Monday, June 27, 2016

The Dunedin Study - Why am I?

Wettish weekend provided the opportunity to watch the last two episodes of a four part TV1 NZdocumentary on ‘The Dunedin Study’, a longitudinal multi-disciplinary study of 1000 people, born in Dunedin 40 years ago.

Summaries / reviews on stuff.

Essentially the study has provided the opportunity to collect and collate data to inform the 'nature' vs 'nurture' debate. With the recent advances in genetic technology, the study takes on even greater relevance. The study providing a source of data of the rich tapestry making up people's lives as they develop through the various socio-political-cultural changes.

The study is wide ranging, providing data to social and physical scientists in a range of discipline areas, with several of the study's findings now replicated in other Western countries. There is a need to keep in mind that the study is founded in a particular country with a particular say to seeing the world.

The documentary focuses on one aspect of the study, how certain gene markers (e.g. for a tendency for violent reaction in males) manifest or are recessive, depending on a person's childhood experiences. This example is reported over all episodes and a focus of two episodes. The genetic research shows about 1/3 of males have the gene marker but a childhood of neglect and abuse triggers anti-social behaviours, whereas a settled, nurturing childhood, dampens the emergence of the trait. Five types of personalities are also identified, with the implications of these personalities' development over the human lifespan.

Early childhood intervention is therefore important to stem the activation of the trait. How this can be done, through least consequence to the child and most importantly, who judges when intervention is required, is not discussed. Hence, the study may provide some steer as to possible causes, it will be social agencies within governments who have to make sense of the findings and come up with workable solutions.

All in, a worthwhile watch, to provide background on where findings from a longitudinal study may become useful to inform social policy.
As the study enters in the participants' middle age, there will be even more data to be collated of how people develop into their more settled years. Will need to keep an eye on the range of findings as the study proceeds.

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