Getting to baselines for human nature, development, and wellbeing.

Scientific Abstract Every responsible science is careful to establish baselines for the phenomenon under study. In psychology, baselines are usually coupled with assumptions about what is typical human behavior in a particular domain. We note the limitations of current methods for establishing baselines and suggest that a broader, transdisciplinary and metatheoretical approach is needed. Applied to human wellbeing, measurement is not a matter of applying techniques, but requires taking into account evolution, ethology, anthropology as well as other information that helps us establish baselines for species-typical human development. Human beings are biosocial creatures, highly malleable postnatally and dynamically shaped by experience, co-constructed by caregivers and the community and for which humanity evolved an intensive developmental system or niche. Humanity’s evolved developmental niche or nest should be a factor in determining baselines. Members of current industrialized nations may not provide the best source for baselines in part because they usually are raised in a species-atypical manner (outside humanity’s evolved nest = unnested). Among our suggestions, we advise that history/systems theory and a transdisciplinary approach be included in the psychology curriculum; that complexity be embraced; that authors’ assumptions about humanity be disclosed in publications; that the degree of participant “nestedness” be reported by researchers. Now that neuroscience is confirming its importance, we suggest that the field of psychology attend to the evolved nest for raising human beings, advising parents and policymakers on its provision. Providing the evolved nest is a matter of ethics and may be vital for keeping the species from self and planetary destruction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)