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Symonds, A. (1961). Prediction and Outcome—A Study in Child Development: Sibylle Escalona, Ph.D., Grace Moore Heider, Ph.D. 318 pp. Basic Books, New York, 1959. $6.50.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(1):101-102.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(1):101-102

Prediction and Outcome—A Study in Child Development: Sibylle Escalona, Ph.D., Grace Moore Heider, Ph.D. 318 pp. Basic Books, New York, 1959. $6.50.

Review by:
Alexandra Symonds, M.D.

Through fortuitous circumstances an unusual study was made possible in the field of child development. It happened that in 1947-51, a study of infants was conducted in Topeka, Kansas, by Sibylle Escalona, Ph.D. Special emphasis was placed on the earliest phases of personality development in a group of 128 infants ranging from four to thirty-two weeks of age. As this information was being completed (a process which took several years), a second researcher appeared in Topeka with a plan to study pre-schoolers. It was discovered that thirty-one of the original 128 still resided in the Topeka area and a new project was launched. Using the data of the infant observations, an attempt was made by Escalona to forecase the behavorial personality characteristics of this group as seen five years later. A separate group of investigators (with no access to the infant material) studied the children and the material gathered by both groups was extensively studied and collated. The book is a presentation of this material, with straight-forward discussions of the many pitfalls, speculations, and tentative hypotheses of the authors. In addition to the results and discussion, there are lengthy case reports of several of the children. This gives the reader an opportunity to come to his own conclusions and to make his own speculations.

The questions posed (in my own words) were: 1. Can personality and behavior be predicted from observation of certain traits in infancy? What is the fate of “organic” differences often noted in infants from birth? Do these factors lead in later life to specific personality patterns such as aggressiveness and sensitivity? 2.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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