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Nature versus nurture

Debates concerning relativism in importance of person’s individual experiences (nurture) versus their innate or inborn qualities (nature) are the integral bases for these long term debates. Nature involves innatism, empiricism in philosophical background and nativism of different people as they manifest these qualities differently as they are also cause or determine these individual differentiations. The “tabula rasa” or the blank slate is the perception that individuals are born with a white clean mind that is later in life filled or pasted with information through the daily experiences that these people go through in the learning processes.

This question however, is considered by several recent psychologists to be a bit outdated or naive in the sense both play interacting and fundamental roles in the process of human development (Harris, 1998, 34). The dispute has however posed to be a long-standing one especially between psychologists and philosophers who for many years haven’t reached a conclusive consensus as regards the determination of an organ’s make up in relation to the human beings’ intelligence and personality, especially considering the relative environmental importance i. e. experience, upbringing or even nurture (leaning), and nature, (the genetic or heredity).

There are several contentions in regard to this controversy. Individual differences in performance of some activities such as Intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are one area that requires investigation to give explanations and reason for these differences. Different scholars have different approaches when it comes to answering this question with environmentalists assuming that there are no significant individual differences in inherited/genetic mental capabilities. They attribute these differences to early learning processes and differentiated experiences.

Those against this proposition are of the opinion that some certain differentials in individual capabilities, therefore their behaviour are attributable to genetic differences in their inherited make up (Barnes, Pickering, 1985, 17). There are many human qualities and characteristics that are to a large extent determined genetically. Some major ones include the color of the eyes and height but many researchers interested in psychology have more interests in approaches that are less relatively genetically determined but which are rather more environmentally determined or influenced.

These include such traits as personal feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions. The fact that genetic determinism degree however, varies from dimensions to dimensions, for example the process of acquiring language depending on skills, spatial in different individuals, leads us to the controversial dilemma as to how we can beyond no reasonable doubt distinguish between relative environmental and hereditary influences on human behaviors and characteristics as well understanding relationships between them which are so complex in nature.

This requires scientific investigation that is beyond genetic and hereditability approach methods. This case study should analyze and give reasonable explanations why some biological children and even twins sometimes have very distinct similarities and differences as well. Some studies for example have shown that biological and identical twins have been brought up together in the same environmental setting but one of them developed disability in learning with the other demonstrating exceptional cognitive performance.

There was also marked differences in their socialization processes with one being an introvert while the other being an extrovert. This is the reason why further studies should aim at revealing the causes for such differentiation by weighing, considering and evaluating all the environmental and hereditary factors to explain such children’s characteristics (Collins, 2002, 24). This behavioral genetics’ field concentrates with typical analysis of environment and heredity contributions to development of the differential observable human characteristics.

However, this behavioral genetics research is very broad both methodologically and ideologically and as thus it readily assists in the theorizing process as to why we observe different outcomes as they are fundamentally influenced by environment and heredity. Nature on its part is referred to as the genotypes or encoded information in the DNA of an individual and comprises the genetic composition from conception time to death time.

These include the genetic predispositions specific to specific individuals and with the potential of giving an explanation of the different human characteristics between different individuals such as temperament. Furthermore, these genetic or hereditary genotypes also apply to group differentials in characteristics such height and gender. Others have universal influence such as the human device to acquire language and have a distinct differentiation from other organisms or species.

This nature notion is therefore the defining capabilities possessed by individuals as they are prescribed by biological tendencies (Gander, 2003, 29). Nurture on its part by contrast is the expression of a variety of environmental or external factors that an individual, from conception time to the time of death is exposed to and at a variety of dimensions. It involves both social and physical environments. Social environments include peer and media pressure among other socialization processes whereas physical environments include prenatal care and nutrition among others.

There are various environmental factors whose impact to the individual depends on immediacy to the person. They start from the most close relationship and interactions between friends, neighbors and family members to larger settings which are also more complex such as government and school contexts. The concept of global warming and international trade as well as international politics are examples of other even more complex macro issues that affects nurture. These factors are interrelating in the sense they are influenced by and they influence their subjects and elements outside them.

Parents may for example decide the type of peer association their children should have depending on a number of views they hold on matters such as housing policies as stipulated by the governments, racial history and other issues regarded ideal by them (Collins, 2002, 45). The modern nomenclature of this nature-nurture dispute or controversy has been viewed by many to possess fewer dichotomies as was the former common belief. Many have suggested polarization of the two terms in the attempt to resolve the dispute in the sense that they now call nature continuity and nurture is regarded as the interaction in this continuity.

By following this approach, the argument is now not on which of the two has the greatest influence and responsibility for observed human characteristics but rather about how various impact and cause influence between them as well as the extent of influence on human development as caused by these factors. A good example of this revolution in the nature-nurture controversy can be seen in the 1999 case of a Colorado’s high school, columbine, where to boys committed a massacre of fifteen people.

A variety of people offered different explanations and opinions as to what made these boys commit a crime of such big magnitude. Some quickly attributed the boys’ behavior to poor environmental practices such as prevalence of violence especially in the media itself as well as inadequate and inconsistent poor parenting. By contrast, there were other explanations such like the boys had impaired mental ability and could therefore not make responsible conclusions and judgments due to their mental disorders perhaps resulting from possible imbalance in their chemical composition due to a genetic predisposition.

These two conditions are therefore almost equally influential in determination of the factors causing the observable human aspects such as behavior, emotion and cognition as is manifested in a variety of ways. The two boys’ violent actions can therefore be seen as a consequence of unfortunate environmental and hereditary factors interaction (Moore, 2003, 57). However, there are disagreements on several grounds about these interactions.

The first is the identification of the means through which environmental and hereditary factors mix and relate between them. The second is about the extent of individual environmental and hereditary influence of particular or specific developmental processes and outcomes. In essence, this controversy is double edged in that it involves nature of these interactions between environmental and genetic forces as well as their contribution extent to these factors.

Researchers are using every possible approach to explain this controversy. Among the most widely used method is twin studies approach where identical/monozygotic and fraternal /dizygotic twins were traditionally studied with comparison based on their behavioral, emotional and cognitive differences and similarities. Another approach is the adoption studies where identical twins are reared and brought up in different geographical regions to test on genetic separation from hereditary influences as alternative.

This separation would basically dispose the twins to different ethnic and cultural variations and their development and resulting behaviors and observable characteristics (Gander, 2003, 36). In conclusion, whatever the approach is applied, my opinion is that both these factors has significant contributions and influence on the innate or collective unconsciousness and individualized experiences vesting differential tendencies and proclivities in each one of us. Work cited. Barnes Robert & Pickering James.

Nature Versus Nurture. London, Routledge, 1985, pp. 17 Collins Desmond. Nature Versus Nurture: The long Standing Debate Over What Makes Us the Way We Are. New York, Blackwell Publishers, 2002, pp. 24, 45 Gander Eric. On Our Minds: How Evolutionary Psychology is shaping the Nature versus Nurture Debate. New York, JHU Press, 2003, pp. 29, 36 Harris Judith. The Nature Assumption. London, Routledge, 1998, pp, 34 Moore David. The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of Nature versus Nurture. Westport, CT, Quorum Books, 2003, pp. 57

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