Neoteny – childlike attributes in adulthood: idealism, experimentation and wonder

Neoteny is the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles, and is a subject studied in the field of developmental biology. In neoteny, the physiological (or somatic) development of an animal or organism is slowed or delayed. Ultimately this process results in the retention, in the adults of a species, of juvenile physical characteristics well into maturity.

Humans have been evolving toward greater “psychological-neoteny“. Highly-educated people and eminent scientists usually demonstrate more neotenous psychological traits, and students with more of a “baby face” tend to “outperform” their less-neotenized peers in school. In fact, the ability of an adult human to learn has long been considered a neotenous trait. Physical neotenization in humans has, likewise, caused psychologically neotenous traits in humans: curiosity, playfulness, affection, sociality and an innate desire to cooperate.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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