This assignment will explain two key debates within Psychology Nature versus Nurture and Free Will verses Determinism. The aim of this assignment is to identify key theorists and describe and evaluate the study which supports their approach and theory.
Nature versus Nurture is a psychological debate which has been hypothesised by many Psychologists who attempt to understand the reasons for human behaviour and to what extent, if at all is governed by our innate heredities (Nature) or through external stimuluses after conception (Nurture).
The Nature theory suggests a biological approach that links certain aspects of behaviour such as personality attributes and metal aptitude to the innate predetermined genetics that are inherited by parents at the point of conception. The biological approach believes that all psychological processes initiate from a physiological process. This theory is determined by comparative methods where different species are observed, physiology of the nervous system, brain and hormones are also considerations. It also Investigates the concept of inheritance which looks at which dominant characteristic are inherited from parents.
A Paediatrician and Psychologist Arnold Gasell developed a thesis known as the Maturation Theory of Child Development. This theory produces key findings that support the idea that all child development originates from their biological factors (nature). The Maturation Theory focuses on the physical and mental development of a child. The theory was created by quantitative research of 12000 children throughout early stages of life and adulthood. Gasell created controlled situations and recorded the children’s reactions by observing through a two-way mirror and a video camera.
He concluded that children go through expected developmental stages but stated that these stages are not linked to age. Any notable changes in observations were categorised as being an innate problem with the child and could not associated to environmental factors. His theory was criticised by many psychologists as it does not give any recognition or consideration to the fact, they each child is an individual and may have different ethnical backgrounds.
The cognitive approach that supports the Nurture debate suggests that internal mental preconceptions are constantly being altered by external environmental factors. Piaget’s (1936) theory of cognitive development argued that children’s development is reliant on both biological maturation and environmental factors.
Whilst working at the Binet Institute translating English intelligence examinations into French, Piaget became fascinated by the children’s explanation for answering the examination questions incorrectly and this led him to believe that there were significant differences between the cognitive response of children and adults. “The goal of the theory is to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who can reason and think using hypotheses.” McLeod, S. A. (2018, June 06). Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html.
Piaget’s study was conducted by the observation of children, predominantly his nephew and daughter in which he developed his theory that children’s cognitive development occurs in four stages. The sensorimotor stage (0-2 years) the preoperational stage (2-7 years), the concrete operational stage (7-11 years) and the formal operational stage (12 years and over).
Piaget suggested that advances in mental developments are related to a child’s growth in complexity of schema, which is described as elements of information that relate to a single aspect of the world which are unconsciously retained and used when needed. He proposed that an infant’s schema is built upon to understand new circumstances as they grow. Children embrace and adapt to situations, during which they develop a sense of equilibrium by using their current schema to understand the world. As they discover new experiences this sends them into a state of disequilibrium which they then need to accommodate and change their current schema to return to an original assimilation stage.
There is evidence to suggest that his observations were not all-encompassing enough to generate a broad spectrum of results. Piaget’s theory focused on the growth of intelligence but did not consider emotional development of the child. His theory did not allow any thought for genetical intelligence inherited by parents. However, Piaget’s theory influenced many other studies within psychology and still to this day is influencing the education sector.