Lessons from the longest study on human development | Helen Pearson

Published 2017-10-23
For the past 70 years, scientists in Britain have been studying thousands of children through their lives to find out why some end up happy and healthy while others struggle. It's the longest-running study of human development in the world, and it's produced some of the best-studied people on the planet while changing the way we live, learn and parent. Reviewing this remarkable research, science journalist Helen Pearson shares some important findings and simple truths about life and good parenting.

Check out more TED Talks: www.ted.com/

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

Follow TED on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TEDTalks
Like TED on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TED

Subscribe to our channel: youtube.com/TED

All Comments (21)
  • @sheveka
    Having parents that have their lives sorted out and are able to provide a loving yet authoritative parenting style for their children means that you are in a good position to jump further. Privilege is like compound interest, the more of it you have the more you are likely to be successful. Privileges such as having two parents, a peaceful and loving home, good quality food, good relationships, nice clothes and a clean and healthy body, the ability to pursue sports and hobbies, enough toys to play with, a holiday abroad and day trips to the zoo or a museum... it builds connections in a child's brain, gives them confidence and sets them up for life.
  • @Jenkkimie
    A very good speech. I study Psychology myself and from the field we know how valuable presence is and how destructive absence and the perception of abandonment is for individuals cognitive development. It is known that when a child experiences abandonment in early childhood, it has similar effects for cognition as it would be were the child abused. It is very important for a child to feel accepted and loved by a parent figure or figures. It is estimated that around ~30% of who we are as adults are based on our childhood (<12).

    Today's social trends have really done a great amount of harm to children and as we are now seeing a wide arrange of increasing frequency of dysfunctions within younger generation population. Qualitive studies indicate that children feel ill inside. But we can change this by active participation and responsible parenting.
  • @milesbetrov
    Helen Pearson (the presenter) published a wonderful book about this called the ‘Life Project’ . An absolute beauty of a book
  • @ellierome9619
    Ms. Helen Pearson, this video is amazing and I completely agree that parenting certainly makes a huge difference. However, the rich will often be more successful because they can afford everything the poor kids cannot. The rich parents are able to provide their kids with the best tutors for as long as the child needs. They also pay private music and even dance lessons. These wealthy parents can afford everything to help their kids, at least, succeed socially and financially. Hopefully, they also provide great parenting and then their kids will be closer to perfect.
  • The longest study I think is actually the Grant Study, which is tracking the lives of Harvard University undergraduates as well as an expanded cohort of groups in the U.S. It's part of the Study of Adult Development at Harvard Medical School. I recommend reading the works of one of its Directors, George Vaillant, including the excellent "Triumphs of Experience."
  • @AndreasHofer72
    While I agree that there weren't probably a lot a new findings in this talk, I still find it highly important. Most parents don't do these activities with their kids, for many reasons, chief among them the stressful modern way of life. The takeaway here is not some completely new insights, the takewaway is: take a little bit more time for your kids (that is the one thing the speaker changed in her own life!), talk with them, listen to them, read with them, go on a trip to the zoo, or whereever.... there is no need to send you kids to dozens of classes and early language courses, there is no need to spend tons of money on expensive toys, schools, etc.... just spend some more time in meaningful activities with your kids. And that is a very uplifting message IMHO
  • @mpking-ey7ys
    I cried when I listened to this. We grew up very poor. I am in my 40s now, and I suppose not doing too badly in life compared to where I started. But the effects of my childhood continue until now. Only I know what they are...
  • The parents who make their children read are on average already more intelligent than those who don't. So I believe their children do better not only because reading helps your devolepment but also because they already have a big advantage over others due to genes.
  • @cozme28
    this is also a motivation for everybody that as a society we should invest in helping the poor to live a sustainable life.
    a person cannot reach a higher level of human development when everyday his main goal is to answer to the call of his rumbling stomach and the cycle goes on.
  • This video is more than wonderful, a lecture that made me feel influenced and motivated a lot, I can not say how I felt and what?! But I can say motivational words and very wonderful.. ooh my god 😍😍
  • @brendarua01
    Much of what she describes in Britain has also been found in the U.S. and Canada. In both locations, critics have claimed that it is all "only correlation." But that is myopic and self-serving. In fact the public housing policies provide a controlled experiment on the effects of poverty. Outcomes are similar no matter the ethnicity or race. For example, those in poverty have less upward mobility relative to their parents than those in the middle to upper middle classes, when all other known factors are allowed for.
  • @yudy92
    Its not that the kids who's parents read to them will do better, it's the fact the parents who read to their children, often would genuinely care about their kids well being, and will continue to push them to do well in school. It's a matter of culture, something this study forgot to mention.
  • @chadoftoons
    It gives me hope that all the people who think this is obvious act on it when they have children because there are alot of people who dont know this stuff and still think they can have a child without problems
  • @pjauthur9869
    informative synopsis of one of the biggest ever human developmental studies. thank you
  • @paklahisap2646
    Let me add one thing, "every children born with unique identity, help to invent themselves. Don't fill whatever you like".

    Don't expect your kids to fulfill your hunger in life.
  • @troyvietnam
    Wow, who would have thought.
    Paying attention to kids and devoting time to them
    is better for them than not..
    #go #science
  • @-optimist-2697
    Surpirsingly, just simply take time and read with your children everyday can have immense impact on thier lives.
  • @elle3690
    Cognitive science & other behavioural studies concur with these findings that children being born into poverty (barring anything like being born with FAS or something as equally as destructive) can have the capacity to do as well as more advantaged children if they have 3 basic needs met: (1) a loving caregiver who shares a great deal of time (like reading to them) with them & establishes an early and ongoing deep emotional bond (2) they get enough sleep (this is incorporated I having an established bedtime routine that ensures they are relaxed in bed from 9 -11 hours before they need to wake-ip) and  (3) they have the opportunities to receive adequate nourishment, education (i.e.: access to books and schools) and healthcare
  • Now I understand why my mom taught me to read books before going to bed when I was a kid. Reading books is the start of my learning stage.
  • @BlackSwan-sq2iw
    Great research to prove the obvious - good parenting works. I’m wondering has there ever been doubt about that?