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Nature vs. Nurture in Intelligence Essay

Growing Up As the author of “Nature vs. Nurture in Intelligence” notes, researchers have sought to address the relative contributions of genetics and the environment in regards to intelligence (“Nature vs Nurture”). Many of these studies have examined intelligence differences in identical twins, as identical twins share the same genetic material. Theoretically, differences in intelligence between the twins would have to be explained by environmental factors (ThinkQuest, “Research Behavioral Genetics”).

One such study examined fifty identical twins that had been separated and raised by different families. The researchers found that the degree of correlation between the separated twins’ intelligence was almost the same as the correlation between twins that had been raised together. These results indicate that genetics have a significant influence on intelligence (ThinkQuest, “Examples of Genetic Influences”). Studies on the heritability of IQ have also established that there is a 40% correlation between the IQ of parents and children living together (“Nature vs Nurture”).

This is certainly a strong correlation, but it is not as strong a correlation as what has been found in twin studies because parents and their children share far less genetic material. One modern theory about intelligence concerns the relative weight of genotype and phenotype. Genotype refers to the types of information that are encoded in our genes whereas phenotype refers to the expression of this genetic information in terms of physical, biochemical, and physiological traits (ThinkQuest, “Phenotype and Genotype”).

In this theory, an individual’s potential for intelligence would be determined by his or her genotype, while environmental factors would determine how intelligent the person actually is (phenotype). From my parents, I inherited 23 pairs of chromosomes, with one of each pair coming from my mother and the other member of the pair coming from my father. These chromosomes contain genes, or information about physical, biochemical, and physiological traits (ThinkQuest, “Phenotype and Genotype”). Information about intelligence would be encoded in these genes.

Researchers recently found that one particular gene, the dysbindin-1 gene, was associated with cognitive ability; however, they found that this gene only explained about 3% of differences in cognitive ability (North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System). I am lucky in that both of my parents are very intelligent. My genes therefore should theoretically give me the potential to be quite intelligent. What I find interesting is that my parents and I have different types of intelligence. My parents are both scientists and enjoy working with scientific and mathematical concepts.

I, however, have always been more interested in the liberal arts: history, literature, and music. What I think has been the most important factor in terms of developing the potential for intelligence that I have inherited has been specific patterns of behavior that I learned from my parents. My parents taught me that learning can be fun and interesting. They encouraged me to be curious about many different subjects and to explore these subjects. I was also taught the importance of an education for my future, and I therefore applied myself in school. Works Cited

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. “Intelligence Gene Identified. ” Science Daily April 27, 2006. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2006/04/060427161424. htm. ThinkQuest Team 22618. “Biological Base of Behavior: Genetic Influences: Examples of Genetic Influences. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/26618/en-2. 2. 4=examplesgenetic%20influences. htm. ThinkQuest Team 22618. “Biological Base of Behavior: Genetic Influences: Phenotype and Genotype. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/26618/en-2.

2. 2=phenotype%20and%20genotype. htm. ThinkQuest Team 22618. “Biological Base of Behavior: Genetic Influences: Research Behavioral Genetics. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/26618/en-2. 2. 3=research%20behavioral%20genetics. htm. “Nature vs Nurture in Intelligence. ” April 10, 2005. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://www. wilderdom. com/personality/L4-1IntelligenceNatureVsNurture. html. 2. Animal Emotions and Awareness I have always been a cat person. When I was young, I always wanted a cat, but I was not allowed to have one until I was about ten.

Persimmon, the first cat my family had (and I say “my family” because this cat was not mine, per se) was very aloof, not very sociable, and I did not have a very deep relationship with her. Then, my neighbors’ cat had kittens, and I was allowed to pick one of them, Leopard. Leopard was an amazing cat, but unfortunately he did not live very long as he had feline leukemia. My next cat was Alex, also a very special cat, who lived to the ripe old age of 19. After Persimmon died, I adopted Samson, who is still alive and doing well. When Alex died, I adopted Del.

