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DNA Is Not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship between You and Your Genes (Hardcover)

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One of the world’s leading cultural psychologists debunks the hype surrounding DNA testing and puts to rest our mistaken anxieties about our genes.


Do you fear what might be lurking in your DNA?


Well, now you can find out, and you most likely will. Scientists expect one billion people to have their genomes sequenced by 2025, and as the price drops it may even become a standard medical procedure. Yet cultural psychologist Steven Heine argues that the first thing we’ll do upon receiving our DNA test results is to misinterpret them completely. We’ve become accustomed to breathless media coverage about newly discovered “cancer” or “IQ” or “infidelity” genes, each one promising a deeper understanding of what makes us tick. But as Heine shows, most of these claims are oversimplified and overhyped misinterpretations of how our DNA really works. With few exceptions, it is a complex combination of experience, environment, and genetics that determines who we are, how we behave, and what diseases will afflict us in the future.


So why do we continue to buy into the belief that our genes control our destiny? Heine argues that we are psychologically ill equipped to deal with DNA results, repeatedly falling into predictable biases—switch-thinking, essentialism, fatalism, negativity dominance, and more—that mold our thinking about the information we receive. Heine shares his research—and his own genome-sequencing results—to not only to set the record straight regarding what your genes actually reveal about your health, intelligence, ethnic identity, and family, but to also help you counteract these insidious cognitive traps. His fresh, surprising conclusions about the promise, and limits, of genetic engineering and DNA testing upend conventional thinking and reveal a simple, profound truth: your genes create life—but they do not control it.



About the Author


Steven J. Heine is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Social and Cultural Psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of Cultural Psychology, the top-selling textbook in the field. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Praise For…


Steven Heine is one of the leading cultural psychologists in the world. In DNA Is Not Destiny, Heine serves as a trustworthy guide through the moral minefield of genetic differences and lays out a new way to think rationally about our genes.

— Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Righteous Mind

At some point everyone wonders: ‘Who am I and where did I come from?’ Is there any question more fascinating? In this important book, Steve Heine tells us what our DNA can and cannot reveal about our nature, our origins, and our futures. The material is fascinating, and Heine’s vibrant writing makes it come alive with personal significance for every reader.
— Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and author of Mindset

Your genes contribute to your beliefs, behaviors, and life outcomes. Only in rare cases are they determinative. This brilliant, invaluable book sets straight crucial matters of heredity and environment and their interaction—and does so in lively and lucid prose.
— Richard Nisbett, Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan and author of Mindware

A highly accessible and entertaining guide to genes: what they are, how they work, and most important, what they can and cannot explain. For all the dinner table or classroom conversations on the genetic bases of gender, race, or intelligence; the morality of genetic engineering; or the hardest question of all, 'Who am I?,' DNA Is Not Destiny is the new must-read.

— Hazel Markus, Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and author of Clash!: How to Thrive in a Multicultural World

Heine ranges broadly, discussing both historical and ethical concerns, and draws heavily on social science research to investigate how people’s beliefs about the power of genes influence their behavior. Heine also makes a strident critique of the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry and a robust defense of most genetically modified organisms. . . . Enjoyable and informative.
— Publishers Weekly

An accessible contribution to what the author calls ‘genetic literacy’ and a satisfyingly hard-edged work of popular science.
— Kirkus Reviews


Product Details
ISBN: 9780393244083
ISBN-10: 0393244083
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English