. Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection. Perseus Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-7382-0278-9)
In chapter 8,
...more
Rebekka Istrail
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: developmental psychologists
Shelves: science, psychology
I don't think that Judith Rich Harris is the final authority on her topic, but she does an impressive job of synthesizing research on the development of personality. She also piercingly explains specific statistical techniques and research methods (and points out instances of others' sloppy work!). Harris builds a compelling case that individuals' personality differentiation results from our pursuit of status through whichever niches fit us and are available. She contends that our status-seeking ...more
Steve
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
The first 2/3 of the book is great; Harris rips into current theories explaining variance in personality, including birth order (and other environmental differences) and gene-environment correlations. The last 1/3 of the book, in which Harris attempts to construct her own theory to determine the cause of the currently-unexplained variance in personality is not entirely convincing.

I especially liked the section in which Harris discusses the problem of the generalization assumption held by
...more
R
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An outsider challenges the orthodoxy on child development is how I read this book. Humans are different 45% due to genetics and 55% due to unknown causes. But no known input of the form "Do x to your child and you'll be more likely to get y." is valid for social traits or personality. An interesting point is that if a child is bad today, that's deemed bad parenting where 100 years ago it might have just been seen as the parents being unlucky for "the child they got."

So parents should avoid
...more
Dannie
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen Snyder
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to read this book, but it was interesting. More investigation by the author of the Nurture Assumption, this time why people turn out differently, including identical twins. People undergo different paths of development - socialization which makes us more the same and status seeking, which makes us different. According to Harris, there is also a relationship system - providing us with allies in life.

Harris has some ideas on how research in these areas has been misleading.
...more
Maren Vanderkolk
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading "No Two Alike" made me look at certain relationships, such as parent-child relationships, differently than before. I found some of the reading to be a little tedious, it seemed as if she wrote the book for two audiences; she included many studies, sources and detail for people in her field but also included some humor in it which made it a little more enjoyable for an audience such as myself. Am I convinced? Partly, I guess I would say I'm a little surprised too. In the end I say it ...more
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Harris elaborates her theory on how and why each person develops a unique personality (even identical twins). But first she pauses to consider, then demolish, rival theories. The pause takes up the first two-thirds of the book and makes for great reading. The theory itself seemed somewhat light on the details.

Tamarah
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found it very interesting, but did not like the style at all. Too much superiority, nastiness.
I am not sure I really agree to the whole of the hypothesis -- my gut is that the family is more important that Harris says -- but I did find her ideas challenging and refreshing. Definitely have made me question my own assumptions.
Jared
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Judith Rich Harris is a champion of the scientific method. I admire her for working so hard at her research in spite of her physical limitations. I think her formal descriptions of three main systems in our brains that are responsible for making us all so similar, unique, and competitive is pretty compelling. Her digressions are also pretty entertaining.
Nathan
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
A very convincing and engrossing analysis. Harris's take definitely rings true to my experience as a human who is often tripped up by the instinct to balance conformity with setting myself apart, all in an attempt to "impress" peers (be they real or imagined).
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
too much Simon Baron-Cohen; but a good, cohesive theory of personality development
Jonathan Gledson
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A light goes on. A penny drops! If you are bored and frustrated by arguments over nature or nurture and genetic determinism or social conditioning, then this may resolve your conflicts.
Jeff Gagne
Love the snark and the skepticism here. Plus she's a big fan of genetics research.
Mahesh
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charile Munger recomended,
a gem of book.
salute to Judith Rich Harris for eye opener
Stephanie
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Judith Rich Harris is brilliant.
Robert Bogue
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Why am I me?” is an important – and unanswered – question that George Dyson asked his father, Freeman Dyson, at age 8. It’s at the heart of Judith Rich Harris’ work in No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality. It’s the essence of the tension between our desire to be like others and our need to have status amongst our peers. I’ve read and reviewed Harris’ previous work, The Nurture Assumption (written in 1998), so in many ways her work here builds on her theories, which I’ve previously ...more
Elisabeth Marksteiner
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
What makes you you? I’m still not sure there is an answer, but there is an interesting theory. What I most like is the willingness to be sceptical, to test theories, however well-established, and say prove it.
Now to understand the motivation of why someone does something has some answers in either a relationship, socialization, or status system.
InYourFaceNewYorker
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting theory of what makes everybody different.
SeaShore
It all depends on when you read a book and why you're reading it. I'm re-reading this book now after so much research has done for my interest.
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Judith Rich Harris was born February 10, 1938, and spent the first part of her childhood moving around with her family from one part of the country to another. Her parents eventually settled in Tucson, Arizona, where the climate permitted her father (invalided by an autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis) to live in reasonable comfort. Harris graduated from Tucson High School and ...more