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For example, in 1968, twin girls born to a mentally ill mother were put up for adoption, separated from each other, and raised in different households. The adoptive parents, and certainly the babies, did not realize the girls were one of five pairs of twins who were made subjects of a scientific study (Flam 2007).

In 2003, the two women, then age thirty-five, were reunited. Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein sat together in awe, feeling like they were looking into a mirror. Not only did they look alike but they also behaved alike, using the same hand gestures and facial expressions (Spratling 2007). Studies like these point to the genetic roots of our temperament and behavior.

Though genetics and hormones play an important role in human behavior, sociology’s larger concern is the effect society has on human behavior, the “nurture” side of the nature versus nurture debate. What race were the twins? From what social class were their parents? What about gender? Religion? All these factors affected the lives of the twins as much as their genetic makeup and are critical to consider as we look at life through the sociological lens.

The life of chris langan, the smartest man you’ve never heard of

Bouncer. Firefighter. Factory worker. Cowboy. Chris Langan spent the majority of his adult life just getting by with jobs like these. He had no college degree, few resources, and a past filled with much disappointment. Chris Langan also had an IQ of over 195, nearly 100 points higher than the average person (Brabham 2001). So why didn’t Chris become a neurosurgeon, professor, or aeronautical engineer? According to Macolm Gladwell (2008) in his book Outliers: The Story of Success , Chris didn’t possess the set of social skills necessary to succeed on such a high level—skills that aren’t innate but learned.

Gladwell looked to a recent study conducted by sociologist Annette Lareau in which she closely shadowed 12 families from various economic backgrounds and examined their parenting techniques. Parents from lower income families followed a strategy of “accomplishment of natural growth,” which is to say they let their children develop on their own with a large amount of independence; parents from higher-income families, however, “actively fostered and accessed a child’s talents, opinions, and skills” (Gladwell 2008). These parents were more likely to engage in analytical conversation, encourage active questioning of the establishment, and foster development of negotiation skills. The parents were also able to introduce their children to a wide range of activities, from sports to music to accelerated academic programs. When one middle-class child was denied entry to a gifted and talented program, the mother petitioned the school and arranged additional testing until her daughter was admitted. Lower-income parents, however, were more likely to unquestioningly obey authorities such as school boards. Their children were not being socialized to comfortably confront the system and speak up (Gladwell 2008).

What does this have to do with Chris Langan, deemed by some the smartest man in the world (Brabham 2001)? Chris was born in severe poverty, moving across the country with an abusive and alcoholic stepfather. His genius went largely unnoticed. After accepting a full scholarship to Reed College, he lost his funding after his mother failed to fill out necessary paperwork. Unable to successfully make his case to the administration, Chris, who had received straight A’s the previous semester, was given F’s on his transcript and forced to drop out. After he enrolled in Montana State, an administrator’s refusal to rearrange his class schedule left him unable to find the means necessary to travel the 16 miles to attend classes. What Chris had in brilliance, he lacked in practical intelligence, or what psychologist Robert Sternberg defines as “knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect” (Sternberg et al. 2000). Such knowledge was never part of his socialization.

Chris gave up on school and began working an array of blue-collar jobs, pursuing his intellectual interests on the side. Though he’s recently garnered attention for his “Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe,” he remains weary of and resistant to the educational system.

As Gladwell concluded, “He’d had to make his way alone, and no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone” (2008).

A portrait of twins wearing traditional hunting gear is shown.
Identical twins may look alike, but their differences can give us clues to the effects of socialization. (Photo courtesy of D. Flam/flickr)

Sociologists all recognize the importance of socialization for healthy individual and societal development. But how do scholars working in the three major theoretical paradigms approach this topic? Structural functionalists would say that socialization is essential to society, both because it trains members to operate successfully within it and because it perpetuates culture by transmitting it to new generations. Without socialization, a society’s culture would perish as members died off. A conflict theorist might argue that socialization reproduces inequality from generation to generation by conveying different expectations and norms to those with different social characteristics. For example, individuals are socialized differently by gender, social class, and race. As in Chris Langan's case, this creates different (unequal) opportunities. An interactionist studying socialization is concerned with face-to-face exchanges and symbolic communication. For example, dressing baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink is one small way we convey messages about differences in gender roles.


