The Biological Basis of Human Nature


The Biological Basis of Human Nature


H. S. Jennings



Jennings, H.S. The biological basis of human nature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1930

The author outlines the elementary facts and presents the status of genetics. He defends the view that many forms of human behavior and mentality are inherited, i.e., determined by genes. "Again, in man, the general efficiency of the brain, of the mind, is known to depend on genes, for alteration of a single gene may produce feeblemindedness." "We know further that such matters as dullness, stupidity, and their opposites, various diversities of temperament, and the like, depend on the genes. For they are known to depend on the nature, quality and quantity of certain of the internal secretions or hormones; and these latter depend on the genes." Jennings points out that a given characteristic may be determined either by genes or by environmental action. Whether a given characteristic is inherited or acquired must therefore be determined for the specific case. Heredity and environment always work together, but the determining factor in any specific case may be either one or the other. The problems of evolution, eugenics and racial mixture are discussed. Racial eugenics holds out little hope for the elimination of defective characteristics, largely because of the large number of carriers of defective genes who do not show the defective traits. The book closes with discussions of such problems as the transmission of acquired characters, marriage, biology and the self, and emergent evolution. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Date



W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.


New York


heredity, eugenics, human beings

The Biological Basis of Human Nature