Child, youth and family services, developmental psychology, evaluation, measurement and statistics, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
1936, Washington, DC, USA
Sandra Wood Scarr (born August 1936) is an American psychology professor. The first female Full Professor in Psychology in the history of Yale University. She established core resources for the study of development, including the Minnesota Transracial ...
Sandra Wood Scarr (born August 1936) is an American psychology professor. The first female Full Professor in Psychology in the history of Yale University. She established core resources for the study of development, including the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study and the Minnesota Adolescent Adoption Study. She served as President of multiple societies including the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and was honoured with multiple awards including the APS James McKeen Cattell Award. She was also active in the development of commercial childcare. Her work with twins in the 1960s revealed strong genetic influences on intellectual development. One of her key findings was that this differed with race and SES, with poor and non-white children showing less genetic influence on their IQ and more environmental influence. She demonstrated a successful intervention in premature infants, showing that stimulation improved their health and developmental outcomes.
At Minnesota she and Richard A. Weinberg found that black and interracial children adopted early into white homes initially had outcomes more similar to the white average, suggesting a role of family environment early in life. By their teens, adoptees with two black birth parents achieved lower scores than did adoptees with one or no black birth parents, suggesting a genetic component to race differences in IQ.
Along with the Scarr-Rowe effect of SES on the heritability of intelligence, another key intellectual landmark established by Scarr was that "Rather than the home environment having a cumulative impact across development, its influence wanes from early childhood to adolescence." She sought also to advance scientific psychology, and in 1991 co-founded Current Directions In Psychological Science. She retired to, and continues to thrive in, Hawaii.