The Role of Heredity, Environment, and “Preparedness” in the Genesis of Neurosis

  • H. J. Eysenck
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


As noted in a previous chapter, Watson’s theory of neurosis is untenable in its original form, and inevitably the 65 years that have elapsed since its publication have unearthed a great deal of evidence to suggest ways in which the theory could be improved, and in part altered. Previous chapters have dealt with changes in the interpretation of conditioning, incorporating cognitive mechanisms, the development of the notion of “incubation of anxiety,” and the shift from Pavlovian A to Pavlovian B conditioning; and the general shift away from S-R to S-S interpretations of conditioning phenomena. In this chapter we will deal with a rather different set of assumptions made by Watson, but clearly erroneous, and shown to be untenable by recent work. These studies deal with the alleged equipotentiality of stimuli, that is, the notion that from the point of view of conditioning all stimuli, however artificial, may be considered equally likely to produce conditioned responses when paired with the UCS; and the more general question of the preparedness of certain stimuli to become associated with UCSs. These problems are considered within the general framework of the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors in predisposing a person to develop neurotic disorders.


Conditioned Stimulus Behavior Therapy Twin Pair Additive Genetic Variance Fear Response 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. J. Eysenck
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychiatryLondonEngland

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