The nature-nurture debate

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  • The nature-nurture debate:
  • AO1:
  • Nature: innate and genetic influences, usually 0.5 heritabillity. Early nativists (e.g. Descartes) agrued that human characteristics are innate - the reult of heredity. The general figure for heritability of IQ is around 0.50 (Plomin). The fact that its not 1.00 (100%) suggests that genetics and the environment are both important factors in IQ. 
  • Nurture: environmental influences (e.g. learning and experience pre and postnatal). Epiricists (Locke) argued that the mind is a bland slate at birth upon which experience writes - the behaviourist approach. Lerner has identified different levels of the environment: 1) Defined in narrow prenatal terms (e.g. the mothers physical and psychological state during pregnancy) and Defined more generally through postnatal experiences (e.g. the social conditions the child grows up in). 
  • The relative importance of nature-nurture. The nature-nurture debate is impossible to answer because environmental influences in a child's life begin as soon as it is conceived (perhaps even earlier). Practically and theoretically it makes little sense to try to separate nature and nurture (e.g. in twin studies it is difficult to tell whether high concordence rates are more the result of shared genetics or shared upbringing). 
  • Interaction (attachment). The focus of the debate is now on the relative contribution of each influence. For example, the interactionist approach to attachment sees the bond between infant and parent as a 'two0way street'. The child's innate temerament influences how the parents behaves towards them, whilst the parents responses in turn affect the child's behaviour (Belsky and Rovine). 
  • Interactionism in mental illness: the diathesis-stress model. The diathesis stress model suggests mental disorder is caused by a biological vulnerabilty (diathesis) which is only expressed when coupled with an environment trigger (stressor). For example, Tienari et al studied a…


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