Discuss the Nature-Nurture Debate in Relation to Individual Development (M1)

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Discuss the nature-nurture debate in relation to individual development (M1) Evaluate the nature-nurture debate in relation to development of the individual (D1)

Over the course of the last century one of the greatest debates in psychology concerns, the basis of behaviour, specifically whether behaviour is innate i.e. genetically controlled, or whether it is learnt through the socio-cultural environment. This is often referred to as the Nature vs. Nurture debate. There are two main arguments on this issue. The ‘Nativist’ claims that all behaviour is innate believing that genes control the majority of animal behaviour. On the other hand, the empiricist position suggests that all behaviour is learned through an individuals cultural experience and conditioning – that individuals begin life as blanks slates. Extremes of both these positions are reductionist, since they explain all behaviour at one level of explanation. This debate has evolved in such a way that the modern question is not whether behaviour is innate or learned, but rather how much of behaviour, if any, is genetically determined. Most psychologists now accept that both heredity and the environment are necessary for human existence and influence our behaviour. Therefore the question has shifted to considering to what extent nature or nurture affects our behaviour and how they interact– not so much nature or nurture, as nature via nurture. The debate endures because both sides have the ability to create a scientific environment to support their cause.

One persuasion argues that behaviour is determinant, and that genetics influences on behaviour in a minimal way. The main extreme empiricists were the behaviourists. An extreme example of the empiricist point of view is Watson’s concept of behaviourism.

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and ill guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I...
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