The Role of Immaturity in Development and Evolution: Theme and Variations

  • Juan C. GómezEmail author
Part of the Cultural Psychology of Education book series (CPED, volume 2)


I review the ideas and impact of one of Jerome Bruner’s major papers in the 1970s, On the nature and uses of immaturity, situating it in a historical and conceptual context. This article developed the Vygotskian theme of socially mediated human development by firmly anchoring it in an evolutionary perspective, whereby the immaturity of primate infancy becomes nature’s way of ensuring development through social nurture, and ultimately development through educability. I argue that the main theme and variations advocated by Bruner in 1972 are deeply engrained in today’s main research trends in developmental psychology, while others (the importance of play or the cross disciplinary approach) may still be in need of further development in contemporary psychology.


Immaturity Vygotsky Educability Social mediation Primates 



This paper was written under the AHRC Project Rethinking Mind and Meaning: A case study from a co-disciplinary approach (, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under the Science in Culture Theme. My thanks to the other project participants (A. Seed, D. Ball, H. Cappelen, D. Wilson, V. Kersken, K. Zuberbühler and Postgrad students attending our meetings) for the extremely fruitful and open discussions that we are having.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of St. AndrewsSt. AndrewsUK

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