What is the nature v nurture debate? How can an individual’s development be affected using the nature v nurture debate? Some of the areas of development I will be looking at are language how nature and nurture can have an influence on this, causes of behaviour why people behave the way they do, gender role are we born to be a certain sexual orientation or not, aggression, disease, and illness are we predisposed to getting certain diseases or is it our lifestyles and environments and other learnt behaviour that progress illness and disease? These are the questions I will be looking at. Our development can be affected by many things; some development is affected before we are even born passed on through the genes this is the nature side of the debate there are many children born with diseases which affect them physically, mentally, emotionally and socially an example of this could be downs syndrome, this is because of an extra chromosome in the genetic makeup which causes downs syndrome but what caused this extra chromosome in the first place was it something within the environment that caused the extra chromosome this would then fall on the nurture side this could also be used for obesity peoples bodies are changing but are we born with a higher risk of being fat and overweight, is there a fat gene?
Or is it because of our lifestyles the way that we live and the choices that we make? I feel that again it could be on both sides here as there is research into the fat gene that shows that some people may have a missing gene that affects the brain and causes them to not be able to stop eating not recognising when the body is full. But you could argue that it is the environment that we live in with the many fast food restaurants springing up everywhere when you walk down the local high street there are so many takeaways, coffee shops, sandwich shops, curry houses, burger joints and fish and chip shops they dominate where we live, where we shop and its very much a part of our culture to dine out with many pubs offering 2 for ten pounds meals its sometimes might be cheaper to eat out. Nature or Nurture or a fine balance of both, what do you think?
I feel that this plays a huge part of why obesity is such a problem today, if look back to just 30 years ago many of these fast food chains didn’t exist and it was a treat to eat out or have fish and chips, one of the most important parts of the day was the family sitting down to eating a meal around the table the high streets were full of butchers and green grocers, bakers farm shops. I do believe that there is quite possibly is a fat gene as our bodies are adapting to the society that we live in today, children are becoming obese and within the next ten years there is expected to be an huge problem with more children developing things like diabetes asthma and heart disease at earlier ages, I do believe that nurture, our parents, environment and society has brought about the problems we see today and could be why our genes are mutating.
I feel that an example of this would be a child learning to talk if the child does not have much contact with other children between the ages 1 to 4 years it could be that by the time the child attends school it could have delayed speech, this is even more the case if the child has not been encouraged at home to use words or if the child has been spoken to like a baby for too long. You could use the example of the feral children, children that are locked up for a long period of time or removed and forced to live in a different way, these children are found after many years not being able to communicate or use words.
Another example would be children that are brought up bi-lingual, these children often take to languages easily and can talk 2 or 3 languages fluently because it is natural to their environment again this is nurture, nature does play a part of course because without the correct anatomy we would not be able to talk and use speech to communicate, psychologists say that the correct timing to learn speech is between birth and puberty after this stage its thought that it’s not possible for someone to learn.
Another area to consider in the nature vs. nurture debate is language, how speech develops, do we learn speech or again is it something that we are born with. I feel that with language is definitely something that we are taught it is vital that we are around other people to be able to communicate and develop speech.
Behaviour is also another topic that comes up with this debate two psychologists that believe that nurture is responsible for behaviour are John Watson and B.F Skinner, they believed that children are conditioned from what they learn. John Watson conducted an experiment called the little Albert experiment, in this this experiment he conditioned a toddler to learn to be scared of a rat. The toddler was not scared of the rat in the beginning it was only after a loud noise was associated with the rat that the toddler became frightened. A simple example of this could be a child learning to fear spiders from the mother if she is scared of them and displays this in front of the child they then learn to become afraid. This is known as classic conditioning and goes for the nurture side of the debate. I agree with this side as I do believe that we are shaped very much by our environment, parents, media, peers with behaviour but for the nature side of the debate how can you explain children that are separated from their parents or adopted and still manage to have the same personality traits make similar choices and grow up with the same fears likes and dislike surely this is a huge tick for the nature side of the debate.
There is also the twin studies to be considered in the nature side of the debate where identical twins come from one egg divided into two, studies show that these twins share a lot from choices that they make, personality traits and their abilities and limits, this is completely different to that of those that are fraternal twins who tend to be opposite in many ways.
With this part of the debate again i feel that both nature and nurture play a part. First if look at mental illness depression for example in my opinion is a nurture thing because of our environments, the effect that others have on us pressures of every day life and so on. But it’s also a fact that if you have seen a parent go through bouts of depression you may be more likely to mimic that if there comes a time when you can’t cope, the learnt behaviour is to withdraw. But in the case of PKU which is a genetic disorder which is passed on if both parents are carriers to there unborn child. Found in our everyday diets phenylalanine becomes a poison to someone with PKU and can cause severe affects rendering that person retarded for the rest of their life. This cannot be reversed once it occurs but can be prevented by administering a special diet at birth; children can grow up healthy with little problems, so something that starts of as genetic turns into an environment issue, both nature and nurture playing their parts.
I believe that both nature and nurture play a huge part through out our life, nature being what we are born with and nurture being the environment that has shaped us. I do think that genes are changing and some mutating to our ever changing environments, looking at twin studies i feel show us a lot from identical twins that can have a lot of the same traits but end up with different sexualities, to twins that are separated at birth and can end up with the same jobs, preferences, make the same or similar choices. I believe that even if we are born with certain genes that we still have the free will to make choices that will improve or avoid us inevitably going down a certain route or pathway through life.
I feel with aggression it is both sides of the debate, with the nurture side we only need to look at the gangs that are found all over the world, this is because of the culture of fear that surrounds us as a society. We are definitely shaped by this as individuals, as we only need to look at the media to see the violence that’s thrown at us every day and night, we are trained for war and to battle and kill others in order to protect ourselves, children are taught from an early age about aggression from parents, brothers and sisters it surrounds us. It has been shown as a normal part of life through cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, computer games to the stories we read and the films we watch. On the other hand for the nature side we have Testosterone; this is a powerful hormone that can dominate us as people, especially in men who have high testosterone levels. Look at body builders for example they inject themselves with Testosterone and have higher levels of aggression, men murder more than woman men die younger than women, i definitely agree with this. GENDER ROLE BEHAVIOUR
Is there a gay gene or are we shaped by our up bringing, environments to be a certain sexual orientation? I feel that with this part of the debate it’s a bit of both, i agree with the theory that hormones shape us as individuals and can a powerful sway over how we feel, how we act, it’s quite apparent that homosexuality runs through families indicating that it’s in our genetic makeup, but this part of the debate is not clean cut. There is a story of a boy who had a terrible accident when he was younger which led to his genitals being removed, his parents were advised to stop the boy from suffering he should be brought up as a girl. The theory behind this is that we are born with a clean slate concerning gender; we can be shaped and trained to be a certain gender with the right environment and encouragement. I agree with the fact that gender can be shaped by our environments but essentially it’s our genes and hormones that shape or sexuality however that is up for discussion as some people choose to become gay later in their life’s, this I think is because of nurture.
So are we born with bad or good behaviour built in? Or is it something we learn? A psychologist called Arnold Gesell believed that we are born with all things put in place, that biology has set the patterns of behaviour already and only at the correct time will these unfold, it’s already in our genetics who we are going to be. I don’t believe this as i am definitely on the nurture side i do think that some things are on the nature side like hair colour, eyes, we are kind of a made up stamp of both parent’s or ancestors but i do believe that our experiences, environment, peers shape our behaviour and personality, as people grow and change and surround themselves with others and different circumstances behaviour changes.