Book Review: The Nurture Effect: How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives and Our World by Anthony Biglan

More self-help books and pop-science. Nurture Effect is about how nurturing can affect our family life, environment, how we live and increase the well-being of society. The book is written from a behavioral psychology perspective. How rewarding good behavior is a better way to get the desired outcome. How aggression and spiteful speech transfer into children, causing depression and anger plus all other sorts of bad behavior. I agree rewards are better motivators than punishment. However, I didn’t see Biglan mentioning that rewarding say like a drawing activity can take away interest by putting value and pressure for the activity. This might cause children to lose their interest and joy of the act. I gave the example is to point that the book didn’t address the criticism this line of thinking has received. This book was a praise for behavioral psychology and to the writer’s own nurture hypothesis. That said, I’m not saying that this style of psychology is at the wrong or has no merit. I’m trying to point out that the argumentation was one-sided. It also could have been tighter and coherent. There was too much repetition. And the writer took argumentative leaps on several occasions.

Now that I have gotten my complaints out, I can say Anthony Biglan made several good points about how to handle children, why some societal factors influence families and their behavior thus affecting the society’s well-being. We are not individual units floating in the sea of resources. Our well-being ripples through to others and so on goes the waves. I especially liked his argumentation how poverty is bad for society as a whole, but this is due to the fact that this confirms my own beliefs. You should form your own opinion based on fast and diverse research. As I see it, the poverty index is a great indicator of how societies value those less fortunate and what values are generally held important thus affecting the mood, health, and consensus and coherence of the society. Not to mention crime, suicide, and drug abuse rates. The side effects of an ill economy where wealth is distributed unequally.

I usually say any book is worth reading, I’m wavering here. Nurture Effect has flaws, but it has a point (also a clear agenda and if that bothers you, you might want to skip this one.) I don’t regret reading it, I’m glad I did. So I would say read a page or two and then decide what to do.

Thank you for reading!

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