“The Nurture Effect”: Anthony Biglan’s Contribution to Prevention Science

After forty years of working on prevention of a wide range of common and costly psychological and behavioral problems, I am convinced we have the knowledge to achieve a healthier, happier, and more prosperous society than has ever been seen in human history. Tony Biglan, author of The Nurture Effect

Behavioral scientist Anthony Biglan of the Oregon Research Institute has a brand new book called The Nurture Effect: How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives and Our World,  an important contribution to the often-neglected area of prevention science.

What’s the key obstacle to mental wellness? As Biglan concisely states, “Nearly all problems of human behavior stem from our failure to ensure that people live in environments that nurture their well-being.”

The author strongly encourages—no surprise here—the implementation of early intervention strategies. Moreover, programs to reach kids in early stages of life don’t have to be either costly or extensive, Biglan says (Psychology Today). He mentions Triple P, for example, an evidence-based parenting program.

Rachel Collis, WorkingWithACT, lists Biglan’s three main criteria regarding the creation of nurturing environments:

  1.  are richly reinforcing of pro-social behaviour
  2.  limit opportunities and cues for damaging behaviour
  3.  encourage psychological flexibility

Below Biglan introduces The Nurture Effect:

Selected Book Reviews

Dennis D. Embry, PhD: “…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.”

Cheryl L. Perry, PhD: “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.”

Matthew R. Sanders, PhD: “….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.”

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