Environmental Programming to Foster Competence and Prevent Mental Retardation in Infancy

  • J. McVicker Hunt
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI)


The idea of arranging environmental encounters in the care of infants to promote competence and good character is as old as the classical thought of the Greeks. In the Laws (Book VII, 788ff), Plato has his Athenian stranger contend that lawgivers should stress the importance of nurture and education in achieving citizens with characters appropriate for the good of the state. On the other hand, this idea is also new. From the time of Plato until the beginning of the twentieth century, exceedingly few of the philosophers who concerned themselves with education and the development of moral character considered nurture and experience during infancy and early childhood to be of significance in the adult outcome of human development. Aries (1960) has described the gradual discovery through the centuries of childhood in the institutional practices of the family and the school. This evolving discovery has continued into the twentieth century, as the age when causal significance attributed to the environments encountered has been extended downward to birth and even to the emotional and nutritional state of the maternal host at conception and during gestation (see Hunt, 1969, Chap. 7).


Environmental Programming Head Start Psychological Development Object Permanence Object Construction 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. McVicker Hunt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA

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