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Why do people raised in the same families often differ more dramatically in personality than those from different families? Why, within the same family, do some children conform to authority whereas others rebel? The family, it turns out, is not a "shared environment" but rather a set of niches that provide siblings with different outlooks. At the heart of this pioneering inquiry into human development is a fundamental insight: that the personalities of siblings vary because they adopt different strategies in the universal quest for parental favor. Frank J. Sulloway's most important finding is that eldest children identity with parents and authority, and support the status quo, whereas younger children rebel against it. Drawing on the work of Darwin and the new sciences of evolutionary psychology, he transforms our understanding of personality development and its origins in family dynamics.
Most persuasively, Sulloway's findings offer conclusive evidence that the family, with its powerful interpersonal dynamics, is a cauldron for the great revolutionary advances that drive historical change. Through his analysis of revolutions in social and scientific thought, from the Reformation to Darwin's theory of natural selection, Sulloway demonstrates that the primary engine of history is located within families, not between them, as Marx believed.
This landmark work illuminates the crucial influence that family niches have on personality, and documents the profound consequences of sibling competition--not only on individual development within the family, but on society as a whole. Born to Rebel's pathbreaking insights promise to revolutionize the nature of psychological, sociological, and historical inquiry.
"One of the most authoritative and important treatises in the history of the social sciences."--Edward O. Wilson
"Born to Rebel is a masterpiece, extraordinary to the highest degree. It develops its subject matter in an original and incredibly arresting manner, and it flows with the excitement of a good novel. I believe it is the first book which really uses Darwinian evolution to produce a new way of doing history successfully."--I. Bernard Cohen, Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Science Emeritus, Harvard University
"Sulloway applies evolutionary insights about family relationships to the broad sweep of human history; his book will change the way each of us thinks about the past, the future, and ourselves. I believe his book will have the same kind of long-term impact as Freud's and Darwin's.--Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of The Woman That Never Evolved
"A quarter century in the making, this brilliant, searching, provocative, and readable treatise promises to remain definitive for at least as long. Whether firstborns or laterborns, all of us will learn fascinating and surprising details about ourselves."--Robert K. Merton, University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
"Born to Rebel is a magnificent intellectual accomplishment, at once sweeping and intimate; it affords a whole new perspective on both human history and everyday life."--Robert Wright, author of The Moral Animal
"An important and valuable study that will define research agendas for years to come."--The Boston Globe