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vs. Nurture Debate

S. Joseph

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2301 6011

10, 2017











vs Nurture

do people have certain skills, ambitions and attitudes? Why do individuals
suffer from mental illness?  Why do most
poverty-stricken families continued to remain poverty stricken throughout
generations? Why do individuals act the way they do? Many causal factors have
been proposed in question as why we are the way we are, but there two primary
explanations with strong social relevance that has debuted as prominent: our
genes and the environment. These two factors play a central role in the ongoing
debate, commonly termed the “nature/nurture” question, is typically
conceptualized as a contrast between genetic and environmental explanation.

history there has always been a substantial controversy over whether human’s
development, behavior, personality, and intelligence stems from the
environmental influences of the community in which an individual is raised in
or is it the genetic makeup inherited from an individual’s parents which
determine the development, behavior, personality, and intelligence of the human

controversial debate began in 1869, when the world-renowned Francis Galton
debuted the phrase “Nature vs. Nurture”. Francis Galton was an all-around
scholar who contributed to many areas of study including science, mathematics,
and the English language but Francis Galton took a special liking to psychology
where he spent most of his career exploring the world of inheritance and
evolution of traits. After much exploration on that side of the debate of
course he favored the side of nature. The grounds of his favoring were solely
based off the belief that intelligence was an inherited trait he believes
parents each contribute one-quarter to heredity of their children, grandparents
each one-sixteenth and so forth. Another scholar in the world of psychology was
the world-renowned English philosopher by the name of John Locke who coined the
theory “the mind is a blank slate” meaning individuals are born without built
in knowledge. John Locke sided with nurture believing individuals learn through
the experiences of life and the perception of life in their community they are



follows a more biological approach, focusing on the normal genetic and
neuro-chemical explanation of behaviors.

the study of the human body it is obvious that we inherit many things from our
parents such as our eye color, the pigmentation of our skin, whether we have
kinky or loose curly hair, certain diseases that are classified has inherited
like cancer and hyperglycemia, too our height and weight. These inherited
traits only give explanation for the physical attributes which in my opinion
only makes up one percent of what actually matters what’s on the inside makes
up the other ninety nine percent. Individuals that favor the extreme hereditary
side are classified as nativists, whose basic assumption is that “the
characteristics of the human species as a whole are a product of evolution and
that individual differences are due to each person’s unique genetic code.”  Basically, the earlier a specific trait
appears, the more likely it is to fall under the category of nature following
the influence of genetic factors. Nativist also believe traits that appear
later in life can be classified as simply maturity and is just a part of our
genetic clock and is meant to, believing regardless of the environment an
individual is raised in that is how it will be. 


follows the behaviorism theory; all behaviors are learned from the environment
through conditioning.  Individuals who
side with the nurture side are known as empiricists whose basic assumption is
at birth the human mind is a tabula rasa. Believing from birth the mind is
gradually filled, resulting from experiences and learning. Individuals who side
with nurture follows closely to the concepts of behaviorism, learners start off
with a clean slate, and behavior is shaped by a positive and negative
reinforcement. In nurture the way you are raised governs the psychological
aspects of a child’s development.

1930 John B. Watson conducted a study on language where he conditioned an
infant on using the word “da da” when he wanted a bottle, it initially worked.
After imitating, observing and learning through experience he eventually
figured out the true meaning of both bottle and da da and used each word
accordingly, and the conditioning was lost. One of John B. Watson famous
theories was the belief that people could be trained to become and do anything
they wanted to do regardless of their genetic background. If an individual was
given the proper resources, they could accomplish what wanted to do.

1977 Ross Bandura preformed a social experiment outlining the social learning
theory. The experiment showed that aggression is a learnt from children’s
environment while they observe and imitate the action of other’s around them.
Children who grow up around aggressive parents or aggressive influences within
their community, are likely to follow those tendencies unless another adult
figure comes into their life and shows them something different than what’s
being showcased within their home life.