Socialization is important because it helps uphold societies and cultures; it is also a key part of individual development. Research demonstrates that who we are is affected by both nature (our genetic and hormonal makeup) and nurture (the social environment in which we are raised). Sociology is most concerned with the way that society’s influence affects our behavior patterns, made clear by the way behavior varies across class and gender.

Short answer

Why are twin studies an important way to learn about the relative effects of genetics and socialization on children? What questions about human development do you believe twin studies are best for answering? For what types of questions would twin studies not be as helpful?

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Why do you think that people like Chris Langan continue to have difficulty even after they are helped through societal systems? What is it they’ve missed that prevents them from functioning successfully in the social world?

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Further research

Learn more about five other sets of twins who grew up apart and discovered each other later in life at (External Link)


Brabham, Denis. 2001. “The Smart Guy.” Newsday , August 21. Retrieved January 31, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Flam, Faye. 2007. “Separated Twins Shed Light on Identity Issues.” The Philadelphia Inquirer , December 9. Retrieved January 31, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Gladwell, Malcolm. 2008. “The Trouble With Geniuses, Part 2.” Outliers: The Story of Success . New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Spratling, Cassandra. 2007. “Nature and Nurture.” Detroit Free Press . November 25. Retrieved January 31, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Sternberg, R.J., G.B. Forsythe, J. Hedlund, J. Horvath, S. Snook, W.M. Williams, R.K. Wagner, and E.L. Grigorenko. 2000. Practical Intelligence in Everyday Life . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Questions & Answers

