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Critically Evaluate The Influences Of Nature And Nurture With Regard To The Concept Of Intelligence.

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Critically Evaluate The Influences Of Nature And Nurture With Regard To The Concept Of Intelligence Stephen Hoyland Furness College Channelside Barrow-in-Furness Cumbria LA14 2PJ Introduction Is intelligence fixed, or is it shaped by factors in a person's social environment? In other words, is it something that is set at conception as the product of breeding or is it something more complex linked to the overall function of the environment, or even a mixture of the two? The controversies surrounding the nature of human intelligence are long standing and have produced many varied studies. According to the psychologists who lean towards the nativist (nature) idea of intelligence we are born with certain capacities to perceive our environment in certain ways, these capacities are often incomplete or immature when first born and develop gradually throughout childhood. These particular psychologists believe learning plays only a minor role in the development of an individual's intellect. The empiricists (nurture), on the other hand, maintain that we are born as blank slates and that our knowledge and abilities are acquired through a process of differing experiences and are therefore learned. Theories of intelligence The issue of the role of heredity or environment in shaping our eventual intelligence began to appear as long ago as the seventeenth century when a philosopher named John Locke (1632-1704) produced data on the subject of empiricism. Locke's 'tubula rasa' or blank slate approach perceived that our minds are blank at birth and throughout our lives we combine external stimuli, forming chains of association, and as we mature these chains become more complex. ...read more.


This proposition relates specifically to twins, monozygotic MZs, identical, and dizygotic DZs, non-identical. Studies by Erlenmeyer-Kimling and Jarvik (1963) later updated by Bouchard and McGue (1981) seemed to support this proposition. However as the studies were conducted on MZs living together do they take into the account the possibilities of the twins' environments also increasing in similarity as they increase in genetic similarity? In order to counter this problem the IQ of MZs reared separately would need to be compared to the IQ of MZs reared together. The best-known Studies into MZs reared separately, Newman et al (1937), Burt (1955, 1958, 1966), Shields (1962) and Juel-Nielsen (1965), show that they are still more alike than DZs reared together suggesting a strong genetic link. Twin studies have, however, attracted a great deal of criticisms. This criticism related to the fact that the MZs classified as separated were in some instances not separated until the age of seven, eight or nine and in other cases were raised in related branches of the parents families and even attended the same schools. Taking these criticisms into account and with the improvements of research techniques we still find impressive correlations in the study of twins. McGurk's second proposition states that, as genetic inheritance is a constant, there should be a high degree of continuity in IQ throughout an individual's lifespan. To determine whether or not an individuals IQ has remained constant over time there is a need to calculate the stability coefficient. ...read more.


This catch up was significantly improved if the adoption had taken place before the children were six months old. Nature, Nurture or Both? From the evidence produced in relation to the four propositions, which supported the genetic theory, it can be seen that the environment does play an important part in the development of intelligence. But how much? The balance between these two factors has produced conflicting results in its own right with Jensen (1969) claiming hereditability to be 80% whereas Bouchard and Segal (1988) said the figure was more likely to be around 50-60%. The differing research and study results documented do give an insight into perhaps how not only there is a need to have a positive environmental input but also the need to be aware of the actual effects hereditability has on the issue of intelligence. The complexities of the nature and nurture positions could possibly suggest the need to perhaps reframe the debate on the nature of intelligence, perhaps a more useful question could be: how is intelligence influenced by both heredity and the environment? One possible response to this question was offered by Gardner (1983) who offered the multiple intelligence theory, stating that multiple intelligence is neutral on the issue of heritability, and emphasized the importance of environmental interactions. Although Gardner did not doubt that genetics do play an important part in intelligence, he stressed the interaction between genetic and environmental factors as pre-eminent. ...read more.

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