Behavioural genetics

Behavioural genetics

BOOK 223 REVIEWS It begins with an editorial introduction proclaiming aggressively and sometimes crudely, the scientific revolution in behaviour mo...

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It begins with an editorial introduction proclaiming aggressively and sometimes crudely, the scientific revolution in behaviour modification. But the poor scientific quality of much of the work reported in this book suggests that so far this revolution has been rather superficial. Refutable hypothesis and ccntrolled experiments are thin on the ground. The first part of the book consists of a series of analyses of stuttering as an anxiety induced behaviour making more or less use of avoidance learning theory (Wolpe, Brutten, Shoemaker, Margaret Marks. Arnold Lazarus). None of these authors takes the verification of the anxiety theory seriously enough. hlostiy they are content to let the proof rest on the success of anti-anxiety treatments-but even here they don’t present controlled data. Lazarus makes a good point when he remarks that if such a treatment fails because the anxiety component had not been sufficiently one can still argue “that the stutter persisted reduced”. The editors try to fill this experimented gap in a paper presenting skin conductance records taken during the desensitization of stutters, but their remark that this measure “responds exclusively to the anxiety of the organisms” suggests that the difficult problems of interpretation have not even been raised. The next four papers are accounts of operant hark Iby Shames. Leach and Siegel). The claim that stuttering behaviour is normally maintained by its consequences is not substantiated but the effectiveness of operant procedures in producing a change in speech v.ithin sessions is illustrated v.ith clear data. The effect of these procedures on speech outside the clinic-surely the outstanding problem at present-is not systematically investigated. .4t this point the book improves. There are two papers which take as their starting point the fact that stuttering can be effectively controlled in a variety of ways during a treatment session. and address themselves to the important question of how these methods achieve their etTect. Yates contributes an intelligent review comparing the main alternative methods and their diKering theoretical bases: a manipulation of feedback that permits the rehearsal of tluent speech, or a manipulation of reinforcement contingencies leading to an improvement in fluency. One waits for an experimental comparison. Beech and Fransella report experimental investigations of why rhythmic speech is effective. bleyer and Cromley contribute the results of a large treatment trial of this method (the only one in the book). Gwynne Jones writes an interesting review of the aetiology of stuttering that is so well balanced as to include an admission of the possible importance of genetic and neurological facrors. Though he is in places a little under-critical. it is a welcome advance on the naivety of some of the views propounded earlier in the book. Fransella describes a novel treatment based on personal construct “theory” which seems in practice to be a variant of desensitization, and in her own experience of a single case, not strikingly effective. Wischner concludes the book with some sensible remarks on the research problems that remain in the area-they are many. It is doubtful whether this will be a valuable book for readers of this journal, though it would bc: useful for reference or as an introduction to the subject. One hopes that no one who reads it-not even the contributors--\hill be complacent about the scientific quality of research on stuttering. FRASER W~rrs

Bel~nviouml Crofts,

Generics. Edited by M. MANOSEVITZ, G. LINDZEY and New York (1969). Sl7.50.

D. D. THIESSEN. Appleton-century-

THE EDITORS of this book rightly draw attention to the tremendous growth of interest in the field of behavioural genetics, which has coincided with the development of important new techniques and the discovery of important new facts. Fuller and Thompson’s 1960 book is an excellenl introduction but provides no guide to more recent work which has largely superceded these historical investigations This book sets out to redress the balance by presenting a large number of Ireprints of papers mostly published in the last iew years, and covering a wide range of topics The editors emphasize seven criteria, in addition to the general goals of represrntativeness and balance; they ha\e selected papers which summarize a series of studies, papers using new techniques and methods, review papers of an integrated kind, papers not depending upon earlier publications. papers published in inaccessible journals papers using organisms or species which have been used rarely and papers uhich are readily comprehensible. With the exception of this last desideratum, they have certainly succeeded most admirably in presentin g a boo’k which could form the basis for an excellent course in the subject; it is always easy to suggest papers that could have been included. but the choice here made can hardly be faulted. Readers of this journal will presumably be particularly interested in the sections dealing with intelligence and ability. mental retardation, temperament, personality and psychopathology, but few psychologists and psychiatrists \+ould fail to benefi: irom a perusal of the whole book, including the more technical papers. Collections of papers such as this have often incurred hostility and ridicule but when chosen in the way these papers ha\e been se!ected, such a col’ection can make a genuine contribution to the subject. For anyone interested in behavioural genetics this book is an obvious must. H. J. EYSESCK