Getting to Baselines for Human Nature, Development and Wellbeing

Abstract: To make judgments about research findings, one must have a baseline against which to compare the results. One of the baselines the field of psychology should use is what is normal or typical for humanity as a species. Humanity emerged from the social mammalian line with many similar basic needs. Human infants are born highly immature and require an intensive “nest” to grow properly. However, modern industrialized societies often do not provide humanity’s evolved nest, thereby undermining optimal normal development in their citizens. Yet, scientific psychologists, who assess citizens in these societies, assume they are studying typical members of the human species. But human beings are extensively shaped by postnatal experience, expected experience that the evolved nest provides. Humanity’s evolved nest has been a characteristic of virtually all societies until recently. Industrialized nations typically do not provide the evolved nest, leading to underdevelopment of human species characteristics which include cooperative sociality and nature connection, contributing to the current destructiveness of modern humans toward one another and the planet. We make several suggestions for how to realign psychological science to include the multi-disciplinary knowledge needed to understand humanity and the development of human nature. We recommend that psychology take seriously the evolved nest and assist parents and policymakers in its provision. Our future may depend on it.

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Narvaez, D., & Witherington, D. (2018). Getting to baselines for human nature, development, and wellbeing. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6(1), 205-213.