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Nature versus nurture Essay

“We have moved from introspection, speculation, and observation to experiment, neurophysiology, and imaging. From the classical Greek era onward, the dualism between mind and body has existed as the constant dilemma. ” (Merikangas, 2004). A predicament of whether nature or nurture plays a larger role in child development has been an ongoing debate within psychology referred to as Nature vs. Nurture. Nature is what is inherited with conception, your genetics, and nurture is referred as your environmental influences. Since studies of Nature vs.

Nurture have taken place over time, generally all have come to agree that nature and nurture do have coexisting roles in child development. However, the dispute of which plays the larger role is the question we ask ourselves to this day. Nature vs. Nurture is truly one of the oldest and most extensive debates in psychology. It dates all the way back to the philosophy of Descartes and Plato in the Greek era. John Locke, a famous British Philosopher, was famous for his belief of Tabula Rasa which in Latin means “blank slate”.

“Tabula Rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. ” (2. ) Tabula rasa supporters did not believe that any understanding was inherited and generally favored the nurture end of the debate. An individual that believes strongly in heredity (Nature) is a nativist. Nativists believe that the world has been evolving as a whole as well as our characteristics and that if we are dissimilar in any way then it is because of our personal genetic makeup.

Individuals who favor the environmental prospect of the debate (Nurture) are called empiricists. Empiricists look at it from the Tabula Rasa point of view and see the mind as a blank slate. They believe that only with experience then is the “blank slate” progressively filled, which ties into behaviorism. Behaviorism is observable behavior, and all behavior is learnt from your environment. The dispute between both nativists and empiricists was established early on and has continued to be a non-budging clash into our present day and age.

At conception you are given genes from both your mother and father. It is widely known that part of those genes you inherit from your parents are your physical characteristics such as color of eyes and hair, what color your skin is, whether you have Shirley Temple curls or bone-straight hair, sometimes even your weight. All these genes directly are expressed in your phenotype but inherited genes can affect you without being expressed such as your high risk for diabetes, susceptibility to diseases, etc. You cannot control your parents and the genes you are given, this is the nature aspect.

With technology becoming so advanced, genes that were unable to be seen are now being discovered for many behaviors. “Researchers at Brown University and the University of Arizona have determined that variations of three different genes in the brain (called single-nucleotide polymorphisms) may help predict a person’s tendency to make certain choices. ” (Nauert, 2009). Now that we can scientifically prove that certain behaviors are genetically inherited, we must question if all behaviors are genetic and if nurture really does have an impact on child development at all.

In the nurture theory, it is known that genetic traits exist but it is believed that our environmental dynamics are the sources of our behavior. The behaviorism idea expresses that we have no free will, and all our knowledge is learned through cognitive development and maturation. Religion is an example of being environmentally influenced, it is not in their genes to know of God or trust in their religion but over time as they experience and grow they come to terms with who they are. “How a person behaves can be tied to influence such as parenting styles and learned experiences.

For example, a child might learn through observation and reinforcement to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you. ‘ Another child might learn to behave aggressively by observing older children engage in violent behavior on the playground. ” (Cherry, 2014). Anything from the folklores and mores you were raised around, the things you were given or not given whether they were materialistic or emotional, to the society and community you grew up in, that is all an experience and knowledge gained from conception. Nurture can also affect the nature or genetics of a person.

For example, an individual may have the genes for tall height but they were raised malnourished and in poor conditions so the individual was never able to reach full potential. Nurture emphasizes the amount an individual reflects their environment. Nature and nurture both take up equally defendable sides but for proper child development they must coexist in harmony. A perfect example of when nature and nurture must come together is intelligence. For a child to grow up intelligent­­-not well-educated there is a difference-they must have the best of worlds, nature and nurture.

An individual can have a healthy brain, zero learning disabilities and still not grow to be intelligent because they were raised with little education and mentoring, zero opportunities and no support to expand their knowledge, it also works vice versa. An individual can have all the opportunities in the world, supportive family and peers, and any mentoring they would ever need however, that individual could have Down syndrome, ADHD, or Autism making it extremely hard and in some cases impossible to reach their full potential. An unresolved question deals with the origin of homosexuality, was an individual born to be gay?

