Nature vs. Nuture

An Overarching View of Nature vs. Nature Katonia H. Dunaway Coppin State University Nature vs. Nurture 2 You got your brown eyes from your mother and your height from your father. But where did you get your thrill seeking personality and your talent for basketball. Did you get your eyes from your mom and your natural skill from your dad, or was it predetermined by your genes? Nature vs. Nurture 3

The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology. The debate centers on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development. Some philosophers such as Plato and Descartes suggested that certain things are inborn, or that they simply occur naturally regardless of environmental influences. Other well-known thinkers such as John Locke believed in what is known as tabula rosa, which suggests that the mind begins as a blank slate (2). According to this notion, everything that we are and all of our knowledge is determined by our experience.

For example, when a person achieves tremendous academic success, did they do so because they are genetically predisposed to be successful, or is it a result of an enriched environment (2). Today, the majority of experts believe that behavior and development are influence by both nature and nurture. However, the issue still rages on in many areas, such as in the debate on the origins of homosexuality and influences on intelligence. Nature vs. Nurture 4 Nature- Heredity Scientists have known for years that traits such as eye color and hair color are determined by specific genes encoded in each human cell.

The Nature Theory takes things a step further to say that more abstract traits such as intelligence, personality, aggression, and sexual orientation are also encoded in an individual’s DNA(4). While it’s clear that physical characteristics are hereditary, the genetic waters get a bit murkier when it comes to an individual’s behavior, intelligence, and personality. Ultimately, the old argument of nature vs. nurture has never really been won. We do not yet know how much of what we are is determined by our DNA and how much by our life experience.

But we do know that ultimately both play a part. It has been reported that the use of the terms “nature” and “nurture” as a convenient catch-phrase for the roles of heredity and environment in human development can be traced back to the 13th century France (1). Scientists think that people behave as they do according to genetic predispositions or even “animal instincts. ” This is known as the “nature” theory of human behavior (5). Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so.

This is known as the “nurture” theory of human behavior (5). Nature vs. Nurture 5 Fast-growing understanding of the human genome has recently made it clear that both sides are partly right. Nature endows us with inborn abilities and traits; nurture takes these genetic tendencies and molds them as we learn and mature. But that’s not all. The “nature vs. nurture” debate still rages on, as scientist fight over how much of whom we are is shaped by genes. Nurture – Environment

While not discounting that genetic tendencies may exist, supporters of the nurture theory believe they ultimately don’t matter and that our behavioral aspects originate only from the environmental factors of our upbringing. Studies on infant and child temperament have revealed the most crucial evidence for nurture theories and how much by the environment (6). American psychologist John Watson, best known for his controversial experiments with a young orphan named Albert, demonstrated that the acquisition of a phobia could be explained by classical conditioning.

A strong proponent of environmental learning, he said: Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select… regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors(3). Nature vs. Nurture 6 Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner’s early experiments produced pigeons that could dance, do figure eights, and play tennis.

Today known as the father of behavioral science, he eventually went on to prove that human behavior could be conditioned in much the same way as animals (4). If environment didn’t play a part in determining an individual’s traits and behaviors, then identical twins should, theoretically, be exactly the same in all respects, even if reared apart. But a number of studies show that they are never exactly alike, even though they are remarkably similar in most respects (1). So, was the way we behave engrained in us before we were born? Or has it developed over time in response to our experiences?

Researchers on all sides of the nature vs. nurture debate agree that the link between a gene and a behavior is not the same as cause and effect. While a gene may increase the likelihood that you’ll behave in a particular way, it does not make people do things. This in turn means that we still get to choose who we’ll be when we grow up and the argument of nature vs. nurture continues to have theorist explore the question. References 1. Fierro, Pamela. Identical or Fraternal? You Can’t Always Tell by Looking Retrieved from http://www. about. com Guide. 2. Howe, M.

J. A. (1997). IQ in Question: The truth about intelligence. London: Sage. 3. Hughes, Neiman. Nature vs. Nurture Ended. Retrieved from http://www. HumanNurtureome. org. 4. Johnson, Ramon. Nature versus Nurture. Newsletter, (2008, November 2) Pages 1-4. Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://www. about. com. Guide. 5. Murray, Ralph. Nature vs. Nature Intelligence. Retrieved from http://www. wilderdom. com. 6. Powell, Kimberly. (2004, September 28). Are We Really Born That Way? Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://www. docstoc. com.

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