?Mental Illness

            Studies show that genetics play a role in mental illness,
for example bipolar disorder four in six times more likely to developed in an
individual who has a family history of bipolar disorder. If it was truly nature
six in six individuals would develop bipolar disorder. The truth of the matter
is, the probability of an individual developing these mental illnesses is solely
based on each individual environment and the different events which has
occurred in someone’s life. A Neurosurgeon by the name James Fallon discovered
he had the brain of a psychopath, which a nativist would believe due to his
genetic make-up he would start doing psychopathic things. Dr. Fallon believes
that because he grew up in a loving and nurturing home and community i was able
to help him to become a successful adult and was the main factor in preventing
him from developing the characteristics of a psychopath.

            Addictions could often be seen as an illness that is
genetically passed down but again whether or not you’ll be addicted to
something is based off your environment. Individuals are more like to become
addicted to something if someone close to them either in their community or
home life is addicted to the substance like a parent, spouse, or best friend.
Let’s say and individuals mother and father were an alcoholic but once the
individual became an adult they moved to a dry county and they ultimately were
not an alcoholic. We could say this individual did not become an alcoholic
because his/ her environment did not sell alcohol, so the individual didn’t
drink. A genetic predisposition to alcoholism may be much more prevalent in an
individual who is exposed to binge drinking or many other forms of alcohol
abuse and the individual may conclude that the excessive use of alcohol is

            A few researchers from The University of Liverpool conduced
a research project where they found that a family history of mental illness was
the second greatest predictor of mental illness. The greatest predictor was an individual’s
environment and the experiences that occurred in their life such as childhood
abuse, bullying, or other traumatic events, which supports nurtures prominent role
in the development of different mental illnesses.


            Many will say that
intelligence solely stems from nature that intelligence is trait that is passed
down from generation to generation, genetically encrypted. I’d have to disagree,
intelligence is a product of nurture. When psychologist preform studies on
intelligence they often are comparing poverty stricken families with little
access to educational resources to wealthy families with better access to
educational resources. The primary argument used today to support why
intelligence is a product of nurture is; students IQ levels who live in urban city
neighborhoods and attend urban school systems which are under resourced, in
comparison to students IQ levels who live in suburban neighborhoods and attend
suburban school systems or private school systems which has a surplus of
resources. If two identical twins were separated at birth and one was adopted
by an urban family and the other adopted by a suburban family, it is likely
that the twin who was raised in the suburban neighborhood will test higher on
his/her IQ test. This twin likely has access to better text books, more
tutoring opportunities, less distractions in the classroom, and more support
from his/her family regarding education. It’s not an unknown fact that urban
city public schools do not have the proper educational equipment need to
produce many successful students. The twin adopted by the urban family is like
to score low on his/her IQ test. This twin school textbooks are likely out
dated, due to poverty within the community this twin may not have proper
supplies need for school, there is often many distractions in his/her classroom
due to troubled kids with poor examples in their home life which causes them to
act out. 

            I do not believe that intelligence can be properly tested
on a nature and nurture basics until there is a change in our school system,
until another integration takes place. In order to properly test intelligence
school zoning has to be eliminated, children from urban neighborhood would be
allowed to attend suburban public schools if the parents desire. If school
zoning was eliminated it would allow equal education rights, parents would be
allowed to choose which school their children attends. Urban kids will have a
higher success rate because they’d receive the same education as kids born into
wealthy families.


            The question of a
century, why does crime exist? There are many theories that try to explain this
lifelong phenomenon, two specific theories stand out above the rest. Nature and
nurture, one being the belief that an individual’s social environment and
community influences is the primary reason individuals commits crime (nurture),
on the other hand the belief that crime is promoted by genetic traits which
eventually lead to criminal behavior.

the social environment plays a key part in why nurture is the reason
individuals commit crime but first one must know the meaning of social
environment “shaping behavior which is based on set of values, beliefs and
morals which forms a system of decision making through the course of an
individuals life”. Over sixty percent of individuals in the world have been
directly or indirectly a victim of crime or violence. What that does is set a
standard across the world to individuals that criminal behavior is social
acceptable, which causes it to happen more and more because, so many people are
doing it. This concept is why most crimes being committed now are by
millennials because for most of their life they have grown up seeing a vast
amount criminal activity happening whether on the news, in a video game, or
first hand witnessing it in their community. There are other factors to take
into consideration when trying to figure out what pushes individuals to partake
in criminal behaviors.

