Nature vs Nurture

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Aja McBride
WRI 121/ Clement
Paper #2
2/13/13
Nature vs. Nurture Debate
Ever since I can remember, I have always wondered about the cause of actions. Why do we behave the way we do? As a child I didn’t know much about how to answer it, but I still pondered this questioned. I wondered why my older brother was always angry, why my father was always sad, and why I was always happy. What caused these certain feelings? My aunt was a very different woman, which I hadn’t noticed at the time because of my young age. She was always very frantic and anxious; she was always making up stories that, at the time, I completely believed. These stories ranged from the FBI tapping into her phone calls to them planting bugs in her house. When I am with my aunt now, I realize that her behavior is considered abnormal, in other words it is statistically rare and deviates from the social norm. I recently found out that she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which I could have easily detected on my own and makes a whole lot more sense now. My initial thought was how badly I felt for her, I then began to realize that there were more troubling matters at hand – was this hereditary? This is what lead me to the desire of what causes these behaviors; is it the product of nature or nurture?

My interest in psychology took off at a rapid pace. I wanted to find out everything I possibly could about the human mind. I enrolled in International Baccalaureate (IB) Psychology in high school, and there was no class that could possibly compare to it. The lectures were so fascinating, learning about why people act the way they do was more than a guilty pleasure for me. The nature versus nurture debate was a very prominent topic throughout this course, with every disorder would follow the speculation of what factor had caused it. This debate was particularly present in many psychological disorders, mainly because not a lot of research had been conducted on this matter. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology defines the nature versus nurture debate as an “argument that concerns the relative importance of an individual’s innate qualities versus personal experiences in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits” (Plomin). I know that there is no way to know for sure what is the cause of psychological disorders, but what I do know is that some theories have more information to be backed-up. What this topic usually means to audiences that do not specialize in this field, is pretty much what it entails. People most commonly understand that nature means what you are born with, and that nurture means your environment. What people do not know is which one has the most impact on creating certain behaviors or physical traits, which I am uncertain about as well. Many people believe that childhood abuse can lead to certain traits, while others believe that genes play the most important role, but no one really knows for certain. I have understood this topic in different ways because I have more experience in the matter. Some people believe that it has to be one or the other, nature or nurture, which is something that I know not to be true. Some scientists believe that it is a mixture of the two factors that lead to a specific trait. I know that a lot of research has been conducted that support both sides. What I am also familiar with is that psychological disorders can come in different forms depending on the person. These different forms are accompanied by different symptoms as well as possible different causes for the disorder. Initially I believed that nurture had the most significant impact, but with further research, I am undecided about which aspect is truly the most important piece. Do environmental factors or biological factors play the largest role in determining whether or not a person will develop psychological disorders? That is the question that I have started with. In the end, I would like to find...
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