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"Outline and comment on the two schools of thought involved in the study of the nature-nurture debate in development. Explain, using examples, why this debate gives rise to so much controversy".

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"Outline and comment on the two schools of thought involved in the study of the nature-nurture debate in development. Explain, using examples, why this debate gives rise to so much controversy". The debate concerning the two schools of thought involved in the study of the "nature versus nurture" is one of the most controversial and long-lasting debates in psychology. Psychologists disagree whether a particular part of behaviour had taken place through genetic and heredity factors or through experience in their environment and learning. Psychologists are trying to answer, "What makes us who we are?" and consider two main influences. Firstly nature which is involved in genes and heredity, and their influences on our development, and secondly nurture which is involved in external influences on our development such as the environment and nurturing. Psychologists were divided into two schools of thought, firstly the nativists, who are concerned with the nature side of the debate. In 1943 Gesell argued that genes and chromosomes that are inherited are the main influence in child development (Hayes and Orrell 1996, pg 2). For example: Gesell found that the development of physical coordination in a baby seemed to follow an orderly sequence, beginning with its head, and gradually moved down the body. ...read more.


Behaviours we inherit don't show up all at once. Certain forms of behaviour emerge when the individual is mature enough. This is known as maturation, for example, the physiological changes that take place in puberty (Hayes & Orrell 1996 pg 7). There are disagreements between the nativists and behaviourists about whether or not maturation is purely genetic. (Hayes N 1993, pg 32). This brings the debate to the other side of the disagreement and behaviourists also known, as empiricists, believe nurture is the main influence in development. In 1913, J.B. Watson attempted to make psychology `Scientific`. Previously psychology had concentrated on the study of the mind, Watson argued that the mind was not suitable for valid scientific research, so instead he studied behaviour (Hayes N 1995, pg 3). Watson was a total empiricist believing the environment was the only important factor in an individual's development. He considered that a child was born as tabula rasa - a blank slate, which experience would write upon to produce the person (Hayes & Orrell 1996, pg 2. On a different point Watson believed the stimulus-response theory would eventually lead to a complete understanding of human behaviour (Hayes N 1995, pg 23). In 1911 E.L. ...read more.


This story has been controversial to the point of tragedy. In 1966 a medical accident happened involving the circumcision of a boys penis. Bruce Reimer was born a boy in Canada in 1965. He was to have routine surgery, which went horribly wrong. Psychologist John Money took up his case and suggested that Bruce should be raised as a girl. John wanted to prove nurture would over-ride nature in gender identity. Bruce was castrated and called Brenda. Brenda still behaved and felt like a boy even though he did not know he was a boy. The nurturing of Bruce's parents and environment had little effect in changing his gender identity even though it was thought of as successful. In adult hood he had reconstruction surgery after his parents told him the truth and later married and raised children successfully. He sadly committed suicide on May 4th 2004. This suggests in this case nurture cannot over ride nature. (T.V Documentary & Radio Times) There are many debates and examples that give rise to much controversy in the nature verses nurture debate in the development process. In my opinion this is one debate that psychologists will never be able to resolve, as there is strong evidence in certain circumstances, to support each debate, that nature and nurture both influence development. ...read more.

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