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Explain what is meant by the terms nature and nurture

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Introduction

´╗┐Explain what is meant by the terms nature and nurture (5 marks) ________________ Nature is the extent to which abilities are present at birth. Ability can be determined by genes, including those which develop by age. The biological and evolutionary approach both support the view that all behavior is determined by nature. Nurture refers to the influence of experience. Empiricists had the view that all behavior is learnt and that through reciprocal determinism we influence the environment as the environment influences us. The behaviorist approach is the most common supporter of this view. Outline the history of the nature-nurture debate in Psychology(10 marks) ________________ Philosophers in ancient times, such as Plato, believed that a child was born with some innate knowledge. Rather than learning anything new, people simply recollected knowledge which lay dormant within their mind. Locke, however, was an Empiricist and believed that the mind at birth was a blank slate. He believed that all behaviour was learnt and that the environment and up-bringing made people behaviour in certain ways. In the 19th century there was much tension around the argument. ...read more.

Middle

However it is impossible to assume that all behaviour is determined by either nature or nurture. Instead the interaction of the two by gene-environment relationship has more face validity and is being supported now by more psychologists, including the Psychodynamic approach. Using the three types of relationship I will show various ways in which a child may be musical. The first type of relationship is passive. An example of this would be a musical parent transmitting a musical gene to their offspring, then constructing a musical environment to rear their children. An evocative relationship would be if a child was musically gifted (i.e. had the pre-disposed gene) and then received special training and opportunities by teachers (therefore rewarding and encouraging such behaviour). The third is an active relationship where individuals are pre-disposed to the gene and then select their own environments to match them (e.g. a musical child chooses musical friends). In the diathesis-stress model, a genetic vulnerability or predisposition (diathesis) interacts with the environment and life events (stressors) to trigger behaviors or psychological disorders. The greater the underlying vulnerability, the less stress is needed to trigger the behavior/disorder. ...read more.

Conclusion

found that in the USA it was 8 times more common for white women to have anorexia than coloured women; however some may argue that this could be due to genetic make-up. More evidence for the nurture argument for anorexia has come from Serdula et al(1999) who found that society has become more fat and health conscious as the number of female dieters has increased from 14% in 1950 to 44% in 1999 and in the number of male dieters has risen from 7% in 1950 to 29% in 1999. Another theory from the nature side is that anorexia is due to low serotonin levels. Several studies have reported low levels of serotonin metabolites in patients with anorexia(Kaye, Ebert, Raliegh and Lake 1984) and Kaye et al(2000) found that patients with anorexia who?ve not been restored to a healthy weight show smaller response to serotonin agonists in comparison those who?ve regained a good amount of weight suggesting an under active serotonin system. However it could be argued that low levels of serotonin could be an effect of anorexia as opposed to a cause. In conclusion it is likely that anorexia is caused by a combination of both genetic and environmental influences. Some people may have a biological predisposition to anorexia but an environmental factor is needed to start it off. ...read more.

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