The Human Spark: The Science of Human Development

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Product Details

$28.99  $26.96
Basic Books
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.3 X 1.4 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Jerome Kagan is emeritus professor of psychology at Harvard University and one of the pioneers of the field of developmental psychology. The author of numerous books including The Nature of the Child and Galen's Prophecy, he received the William James Award from American Psychological Association. In 2009 he was featured in a New York Times Magazine cover story about anxiety.


"[T]hought-provoking.... Authoritative and surprising, Kagan guides us through the most current research in the field, tracing its shifting intellectual fashions from emphasizing 'nurture' to the current reliance on neuroscience and showing how these fashions play out culturally. This wise and affirming book is essential reading for anyone interested in what makes us human."--Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review

"A vividly titled overview, by the pioneering developmental psychologist, of his current thinking about the answer to the question, 'What does it mean to be human?' Reading him, one resonates to the kind of teacher he must have been."--Harvard Magazine

"Entertaining and intellectually engaging."--Library Journal

"An intriguing overview of many of the underlying assumptions guiding modern psychology."--Kirkus Reviews

"An insightful discussion of the epistemology of psychology.... [Kagan] offers illuminating discussions of the impact of culture on childhood development.... [A] fascinating summary of the current science behind human development from one of the leaders in the field."--Publishers Weekly
"In his masterful survey, Kagan filters findings in the field.... An authoritative study of the dance of genes and environment in each child as they grow in universally human, and profoundly individual, ways."--Nature

"Best known for his work exploring the persistence of inborn temperamental differences, Kagan here expands his inquiry into other areas, including the problems inherent in trying to understand something as complex as human nature by looking through as narrow a lens as neuroscience, genetics, or psychological research. The result is a wide-ranging book that...often offers astonishing details amid the research Kagan summarizes."--Boston Globe

"Kagan makes a strong case that personality is more elastic, and resilient, than we may think: Even toddlers who experience extreme abuse or deprivation can become well-adjusted adults."--Discover

"Kagan grapples manfully with the complexity of what it means to be human, and has a magnificent disregard for orthodoxy--questioning everything from attachment theory to the belief that animal emotions are comparable to our own."--New Scientist