Child Development, Nature vs Nurture

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Child Development, Nature vs Nurture

By | November 2012
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The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology. The debate centers on the relative contributions ofgenetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development. Some philosophers such as Plato and Descartes suggested that certain things are inborn, or that they simply occur naturally regardless of environmental influences. Other well-known thinkers such as John Locke believed in what is known as tabula rasa, which suggests that the mind begins as a blank slate. According to this notion, everything that we are and all of our knowledge is determined by our experience. For example, when a person achieves tremendous academic success, did they do so because they are genetically predisposed to be successful or is it a result of an enriched environment? Today, the majority of experts believe that behavior and development are influenced by both nature and nurture. However, the issue still rages on in many areas such as in the debate on the origins of homosexuality and influences on intelligence. This question has puzzled philosophers, psychologists and educators for hundreds of years and is frequently referred to as the nature versus nurture debate. Are we the result of nature (our genetic background) or nurture (our environment)? Today, most researchers agree that child development involves a complex interaction of both nature and nurture. While some aspects of development may be strongly influenced by biology, environmental influences may also play a role. For example, the timing of when the onset of puberty occurs is largely the results of heredity, but environmental factors such as nutrition can also have an effect. From the earliest moments of life, the interaction of heredity and the environment works to shape who children are and who they will become. While the genetic instructions a child inherits from his parents may set out a road map for development, the environment can impact how these directions are expressed, shaped or...