there are social influences again to understand this concept it must be defined
“The actions, reactions, and thoughts of an individual are influenced by other
people or groups. Social influence may be represented by peer pressure, leadership,
and conformity.” The way an individual is raised, and what they are around
within their community plays a major role in likely hood of the individual
choosing to commit a crime. Peer pressure is one of the key term in social
influence, if all your friends are doing it why not do it. Often individuals
who grow up in inner city communities that are poverty- stricken there is a lot
of crime so children from an adolescent age see’s individual stealing, robbing,
and killing and unfortunately it become the norm for them and they often began
to believe it is “social acceptable” because everyone else is doing it. In some
cases, inner city families are so poor they began robbing and stealing to
survive because there is a drought on certain necessities within their home.
Often the head of the household continually committing these crimes and
eventually caught and incarcerated which leaves the family even more poor which
cause the cycle to continue with the youth of the family. Which ultimately
leads to mass incarceration of inner city minorities.

many children in inner city homes are often striped from there homes due to
their parents having drug addictions or them suffering from child abuse. Fifty percent
of the time they are not put in homes that are not any better and often suffer
from emotional abuse. These things take place in children developing major anger
issues and cause them to commit crimes for attention and it becomes a rush they
can’t shake. All of these reasons listed above are why nurture is the reason
criminal behavior exist.


conclusion, Like Richard Mulcaster once said, “Nature makes the boy toward,
nurture sees him forward.” Psychologists have been debating the influence of
nature versus nurture over human characteristics for a very long time. After
the scientific world came to recognize that biology and environment both play a
role, the emphasis shifted to determining which was more important which is
nurture. Now that we have come to truly understand the complexity of the
relationship between our genetic dispositions means nothing without an environmental
trigger that causes the characteristic to manifest within an individual. I choose
to side with nurture because it is the main contribution in what makes a person
who they are. Where you’re raised and who you’re raised around can have a huge impact
on your life. People can have certain traits passed down genetically but what
happen in your environment is what triggers those issues. Keep in mind my main
three point when you think of the nature and nurture debate mental illness,
intelligence, and criminal behaviors.


                                                            Work Cited

Network Related to Intelligence Identified.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11
September 2007. Web. 9 February 2012.

Bernie, Stephen E. Fienberg, Daniel P. Resnick, and Kathryn Roeder, ed.
Intelligence, Genes, & Success. New York: 
Copernicus. 1997. Print..

Versus Environment-The Nature-Nurture Controversy, Exploring Heredity
andEnvironment:  Research Methods, Beyond
Heritability.” Net Industries. Net Industries, 2012. Web. 16 February 2012.

Richard J., and Charles Murray. The Bell Curve: 
Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. New York:  Free Press Paperbacks, 1994. Print.

Evidence That Intelligence is Largely Inherited:  Researchers Find That Genes Determine Brain’s
Processing Speed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2009. Web. 9 February

 “Nature Versus Nurture.” Encyclopedia of
Science, Technology, and Ethics. Macmillan Reference USA, 2001-2006. Web. 16
February 2012.

vs. Nurture in Intelligence.” Chart. Wilderdom. Wilderdom, 10 April 2005. Web.
19 February 2012.

Marty. “Direct Evidence That Intelligence is Half Genetic.” Chart. Marty Nemko, 16 November 2011. Web. 7 February 2012.

Richard E. Intelligence and How to Get It. New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2009. Print.

by Love or Matured by Nature?”, 2005-2011.
Web. 15 February 2012.

J. Philippe. “Twin Studies.” Charles Darwin Research Institute,
2000. Web. 10 February 2012.

Lawrence. “Two Lives—One Personality?” The New York Times. The New York Times
Company, 1997. Web. 5 February 2012.

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