Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Cognition in harsh and unpredictable environments

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. In environments that are harsh and unpredictable, people are typically more vigilant, act more impulsively, and discount the future more. In this paper, we argue that these behaviors reflect a present-orientation produced by biological adaptations, despite potential harm to health and wellbeing. We review recent studies showing that people in stressful environments have a stronger preference for immediate over delayed rewards, have children at a younger age, and develop enhanced cognition for dealing with threat and rapidly changing conditions, compared with people from supportive environments. Moreover, people from supportive environments, when exposed to harsh-unpredictable environmental cues, shift toward a present-orientation. These findings underscore the benefits of integrating evolutionary and developmental psychology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Frankenhuis WE, Panchanathan K, Nettle D

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Current Opinion in Psychology

Year: 2016

Volume: 7

Pages: 76-80

Print publication date: 01/02/2016

Online publication date: 22/08/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 2352-250X

ISSN (electronic): 2352-2518

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.08.011