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Why home doesn’t matter

The BBC series "Child of Our Time" assumes that studying children with their parents will help us understand how their personalities develop. But this is a mistake: parents influence their children mainly by passing on their genes. The biggest environmental influences on personality are those that occur outside the home

During much of the 20th century, it was considered impolite and unscientific to say that genes play any role in determining people’s personalities, talents or intelligence. But we’re in the 21st century now, the era of the genome. So when Robert Winston informs us, at the opening of each episode of the BBC1 documentary series Child of Our Time, that we’re going to “find out what makes us who we are,” we know he’s going to say that people are the way they are partly for genetic reasons. (In case you’ve missed it, Child of Our Time is a project…

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