The Evolved Nest (Evolved Developmental Niche; EDN)

Every animal has a nest for its young that matches up with the maturational schedule of the offspring (Gottlieb, 1997). Humans too! The Evolved Nest (or Evolved Developmental Niche; EDN) refers to the nest for young children that humans inherit from their ancestors. It’s one of our adaptations, meaning that it helped our ancestors survive. Most characteristics of the evolved nest emerged with social mammals more than 30 million years ago. Humans are distinctive in that babies are born highly immature (only 25% of adult-sized brain at full-term birth) and should be in the womb another 18 months to even resemble newborns of other species! As a result, the brain/body of a child is highly influenced by early life experience. Multiple epigenetic effects occur in the first months and years based on the timing and type of early experience. Humanity’s evolved nest was first identified by Melvin Konner (2005) as the “hunter-gatherer childhood model” and includes breastfeeding 2-5 years, nearly constant touch, responsiveness to baby’s needs, multiple responsive adult caregivers, free play with multiple-aged playmates, positive social support for mom and baby. Calling these components the Evolved Developmental Niche, Narvaez and colleagues add to the list soothing perinatal experience (before, during, after birth) and a positive, welcoming social climate. All these are characteristic of the type of environment in which the human genus lived for 99% of its existence. Below are publications and a powerpoint about the evolved nest.

Why does the evolved nest matter? Early years are when virtually all neurobiological systems are completing their development. They form the foundation for the rest of life, including getting along with others (sociality and morality. The papers below have reviews describing specific nest components and their effects, as well as empirical papers on the effects of the nest on child and adult development.

Books

Contexts for Young Child Flourishing: Evolution, Family and Society (ed. with Braungart-Rieker, Miller-Graff, Gettler, Hastings; OUP, 2016)

**Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom (Narvaez; W.W. Norton, 2014)

Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution: Culture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing (ed. with Valentino, Fuentes, McKenna, & Gray; OUP, 2014)

Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy (ed. with Panksepp, Schore, & Gleason; OUP, 2013)

Basic needs, wellbeing and morality: Fulfilling human potential. (ed., New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2018).

Embodied morality: Protectionism, engagement and imagination. (ed., New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016).

Theoretical and Review Papers

Narvaez, D., Panksepp, J., Schore, A., & Gleason, T. (2013). The value of using an evolutionary framework for gauging children’s well-being.  Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy (pp. 3-30). New York: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D., Panksepp, J., Schore, A., & Gleason, T. (2013). The Future of human nature: Implications for research, policy, and ethics. In D. Narvaez, J., Panksepp, A. Schore, & T. Gleason (Eds.),. Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy (pp. 455-468). New York: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D., & Gleason, T. (2013). Developmental optimization. In D. Narvaez, J., Panksepp, A. Schore, & T. Gleason (Eds.), Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy (pp. 307-325). New York: Oxford University Press.

Gleason, T., & Narvaez, D. (2014). Child environments and flourishing. In D. Narvaez, K. Valentino, A., Fuentes, J., McKenna, & P. Gray (Eds.), Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution: Culture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing (pp. 335-348).  New York: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D., Gray, P., McKenna, J., Fuentes, A., & Valentino, K. (2014). Children’s development in light of evolution and culture. In D. Narvaez, K. Valentino, A., Fuentes, J., McKenna, & P. Gray (Eds.), Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution: Culture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing (pp. 3-17).  New York: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D., Gettler, L., Braungart-Rieker, J., Miller, L., & Hastings, P.  (2016). The flourishing of young Children: Evolutionary baselines. In Narvaez, D., Braungart-Rieker, J., Miller, L., Gettler, L., & Harris, P. (Eds.), Contexts for young child flourishing: Evolution, family and society (pp. 3-27). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D., Hastings, P., Braungart-Rieker, J., Miller, L., & Gettler, L. (2016). Young child flourishing as an aim for society. In Narvaez, D., Braungart-Rieker, J., Miller, L., Gettler, L., & Hastings, P. (Eds.), Contexts for young child flourishing: Evolution, family and society (pp. 347-359). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D. (2017). Getting back on track to being human. Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, 4(1), March 2, 2017. Online free: DOI: https://doi.org/10.24926/ijps.v4i1.151

Narvaez, D. (2017). Hunter-gatherer societies as sources of data in evolutionary psychology. In T.K. Shackelford & V.A. Weekes-Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (online source). New York: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3580-1

Narvaez, D., & Witherington, D. (2018). Getting to baselines for human nature, development and wellbeing.. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6 (1), 205-213. DOI: 10.1037/arc0000053

Narvaez, D. (2018). The developmental niche for peace. In P. Verbeek & B. Peters (Eds.), Peace ethology, behavioral processes and systems of peace (pp. 95-112). Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell.

Narvaez, D. (2019). In search of baselines: Why psychology needs cognitive archaeology. In T. Henley, M. Rossano & E. Kardas (Eds.), Handbook of Cognitive Archaeology: A Psychological Framework. London: Routledge.

Narvaez, D. (2019). Original practices for becoming and being human. In Narvaez, D., Four Arrows, Halton, E., Collier, B., Enderle, G. (Eds.), Indigenous sustainable wisdom: First Nation knowhow for global flourishing (pp. 90-110). New York: Peter Lang.

