Claremont, Calif. (November 16, 2015)—Pitzer College Professor of Psychology David S. Moore won the American Psychological Association’s 2016 Eleanor Maccoby Book Award in Developmental Psychology for his new book, The Developing Genome: An Introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics. The award committee of the American Psychological Association’s Division 7, which covers developmental psychology, unanimously selected Moore’s book for this honor. The Maccoby Book Award recognizes a work that has had—or promises to have—a profound effect on the field of developmental psychology.
The Developing Genome introduces readers to behavioral epigenetics, which explores how experiences influence genetic activity. The book outlines how this relatively new discipline has rendered the nature vs. nurture debate obsolete by showing that individual traits arise from a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors. Behavioral epigenetics is changing the way scientists think about nature, nurture and human development, Moore says.
“This award means that the committee was open to the central message of my book, which is that genes always work in collaboration with non-genetic factors to do what they do, and that genetic determinism is therefore untenable,” Moore said.
Members of the award committee commended the book’s accessibility to a wide audience and its exploration of development over the human lifespan. Moore hopes readers will walk away from The Developing Genome intrigued by behavioral epigenetics and the light it sheds on the overlap between biological and social sciences.
“I also hope my book encourages researchers to be mindful of the importance of studying the mechanisms that give rise to our psychological and behavioral characteristics,” he said. “There’s been a tendency to focus on explaining differences between people, but it would be more helpful to focus on understanding how behavioral, biological and/or psychological characteristics develop in individuals.”
David S. Moore is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist with expertise in infant cognition. He explored how human traits are caused by interactions between genes and the environment at every stage of development in his first book, The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of “Nature vs. Nurture,” which was nominated for the Cognitive Development Society’s Best Authored Volume award. Moore is also the founder and director of the Claremont Infant Study Center at Pitzer College, which examines how infants perceive and learn from the world around them.
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. The APA’s Division 7 promotes research and facilitates the exchange of information in developmental psychology while enhancing undergraduate and graduate education in the field. The division’s Eleanor Maccoby Book Award is named after Eleanor Maccoby, a preeminent psychologist and professor emerita of developmental psychology at Stanford University.