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Dr. J. Philippe Rushton


Research Activities


Dr. Rushton's research interest was altruism. Why people help others poses a challenge for theories of human development and evolution. His early work focused on the social learning of generosity in 7- to 11-year-old children. After writing a book, Altruism, Socialization, and Society, 1980, examining the influence of the family, the educational system, and the mass media, he broadened his approach to include sociobiology and behavioral genetics. Dr. Rushton then carried out twin studies using the University of London Twin Register in the U.K. and found that individual differences in empathy and nurturance are about 50% heritable. So are individual differences in aggression and crime. Some of these differences are mediated by testosterone.

Studying behavioral genetics and sociobiology led him to explore the dilemma of why, everywhere in Nature, “birds of a feather flock together.” He found that genes incline people to marry, befriend, associate with, and help others like themselves. Typically, they also learn to identify and prefer their own ethnic group to others. He proposed Genetic Similarity Theory to expand kin-selection theory to explain why the pull of genetic similarity is pervasive across human relationships and why it provides the basis for ethnocentrism and ethnic competition. Altruism follows lines of genetic similarity in order to replicate genes more effectively. Xenophobia may be the dark side of human altruism.

More controversial was his work on race differences. In new studies and reviews of the world literature, he consistently found that East Asians and their descendants average a larger brain size, greater intelligence, more sexual restraint, slower rates of maturation, and greater law abidingness and social organization than do Europeans and their descendants who average higher scores on these dimensions than do Africans and their descendants. To explain this pattern he proposed a gene-based evolutionary theory. His book, Race, Evolution, and Behavior reviews the theory and many of the data sets.

See also his book's homepage: Charles Darwin


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