Bebates of Nature vs Nurture and Social Control in Psychology

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  • Created on: 09-06-14 17:30
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Debates: Nature Vs Nurture
This debate is concerned with the extent to which human psychological characteristics are the
products of genes or the environment. This debate can be applied to attachment, mental health,
gender, and criminality.
Nature: The primary influence on individuals are from internal sources i.e. Genes. These predispose
people to have certain psychological characteristics though many are multifactorial (many different
genes and environment), this means some characteristics are more heritable than others.
Supporters of this view = `hereditarians'. (I.e. Biological approach)
Nurture: The primary influence on the individual are from external sources, we are who we are
because of experiences i.e. we learn through our interactions with both the physical and social
environment, including literature, stories, nursery rhymes, how we are raised by our parents.
Supporters of this view are known as `empiricists'.
This model argues that our genes and our environment constantly interact to determine our
personality. Every behaviour is multifactorial as a result.
For example:
For Example: In the diathesis-stress model,
a genetic vulnerability or predisposition
(diathesis) interacts with the environment
and life events (stressors) to trigger
behaviours or psychological disorders. The
greater the underlying vulnerability, the
less stress is needed to trigger the

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Approaches on Nature-Nurture
Social Approach
In terms of nature, it says people have evolved to act as agents in society (Milgram) and to form
groups (RCT or SIT) as these behaviours aid survival. The behaviour is now innate and is passed on
through the generations.
But the approach focuses on how society affects people, including interactions of in-groups and
out-groups.…read more

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Biological Approach
Hormones, neurotransmitters, and brain structures link with our genetic blueprint, as do maturational
processes. The genes we inherit will determine the way our brain works/level of intelligence and the
environment we are brought up in will have little impact on this.…read more

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Child Psychology
Babies are born with a tendency to form attachments and to develop language, among other
features. Children are also believed to have an innate temperament that influences their attachment
type to some degree, i.e. unsociable babies are more likely to develop Type A than irritable Type C,
this can also be linked to positive adaptive qualities of different attachment types.…read more

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But an idiographic focus looks at individual behaviour that is whole and real for a person,
which is likely to mean taking both someone's nature and their nurture experiences into
account; not by looking at both but by recognising that the two cannot be separated from
one another enough to be studied alone.…read more

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Cross Cultural Studies
If differences in behaviour are down to nurture, there will be differences found between cultures
however it is generally believed that human beings are similar in nature, and so there should be more
similarities than differences.
However this is hard as there are nature differences between people of the same culture just as
there are nurture similarities between people of different cultures (i.e.…read more

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Social Control
All societies have rules, norms and customs which we are expected to learn through socialisation. In
general people conform to this by using their own internal social control. However there are
occasions when social control is thought to be needed; we will focus on aspects of the biological,
learning and psychodynamic approaches and their issues with social control.
There are many different types of power which are possessed by therapists to aid social control
(French and Raven 1960):
1.…read more

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E: Clinicians often prescribe psychoactive drugs to treat a disorder without fully explaining or
considering the negative side effects for the client. These side effects can be severe and sometimes
worse than the illness itself i.e. antipsychotics and tardive dyskinesia/ weight gain.
Drugs are often given when it is felt that the individual is unable to make it rationally, this has the
implication of free will or being forced to take them by family members who gave consent in the
individual's place.…read more

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Classical Conditioning and social control
Aversion therapy and systematic desensitisation are used to treat phobias or addiction by teaching
clients to associate an unconditioned stimulus (emetic drug, phobia) and response (fear, sickness)
with a neutral stimulus (i.e. alcohol or relaxation) to produce a conditioned response that removes
the issue of addiction or the phobia. Classical conditioning principles are also used in advertising, such
as where chocolate is made to be associated with being sexy.
I.e.…read more

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However therapists may argue that those suffering from mental disorders are
not usually in a state where insight can be achieved so imposing an explanation is kinder.
Forcing a client to undergo a treatment/therapy through threatening sectioning is unethical but may
often be genuinely in the best interests of the client who may be said to not be in the right state of
mind to make such decisions.…read more


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