The Nurture Effect
How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives and Our World
Published by: New Harbinger Publications
Imprint: New Harbinger Publications
A fascinating look at the evolution of behavioral science, the revolutionary way it’s changing the way we live, and how nurturing environments can increase people’s well-being in virtually every aspect of our society, from early childhood education to corporate practices. If you want to know how you can help create a better world, read this book.
What if there were a way to prevent criminal behavior, mental illness, drug abuse, poverty, and violence? Written by behavioral scientist Tony Biglan, and based on his ongoing research at the Oregon Research Institute, The Nurture Effect offers evidence-based interventions that can prevent many of the psychological and behavioral problems that plague our society.
For decades, behavioral scientists have investigated the role our environment plays in shaping who we are, and their research shows that we now have the power within our own hands to reduce violence, improve cognitive development in our children, increase levels of education and income, and even prevent future criminal behaviors. By cultivating a positive environment in all aspects of society—from the home, to the classroom, and beyond—we can ensure that young people arrive at adulthood with the skills, interests, assets, and habits needed to live healthy, happy, and productive lives.
The Nurture Effect details over forty years of research in the behavioral sciences, as well as the author’s own research. Biglan illustrates how his findings lay the framework for a model of societal change that has the potential to reverberate through all environments within society.
“What a wonderful and truly beneficial gift that Anthony Biglan has given us! Thought-provoking and inspirational, Biglan shares with us his wisdom and provides a compelling call to individuals, families, schools, communities, organizations, corporations, and policymakers to be part of creating nurturing environments. The Nurture Effect is a science-based prescription for creating a more health-enhancing society. Biglan concisely summarizes his hard-earned wisdom from a remarkable career as a clinician and scientist, his knowledge of diverse scientific fields, as well as his rich life experiences, including as husband, father, and grandfather. Transformative and practical, it provides a guide for the foundation of a more caring and health-promoting society.”
—Kelli A. Komro, PhD, professor of health outcomes and policy at the College of Medicine, associate director of the Institute for Child Health Policy, and Research Foundation Professor at the University of Florida
“Anthony Biglan’s vast intelligence and scientific experience are brought together in The Nurture Effect to provide a vision, a road map, and a sense of optimism about solving the very real social problems facing our country. Evidence-based behavioral programs and policies provide the basis for Anthony’s argument that greater attention to nurturing, as opposed to coercion—at home, in schools, with peer groups, within communities, and even as public policy—will lead to healthier and better-adjusted youth and adults. The book is critically important as we consider how we are raising the current and next generations, and can serve to guide discussions on next steps in science, policy, and practice.”
—Cheryl L. Perry, PhD, professor and regional dean at The University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus
“Anthony Biglan’s latest book The Nurture Effect is a powerful reminder of the transformational impact a nurturing environment has on individuals’ well-being throughout their lives. In documenting many carefully selected examples of evidence-based interventions from early childhood and through subsequent stages of development, it makes an outstanding contribution to the field of prevention science. Biglan makes a compelling case for widely implementing scientifically supported interventions that create nurturing environments in our homes, schools and communities. When individuals develop the social and emotional competencies they need to do well, their lives are permanently transformed. This book challenges policy makers, professionals, and the community at large to think well beyond individual benefit, and consider that behavioral science knowledge can apply to entire populations. I unreservedly endorse this excellent and timely contribution.”
—Matthew R. Sanders, PhD, professor of clinical psychology and director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland, as well as founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
“Read this book, please read this book! … The nurture effect impacts us daily in our health, intelligence, behavior, emotions, work, and relationships. The daily nurture effect even codes our gene expression—something my scientific colleagues and I only began to suspect one or two decades ago, but have proof of now. This book maps how we can intentionally nurture ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and even our nations. All of this is based on rigorous practical science. If you want to improve the now and better the future, read this book and apply the nurture effect at home, at work or at school, and in your community.”