Del was an incredible cat that I adopted knowing that he would not live very long because he was born with congenital kidney disease. When I saw him at the SPCA, though, I knew that he deserved a good home for the little amount of time he had to live. Even though he was not supposed to live more than six or seven months, he lived for over three years. Now, in addition to Samson, I have Ozzy. I have therefore had quite a number of cats in my life and have had many opportunities to observe cat behavior. I have seen my cats experience sadness, fear, and confusion, among other emotions.

Though I could give many examples of how cats exhibit these emotions, I will give only one example for each. The best example of sadness that I have observed in my cats was Samson’s reaction to Del’s death. Del had been quite lethargic for some time and had taken to lying around in his favorite spots: on top of a phone book and in the bathroom sink. When I took Del to the vet for the last time, Samson saw me put him in his carrier, came up to him and cleaned his ears for him. For weeks after Del died, Samson would go stand by Del’s favorite spots and meow really strangely.

Often, he would just lie down and reach out his paw like he was trying to touch something that was not there. In this case, Samson perceived a change in his environment and expressed his dislike of this change by altering his behavior. While I do not know for sure that Samson was actually experiencing an emotion that he would label as “sad,” his behavior seems to indicate that his emotional state paralleled how humans express sadness. Alex was the cat that had the strangest fear. When my family adopted Alex, he was not afraid of anything at all.

However, one day Alex disappeared. We searched everywhere for him, but after he had been missing for a week, we all assumed that he had somehow died. Much to our surprise, Alex showed up on our doorstep three months later. He spent his first night back at home sleeping in my bed, and he followed me into the kitchen the next morning for breakfast. As I was making breakfast, I pulled out a plastic bag, and Alex freaked out. He started running around in circles, howling, and finally ran into the bathroom and hid behind the toilet.

Though his reactions to plastic bags diminished with time, he would always jump away from the sound of them, often hiding in another room when we brought in the groceries. In this case, Alex was clearly reacting physiologically to a sensory perception that had negative associations for him. As his behavior indicates that he sought to distance himself from the source of this sound that caused the distress, I think he was clearly afraid of plastic bags. Furthermore, I think that he perceived this emotion as fear and would have labeled it as such if he had been human.

Ozzy is the cat that has exhibited the best example of confusion and also one of the strangest habits. Ozzy from the day he came to live with me has always loved my socks. Every night, I take them off and put them in the laundry; and every night, he goes in the laundry basket, pulls out one of my socks, puts it on the floor, and sleeps with his head on it like a pillow. After he had been living with me (and engaging in this very odd behavior) for about three months, I went out of town for a week and had someone else come and take care of the cats.

When I got back, my normally sociable cat hid under the bed. I stretched my hand out for him to smell it so he would recognize me and come out from under there. This was of no use. Finally, I gave up and decided to take a nap. Soon after I lay down, Ozzy jumped up on the bed and started sniffing around. He started meowing in the strangest way. His meows were very short and got higher in pitch at the end. Then, I felt a little nose hesitantly sniffing my feet, and all of a sudden, there was Ozzy running as fast as he could up to my face wanting to be petted.

I believe that Ozzy was confused: his senses (especially sight and sound) did not initially allow him to recognize me. However, once he sensed the smell that he most strongly associated with me, his brain was able to make the connection between the smell and the person. I think that Ozzy perceived his emotional state as confused – he was unable to make sense out of an environmental change and actively sought out additional sensory information. I have also observed my cats perceive my own emotions and respond to them.

Samson is perhaps the most perceptive cat I have ever had, as he is able to sense physical and emotional changes and respond accordingly. One day, I sprained my ankle, and when I sat down on the couch to rest, Samson jumped up on the couch, plopped himself down on my hurt ankle, and started to purr. He has repeated similar behavior many times, responding to twisted knees, bruised toes, and injured shoulders. When I am happy, he senses that his presence near me is not needed, and he goes about his activities by himself.

When I am sad, he responds by wanting to be nearer to me: sitting on my lap, rubbing his head against my arm, licking my hand 3. Behaviorism – Theories of Learning Classical Conditioning Classical conditioning is one type of associative learning. In this theory of learning, most closely associated with Pavlov’s experiments (ThinkQuest, “Classical Conditioning”), there are four elements to the learning process: the unconditioned stimulus, the unconditioned response, the conditioned stimulus, and the conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus will produce the unconditioned response naturally and involuntarily.

