It is usual to consider the effects parents have on children; this title, originally published in 1977, reverses the focus and reveals a subject every bit as important and interesting. The authors, both professional psychologists, present their findings under three major headings – “History”, “Theories and Research Approaches” and “Concepts and Findings” – that discuss the social, psychological, and biological influences children exert on parents. Bell and Harper oppose the “intellectual apartheid” that prevents behavioural scientists from investigating “the continuity of interaction processes from other animals to man” and include substantial research findings in mammalian biology to show more precisely the reciprocal relations between parents and their offspring. Their “bidirectional approach” to the study of child-rearing is meant to offset empirical prejudices that had so far dominated child-care sciences at the time.
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