The Evolved Developmental Niche (EDN)

The Evolved Developmental Niche (EDN) refers to the early nest that humans inherit from their ancestors. Every animals has a nest for its young that matches up with the maturational schedule of the offpsring (Gottlieb, 1997). Most characteristics of the human niche emerged with social mammals more than 30 million years ago. But humans are distinctive in that babies are born highly immature with many epigenetic effects occurring after birth based on the timing and type of early experience. Humanity's early nest was first identified by Melvin Konner (2005) as the "hunter-gatherer childhood model" (breastfeeding 2-5 years, nearly constant touch, responsiveness to baby's needs, multiple adult caregivers, free play with multiple-aged playmates, social support) Darcia Narvaez and colleagues call these components the Evolved Developmental Niche, adding soothing perinatal (before, during, after birth) experiences and positive social climate to the list of common characteristics in small-band hunter-gatherer communities. Below are publications and a powerpoint about the EDN.

Why does the EDN 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.

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.

 

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 development. Early 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-olds. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10(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.

 

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

Narvaez, D., Wang, L, & Cheng, A. (forthcoming, December, 2016). Evolved Developmental Niche History: Relation to adult psychopathology and morality. Applied Developmental Science. 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.

Evolutionary Developmental Systems Theory applied to morality

Is Darwin's 'Moral Sense' Epigenetic? (powerpoint)

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. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Narvaez, D. (in press). Ethogenesis: Evolution, Early Experience and Moral Becoming. In J. Graham & K. Gray (Eds.), The Atlas of Moral Psychology, New York, NY: Guilford Press.

See also

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

 

PRESENTATIONS

"The Ethics of Early Life Care: The Importance of the Evolved Nest" (Presentation with powerpoint)

 

MEASURES

EDN-HISTORY MEASURE for adults (from Narvaez, Wang & Cheng, forthcoming, 2016)