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20230101 Plomin, Robert – Blueprint




This book is about DNA and its impact on who we are as persons. It goes beyond the usual discussion on nature vs. nurture, stressing an essential point of feedback between these two factors: our nurture, or, in other words, the process of interaction with the environment , is defined by our nature. It is demonstrated very nicely by research on twins. Another interesting point is that there is hardly such a thing as gene/feature direct correlation. Any particular feature of a person is defined by a multitude of minor variations in many, often thousands of genes.

Yet another point is that human features are varied within ranges, so it is hard to define what is normal and what is not. The other, somewhat surprising, point is that many identifiable parameters of the environment, such as parents, school, and so on, have minimal impact on a person’s development, so everything is defined by the combination of DNA and unpredictable peculiarities of the environment. The final and astonishing point is that the role of DNA is increasing with age rather than decreasing, which one would expect because of increased exposure to the environment over the years.



I like the logic and presentation of this book. However, quite a few new research results and corresponding points are somewhat surprising to me, even if the moment I read about them these points become evident. One such point is the strong feedback connection between DNA and the environment. A simple example would be the naturally cautious person would never go into dangerous places where he would encounter a highly impactful experience that would become an essential part of the nurture of a less cautious person who went to such a place. In short, this book made me slightly change my understanding of DNA vs. Environment from 50/50 to something more like 70/30, but with high levels of non-linearity, making any such breakdown meaningless. In short,  human personality is complex and develops in a chaotic environment, so, despite the important or maybe even dominant role of DNA, it remains unpredictable and, quite possibly, will always remain so.  


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