26 April. 2010
Nature Versus Nurture In today’s society, psychological development in humans is being observed more closely, due to the fact that people are more curious than ever to find out why they are who they are. Developmental psychology deals with the origins and progress of an individual’s psychological processes. The debate that argues whether our behaviors can be linked to our genetics or to our environment is the nature versus nurture debate. The nature versus nurture debate can be found in many psychological discussions and linked to traits such as: aggressiveness, personality, interest, and intelligence. Before one can clearly understand the topic of nature versus nurture it is essential for he or she to have a general knowledge of psychology. Psychology is an academic subject that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors. In this field of study there are many different subfields of psychology such as: biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental, and social. The field of psychology that deals mostly with the nature versus nurture debate is developmental psychology. As stated before, developmental psychology is a discipline that deals with the origins and progress of an individual’s psychological processes. Developmental psychologists are constantly trying to find answers to help understand how people act, perceive, and understand everyday things that go on within the world. They also deal with problems related to how these simple yet complex processes change with age. One of the great debates that have helped shape the field of psychology is the nature versus nurture debate. A psychology textbook states, “the nature-nurture debate poses the following question: Are our behaviors attributable mostly to our genes (nature) or to our rearing environment (nurture)?” (Lilienfeld 18). The nature versus nurture controversy is an ancient debate that can be linked back to the late seventeenth century. It can be seen as one of many attempts to explain human existence, purpose, and behavior (Barnes 200). One of the earliest assumptions actually came from John Locke, a British philosopher. Locke believed that the human mind, at birth, was like a piece of white paper with nothing on it and that we are shaped exclusively by our environments. Others after him referred to the mind as a “blank slate” (Lilienfeld 18). Locke and his followers can be seen as people that believe in the nurture side of the debate. The nature side of the debate, however, did not start getting much attention until the late twentieth century. In the late twentieth century, research done by behavior geneticist is slowly starting to change people’s minds about the nature versus nurture topic. In the textbook Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, there is evidence that helps support this claim:
Research conducted by behavior geneticists, who use sophisticated designs, like twin adoption studies, shows that most important psychological traits, including intelligence, interests, personality, and many mental illnesses, are influenced substantially by genes. Increasingly, modern psychologist have come to recognize that human behavior is attributable not only to our environments but to our genes (Lilienfeld 18).
Now, some people even say that the nature versus nurture debate is dead. This is because just about all scientists agree that both environment and genes play an important role in the development of most human behaviors. Even though most agree the debate is dead there is still much to learn about how the environment and genes contribute to people’s behaviors. One behavior or trait that can be linked to the nature versus nurture debate is aggression. Aggression, though, is more of an action or behavior than it is a trait. According to Sarah McCawley, aggression can be demonstrated in many ways such as: a verbal attack, threats, sarcasm, or a physical punishment or restriction (McCawley 1). Aggression can