Was it their environment around them? Questions such as this one are harder to answer with nature and nurture questioned independently. On the other hand, when nature and nurture are combined they can help to understand certain situations more thoroughly. There are also many approaches to psychology, each approach takes a viewpoint from a nativist’s point-of-view, an empiricist’s point-of-view, and a mixture of both. There are five approaches in all; Biological Approach; Psychoanalysis; Cognitive Psychology; Humanism; and Behaviorism.

Imagine the approaches as a scale the left being the most Nature orientated starting with Biological Approach and ending with Behaviorism, the right being the most nurture orientated beginning with Behaviorism and ending with Biological Approach. Biological approach focuses purely on genetics and hormones to explain behavior; an individual that takes this approach is an extreme nativist. A Psychoanalysis approach focuses on instinctive drives of sex and hostility, also societal and collective upbringing throughout childhood.

Psychoanalysis still mostly focuses on the nature aspect but does have somewhat of a nurture aspect to it. Next is Cognitive Psychology, this approach is the most mixed being both nature and nurture. Cognitive Psychology centers on inborn mental structures such as schemas, awareness, remembrance, and frequently changed by the environment. Next, we have Humanism which is accentuated essential physical needs and society influences an individual’s self-concept. Humanism has features of nature but deals mostly with nurture.

The most nurture orientated approach is Behaviorism; individuals that take this approach are extreme empiricists. Behaviorism is nurture in simplest words; all knowledge is learned through experience. In my personal opinion, I do believe nature and nurture must coexist but nurture does have the dominant role in a developing child. This is my opinion because I have seen it first-hand. Researches always watch children to see how they develop and how certain events affect them but I think they should take a step back and view teenagers if they want to see results.

When you are a teenager generally around the later years of eighteen or nineteen that is when you are first finding out who you are and realize what really has affected you. The perfect example I wanted to give is my girlfriend Katherine Morgan. Katherine has three older siblings all by eighteen years and she is the only child with a different father. Her mother was not married to this man so growing up she was pushed away from certain parts of her family due to religious beliefs.

Katherine’s father had a lot of problems with drinking, women, drugs, and always in an out of jail. Growing up she would see him only about once a month and was never allowed alone with him because of risk of abduction. The last time she saw her father was when she was five years old and from that point on it was only her mother in the picture. Katherine has extreme trust issues; she doesn’t deal with her anger very well, always wants to have attention, and always tries to hurt someone in her relationships if she gets worried they will leave so she cannot be hurt first.

Being with her for a year now, it’s almost as I have conducted my own observation, at first I thought all these problems were just her trying to impress people and look cool but over time I noticed how much her father leaving truly affected her negatively. The fact that her own family pushed her away for being born out of marriage which she could no way control also has a strong impact on her negatively. However, I noticed she is a very independent woman who truly has a huge heart and wants to give it to someone and prove that she’ll never leave like her father.

Although the cons outweigh the pros it shows how strong and experience in your childhood can mold your personality in your later life. “This debate within psychology is concerned with the extent to which particular aspects of behavior are a product of either inherited (i. e. genetic) or acquired (i. e. learned) characteristics. ” (McLeod, 2007). All in all, both nature and nurture play leading roles in the development of a child. After reading countless articles, and seeing it first-hand, nurture plays a dominant role. A child with good health can be anything and anything they want to be with good nurturing and upbringing.

Even in poor health because of their nature, if they are given good nurture they still have great opportunities for happiness and greatness. While researchers and experts take steps to determine to what degree genetics and environment influence behavior, you can take your own steps in your personal life; practice healthy nurturing in your own family and maybe observe your significant other as I have done to discover a little more about the people around you. Refrences Cherry, K. (2014). The Age Old Debate of Nature Versus Nurture. About. com Psychology. Retrieved Oct 17, 2014, from http://psychology.

about. com/od/nindex/g/nature-nurture. htm McLeod, S. (2007). Nature vs Nurture in Psychology. Nature Nurture in Psychology. Retrieved Oct 17, 2014, from http://www. simplypsychology. org/naturevsnurture. html Merikangas, J. R. (2004, October 1). CME Activity. PsychiatryOnline. Retrieved Oct 17, 2014, from http://www. psychnews. psychiatryonline. org/article. aspx? articleid=177126 Nauert, R. (2009). Genetic Influence on Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved Oct 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral. com/news/2009/07/21/genetic-influence-on-behavior/7237. html.


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