Nurture over Nature

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The Importance of Nurture over Nature

By: Anthony Barbieri

Date: March 1, 2013

Teacher: Ms. Bugelli

Without question, both nurture and nature play significant roles in the development of an individual, both mentally and physically. So, the question remains: which has the greater influence? Nature versus nurture is about the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities versus their personal experiences in determining differences in physical and behavioral traits in a person. Many aspects of an individual are predetermined by their genes, such as their physical traits and their personality traits; however, these characteristics can be greatly altered by the environment in which the individual is raised. Humans acquire all or most of their behavioral traits from ‘nurture’ this is known as tabula rasa, or blank slate. Beginning with a clean slate at birth, one goes through life gaining experiences and views that shape them into who they grow up to be. The theory of tabula rasa is what many philosophers use to support the view that nurture plays a more important role than nature. There is no power greater than nurture; nothing will affect one more deeply than the way one is raised. Many leading psychologists have tried to prove both sides of this argument including, B.F. Skinner and one of his very well-known studies on children and their IQ’s and IQ development. Torsten Weisel and David Hubel also support this theory through their studies of the influence of parenting in the early months of childhood. John B. Watson is another professional who created an experiment to train a child to have certain feelings towards certain objects, such as animals. Lastly parents and the environment that they are in more or less decide whether their child is going to develop properly during and after pregnancy. As one can see based on these facts nature can be looked at as a rough guideline for any individual; however, one’s personality and physical characteristics cannot fully develop without proper nurture.

Psychologist, B.F. Skinner, led an experiment on children and teenagers made to discover the relationship between nutrition and intelligence. Children between the ages of twelve and thirteen were given an IQ test and were then required to take nutritional supplements for eight months thereafter. After the eight month trial period the IQ test was retaken and the children’s scores had improved. Due to this experiment Skinner was able to prove the direct relationship between nutrition and human intelligence (Onkal, 2005). This makes it clear that it’s not in an individuals nature to be more or less intelligent then another person, but its based on what the child is exposed to that makes them more intelligent. Parents are also responsible for a child’s behaviour and intelligence. Between birth and eighteen months of age, parents have a heavy influence on the growth and development of their child. Scientists, Torsten Weisel and David Hubel, studied this influence extensively during the 1970s. They discovered that during this time, parents are responsible for a part of the brain’s development that develops self-esteem and other emotions. By properly parenting a child in those key first months of life, parents are helping the child to develop trust and security. Weisel and Hubel also stated that by laying these foundations, the child will be able to connect with the world and learn more easily (Morton). This is part of B.F. Skinner’s learning theory, which can be easily linked to tabula rasa - each new reinforcement will add a new mark to ones slate. Throughout life incidents will happen in everyday life that may lead to negative and serious consequences, from getting grounded to going to jail, but fortunately one can learn from these mistakes and become a...
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