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Nature VS nurture - Issues, perspectives and debates in psychology.

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Introduction

NATURE VS NURTURE ISSUES, PERSPETIVES AND DEBATES IN PSYCHOLOGY Michelle Buckley NATURE refers to our innate potential that is influenced entirely by physiological and genetic factors. NURTURE refers to the influence of the environment into & all the learning experiences we have after we are born. The nature-nurture debate has been hotly debated in psychology. At the outset of psychological research the nature-nurture debate was a point of argument between researchers from the behaviourist tradition and other approaches. More recently it has divided researches with regard to social and racial differences in intelligence. Nowadays it's hard to believe that something as complex as human behaviour can be completely explained by either side of the argument, it's more likely to be a product of both, as suggested by the Psychologist Robert Plomin. He would like to see the nature-nurture debate end as he says most human behaviours are not influenced by nature or nurture but by nature and nurture. He makes the point that twin and adoption studies have provided evidence for the fact that there is a genetic component to personality, intelligence and general behavioural disorders such as Schizophrenia and Autism. However the genetic influence on these traits and behaviour is only partial, genetics account for on average half of the variance of most traits therefore the environment must account for the rest according to Plomin. This means that they are interdependent. An approach that belongs on the interdependent side of the argument is the cognitive-developmental approach. A key assumption of this approach is that development occurs through the twin processes of nature and nurture. Piaget believed that children were innately curious and programmed to learn (nature) ...read more.

Middle

This therefore suggests that nurture is responsible for the development of schizophrenia. Although investigators are still uncertain whether this disorganised communication is the cause or result of schizophrenia. It's difficult to place all of the blame onto contradictory messages, people will respond differently to contradictory messages; this suggests this idea is unreliable as the results aren't consistent. The disorganised family life often associated with poverty has also been implicated in schizophrenia. In conclusion there doesn't seem to be a definite answer as to whether schizophrenia is caused by nature or nurture. They appear to be interdependent, as with the above causes no one seems to solely cause schizophrenia. There is evidence to support as well as to contradict each of the suggestions, which makes discovering the cause of schizophrenia difficult. Child psychology has been in the middle of the debate on nature vs. nurture. Psychologists such as Piaget said children were innately curious but needed the right sort of environment to learn. Theories of attachment are however central. Bowlby was involved within the psychodynamic approach and influenced by the work of ethologists. He believed children have an innate instinct to attach to their primary caregiver for survival. He stated that children are born with the tendency to display certain behaviours, which help ensure proximity and contact with the mother or mother-figure, for example crying, smiling etc. Attachment behaviour makes very good sense from an evolutionary point of view because it would have been those babies that stayed close to their mothers who would have survived to have children of their own. ...read more.

Conclusion

These are interestingly the characteristics of an affectionless psychopath. Of course there is no serious evidence to support this theory and it encourages prejudices and stereotyping. Lombroso's research was flawed as he didn't use proper control groups and the criminal samples he used were often mentally disturbed or suffering chromosomal abnormalities. Goring (1913) reported that a study comparing 3000 convicts with 3000 non-criminals found no differences in features. Another theory for the genetic basis of crime comes from Sheldon. He categorised people into 3 body shapes and noticed criminals fell into a particular group. His three groups were: Endomorphs - these people were fat and soft; they were relaxed as a whole and enjoyed the company of others. Ectomorphs - these people were thin and fragile and as a whole solitary and self-conscious. Mezomorphs - these were muscular and broad, this is the group associated with criminality because they are aggressive, have a high pain tolerance and are careless of other people's feelings. Of course this is only a correlation and could be due to third variables. In conclusion it's unlikely that biological theories alone can offer a convincing explanation for criminal behaviour. Any link between physiology and criminal behaviour is likely to have been affected by the environment. In conclusion of the nature nurture debate there doesn't seem to be any conclusive evidence for either and I believe the interactionist view is more reliable. Because of the advances in technology it's impossible to reach a clear result as proved in the case of schizophrenia, it's better to be more open-minded and accept that both nature and nurture have a role to play side by side. ?? (footnote continued) 4 3 ...read more.

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