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The Controversy of Nature vs. Nurture Essay

The Nature vs. Nurture controversy was begun by British researcher Sir Francis Galton, who invented the term “Nature vs. Nurture” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd, 2005). He began the debate about whether intelligence happens because of our environment, or because of the genes we are given at birth (Wood, et al., 2005). There is much debate in the scientific community about which is more likely among humans and their development. Joseph E. LeDoux (1998), writes that “in spite of a growing emphasis on genetic factors in shaping who we are, the pendulum that swings between the extreme positions in the nature vs. nurture debate still has plenty of momentum”(pg. B7).

It can be said that genes make important contributions to a persons’ personality. In fact Ekart and Voland (2000), stated that “Learning is a biologically detailed, regulated and frequently narrowly limited process, and therefore human beings cannot be unlimitedly malleable” (pg. 197). It seems that he feels that the explanation for learning is biologically set in our genes and that we are only capable of learning a limited amount of information (Ekart & Voland, 2000). LeDoux (1998), also says that “we are born with a hefty dose of programmed synaptic links” (pg. 88). He goes on to say that these synapses are the processes that show us who we are (LeDoux, 1998). Eric Lorenzen (2001), tells us that there is substantial evidence to show us that “human behaviors have genetic links” (pg. 45).

Most of the authors discussed above have a belief for not only the idea that nature is believed to contribute to human nature and intelligence, but also the concept that there are certain behaviors and information that can only be learned or taught to another person. Voland (2000), tells us that he has seen that “society into which the children are born, with its prevailing behavioral norms, creeds, social structures, attitudes , mentalities, etc., imprints and profiles the newborn human beings” (pg. 197).

It is usually environmentalists that believe that we (humans) are the complete result of our learned environment, or nature (Wood, et al., 2005). Scientists believe that “basic gene/environment interaction in the development of behavior, there can neither be a ‘genetic determinism’ nor an ‘environmental determinism’ and therefore the attempt to divide behavior into an ‘innate’ or acquired component” (Voland, 2000). Scientists have seen that society, culture can “imprint” on humans to fill in a “blank brain” with knowledge and information to survive (Voland, 2000).

One way that scientist can see if it is truly nature or nurture that determines who we are, and where our intelligence comes from is to study twins. Wood, et al. (2005), discusses a study done in Minnesota in 1999 which studied 10,000 twin pairs and compared their intelligence. The scientist, Thomas Brouchard found that each study stated that the trait that was most inherited from birth was intelligence (Wood, et al., 2005).

Studies have also shown that identical twins raised in similar environments show more traits that are alike than in fraternal twins raised in similar environments (Wood, et al., 2005). Lorenzen (2001), states that “The University of Minnesota study of identical twins reared apart shows a link between genes and behavior” (pg. 45). Brouchard also found that “children who are not related biologically but are raised in the same home are no more similar once they reach adulthood then strangers” (Wood, et al., 2005).

So what can we see? We can see that there will more than likely continue to be a debate on this idea of Nature vs. Nurture. As we can see there are mountainous studies done that provide evidence for both points. Humans can be seen learning new behaviors all the time. Intelligence however can also be seen to have its origins in the genes as well. I believe that there is a certain balance that gives us both nature and nurture in our intelligence as we grow and learn and thrive. “No living organism reacts to all aspects of its environment” (Voland, 2000). Likewise, the twin studies do highlight the emphasis on the genes that we are born with, which provide us with the framework for our intelligence.

Works Cited Page
LeDoux, J. (1998). Nature vs. Nurture: the Pendulum Still Swings With Plenty of Momentum. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 45(16), B7-B8. Retrieved
from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214728572?accountid=8067. Lorenzen, E. (2001). Issues in Sociobiology. The Science Teacher, 68(6), 44-48. Retrieved from http://serach.proquest.com/docview/21424963?accountid=8067. Voland, E.(2000). Nature or Nurture? The Debate of the Century, a Category Error, and the Illuminating

Impact of Evolutionary Psychology. European Psychologist, 5(3), 196-199.doi:10.1027//1016-
9040.5.3.196.
Wood, S.E.,Wood, E.G., & Boyd, D. (2005). The World of Psychology. (5th ed.). New York, NY. Pearson
Education.


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