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Using Two Different Approaches Describe and Evaluate the Role of Both Nature and Nurture in Explain Human Behaviour

By | December 2011
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The biological approach to psychology which looks at physical aspects controlling behaviour such as the structures of the brain, gives evidence that both nature and nurture are involved in our behaviour. For instance a study which compared the incidence of schizophrenia in MZ and DZ twins (Gottesman and Shields (1966)) found a concordance rate of 40% for the MZs but only 9% for the DZs. As arguably the only material differences between these groups was the fact that MZs share 100% genetic material whereas DZs on average only share 50% of their genes, this gives strong evidence that schizophrenia has a genetic component. However it is notable that even the sharing of 100% of genes with an ill sibling did not confer a certainty of getting the disease which implies that in this case at least, there must be some environmental factors at work. The biological approach also provides evidence for the influence of nature on behaviour in studies such as Money (1975). This study looked at the gender development of an individual who was born a boy but was subsequently brought up as a girl after having his penis accidentally removed. Although Money reported that this change in gender behaviour had been successful indicating that gender identity was to a great extent socially and thus environmentally driven, it finally transpired that this was not the case. As a young adult the individual (David Reimer) felt compelled to reverse his gender change to become a male again. This gives very strong evidence that our gender behaviours are biologically driven and that although the environment might play some part in this respect, it is minimal. The learning approach on the other hand asserts that we are almost entirely formed from our environment which shapes our behaviour through the mechanisms of classical and operant conditioning and social learning. The effect of classical conditioning was demonstrated by Watson and Rayner (1920) who conditioned a little boy (Albert) to display...

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