The developmental construction of heredity

Eva Jablonka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Through his empirical and theoretical work, Gottlieb advanced a sophisticated and integrated view of development, which he saw as a probabilistic process of construction involving bidirectional interactions between structures and functions, and the phenotypic accommodation of the organism to changing environmental conditions. Gottlieb developed these ideas within a broad framework that went beyond the lifecycle of the individual. From his perspective as a developmental psychologist, he contributed to a way of thinking about evolutionary processes that stresses the importance and primacy of the modifications that occur during development. Through their long-term effects on physiology and behavior, environmentally induced, developmental modifications may contribute to the reconstruction of an animal's developmental and ecological niches, and therefore affect the conditions in which it and its offspring are selected. Gottlieb stressed in particular the effects of prenatal and early postnatal conditions on the development of behavior, and their long-term effects on the individual and its descendants. In this essay, I consider how the development-oriented focus that was central to Gottlieb's perspective affects evolutionary theorizing, and, more specifically, I discuss the special status of behaviorally driven evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-817
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Epigenetic inheritance
  • Plasticity
  • Probabilistic epigenetics


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