Darcia Narvaez
Darcia Fe Narvaez

(1952-06-08) June 8, 1952 (age 70)
Alma mater
Known forMoral development
Scientific career
FieldsEvolutionary Developmental Moral Psychology
Thesis (1993)
Doctoral advisorPaul van den Broek

Darcia Narvaez (dar-sha narv-eyes) is a Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Notre Dame who has written extensively on issues of character, moral development, and human flourishing.


Narvaez was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her father, Richard Narvaez, was a professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Minnesota. Darcia Narvaez spent part of her childhood in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, and Spain. Her first job was with the local public television station (KTCA) in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a 8- and 9-year-old: she was the voice of the puppet, Maria, on the Spanish-language-teaching program Ya Hablamos Español.[citation needed]

Narvaez subsequently worked as a church musician (organist, choir director), classroom and private music teacher (Brent International School in Baguio, Philippines; King of Kings School in Roseville, Minnesota), middle school Spanish teacher (The Blake School in Hopkins, Minnesota), and business owner. She also earned a master of divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul and is a published poet.

Narvaez earned her PhD in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1993 and joined the College of Education and Human Development there in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Educational Psychology. In 2000, she joined the Department of Psychology at Notre Dame.

Narvaez was married to Professor James Rest until his death in 1999. She is married to Daniel Lapsley, a professor of psychology at Notre Dame.


Narvaez was the design leader of the Minnesota Community Voices and Character Education project funded with $1 million by the US Department of Education during 1998–2002. She is co-author with James Rest, Steve Thoma and Muriel Bebeau of the book Postconventional Moral Thinking (1999).

Narvaez was one of five psychologists to be invited to speak at the White House's Conference on Character in Community in 2002.[1]

Narvaez's work emphasizes moral development over a lifespan, and the interaction between implicit and explicit processes in moral functioning.[2] She emphasizes the importance of early experience in shaping moral capacities.[3] Her current work is on the evolved developmental niche for young children (natural birth, extensive on-demand breastfeeding, frequent affectionate touch, caregiver responsiveness, self-directed social free play, multiple adult caregivers and extensive positive social support).[4] She studies the effects of early life experience on sociality, morality and thriving.[5]

In her work for the public, she hosts the website EvolvedNest.org which emphasizes the importance of nestedness for all ages in order to maintain wellbeing and compassionate morality. She co-created the film Breaking the Cycle.[6]

A recent emphasis in Narvaez's work involves indigenous wisdom, starting with her 2013 paper "The 99%--Development and socialization within an evolutionary context: Growing up to become 'A good and useful human being.'" She organized a conference in September 2016 called "Sustainable Wisdom: Integrating Indigenous Knowhow for Global Flourishing" resulting in the volume, Indigenous Sustainable Wisdom (2019). She and Four Arrows have a 2022 book, Restoring the Kinship Worldview.[7]

Narvaez's blog, "Moral Landscapes," at Psychology Today has over 15 million hits (as of early 2022) with the most popular posts being "Dangers of 'Crying it Out'" with over 3.1 million hits,[8] Five Things NOT to do to Babies,[9] and Myths about Circumcision You Likely Believe.[10]


Narvaez is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[11] She is former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Moral Education.

Narvaez's book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom won the 2015 William James Book Award from Division I of the American Psychological Association. It also won the 2017 Expanded Reason Award.[12]

Several of Narvaez's books have won awards from the special interest group Moral Development and Education at the American Educational Research Association:

Selected publications


Peer-reviewed papers

Gleason, T. R.; Tarsha, M. S.; Kurth, A. M.; Narvaez, D. (2021). "Opportunities for free play and young children's autonomic regulation". Developmental Psychobiology. Wiley. 63 (6). doi:10.1002/dev.22134. ISSN 0012-1630.




  1. ^ "The White House Conference on Character and Community". Her speech was published: Narvaez, D. (July–August 2002). "The Expertise of Moral Character" (PDF). Education Matters. Vol. 7, no. 6.
  2. ^ Narvaez, D. (2010). "Moral complexity: The fatal attraction of truthiness and the importance of mature moral functioning." Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(2), 163-181.
  3. ^ Narvaez, D. (2008). "Triune ethics: The neurobiological roots of our multiple moralities." New Ideas in Psychology, 26, 95-119.
  4. ^ Narvaez, D., Panksepp, J., Schore, A., & Gleason, T. (Eds.) (2013). Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy. New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Narvaez, D., Wang, L., Gleason, T., Cheng, A., Lefever, J., & Deng, L. (2013). "The Evolved Developmental Niche and sociomoral outcomes in Chinese three-year-olds." European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10(2), 106-127.
  6. ^ a b "Home". Breaking the Cycle. Archived from the original on 2022-02-14. Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  7. ^ "Restoring the Kinship Worldview".
  8. ^ "Dangers of 'Crying It Out'".
  9. ^ "Five Things NOT to do to Babies".
  10. ^ "Myths about Circumcision You Likely Believe".
  11. ^ "2021 AAAS Fellows". American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  12. ^ "The Expanded Reason Awards winners have been selected". Archived from the original on 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2017-09-07.