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Nature Vs Nurture And Their Effects On Development


Heightened debate on dichotomy of nature and nurture, particularly their effects on human development continues to dominate various researches in developmental psychology. Whereas proponents of genetic theory argue that human behaviour is predominantly dependent on inheritable factors, their opponents attribute such behaviour to the environmental factors an individual experiences during development. According to Keating, a vivid line is drawn between intellectuals of divergent views on the contentious issue and reconciling their perception is an uphill task. However, despite the antagonism, this paper attempts to show that both biological factors and environmental experience play significant roles in human development. In fact, evidences from various clinical and animal researches across the globe attest to the fact that biological and acquired traits are key to human development.

Herrnstein and Murray define nurture as the environmental experience an organism exhibits while nature is its biological inheritance. The question that raises contention is whether individuals are born with the personality and intelligence they exhibit or they acquire such traits from environment during development. According to the proponents of nurture theory, human beings are born void of any trait but acquire them through environmental experience during development. Herrnstein and Murray similarly argue that individuals only inherit ways in which they respond to the environment but not behaviour. Human behaviour is not attributed to any single gene but to the environmental experience an individual is subjected to. However, proponents of nature differ with the above notion arguing that brain, particularly the cerebral cortex, consists of predefined programs. The nature campaigners utilize the theories of Piaget, Freud and Erickson which attribute human behaviour to biological factors. Erikson notes that human psychosocial development is brought about by the struggle an individual encounter while going through life to achieve stable social status. The development of a child’s brain between birth and the age of three is characterised by the creation of many synapses where some become permanent while others are eliminated. This subsequently determines the behaviour of a child. The theorists support the ideology that an individual is born an athlete and nothing within the environment can change such an eventual arrangement.

In a nutshell, genetic and experiential factors are both central to the psychological development of human beings and the debate on whichever factor predominant not only perfunctory but is too oversimplified to encompass universals of human development. If human psychology was wholly attributable to nurture factors, then environments would be altered to achieve required behavioural characteristics. Alternatively, psychologists would have no input in changing human behaviour if it were wholly inherited. The aforementioned factors involve co-action and are not separate as far as human development is concerned.