Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The contribution of the nature-nurture debate to the understanding of human behavior.

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The contribution of the nature-nurture debate to the understanding of human behavior.


An introduction to the nature-nurture debate


Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental process. There are different principles and approaches in this subject, like behaviorism, structuralism, functionalism, psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, humanistic approach and biology approach. They all have there own controversy on whether nature or nurture is the main source of psychology.


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The nature-nurture debate goes by several names that are often used interchangeably in different sub-disciplines of psychology. These are nativism-empiricism(perception);heredity versus environment(individual differences). Maturation versus learning(developmental psychology). It was began by Francis Galeton, when he referred to genes and environment as the two sources of individual differences in his study of giftedness(Hereditary Genius An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences, 186). It suggests that physiology (which starts with genetics) and environment are competing developmental forces, and that one may be more important than the other, The debate of it has lasted during the development of psychology, until recently, it has remained rooted in the discipline of psychology.


Its contribution to the understanding of human behavior


One of its contribution is finding out how genetics and environment affect personality and intelligence; psychologists turn to a field of study called behavior genetics. Looking at behavior within a group of individuals, sometimes focusing on behaviors and abilities that shared by all human beings, and sometimes on individual differences. Psychologists try to determine what percentage is related to genetic differences and what percentage is related to environmental differences. According to this, there are two classic methods, one is ¡¥twins studies¡¦, the other one is perceptual ability of babies. Beside, there are also other approaches and principles that I will mention below. We will see that knowledge is the greatest benefactor in this complex debate by these truth.


1. Twin studies Identical twins share a home environment and have the same genetic makeup, while fraternal twins share a home environment but do not share the exact same genetic makeup. In studies comparing behavioral traits in identical and fraternal twins, researchers have found that genetic differences can account for 40 to 50 percent of differences in personality traits, while environmental influences may account for about 0 percent of differences in personality traits.


This research shows that there is a social womb in personality. It isnt all hard-wired from birth.


. Perceptual abilities of newborn babies Represent the most direct way of investigating the nature-nurture issue. In general, the earlier a particular ability appears, the more likely it is to be under the influence of genetic factors. In the visual cliff apparatus. Gibson & Walk (160) used babies aged 6-14 months, who were placed on the central platform and enticed to cross to either side by their mothers. Most babies refused to crawl onto the ¡¥deep¡¦ side. This experiment suggests that perception of depth is present at a very early stage and according to the researchers, is probably innate.


Although the technique used it may be explained in other ways, several studies have established that, for example, looking time in experiments on babies IQ.


Clearly, these two methods did not give us a final answer that whether nature or nurture is the main source of personality or intelligence. But just as some approaches that are followed below, they are the structure of the source from which some later knowledge in psychology came out of.


. Some other approaches


�Ü Waston¡¦s environmentalism He saw human beings as complete malleable.


�Ü Nativist See knowledge of the world as largely innate, whilst empirists stress the role of learning and experience. These extreme view points are also reflected in early psychological theories.


�Ü Cecl & William A meaner way, they said ¡Khuman traits are jointly determined by both nature nurture , although they may disagree about the relative contribution of each.


These examples that I have given are all direct or indirect offsprings of the debate, as we see, not all of them are convincible or acceptable for us. But if look back to any subject, like physics or astronomy, kinds of mischievous methods made one correct method and the development of these subjects. And there are always some focus points exist as derivation to these correct methods. For physics it was the question ¡¥Whether atom could be divided¡¦ For astronomy, it was the question ¡¥Whether the earth is the center of universe¡¦, and for psychology, in terms of this article, it¡¦s the nature-nurture debate.


Conclusion


However, the interest in the issue has been declined, the reason was the discovery over the past century that environmental factors influence much of human development. In other words, human behavior is known to occur though means other than purely nature-nurture ones. As Plomin(15)maintained that ¡¥Research and theory in genetics(nature) and environmental(nurture) are becoming to converge¡K¡Kthe common ground is a model of active organism-environment interaction in which nature and nurture play a duet rather than one directing the performance of the other¡KIt is time to put the nature and nurture controversy behind us and to bring nature and nurture together in the study of development¡K¡K¡¦. And that will be another contribution that this issue give us¡Xwith its disappearance and sublimation.








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