The link above is to an interview with Professor Sir Michael Rutter which will be broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 9am and will be available after that date for replay.
Mike has approached child development with a researcher’s perspective, and is driven by empiricism. He takes an epidemiological stance and studies large populations, which gives him a clear advantage over the usual run of clinic based publications, and all this despite having continued in clinical practice in child psychiatry.
For example, as far as I know, his study on reading difficulties with William Yule is the only proper large scale population study of the relation between intelligence and reading ability. This shows that intelligence is the main factor in reading ability, and that difficulties with reading are most frequent in children of lower intelligence. However, in three of the five populations studied there is a higher proportion of reading retarded children than would be predicted from the regression equation of reading from intelligence. This suggests factors other than general intelligence are involved: cue discussions about dyslexia.
I show the distributions below, if only because they make it clear that not all populations reveal a lower “hump” of abnormally poor readers, and that the residuals themselves are not always normally distributed.
W.Yule, M.Rutter, M.Berger and J.Thompson. Over‑ and under‑achievement in reading: distribution in the general population. British Journal of Educational Psychology (1974) 44,1‑12.
By the way, with many hundreds of important publications to choose from, I very much doubt that this one will figure in the programme, so this is a footnote, but one must be allowed those occasionally.