Nature-Nurture Debate

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  • Created by: Summer
  • Created on: 11-04-14 20:36

Debates: Nature Vs Nurture

This debate is concerned with the extent to which human psychological characteristics are the products of genes and the environment. This debate can be applied to attachment, mental health, gender, and criminality.

Nature: The primary influence on the individual 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'

The Interactionist model argues that our genes and our environment constantly interact to determine our personality. They work together to determine the end point, as they both influence the other. Every behaviour is multifactorial, 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 behaviour.

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 both these situations aid survival and so the behaviour is innate and is passed on through the generations.

But focuses on how society affects people, including interactions of in-groups and out-groups. This may involve members of the in-group to become prejudiced towards other groups and respond negatively towards them; alternatively they could develop an authoritarian personality through a harsh upbringing or develop conflict with the out-group due to competition for resources. They may also be raised into a role as an agent by teachers and parents who want an obedient child.

Cognitive Approach

Information processing in the brain takes place in a certain way and brain structures serve different functions with regard to thinking, such as the role of the hippocampus in memory. Some changes in our ability to recall are also governed genetically, for example we recall little of our childhood as our brains were maturing. The process of the trace decay theory, where memory is loss as the engram encoding it begins to break down (due to lack of use) is also a natural process that you have little control over.

Nurture is looked at regarding the importance of cues in the environment for recall. How we encode something from the environment can affect forgetting/recall and how any outside events (LQ) at the time of recall can affect what we think we remember about an event. The level of rehearsal of an event will also influence how strong the memory is and determine the durability of the memory trace.

Psychodynamic approach

The Psychodynamic approach looks at nature


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