As we have just seen, Sandra Scarr believes that heredity plays a powerful role in children's development. Her theory of genotype → environment effects essentially states that genotypes drive experiences. Scarr also stresses that unless a child's family is specifically abusive or fails to provide what she calls "average expectable" conditions in which the species has evolved, parental differences in child rearing styles, social class, and income have small effects on differences in children's intelligence, personality, and interests. Scarr also has presented the provocative view that biology makes nonrisk infants invulnerable to lasting, negative effects of day care. In sum, Scarr stresses that except in extreme instances of abused and at-risk children, environmental experiences play a minimal, if any, role in determining differences in children's cognitive and socio-emotional development.
Not surprisingly, Scarr's beliefs have generated considerable controversy in the field of child development. Among Scarr's critics, Diana Baumrind (1993), Eleanor Maccoby (1992), and Jacquelyne Jackson (1993) point to a number of loopholes in her arguments. They conclude that Scarr has not adequately defined what an "average expectable" environment is, that good parenting optimizes both normal and vulnerable children's development, and that her interpretations of behavior genetics studies go far beyond what is possible, given their inherit limitations.
Scarr (1993) responds to such criticisms by arguing that understanding children's development requires describing it under the umbrella of evolutionary theory and that many de-velopmentalists do not adequately give attention to the important role that biology plays in children's development. She, as well as other biologically-oriented theorists (Goldsmith, in press; Wachs, in press), feel their critics often misinterpret what they say. Scarr says that social reformers oppose her ideas because they believe they cause pessimism for social change. She responds that she is simply motivated to discover the facts about the roles of genes and environment in determining human development. Scarr says that all children should have an opportunity to become species-normal, culturally appropriate, and uniquely themselves—their own versions of Georgia O'Keefe and Martin Luther King. She continues that many children in today's world lack those opportunities and that their needs should be addressed. However, she concludes that humanitarian concerns should not drive developmental theory and that developmental theory has to have a strong biological orientation to be accurate.
In conclusion, virtually all developmentalists today are interactionists in that they believe heredity and environment interact to determine children's development. However, in their effort to more precisely determine heredity's and environment's role, Scarr argues that heredity plays a powerful role in heredity-environmental interaction, while Baumrind, Maccoby, and Jackson believe the environment is a much stronger influence on children's development than Scarr acknowledges.
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