How did Emile Durkheim defined sociology
Larweh Reply
Durkhiem gv broadly three definitions of sociology respectively viz. Sociology is the science of collective representation (in div. of labour 1893), sociology is d science of social institutions and sociology is the science of social facts( in his rules of sociological methods 1895 )
what are some branch of sociology?
sociology of health and medicine sociology of Education
Sociology is a braod subject of social science it has different sub fields i.e Sociology of Education, Sociology of Politics, Medical Sociology, Social Anthropology, Social Psychology, Criminology, Sociology of Law, Population Studies, Rural Sociology, Urban Sociology, Social Change, Biological Soci
Evolutionary Theory ?
Madiha Reply
theories that describe how culture and societies change over time.
evolutionary theories given by August comte and Herbert spencer ?
comte describes 3 stages social evolution theory. there is drawin theory of evolution also.
comte hs talked abt three evolutionary stages theological, metaphysical & positive respectively thr societies, sciences, mind's or even individuals has passed as per him, whl as per Spencer societies has pssd frm military to industrial societies.
thr which.... societies
thankx all of u
The first stage, the theological stage, illustrates a time prior to 1300 where all phenomena is explained by divine and supernatural forces or beings that are given concreteness through the symbolism of priestly castes.[10,6] The social and physical world is viewed as being produced by God. 
The second stage, the metaphysical stage, occurrs between 1300 and 1800, and is characterized by a belief that the divine powers illustrated in stage one become abstract forces
The last stage, the positivistic stage, occured from 1800 to the present and employs only empirical facts and scientific laws to explain the phenomena that the divine and abstract forces explained previously. 
Comte believed that groups, societies, sciences, individuals, and minds all go through these stages.[3] Each step one takes in these three stages is a step towards a more complete level of knowledge.
still alive.. 🙄 gonna late. erly to bed erly to early to rise makes man, healthy, wealthy n wise. Only Men ap yha b safe hai.
reservation khub ml rhe hai.. aish kru.. Enjoy n estay blssd.!
thankx both of u
what do we means by sociology
what the students of sociology do for the society?
sociology in simpler terms is the subject which deals wd the systematic, analytic and scientific study of society.
welcome Madiha
what is epistemology?
owolabi Reply
epistemology is the branch of philosophy . it is the study or science of knowledge
epistemology is the branch of philosophy that study the theory of knowledge with its nature.
what is kinship
Sukesh Reply
it can also be referred as relationship or closer relative of a person or things
bunch of relationship and relatives, these are based on blood relationship or marriage.
refer to relation ship i think
a group of people related by either blood or marriage. ...kinship
It is one of the basic social institutions . In simple words it is the bond of blood or marriage which binds people together in group
kins are classified into 3 types ... primary secondary and tertiary kins primary are like husbNd -wife , father - son bla bla secondary like mothers brother , sisters husband bla bla tertiary like wife's brother's son ..bla bla
nice, madiha 👍
by the way um learning sociology at ignou Sopore, any recommendations for ugc net plz. you are welcome n thanx much! 😊
Is a relationship between the members of the same family
whom u r asking rameez ?
oh um xcused mam, forgot to mention ua name. was asking you mam Madiha
i m doing BA at srinagar ...my BA is going to complete after 2 months ..i m not an experienced prsn ...soo i cant suggest u anything 😛
ohh 😊.. nice wish you best of luck!
I would suggest you... Study first all the sociological thoughts... get your concept clear...
sociological thght frm whr. thnx anonymous user. 😓😓😓
when are you planning to write...
write wht? Um writing but none understand ma.... Do you mn Sir, abt to appear in Exam?
now then go superficially...
ahh. superficially bt um always serious how can I go, I think I shd start from Basics preferably ignou BA material
is ignou BA material available in pdf. Anybdy plz
Ohh.. I hv high respects n regards for HIJAB. hatsoff.. the truth is sometimes I intentionally wish to break barriers and meet Soul//s otherhalf..ok nt this day let smwhr else or otherday.. InshaAllah.. . thanx anonymous, thanx everybody!! um learner xcused for rubbish Allah blss!
can anyone tell me ...which subject is best for masters ... Sociology or psychology?
sure sociology thn psychology
bt I feel English is the best in terms of various parameters
thankx for ur suggestions sir
Kinship means blood relationship. Madiha has explained it well. For a meticulous reading I would suggest Kinship and Marriage: An Anthropological perspective by Robin Fox
kinship is nt jus blood relatnshp, it includes affinal as well as putative or fictive relationships - the hallmark of primitive or anthropological studies,wch forms the base wdout which sociological studies are incomplete.. 😊
Rameez... You do not have so much time... so you better see in general...
what is the post modernist view on society?
onno Reply
what is deviance
the gap between institionalized means and culturally approved goals is called deviance.. the violation of norms ia called deviance. every criminal can be deviant but not all deviant can be crimanl
Truth is a matter of subjectivity. It varies from one person to another. There isn't anything like absolute truth for the post modernists
@onno lisa
what is reality
means Actions or behaviors that violate formal and informal cultural norms such as laws and customs.
What is hypothesis?
Suti Reply
hypothesis is a process where by scientists makes their guess
statement created by researchers to speculate the outcome of a reasearch or experiment.
It is a created statement that can predict the outcome of the reasearch
Have this app is not in hindi medium
mukesh Reply
yes true its not
define culture in terms of material and non-material aspects.
pervious Reply
culture is an art of living in one's own society by sharing the same values and norms. These sentiments are accentuated through & reflected in certain clothing styles, eating habits & totems of the members of the society
thanks dey. now how can you define it in terms of material and nonmaterial?
Material culture is the physical aspect of culture in the objects and architecture that surround people. It includes usage, consumption, creation, and trade of objects as well as the behaviors, norms, and rituals that the objects create or take part in.
non-material culture does not include any physical objects or artifacts. Examples of non-material culture include any ideas, beliefs, values, norms that may help shape society.
thanks Sagar
no problem dear
Sagar explain Herbert Spencer's theory on sociology
Social control is attributed to whom?
@clara - ***study.com/academy/lesson/herbert-spencer-theory-social-darwinism.html
@Moses - Ivan Nye
briefly describe the nature of siciology with example?
funny Reply
The nature of sociology is dynamic. It encompasses the administration, politics, economy, geography, religion, morality & psychology of various societies. It is a subject of perspectives, and therefore celebrates the art of looking at our society from different dimensions, thus making it fascinating
identity the relevance of family background to learner's education aspirations
pervious Reply
what do we call a blood relations
Adoubou Reply
disuss the idea of social differentation reintingration and adptation (durkheim weber parson smalser difine how these three postulate's can be a scaffolding of neonvolutionism (smith anthory D 1973
niruta Reply
how are the rights of weman greatly affecting production in all sectors e.g economic , political and social sector
luther Reply
what is a neonvolutionism
Neoevolutionism is concerned with long-term, directional, evolutionary social change and with the regular patterns of development that may be seen in unrelated, widely separated culture
identity the relevance of family background to learner's education aspirations
How can I download haralambus
danielle Reply
with an internet connection
socialization and social interaction ism , how can we relate ?
How can l download Haralambos book
Mirias Reply

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