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The Nature Vs Nuture Debate Essay

1899 words - 8 pages

Firstly, we need to know what the two words mean.
NATURE: this term is been known as heredity. It would further more be referred to what is typically thought of as inheritance, that is differences in genetic material(chromosomes and genes) which are transmitted from generation to generation(from parents to offspring). The father of genetics Gregor Mendel (1865) explained the difference between smooth and wrinkled seeds in garden pea in terms of different genes. Similarly, modern human genetics focuses on genetic difference between individuals, reflecting the use of the word “nature” by Galton, who coined the phrase nature-nurture in 1883 as it is used in the scientific arena.
Genes are ...view middle of the document...

The issue concerning the nature and nurture debate would be referred back in the 17th century. Plato, the Greek philosopher, believed that a child began life with knowledge already present within him.
In the 17th century, the French philosopher René Descartes argued similarly, whereas his English contemporary, empirical philosopher John Locke proposed that there were no innate ideas. He believed that the mind at birth is like ‘white paper void of all characters’, a ‘blank slate. Darwin’s theory of evolution, with its message that traits were inherited, influenced early psychologists.
James (1890) believed that human’s beings had innate tendencies in which determined natural selection.
Pavlov came up with the idea of behaviourism in the early 1900s. Behaviourism became the new wave of Psychology and influenced a lean towards the nurture side. It was not effectively argued against until 1928 when Watson published his book. This opened up the floodgates for environmental influences studies. Soon the idea of nurture was the popular excuse for behaviour. Studies using animals were the most popular was in which scientists used to prove a theory, or disprove a theory. The newest studies use human twins to prove nature vs. Nurture The idea of the mind, at birth, as a ‘blank slate’ became orthodoxy in the 20th century, although there were challenges.
Ethnologists such as Lorenz and Tinbergen in the 1930s introduced the concepts of instinct and critical period, both innate features of behaviour.
In the 1950s, Chomsky challenged the behaviourist account of language acquisition, suggesting that it happened not just through experience but because human children had an innate language module in the brain.
Also in the 1950s, Burt was promoting the heritability of IQ. The latest move away from ‘blank slates’ has been the swing towards evolutionary psychology because it explains behaviour in terms of innate factors.

In the 1960s, Skinner also became well known for his research in behaviourism. Most of his work dealt with behaviour modification with animals. Probably Skinners most famous research is when he conditioned pigeons to guide missiles. However, Skinner, and others in his field began to receive scrutiny for ignoring the biology of humans. Yet, Skinner responded by saying, & quote; the objection to inner states is not that they do not exist, but that they are not relevant in a functional analysis.
From the 1920s to 1950s, behaviourism and nurturism dominated psychology. The domination did not go without any challenges, and it did not last forever. As early as 1929, behaviourism came under attack by psychologists who believed genes were the key to human behaviour. To begin, Arnold Gesell questioned the environmental view of Watson, Gesell contended that there was nothing one could do through training young infants to accelerate their development; one simply had to wait until the cells of the nervous system ripened The biological research...

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