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The Greate Debate: Nature vs. Nurture

By tchristie Mar 12, 2011 715 Words
The Great Debate: Nature vs. Nurture

The Debate

The great nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest controversial issues. Some people would prefer to call this issue heredity versus environment. To this day, psychologists ask whether a child’s development is governed by a pattern built in at birth or if experience shapes a child’s behavior. On the nature side of the philosophical argument, theorists believe that learning depends largely on genetics. On the nurture side of the argument, theorists believe that the environment plays a huge part in the developmental learning process of a child. However, there are theorists who are stuck in the middle and feel that both nature and nurture play a role in the learning process of a child. “Development is shaped by both biology and experience-both are equally important” (Dickstein, 2007, p.1). Nature

Around the world, scientists have researched the connectivity and/or division of the ways in which nature and nurture affect human behavioral development. They have posed the question of which, nature or nurture, is more significant than the other. According to F. Fukayama, “The only problem with the idea that identities are socially constructed and that human behavior can be molded at will is that it does not appear to be true. Slowly but surely, evidence has been accumulating over the past generation to the effect that human behavior is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. Biology and culture interact in complex ways, limiting the freedom with which human identities can be manipulated either by individuals or by societies.” Some researchers believe that most human behaviors are socially constructed while others believe that human behaviors are inherent. We as a society must determine which research will make sense in how we should perceive the natural process of human development. How will we as a society really know whose research is actually right? Nurture

For a child born into extreme poverty some theorists believe that nurture makes a bigger difference in intelligence than nature ("Revisiting Nature Vs. Nurture," 2004). An experiment was conducted about this issue by a professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The experiment involved 319 pairs of twins. The study assessed IQ, weighed genes against environment and was published in the book, The Bell Curve. (Education Week, 23(2) 1,16). Seven years after the experiment was conducted, researchers administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. The differences were then examined between the twins who were raised in poor environments compared to those who were raised in adequate ones. The professor concluded that genetic makeup explains most of the differences in intelligence for children in wealthier families, but for minority children in low-income homes, environment makes a bigger difference. The study conducted by the researchers say that it explains early childhood programs such as Head Start and provides some explanations for the poorer performance of African American students on intelligence tests. Taking a New Direction

While the longstanding nature versus nurture debate argues that either genetics or environment must have the upper hand influence on human development, recent findings propose the two operate simultaneously. Rather than continue calling the argument 'nature versus nurture', researchers have begun using phrases such as ‘nurture through nature', or 'nature in nurture'. One pair of researchers offers, "Once in motion, nature and nurture function as a union within the person, rather than two separate entities" (Dai & Coleman, 2005, Nature in Nurture section, ¶ 1). This implies a major shift in thinking regarding human development. Looking more deeply into the infinite number of genetic and environmental combinations influencing human development allows far greater avenues of behavior and learning pattern explanation.

Dai, D. Y., & Coleman, L J (Spring 2005). Introduction to the special issue on nature, nurture, and the development of exceptional competence. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 28, 3-4. p.254(16). Retrieved April 08, 2008, from Academic OneFile via Gale: Dickstein, S. (2007, March). Infant mental health: Babies on the couch?. Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 23(3), 1-6. Retrieved April 10, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database. Revisiting Nature vs. Nurture. (2004). Gifted Child Today, 7(1), 1. Retrieved April 10, 2008 from General Gale database.

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