By associating the conditioned stimulus with the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned stimulus can produce this same response (here termed the conditioned response) (Huitt and Hummel 1997). In Pavlov’s experiment, it was noted that dogs involuntarily salivate when they get food. If a bell was rung prior to the dog being given food, the dog would make the association between the bell and the food, and it would begin to salivate upon hearing the bell (ThinkQuest, “Classical Conditioning”). I have learned to hate the sight of red ink from classical conditioning.

Normally, ink colors would not provoke an emotional reaction such as feelings of inferiority. However, due to the continual association of red ink with how teachers grade papers (and red ink always meant a wrong answer), red ink has come to mean that I have done something wrong. Operant Conditioning Operant conditioning is based on the principle that an animal or a person can learn voluntary responses by associating behaviors with their consequences (Huitt and Hummel 1997). In Skinner’s experiment, a hungry rat was placed inside a box that was empty except for a food dish with a bar above it.

After establishing the rate at which the rat pushed on the bar, the researchers would give the rat food every time it pushed on the bar. As the rat came to associate being given food with pushing on the bar, it greatly increased its frequency of pushing on the bar (ThinkQuest, “The Operant Conditioning”). The researchers were reinforcing the rat’s behavior by providing a reward. The association of a positive outcome (food) with the behavior (pushing on the bar) led to the rat’s pushing the bar more frequently.

An important element of this type of learning is that the reinforcement has to be produced with enough frequency for the subject to make the association between the behavior and the outcome (Huitt and Hummel 1997). If the reinforcement is only present sporadically, the association might not be made. Through operant conditioning, I have learned to do all of my work before doing something enjoyable. When I was child, my favorite activities were presented as rewards (reinforcement) for finishing my homework and doing my chores. Even now, I still associate the accomplishment of work with getting to do something fun or relaxing.

Observation Learning There are four key elements of the observational learning process: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation (Huitt 2004). People pay attention to the actions and behaviors of others, and they retain a mental image of these actions so that they can reproduce the action themselves (ThinkQuest, “Cognitive Learning”). In order for the individual to reproduce the behavior, they must be motivated to perform it. In this sense, this type of learning functions like operant learning: the behavior needs to be reinforced.

However, observation learning is different from operant learning in that the reinforcement does not have to actually be experienced in order for it to be effective. The individual must only observe another individual being presented with the reinforcement. I think that observational learning is the process by which I have learned the most. One of the many things that I have learned from this method is how to moonwalk. I remember watching videos of Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk, and I tried to pay attention to every single element of the movement.

Then, from the mental image of his movements that I retained, I tried to reproduce the moonwalk. Works Cited Huitt, W. , & Hummel, J. “An Introduction to Classical (Respondent) Conditioning. ” Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University, 1997. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://chiron. valdosta. edu/whuitt/col/behsys/classcnd. html. Huitt, W. , & Hummel, J. “An Introduction to Operant (Instrumental) Conditioning. ” Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University, 1997. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from, http://chiron.

valdosta. edu/whuitt/col/behsys/operant. html. Huitt, W. “Observational (Social) Learning: An Overview. ” Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University, 2004. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://chiron. valdosta. edu/whuitt/col/soccog/soclrn. html. ThinkQuest Team 22618. “Cognitive Processes: Learning: Classical Conditioning. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/26618/en-5. 5. 1=classical%20conditioning. htm. ThinkQuest Team 22618. “Cognitive Processes: Learning: The Operant Conditioning. ”

Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/26618/en-5. 5. 2=operant%20conditioning. htm. ThinkQuest Team 22618. “Cognitive Processes: Learning: Cognitive Learning. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/26618/en-5. 5. 3=cognitive%20learning. htm. 4. Jungian Typology When I took the Jung Typology Test, I found that my type is ENFJ, qualified as a slightly expressed extravert (22%), moderately expressed intuitive personality (25%), distinctly expressed feeling personality (75%), and a slightly expressed judging personality (11%).

