Leonard L. Martin, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Social Psychology
  • Behavioral and Brain Sciences Program
  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina, 1983

Research Interests

In the context of I-D compensation theory (Martin, 1999), the I stands for the immediate return nature of human beings, the D stands for the delayed return nature of the societies in which most people live now, and compensation stands for the steps people take to reconcile their immediate return nature with the constraints placed on them by their modern, complex, delayed-return societies.

The theory starts with the assumption that humans possess a set of sensitivities and predispositions that helped their distant ancestors survive and reproduce in the context of immediate-return societies (i.e., foragers). These societies are characterized by small temporal windows, frequent feedback regarding goal progressing, and little pressure to adhere to specific roles and justifying stories.

In complex, modern societies (i.e., delayed-return societies), on the other hand, people often have to engage in immediate effort for delayed, uncertain outcomes. This effort-outcome disjunction can lead people to experience long periods of insecurity. To cope with this insecurity, people have developed complex societal mechanisms such as legally binding contracts (along with agents to enforce them) and justifying stories such as just world beliefs.

Use of these compensatory mechanisms is associated with heightened negative affect and self-concern. Thus, when people need to engage in I-D compensation, they may be especially vulnerable to effects governed by negative affect and self-concern such as cognitive dissonance, self-esteem concerns, and enhanced need for meaning in life.

I-D compensation theory fits with the observations that (a) cultural complexity increased after humans adopted intensive agriculture roughly 10,000 years ago and (b) people often shed delayed-return cultural values after having a close brush with death in the real world.

Relevant Publications

I-D Compensation Theory PDF

I-D Compensation Reply PDF

I-D Compensation and Mindfulness PDF

I-D Compensation and Meaning in Life PDF

Wake-up Call from a Close Brush with Death PDF

Hunters and Gatherers PDF

Related Ideas by Others

A Real Life Wake-up Call from a Close Brush with Death PDF

Agriculture: Humanity's Greatest Mistake PDF

Xibipiio: Experiential Liminality in Hunter-Gatherers Video