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Reviews

Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior by Jerome Kagan
2018-02-05

This is a book chock full of fascinating insights and research and Kagan is a great writer. It is a little difficult to explain what it's about, in that almost every paragraph contains insights and revelations from a dozen different sources. If I had to summarize, I would say that he is trying to show the extent and limitations of the current research in psychology and neuroscience, as in both what the research actually shows, but also, the dubious conclusions that have been drawn. Kagan shows structural problems with the way social science research is interpreted, where results have more to do with context than the thing reportedly studied. He argues that how we deliver mental health and the history of psychotherapy more reflects our society and our changing beliefs and assumptions than any absolute facts about psychology. He also comes back again and again to the fact that the psychological sciences overuse vocabulary to mean completely different processes. For example, agression can mean "gossip, rejection, dishonesty, stealing, hitting, biting, killing, sexual attack or arson" and each of these has a different psychological profile. Anyway, I could go on. This was a rather tough book to read but it's really interesting and I'm sure any and every reader will get something different out of it.
--Karl
Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior

by: Karl

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