In looking at how this typology maps onto Keirsey’s Four Temperaments, I belong to the Idealist temperament and the sub-group of Teachers (“Idealist Portrait of Teacher”). ENFJs are also known as Givers (BSM Consulting). Idealists are a relatively rare type of individual, with only 15-20% of the population falling into this category. They are typically enthusiastic, trust their own intuition, actively seek romance and their true selves, value meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom. They also take pride in being compassionate towards others, and they focus on personal journeys and the potential of fellow human beings.

Idealists are passionately driven to discover and fulfill their own potential as well as to help others attain the same goal. This type of person typically focuses on potential outcomes rather than the current situation (“The Idealists”). Of the four types of Idealists (champions, counselors, healers, and teachers), teachers seem to be the most rare, only forming about 2% of the population. Teachers have a natural talent for bringing out the potential in other humans. They can invent teaching methods that fully engage their students, and they strongly believe in their students’ potential.

They have a strong ability to express themselves through speech and excel in face-to-face communication (“Idealist Portrait of the Teacher”). According to Butt, ENFJs also value organization, especially of time and interpersonal affairs (i. e. work hours, appointments) and seek better solutions to problems they face (Butt). In general, I was surprised by how accurate this personality assessment was. When I first took the test, I thought that the results would not be very accurate because the questions were just “yes / no” questions and did not allow for any gradation (such as “very frequently,” “sometimes,” “not often”).

I found the assessment of enthusiasm, the role of intuition in the decision making process, the focus on discovering and attaining potential, the strength of verbal communication, and the organization of time to be the most accurate. I am in general a very enthusiastic person, excited about life and all of its possibilities. When I am faced with a decision, I often go with my gut feeling. Even if I try to apply reason and logic (i. e. by making pro / con lists, analyzing the potential consequences of a particular decision), my ultimate choice is generally aligned with what my instinct tells me.

I was surprised that the test could distinguish so well between verbal and written forms of communication, and even between different types of verbal communication. I have always found it easier to express my thoughts and ideas in a verbal medium, but I find it easier to do with people in front of me, either in a conversation or in speaking to a group of people. I have never found it particularly easy to communicate effectively on the telephone because I cannot see the other person’s facial expressions and body language.

I was also surprised that the test could distinguish between different types of organizational preferences. I have never liked to have an organized, tidy working environment. My desk is messy, my room is cluttered, and I like it that way. When everything is in its proper place, I cannot find anything. However, I have always liked to have my time organized. I like having schedules and am good at following them. I value the assessment of ENFJs that appears on personalitypage. com because it emphasizes potential weaknesses of this personality type and what individuals can do to address these issues.

For example, the author notes that because ENFJs can be so focused on the needs of other people, it is especially important for them to spend time alone focusing on their own thoughts and needs, even if this process can be difficult for them (BSM Consulting). I have often remarked that it is difficult for me to engage in this process, but the times that I have managed to immerse myself fully in the process, I have found it rewarding. Now that I am aware of this potential difficulty, I can make the conscious effort to spend more time alone focusing on myself.

Another example of a potential weakness in ENFJ individuals is that, though they have strongly-felt beliefs, they hesitate to express them (even though they are capable of doing so) because they are too often focused on the needs and desires of someone else. As a result, they can feel alone even when surrounded by people (BSM Consulting). I have often felt this way, and now that I understand some of the reasoning behind my feelings, I can make a conscious effort to express myself in these types of situations.

One aspect of the test and the results that I would have appreciated more clarification on is the strength of preference for each of the characteristics. For example, my results indicated that strength of preference for feeling at 75 % and for judging at 11%. I am not clear on how this correlates to the expression of traits of the typical ENFJ. While I largely agree with the assessment of my personality based on this test, others might not agree with their own results, and perhaps this has to do with how the strength of preference is related to the typology.

