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Differential Susceptibility to Environmental Influences

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While it is widely acknowledged that not all children are equally susceptible to adverse developmental experiences—and thus we often speak of vulnerable and resilient children—it is pretty much taken for granted that all children benefit more or less equally from supportive, stimulating and/or enriching environments. I argue that not only should children vary in their susceptibility to both positive and negative rearing experiences—and for evolutionary-biological reasons—but that the very children who appear particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of adverse rearing conditions are the very ones who get the most out of supportive rearing milieus. Correlational and experimental evidence is reviewed to substantiate this claim, along with evidence that focuses upon phenotypic, endophenotypic and genetic markers of what appears to be heightened plasticity in early human development.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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