Empirical Papers on Relations of the Evolved Developmental Niche to CHILDREN’s Wellbeing and Moral Development

Narvaez, D., Gleason, T., Wang, L., Brooks, J., Lefever, J., Cheng, A., & Centers for the Prevention of Child Neglect (2013). The Evolved Development Niche: Longitudinal effects of caregiving practices on early childhood psychosocial developmentEarly Childhood Research Quarterly, 28 (4), 759–773. Doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.07.003

Narvaez, D., Wang, L., Gleason, T., Cheng, A., Lefever, J., & Deng, L.  (2013). The Evolved Developmental Niche and sociomoral outcomes in Chinese three-year-oldsEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology10(2), 106-127.

Narvaez, D., Gleason, T., Lefever, J.B., Wang, L., & Cheng, A. (2016). Early experience and ethical orientation. In D. Narvaez, Embodied morality: Protectionism, engagement and imagination (pp. 73-98).  New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.

Gleason, T., Narvaez, D., Cheng, A., Wang, L., & Brooks, J. (2016). Wellbeing and sociomoral development in preschoolers: The role of maternal parenting attitudes consistent with the Evolved Developmental Niche. . In D. Narvaez, J. Braungart-Rieker, L. Miller, L. Gettler, & P. Hastings (Eds.), Contexts for young child flourishing: Evolution, family and society (166-184). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D., Wang, L., Cheng, A., Gleason, T., Woodbury, R., Kurth, A., & Lefever, J.B. (2019). The importance of early life touch for psychosocial and moral development. Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica, 32:16 (open access). doi.org/10.1186/s41155-019-0129-0

Narvaez, D., Woodbury, R., Gleason, T., Kurth, A., Cheng, A., Wang, L., Deng, L., Gutzwiller-Helfenfinger, E., Christen, M., & Näpflin, C. (2019). Evolved Development Niche Provision: Moral socialization, social maladaptation and social thriving in three countries. Sage Open, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244019840123

Empirical Paper on the Relation of Evolved Developmental Niche History to ADULT Wellbeing and Morality

Narvaez, D., Wang, L, & Cheng, A. (2016). Evolved Developmental Niche History: Relation to adult psychopathology and moralityApplied Developmental Science4, 294-309. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2015.1128835

Narvaez, D., Thiel, A., Kurth, A., & Renfus, K. (2016). Past moral action and ethical orientation. In D. Narvaez, Embodied morality: Protectionism, engagement and imagination (pp. 99-118). New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.

Narvaez, D., Wang, L., Cheng, A., Gleason, T., Woodbury, R., Kurth, A., & Lefever, J.B. (2019). The importance of early life touch for psychosocial and moral development. Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica, 32:16 (open access). doi.org/10.1186/s41155-019-0129-0

Evolutionary Developmental Systems Theory applied to morality

Narvaez, D. (2015). The neurobiology of moral sensitivity: Evolution, epigenetics and early experience. In D. Mowrer & P. Vandenberg (Eds.), The art of morality: Developing moral sensitivity across the curriculum (pp. 19-42). New York, NY: Routledge.

Narvaez, D. (2015). The co-construction of virtue: Epigenetics, neurobiology and development. In N. E. Snow (Ed.), Cultivating Virtue (pp. 251-277). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D. (2016). Baselines for virtue. In J. Annas, D. Narvaez, & N. Snow  (Eds.), Advances in virtue development: Integrating perspectives (pp. 14-33). . New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D. (2016). Kohlberg Memorial Lecture: Revitalizing human virtue by restoring organic moralityJournal of Moral Education, 45(3), 223-238.

Narvaez, D. (2016). Returning to humanity’s moral heritages. Journal of Moral Education, 45(3), 256-260.

Narvaez, D. (2017). Are we losing it? Darwin’s moral sense and the importance of early experience. In. R. Joyce (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy (pp. 322-332). London: Routledge.

Narvaez, D. (2018). The neurobiological bases of human moralities: Civilization’s misguided moral development. In C. Harding (Ed.), Dissecting the Superego: Moralities Under the Psychoanalytic Microscope (pp. 60-75). London: Routledge.

Kurth, A., & Narvaez, D. (2018). The evolved developmental niche and children’s developing morality. In J. Delafield-Butt, A-W. Dunlop & C. Trevarthen (Eds.), The Child’s Curriculum: Working with the natural values of young children (pp. 104-125). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D. (2018). Ethogenesis: Evolution, early experience and moral becoming. In J. Graham & K. Gray (Eds.), The Atlas of Moral Psychology (pp. 451-464). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Tarsha, M., & Narvaez, D. (2019). Early life experience and aggression. Peace Studies Review, 32)1), 14-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/10402659.2019.1613591

Narvaez, D. (2019). Humility in four forms: Intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, and ecological. In J. Wright (Ed.), Humility (pp. 117-145). In book series, Multidisciplinary perspectives on virtues (N. Snow & D. Narvaez, series eds.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D. (2019). Moral development and moral values: Evolutionary and neurobiological influences.  In D. P. McAdams, R. L. Shiner, & J. L. Tackett (Eds.), Handbook of personality (pp. 345-363). New York, NY: Guilford.

Narvaez, D. (2019). Evolution, childhood and the moral self.  In R. Gipps & M. Lacewing (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy and psychoanalysis (pp. 637-659). London: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198789703.013.39

PRESENTATIONS

“The Ethics of Early Life Care: The Importance of the Evolved Nest” (Narrated presentation with powerpoint)

Is Darwin’s ‘Moral Sense’ Epigenetic? (powerpoint)