—Dennis D. Embry, PhD, president and senior scientist at PAXIS Institute
“The Nurture Effect is a remarkably ambitious book that draws the blueprints for creating prosocial communities aiming to help people live healthier, value-directed, and enjoyable lives. Biglan explains how people can work together to reduce suffering and improve quality of living for each other, and supports these plans with reliable behavioral research. The science of this book is captivating because Biglan expresses the ideas in an understandable and practical manner. In other words, he simplifies the science of human behavior so you can use it to improve your own community. The Nurture Effect hits the ground running with clear, concise, well-stated facts about creating a social context for people to experience a life well-lived. Throughout the book, Biglan expands these ideas into the different branches of community, such as family, schools, work, peer-relations, and discusses how—when approached appropriately—they can make lasting positive contributions to individuals. The perspectives you gain from this book will not only assist you in helping your community to become stronger and healthier, but will also help you as an individual to experience those same positive outcomes.”
—D.J. Moran, PhD, founder of Pickslyde Consulting and the MidAmerican Psychological Institute
“This marvelous book integrates the most compelling scientific knowledge about how we can improve the lives of citizens of this country with a bold call to action. Fundamentally, Anthony Biglan—a gifted and experienced behavioral scientist—challenges us to ask, ‘What kind of society do we want? How can we use what we know to create such a society?’ His central thesis is that widely implementing what we have learned over decades in developing programs that nurture children, adolescents, parents and adults in families, in schools, and in the larger society—which he calls a revolution in behavioral science—will make a huge difference.
The book contains highly practical, specific recommendations for families, practitioners, and policy makers. Biglan rightly recognizes that to significantly change society for the better, we must address larger social forces—for example, the negative effects of poverty and economic inequality, or of marketing tobacco and alcohol to youth. Eminently readable, this book comprehensively reviews evidence based on a lifetime of experience as a social scientist, and knits it together with a compelling agenda, that if enacted, could lead to a significant, positive transformation of our country.”
—William R. Beardslee, MD, director of the Baer Prevention Initiatives at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Gardner-Monks Professor of child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
“The Nurture Effect is exciting because it is grounded in science but leads us well beyond the fragmented slivers in which scientific findings are often delivered. Anthony Biglan persuades us that rather than focusing on preventing individual problems of family dysfunction, drug addiction, academic failure, child abuse, and even crime, we need to cut to the chase and attend to what all of these have in common. Biglan shows that poverty consistently makes it harder to help, and that nurture is so frequently missing. By integrating findings from the past fifty years in psychology, epidemiology, education, and neuroscience, he pulls out the common threads to show that it is possible to make families, schools, and the larger social context more nurturing, and ultimately to create the nurturing environments so vital to well-being and to preventing widespread harm.”
—Lisbeth B. Schorr, senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and coauthor of Within Our Reach
“This work is Anthony Biglan’s magnum opus. He has pulled together many ideas from multiple disciplinary domains. It is required reading for anyone who is serious about fixing the problems in our education system and alleviating poverty. Anyone who liked David Brooks’ TheSocial Animal will also like this. Although Biglan is a self-identified and proud behaviorist, this work shows his openness to other perspectives. I was especially happy to see his new nuanced view of the role of reinforcement in human behavior (pages 28-29). Intrinsic motivation is more powerful in the long term than extrinsic motivation.”
—Brian R. Flay, DPhil, professor of social and behavioral health sciences at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, and emeritus distinguished professor of public health and psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
“The author’s engaging writing style enables readers to appreciate the elegance of applying knowledge based on rigorous research to develop and apply evidence-based interventions that prevent problems and promote well-being on a societal scale.”
—Marion S. Forgatch, PhD, senior scientist emerita at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC), where she developed and tested programs for families with children at risk or referred for child adjustment problems and substance abuse
“The Nurture Effect is one of those rare books that draws from a lifetime of careful scientific study to provide clear prescriptions—in language non-scientists can understand—about how to make our world a better place. Pushing back against contemporary fatalism, Anthony Biglan shows us that we know more than ever about how to promote human flourishing. The problem is that we’re not applying this knowledge as we should. The Nurture Effect explains how we could change that, and, even more important, how you can help make the change happen.”
—Jacob S. Hacker, PhD, Stanley B. Resor Professor of political science, director at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, and coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics