Jerome Kagan

Jerome Kagan is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He is the author of The Nature of the Child, An Argument for Mind, Psychology's Ghosts, The Human Spark, Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior (MIT Press), and other books.

  • Kinds Come First

    Kinds Come First

    Age, Gender, Class, and Ethnicity Give Meaning to Measures

    Jerome Kagan

    An argument that the meaning of a psychological or biological measure depends on the age, gender class, and ethnicity of the human subject.

    In Kinds Come First, the distinguished psychologist Jerome Kagan argues that—contrary to the common assumption—age, gender, social class, and ethnicity affect the outcomes of psychological measures, and he questions the popular practice that uses statistical procedures to remove the effects of these categories to confirm a favored predictor-outcome relation. The idea that psychological measures have meanings that transcend the kinds of subjects, Kagan writes, reflects a premature hope of discovering broadly generalizable conclusions. In Kinds Come First, Kagan hopes to persuade investigators otherwise.

    Kagan examines the unique properties of the four categories, making the case that life stage, gender, class, and ethnicity affect psychological measures in complex, nontrivial ways. He discusses the relevance of a person's developmental stage to many outcomes, focusing on the interval from five to twelve months, when working memory and the ability to relate the past to the present expands. He cites evidence suggesting that a person's gender, class of rearing, and ethnicity, within a particular society, are better predictors of health, arrest record, cognitive skills, and current life satisfaction than either their genomes or answers to a personality questionnaire.

    Finally, Kagan argues, the biological properties that are more common in one gender, class, or ethnic group, are not a defensible basis for restricting access to an educational program, vocation, or position of authority. A society can ignore such differences in order to honor an ethical imperative for equality without incurring serious costs.

    • Hardcover $30.00 £25.00
  • Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior

    Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior

    Jerome Kagan

    A distinguished psychologist considers five conditions that constrain inferences about the relation between brain activity and psychological processes.

    Scientists were unable to study the relation of brain to mind until the invention of technologies that measured the brain activity accompanying psychological processes. Yet even with these new tools, conclusions are tentative or simply wrong. In this book, the distinguished psychologist Jerome Kagan describes five conditions that place serious constraints on the ability to predict mental or behavioral outcomes based on brain data: the setting in which evidence is gathered, the expectations of the subject, the source of the evidence that supports the conclusion, the absence of studies that examine patterns of causes with patterns of measures, and the habit of borrowing terms from psychology.

    Kagan describes the important of context, and how the experimental setting—including the room, the procedure, and the species, age, and sex of both subject and examiner—can influence the conclusions. He explains how subject expectations affect all brain measures; considers why brain and psychological data often yield different conclusions; argues for relations between patterns of causes and outcomes rather than correlating single variables; and criticizes the borrowing of psychological terms to describe brain evidence. Brain sites cannot be in a state of “fear.”

    A deeper understanding of the brain's contributions to behavior, Kagan argues, requires investigators to acknowledge these five constraints in the design or interpretation of an experiment.

    • Hardcover $30.00 £25.00