Works Cited “About 4 Temperaments: Idealist Portrait of the Teacher (ENFJ). ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://keirsey. com/handler. aspx? s=keirsey&f=fourtemps&tab=3&c=teacher. “About 4 Temperaments: The Idealists. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://keirsey. com/handler. aspx? s=keirsey&f=fourtemps&tab=3&c=teacher. BSM Consulting. “Portrait of an ENFJ: The Giver. ” Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://www. personalitypage. com/ENFJ. html. Butt, Joe. “Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging. ” TypeLogic, February 23, 2005. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://typelogic.

com/enfj. html. 5. Stanford Prison Experiment Without actually experiencing the circumstances of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, it is difficult to know how I would have responded in either the role of a guard or a prisoner. Even Zimbardo was caught off-guard by how he reacted in the scenario, abandoning his role of researcher and becoming fully immersed in his role as prison warden (Zimbardo). However, I will do my best to place myself in the roles of guard and prisoner. In the experiment, guards were given no training on how to do their job.

Instead, they were essentially free to do what they deemed necessary in order to maintain law and order and to gain the prisoners’ respect. In the end, Zimbardo found that there were three different types of guards: tough but fair, good guys (who were more lenient and treated the prisoners more compassionately), and bad guys (who were hostile, arbitrary, and inventive in their forms of punishment and control) (Zimbardo). I think that I would have had a hard time fully immersing myself in the role of guard because I think I would have been unable to forget that this was an experiment and that the “prisoners” were innocent college students.

This fact combined with the fact that I am generally concerned with the happiness and well-being of others would probably have placed me in the second group of guards (those who were more lenient). In general, I have a difficult time punishing people. I certainly cannot imagine any situation where I could actually be capable of inflicting some of the forms of punishment that the guards in the experiment invented. The repetitive push-ups, yes. Some of the more severe forms of punishment that led to the experiment being called-off, definitely not.

Furthermore, I tend to try to gain other people’s respect by demonstrating that I have their best interests at heart and that I am effective at solving their problems. In this scenario, my normal behaviors would not have worked. As a guard, I would have had to ignore the prisoners’ best interests, and there would have been nothing I could do to solve their problems. Instead, I and my fellow guards would have arguably been the main source of the prisoners’ problems. As such, I do not think that the prisoners would have respected me very much, and I would probably have left myself open to aggressive behavior such as fighting and/or rioting.

In regards to the prisoners, Zimbardo remarked that they coped with the situation in a variety of ways: rebelling, fighting, emotional break down, and doing everything the guards asked for. In the end, the prisoners had no sense of group identity: the guards’ psychological tactics had effectively broken any sense of solidarity the prisoners had (Zimbardo). In looking at the guards’ tactics in terms of group dynamics, one can see two primary ways in which they broke down the feeling of “group” amongst the prisoners.

According to Bruce Tuckman, there are four primary stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, and performing (cited by Neill). In the Stanford Prison Experiment, the guards interrupted the process of group formation in the first two stages. As the prisoners had no opportunity to initially get to know each other (they were identified only by number, they wore identical emasculating outfits, and they wore stockings over their hair), the forming process never fully materialized.

When the guards arbitrarily moved prisoners in and out of the privilege cell, prisoners were uncertain as to which of their fellow prisoners were collaborating with the guards. They did not know who they could trust, and therefore no clear leader of the prisoners could be identified. If I had been placed in the role of prisoner, I probably would have been one of the prisoners who did everything the guards asked for. I also probably would have tried to keep some sense of group identity amongst the prisoners by communicating with the others, asking how they were, what they were thinking about, and how they felt.

In this way, I would have been able to keep my mind off of my own problems. I highly doubt that I would have been one of the prisoners that experienced an emotional breakdown because I would have been too concerned with the plight of the others to pay attention to my own distress. After the fact, though, I would likely have been considerably affected by the situation. If I had taken part in this experiment, I am certain that I would have learned quite a bit about myself: how I react to stress, how I cope with less than ideal circumstances, and how I function as part of a group in a stressful situation.

However, I do not think that I would have learned anything about myself that could not have been learned in a less demeaning, inhumane, and atrocious scenario. Works Cited Neill, James. “What are the Stages of Group Development. ” August 15, 2004. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://www. wilderdom. com/group/StagesGroupDevelopment. html. Zimbardo, Philip G. The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment Conducted at Stanford University. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from http://www. prisonexp. org.


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