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Flashcards in Nature/Nurture Deck (15)
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Outline the Nature/Nurture debate?

'Nature' emphasises the role of heredity and genes in influencing behaviour, and suggest that human characteristics are innate.

'Nurture' emphasised the role of learning and experience in influencing behaviour, and suggest that at birth, the human mind is a blank slate.


Why is an extreme position of either nature or nurture considered illogical?

Heredity is expressed in the environment. For example, genes for walking on two legs influences the environment we inhabit; land over water.

Behaviour is not either genetic or environmental, or a percentage of each. It is impossible to separate the two, as they interact. Each individual is a 'unique genetic mosaic' with unique experiences.

Eg) Genius at violin playing could result from inherited musical talent, coming from a family of violinists, or going to see an opera. We don't know how much each influence contributes in each individual.


describe the question of 'relative contributions' in the Nature/Nurture debate.

It is a question of the relative contributions/degree of nature and nurture. We cannot say a behaviour is mostly due to either nature or nurture, but we can say a difference between two people's behaviour is mostly due to either.

Eg) difference in eye colour is mostly due to heredity and difference in language is mostly due to environment, but both nature and nurture are required.


Why are twin studies used to investigate the relative contributions of nature and nurture?

Twin studies can't say which is more important out of nature and nurture, but produce a heritability estimate. Eg) heritability estimate for IQ in this country could be 90%, so 10% due to environment.

MZ twins share 100% same genes. DZ share 50% (like normal siblings). If MZ reared together are more similar than MZ reared together, then it must be genetic. Degree of similarity is expressed by concordance rate.

However, environment shared by MZ twins could be more similar than DZ twins. Different friends, experiences, hobbies etc. (AO2) Therefore, MZ twins reared apart with similarities suggest a clear genetic influence.


Why are adoption studies used to investigate the relative contributions of nature and nurture?

If adopted individuals are more similar to their biological parents, it is suggested that genes are more influential than the environment.


What are the different levels of environmental influence?

internal and prenatal...
* inner biological level - Mother's physical state
* individual psychological level - Mother's psychological state e.g. stress

external and postnatal...
*Physical environmental level - post birth experiences e.g. pollutants, noise
* sociocultural-historical level - where an when child is born e.g. current scientific knowledge and health care policies


Shared/unshared environments?

Different friends, experiences, hobbies etc.

Constructivism - actively create their own environments. E.g. a more naturally academic twin would pick more intelligent friends.
This contrasts with behaviourism which sees individuals as passive recipients of environmental influences (AO2)

Also, interaction - innate characteristics could create a unique environment, e.g. a baby predisposed to be sociable and easy-going will attract more love and affection than a difficult baby.


Blakemore and Cooper 1970 - kittens study?

New-born kittens placed in drums with either vertical or horizontal lines, fitted with collar so couldn't see own bodies.
Tested at 5 months - 'vertical world' cats seemed blind to horizontal world, e.g. tripped over ropes. 'horizontal world' cats ran into chair legs. Microelectrode recordings confirmed that in the visual area of the brain, only an electrical response to the orientation experienced by the kitten.
Suggests that the environment helps mould and develop innate systems.


Use PKU as an example of interaction between nature and nurture?

In people with PKU, phenylalanine is broken down into a substance that is poisonous to the nervous system, resulting in brain damage. This can be traced to a pair of defective genes. If child is raised on phenylalanine-free diet, development is normal.
Nature (defective genes) + Nurture (phenylalanine in food) = low intelligence


Is the Psychodynamic approach nature or nurture?

mainly nature...
* innate id, ego, and superego - instinctual drives of sex and aggression

a little bit nurture...
*reactions to attempts to satisfy urges in psychosexual stages can cause fixation in a particular stage, e.g.


Is the behaviourist approach nature or nurture?

extreme nurture...
* born blank slates - behaviour directly shaped by associated learning (classical conditioning) and the consequences of behaviour (operant conditioning)


Is the SLT approach nature or nurture?

mainly nurture...
* behaviour shaped by environment, but unlike behaviourists, acknowledge that environment isn't only influence, e.g., higher cognitive processes.


Is the cognitive approach nature or nurture?

* innate information processing abilities that are refined by experience. E.g. innate schemas develop through interaction with external world


Is the humanist approach nature or nurture?

partly nature...
* need to self actualise is innate

partly nurture...
* if provided with unconditional positive regard and favourable conditions, progress towards fulfilment will occur.


Is the biological approach nature or nurture?

* focuses on heredity, but acknowledges role of environment, e.g. plasticity of visual area in Blakemore and Cooper study