Debates – Nature vs by sdaferv


More Info
									Discuss the nature-nurture debate with reference to different areas of psychology. (30) a).Outline the nature-nurture debate in psychology. (15) b). To what extent is it possible to explain behaviour in terms of only nature or nurture?(15)

1. Learning table of the nature-nurture debate

Haralambos pp760-768 Cardwell pp262-263 Gross pp 369-379

Nature – behaviour that is determined by nature is due to innate, biological factors that are inherited from parents through genes, and may also be due to brain chemical balance.. Nurture – behaviour that is determined by nurture is due to life experiences and arises through interaction with the environment, including through learning..
Assumptions of the approach The nature view assumes that:: 1. behaviour is innate e.g. depression (D) is inborn 2.behaviour is inherited from parents through genes e.g. parents with D are likely to pass D onto their children 3. behaviour is determined by biological processes such as maturation and hormones e.g. schizophrenia (S) does not emerge until after puberty – in late teens or twenties. 4. each person’s genetic potential/blueprint is determined at conception (genotype) e.g. perhaps all humans have a predisposition to be phobic about certain things 5. the phenotype (a person’s observable behaviour) emerges after birth e.g. if a person starts panicking when they see a spider, this is an expression of their phenotype 6. The nature argument states that whether someone is gay or not is due to nature and biological factors such as brain structure, genes etc. Arguments for each side/supporting evidence 1. The genetic theory of schizophrenia supports the idea that S is caused by nature and is inherited from parents. Studies also show that it runs in families. For example, the concordance rate for the general population is 1%, but it is 50% for MZ twins and 17% for DZ twins. Kety’s research supports the idea that the disorder is innate. He found that Danish children who were adopted at birth, and then later became S, were much more likely to have biological parents who were S (14%), than adoptive parents who had the disorder (3%). Problems related to the nature nurture debate 1. However, there are problems related to the methodology involved in twin/adoption/family studies which makes the findings of nature/nurture research unclear. To measure the effect of nature, many nature studies have looked at MZ twins who have been separated at birth. e.g. the high correlation in the IQ of separated MZ twins supports the nature argument. However in many cases twins have spent a lot of time together before being separated, before and after birth, and in other cases they have been bought up in separate, but very similar, homes (sometimes even in branches of the same family). In addition, whether twins were MZ or DZ used to be based on looks alone, which lead to low reliability. Also, adopted children are put into homes that are very similar to their own homes, in terms of race, class etc. 2. There is also the problem of the transgenerational effect which again makes the findings of research unclear. Behaviour which appears to be determined by nature may in fact be determined by nurture! e.g. if a woman has poor diet during her pregnancy, her unborn child will suffer. This means that the eggs with which each female child is born will also have these negative effects. This can then affect the development of her children a whole generation later. This means that a child’s development may in fact be determined by their grandmother’s nurture and environment (transgenerational effect) so what appears to be inherited and natural may in fact be caused by nurture. Conclusions to the nature nurture debate In reality, most behaviour is determined by a complex interaction between nature and nurture. Genes lay down a blue print for behaviour, but the environment interacts with these genetic influences to shape personality, gender identity, IQ etc. For example, the rubber band hypothesis of IQ suggests that IQ potential is determined at conception by the genes inherited from parents. These inborn factors are represented by a ‘relaxed rubber band’- some people’s are big, others are small. However it is the pre/post natal environments that then determine how far the ‘rubber band’ stretches, which in turn determines IQ scores. The rubber band of someone bought up in a deprived environment will not stretch much (or achieve its full potential), but if bought up in an enriched environment the band will be stretched to its full extent.


The nurture view assumes: 1. behaviour is determined by a person’s environment and life experiences e.g. Bandura said personality was based on observation and imitation of others 2. behaviour is determined by prenatal experiences in the womb e.g. amount of testosterone a foetus has can affect later personality 3. behaviour is determined by family interaction e.g. family is an important source of support to adolescents in terms of forming identity (particularly for boys) 4. behaviour is determined by housing and diet e.g. deprivation can shape a person’s later personality, possibly making them depressed 5. behaviour is determined by the wider culture in which a person is bought up e.g. in Arapesh society both males and females are sensitive and non-aggressive. 6. The nurture argument states that whether someone is gay or not is due to nurture and environmental factors such as an absent father, an overbearing mother, or whether they played with dolls when young etc


2. The genetic theory of gender identity supports the idea that gender is not due to nurture, but is due to nature and is due to biological factors. For example, In the Reimer twin study, both babies were born genetically male, with an XY sex chromosome. After a surgical accident one of the boys was then raised as a girl. However, the experiment failed and the boy later rejected his socialised female identity, probably due to his brain structure and his hormones. 3. The social learning theory of personality supports the idea that personality is not innate, but that it develops as a result of nurture, through the observation and imitation of role models (vicarious reinforcement). In other words, it is learned. For example, a child may watch an adult being generous and in return receiving praise and popularity amongst their peers. This may lead to the child imitating/modelling the behaviour of the adult, and thus developing a generous personality trait. Bandura demonstrated this in his Bobo doll experiments. He found that children who watched an adult role model being rewarded for aggression towards an inflatable doll tended to imitate the behaviour.

3. Lastly there is the problem that the whole nature v nurture debate may be futile. Taking account of the problems above, perhaps it is futile to ask how much of behaviour is determined by nature or nurture. Hebb says this is like asking whether the area of a field is determined by its width or length, when clearly both are involved. In a similar way, behaviour such as IQ is determined by both nature and nurture so it is not a question of either/or, but instead a question of how much of each.

Ways of using the nature-nurture debate in PYA4 answers: One strength is that this theory/research throws light on the extent to which behaviour is determined by nature or nurture. For example, ..................................... ....................... One weakness is that this theory/research overemphasises the nature (or nurture) argument, at the expense of the nurture (or nature) argument. For example, .......................

To top