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the nature nurture debate

The extent to which aspects of behaviour are a product of inherited or acquired characteristics



-Rene Descartes (1596-1650)- Argued that human characteristics and some aspects of knowledge are innate: the result of heredity



-John Locke (1632-1704)- Argued that the mind is a blank slate at birth upon which learning and experience writes: the result of the environment (Tabula Rasa)
-Lerner (1986)- Identify different levels of the pre and post natal environment


Relative importance of heredity and environment

nature and nurture influences cannot be logically separated eg in twin studies it is hard to determine whether high concordance rates is a result of shared genetics or or shared upbringing


The interactionist approach

-Belsky and Rovine 1987- Attachment patterns between an infant and its parents are often the result of a two way street in which the childs innate temperament will influence the way its parents respond to it and that response will intern affect the childs behaviour - suggests nature creates nurture


Diathesis stress model

suggests that psychopathology is caused by biological/genetic vulnerability which is only expressed when coupled with the biological or environmental trigger



Interactions between genes and the environment may affect future generations
-Dias and Ressler (2014)- Gave male lab mice electric shocks every time they were exposed to the smell of a chemical in perfume, they showed a fear reaction as soon as the scent was presented to the rats , their children also feared the smell and so did their grandchildren


Implications of nativism and empiricism

-Nativist suggest that anatomy is destiny in that our inherited genetic make up determines our characteristics and behaviour whilst the environment has little input- Has led to controversy such as that which attempted to link race genetics and intelligence
-Empiricists would suggest that any behaviour can be changed by altering environmental conditions, behaviour shaping has had practical application in therapy, desirable behaviours are selectively reinforced and undesirable behaviours are punished or ignored


shared and unshared environments

Even siblings raised within the same family may not have experienced exactly the same upbringing
-Dunn and Plomin (1990)- Suggests that individual differences mean that siblings may experience life events differently for example age or temperament would mean that a life event such as parental divorce would have a different meaning to each sibling



Plomin (1994)- People create their own nature by actively seeking environments that are appropriate for their nature e.g. a naturally aggressive child is likely to feel more comfortable around children who show similar behaviours and will choose that environment this will then affect their development


Genotype-environment interaction

Scarr and McCartney (1983)- Jean environment interaction includes three types. Passive interaction- The parents genes influence the way they treat their children, musically gifted parents are likely to play to the children and encourage them to play music. Evocative interaction-the childs genes influence and shape the environment in which they grow up in, the musically talented child will be picked to school concerts and given other special opportunities. Active interaction-the child creates its own environment through the people and experiences it selects the child itself chooses similar musically talented friends