This essay will outline how an individual’s nature and their nurture may determine their behaviour, with reference to Genie the feral child the author will evaluate how nature and nurture affect an individual’s behaviour. Secondly the assignment will include an evaluation of the impact both nature and nurture have in regards to intelligence, with a comparison of evidence relating to the importance of nature and nurture in the development of intelligence referencing twin studies and adoption studies, finally an evaluation of why society could be seen to place a higher premium on masculinity than on femininity.
Considerable research has been undertaken to attempt to establish exactly what makes an individual who they are. Nativists hold the belief that all characteristics are determined by nature due to inherited genes. Freud’s theory of aggression as being an innate drive (https://simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html) is an example of a nativist view. It has however been proven that not all biological influences are genetic and they can occur in the womb. Researchers have found that a mothers stress during pregnancy can affect the foetus from 17 weeks after conception. Research carried out by Professor Glover at Imperial College London, measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 267 pregnant women. Tests were completed on blood from the mother along with amniotic fluid from the womb, the findings were that the higher the cortisol level in the mothers blood the higher the cortisol level in the amniotic fluid, this would suggest that the mothers stress does have an impact on the foetus and could affect the behaviour of the child. Dr Sarkar who was involved in the research stated “One of the times when we are most susceptible to the influences of our surrounding environment is when we
are developing as a foetus”. (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2007/may/31/childrensservices.medicineandhealth)
In comparison empiricists believe that each person is born as a blank slate suggesting culture, social status and class have an impact on the behaviour of an individual. The behaviour of a child born into a high class family may be shaped by private education whereas a child born into a lower class family will be nurtured in a completely different environment. Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory supports the nurture opinion stating that aggression is learned from the environment through observation and imitation. Also, Skinner (1957) believed in behaviour shaping techniques. (https://simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html) On the contrary (Scarr, 1992) proposed that people construct their own environment. (Introductory Psychology, Tony Malim and Ann Birch). The majority of researchers now take a interactionism view point taking into consideration that both nature and nurture interact when defining an individual’s behaviour.
It is argued that children only have the capacity to learn certain tasks by the time they reach a particular age however, on the discovery of a 13 year old girl named Genie who was described as being like a new born baby, still reliant on nappies with no verbal skills and often labelled as feral however, it was believed she had a normal learning capacity. Experts believed that Genie could go on to live a normal life therefore they began to expose Genie to the outside world in the same way a parent with a new born baby would. Over time Genie succeeded in learning a number of single words nevertheless Genie faulted when attempting to put the single words into a sentence. Genie showed that lexicon seemed to have no age limit. But grammar, proved beyond her, bolstering the view that beyond a certain age, the window for learning seems to close. (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/14/genie-feral-child-los-angeles-researchers) Whilst Genie received intense professional support she flourished however once this support was taken away her progress likewise stopped suggesting that progress can only be made in a supportive environment.
A large number of studies have taken place to attempt to establish whether intelligence is a result of nature or nurture however no two studies have ended with the same conclusion. Cattell (1963) discovered that there are two different forms of intelligence, Fluid intelligence and Crystal intelligence. Fluid intelligence is used for activities such as solving puzzles, natural instincts and reactions, such things that cannot be taught. Fluid intelligence is suggested to be more active when you are younger and it tails off as you mature, on the contrary crystallised intelligence develops as you grow older and flourishes with education. Learning a new language or putting words together to form a sentence are examples of Crystal intelligence.
It is in the authors opinion that both nature and nurture work together when determining an individual’s intelligence. This theory is backed up by the study of Genie which proved that although Genie missed learning in time with her genetic timetable she was still able to achieve certain goals however the support needs to be ongoing for progress to continue.
Rick Herber (1960) selected 40 new born babies from Milwaukee with mothers with an IQ lower than 80, he then assigned these mothers and babies to either the experimental group in which the mothers were educated and given parental advice or the control group were the mothers were denied this assistance. The study aimed to improve the IQ of these children which were carefully selected form deprived environments. The children from both groups were given three balanced meals a day and intense education until 6 years of age. Herber discovered that at age six the children from the experimental group had a mean IQ of 120 compared with a mean of 87 in the control group. Once the children left for mainstream school the study found that their IQ deteriorated and at the age of 10 the experimental groups mean IQ was 105 and the control group 85. By the time the children reached the age of 14 the experimental groups mean IQ was at least 10 points above the control group. This study suggests that’s intelligence is influenced by nurture however this nurturing needs to be ongoing in order to benefit.
Sir Francis Galton was a firm believer is nature, he participated in research that used both identical and fraternal twins. Identical twins share 100% of their gene and fraternal twins share 50 %. Galton’s findings lead him to believe that genetics solely influenced an individual’s intelligence further to Galton’s research, Thomas Bouchard conducted a study of twins (Minnesota Twin Project) that had been separated at birth and raised in separate homes. Bouchard believed that each twin had an equally likely chance of having the same personality traits as the twin they had been separated from as twins that had been raised in the same household. This study suggested that similarities between twins must be down to the shared genes due to having totally different environments.