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The Place Of Eugenics in Arnold Gesell's Maturation Theory of Child Development

Marchese, Dr. Frank (1995) The Place Of Eugenics in Arnold Gesell's Maturation Theory of Child Development. Canadian Psychology 36(2):pp. 89-114.

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This paper examines eugenic ideas in the context of Gesell's maturational model of development. Keeping to an historical perspective which highlights developments within the eugenics movement, the author concurs that Gesell's early work reveals "sympathies" with eugenic ideas. However, as challenges to the eugenics movement mounted during the 1920s and 30s, Gesell eventually deemphasized eugenic ideas in his later work. The purpose of this paper is to enlarge upon the historical context within which notions of eugenics entered into Arnold Gesell's (1880-1961) maturational model of human development. Taking as its cue a paper by Weizmann (1988), which outlines the appearance of eugenic sympathies in Gesell's work, the present undertaking endeavours to explore and expand upon the historical backdrop which served as fertile ground for Gesell's model of human development, and his ideas in developmental psychology, biology and eugenics. Starting with a summary of Gesell's theory of development (Gesell, 1929b; 1946; Ames, 1989), this paper points to the influences both intellectual and collegial that entered into Gesell's thinking. Attention then focusses on the fundamental ideas embodied in the eugenics movement, followed by a discussion on the manner in which eugenic ideas were expressed in the study of the psychology of individual differences. Next, consideration is given to developments within behavioural psychology which offered an alternative to biological determinism. Finally, the role of anthropology as a direct challenge to the eugenics movement and its ideas complete the historical picture. As the aforementioned historical backdrop unfolds, Gesell's position in relation to the eugenics movement is discussed.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:Child development, Eugenics, Psychology, History, Human evolution, Anthropology
Subjects:Psychology > Eugenics
ID Code:290
Deposited By:Marchese, Dr. Frank
Deposited On:11 November 2007