Nature vs. Nurture

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Theories of Human Behavior: The Nature/Nurture Debate

What determines how a person will behave? Is it nature, or nurture? Or, more simply stated, is it genetics or environment that have the greatest influence on human behavior? The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology. The “nurture” perspective comes from the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) which is based on the assumption that a person’s behavior is the result of their experiences in life. Evolutionary psychology (EP), which supports the “nature” perspective, is based on the assumption that a person’s behavior is the result of their genetics.

The Nurture Theory – Environment
The Nurture Theory, which is still the dominant theory in psychology, assumes that a person is the way that they are because of their environment, what they have learned, and the experiences that they have had. The Nurture Theory does not discount that genetic predispositions may exist, but that ultimately our behaviors are determined by our upbringing, peer influence, and social expectations. Proof of the Nurture Theory can be seen in a person’s everyday life. For instance, a child learns not to touch the stove after getting burned once or twice. No child is born with the knowledge to not touch the stove. Along with the stove example are countless other ways we learn from our environment. Another of these is the American custom of shaking hands versus the Japanese custom of bowing. These examples prove that nurture plays a big role in how people develop and that the environment we live in and our experiences on a daily basis teach us how to handle the various different situations we encounter over the course of our life. The Nurture Theory supports the idea of “free-will”; that we are responsible for the decisions and actions that we chose to make.

The Nature Theory – Genetics
Scientists have known for some time that genetics determine specific things about every human...
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