Nature-Nurture Controversy

December 11, 2017 Medical

Governors University It is a known fact that humans are born with a set of genes. 50% of the genes come from the father and 50% come from the mother. Genes determine your eye color, hair color, blood type, and some hard-wired behaviors to name a few. These descriptions describe “nature” theory. According to Sincere (2012), “the nurture theory holds that genetic influence over abstract traits that may exist; however, the environmental factors are the real origins of our behavior.

This includes the use of indignation in order to induce a new behavior to a child, or alter an unlikely behavior being shown by the child. ” Nurture, therefore, refers to personal experiences and behaviors influenced by the environment. There have been debates of whether being gay is nature or nurture and whether there is a “gay gene”. Many believe gays are born that way; however, to date no single gene has been identified to support this theory. Others theorize “behavior genes” account for why some people commit crimes, why some people are more aggressive than others.

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The controversy is whether behaviors are nature vs.. Return. According to Wisped (2014), Psychologist John Watson stated, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well- formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist. I might select a doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors”.

John Watson coined the term “behaviorism” and believed environmental learning is the dominate side of nature vs.. Nurture. He believed behaviors can be changed by learning, training or conditioning through responses to environmental stimuli. In 1920, John Watson in 1920 did a study called the “Little Albert” experiment. He wanted to show “classical conditioning” could condition “Little Albert” into fear of a white rat, dog, rabbit and a fur coat.

John Watson presented the white rat to Albert and noted that he was not afraid. He then presented the white rat to Albert and then made a loud sound using an iron rod. To further test, his theory, John repeated the experiment using the dog, rabbit and fur coat. Albert reacted the same way with each of them. He noted that Albert was scared and would cry after seeing each animal and hearing the loud noise. Eventually, Albert would cry Just seeing each animal without hearing the loud noise.

John Watson was convinced “Little Albert” was “conditioned” to be afraid of the white rat, rabbit, dog and fur coat. “The outcome of the study indicated that emotions could become conditioned responses” (Wisped 2014). Others have debated the validity of John Watson experiment. Little Albert died at age 6 from congenital hydrocephalus. Other’s question whether John Watson knew of Albertan condition and purposely picked him for his study, knowing that the cognitive abnormalities could skew the results of the study in his favor.

Although, John Watson had written articles and books regarding his theory on behaviorism, he burned all his notes and papers Just prior to his death, thus destroying documents that could resolve questions others have about this study. “The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart (MISTRAL) was one of the most important psychological studies of the last 50 years. It began in 1979, when it as believed that intelligence and personality were almost infinitely malleable by the environment” (American Renaissance, 2012). The study consisted of identical and fraternal twins.

The selection criteria included twins separated before age four and had spent the formative years apart. The study included 137 adopted twin pairs that had spent an average of 95% of their lives apart. Many did not know they were a twin until later in life. Initially, testing was done to determine if the twins were identical or fraternal. Extensive medical screenings were performed, including deiced history, physical exams, and other clinical testing. “In 1979, Thomas Boucher began to study twins who were separated at birth and reared in different families.

He found that an identical twin reared away from his or her co-twin seems to have about an equal chance of being similar to the co-twin in terms of personality, interests, and attitudes as one who has been reared with his or her co-twin. This leads to the conclusion that the similarities between twins are due to genes, not environment since the differences between twins reared apart must be due totally to the environment” (Wisped, 2013). In summary, many different studies have been done on the debate between “Nature vs.. Nurture” throughout the years.

James Watson believed the environment influences who we are or become, but his study did not have enough reliable or long-term data to support his conclusion. The MISTRAL study did find that there are some influences by the environment. One example is height. Twins that share the same genes but grow up in different environments can be different heights. If one twin lives in a healthy, well nourished environment and the other twin lives in an environment where nutrition is improvised, the nutritional status of that child may hinder his/her physical growth and development.

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