Ensuring that the behavioral sciences produce the improvements in human well-being that we all hope for requires that many more people understand and appreciate the knowledge about human behavior and society that have accumulated in the past 50 years. In The Nurture Effect, Dr. Anthony Biglan has tried to communicate to a broad audience of scientists and nonscientists how the behavioral sciences have accumulated programs, policies, and practices that can have great benefit in improving well-being. Taking an evolutionary approach, he will describe the development over the past 50 or so years of our understanding of operant learning and symbolic processes, as well as the principles involved in the recent evolution of capitalism. In the first section of the book, he describes the contextual principles that are, in his view, the foundation for the progress that has been made. In the second section, he describes family, school, peer, and clinical interventions that have solid evidence of benefit in the prevention and treatment of virtually all of the most common and costly problems of human behavior. But our progress in improving well-being will be limited if we fail to change the trajectory of modern capitalism so that its practices benefit everyone. In the third section, he describes the current problems with our system in terms of the contexts that have selected harmful business practices and economic policies. In the fourth section, he describes what can be done to ignite a movement that influences our societies to adopt the programs, policies, and practices that make all of our environments more nurturing.
Review Anthony Biglan’s biographical statement.