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Nature can be defined as to what abilities we present with at birth, ability can be determined by our genes; including those that we develop with age. Both a biological and evolutionary perspective support the model that our behaviour is determined by nature. Nurture can be defined as the influence of experiences. The nature vs nurture debate revolves around the theory that are behaviour is simply either inherited by our genetics or is developed and learnt through experiences. Nature is generally what we think and is influenced by our biological factors such as genetics. Nurture is developed and learnt through external factors such as life experiences.
The nature vs. nurture debate is alarmed with the relative contribution that both influence human behaviour such as our cognitive traits, personality, and also psychopathology (Lykken, D., 1999).
The evolutionary approach talks about behaviour being a result of nature, in 1969 John Bowlby put fourth that attachment kind of behaviour is displayed because it ensures the survival of the child. In turn it is then also instinctive of the parent to make this same attachment in return. Therefore, by making such attachments children are set-up for life increasing their chance of reproduction, therefore, extending their genes.
A behaviourists model would suggest that rather than nurture, individuals should learn to make attachments through classical conditioning. As a child understands that as attachments are made, they are rewarded with items such as love, food, and also play therefore then reinforcing behaviour. Attachments having been learnt through modelling at infant age will teach the infant that the more attachments that are made the more rewarding life will be (Leahy, A.M., 1935).
Stress can be seen as an adaptive response to such environmental pressure. Behaviourists have claimed that in environments such as an exam stress should be encouraged. Therefore, then through reinforcement and reward individuals can display and experience stress.
Behaviour of aggression could be explained from a nurture perspective. Bandura’s bobo doll experiment proves that behaviour can be imitated and modelled through reinforcement, especially if the model is similar to the viewer in terms of their age and personality.
A nativist perspective claims that individuals that become aggressive are pre-disposed to this behaviour because of their genes. They would claim that is the gene was not present that an individual would be unlikely to experience aggression.
Nevertheless, it is not possible to assume that behaviour is determined by nature or nurture. The two gene environment connection has more face validity and is now being supported by more psychologists, including the psychodynamic approach.
In the diathesis-stress model, a genetic vulnerability or predisposition (diathesis) interacts with the environment and life events (stressors) to trigger behaviors or psychological disorders.
The greater the underlying vulnerability, the less stress is needed to trigger the behavior/disorder. Conversely, where there is a smaller genetic contribution greater life stress is required to produce the particular result. Therefore, even someone with a diathesis towards a disorder does not necessarily mean they will ever develop this disorder. Both the diathesis and the stress are required for this to happen.
A famous sociologist Francis Galton, who was first influenced by his half cousin Charles Darwin was the first man to propose a theory of intelligence. Galton felt that intelligence was a faculty with a biological base that could be studied by measuring the reaction time to a cognitive task. Galton measured the size of individuals within Britain including scientists, although he found no relationship between their head and his definition of intelligence.
Alfred Binet attempted to understand human intelligence in the early 1900’s when he began to carry out intelligence tests to school children in France, Binet’s objective was to develop a measuring tool that would help understand differences between normal sand subnormal school children. Research assistant Theodore Simon assisted him in the development of measuring test for intelligence that was known as the Binet-Simon Scale, which has now been replaced by the modern-day IQ test.
Charles spearman with his publication article entitled “General Intelligence” in the 1904 American Journal of Psychology, spearman confirmed based on results gathered from studies in England that there was a common function across intellectual activities that he called g, or general intelligence. From the publication of this essay researchers have concluded that g is highly correlated within numerous important social outcomes and also the sognge best predictor of successful job performance. The American Psychological Association currently defines intelligence to involve a three-level hierarchy of intelligence factors, with g as its apex.
David Wechsler in 1940 became a major critic of the Binet-Simon scale and also general intelligence. Wechsler was an influential advocate for the concept of non-intellective factors such as; variables that would contribute to an overall score within intelligence, although they are not made up of intelligence-related items such as; confidence, failure, fear and also attitudes. Wechsler expressed that the Binet-Simon scale didn’t do a good job of incorporating these factors into intelligence. Wechsler felt that these factors were necessary for predicting an individual’s capability to be successful in life, he further denied intelligence as the capacity of a person to act purposefully, think rationally, and to also deal effectively with their surrounding or situation.
The nature versus nurture debate in regard to intelligence began back in the seventeenth century when John Locke a philosopher in 1632 published data in regard to empiricism. Locke’s black slate approach which was also known as ‘Tubular Rasa’ suggested that our minds are completely black at the birth stage, and we then combine external stimuli, forming chains of association which then develop and become more complex. This would then in turn give people an ability to perform single and complete units of interactions that would then be composed of many simple learned associations combined together. Although this perspective was viewed differently by other philosophers at that time and also from new developing psychologists.
Francis Galton a committed eugenicist was that one individual that had a different perspective from Locke. Galton argued within his book published in 1884 entitled ‘Hereditary Genius’, that from the studied he had conducted of the eminent Victorians, he concluded that intelligence clearly ran within the family and so was therefore inherited. Galton observed within his studies that the ‘lower class’ were breeding at a worrying rate, therefore, to stop intelligence results from lowering these individuals should be prevented from breeding to allow society ‘pure’ and to prevent it from becoming ‘mongrelised’.
Scientific study of intelligence continued to progress with the introduction of a standardised test was introduced by a man called Alfred Binet. In 1905 Alfred Binet introduced the first recognised test of intelligence.
Binet argues that the age of a child had direct links to what could possibly be expected within the way of intelligence development. Binet, with his colleague Theodore Simon carried out a series of such developmental tasks and published a specific test, which then matched tasks to specific age groups. From this they then devised a technique that would allow them to evaluate the individual in question and score them with a single numerical figure on how they matched up to their peers, this then became known as the modern- day IQ test.
The nature-nurture debate in regard to the nature of intelligence developed to also include discussion about as to whether there is one specific factor within intelligence or possibly even two factors working in tandem. The two-factor theory in which Spearman incorporated a ‘g’ factor (general ability) and also a ‘s’ factor (specific ability). Spearman developed a method called ‘factor analysis’ to try and determine the performance of numerous children conducting various tasks. The tasks were conducted for analysis, where they could then score the child’s ability in intelligence that may tap a varied range of abilities such as spelling, punctuation, arithmetic, grammar and also reasoning. The concluded assumption would be that the more similar the score in two or more of the tests, i.e. the greater the correlation the more likely the tests are tapping at the same ability, for example; the general ability. Although if some of the children do better on the first test and worse on the send test and another groups of children vice-versa then it could be said that distinct abilities are being tested.
David Reimer who was born an identical (non-intersex) male twin in 1965. David with his brother at the age of eight months old both had a minor medical issue involving their penis, where the doctor decided that the best course of treatment be circumcision. It was an unsuccessful surgery as the doctor accidentally burnt of basically all of David’s penis. John Money a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University suggested to David’s parents to have his sex reassigned to which the parent agreed to have reassigned a female gender by surgical, hormonal and also psychological treatment – by the system Money advocated for intersex children.
For numerous years John Money claimed that David who was now known as ‘Brenda’ turned out happy with a female gender.
Money used this experiment to promote his approach to intersex – the approach which is still used commonly throughout a lot of the United States. This approach is one that now relies on the assumption that gender identity is about the upbringing by nurture and not so much inborn traits such as nature, and that gender assignment is important to treating all children with a typical sex denomination.
With new revelations it is now apparent that Money was lying, Money was aware that Brenda was never happy with a female gender, and he knew that as soon as David came to find what happened to him that David would reassume the identity of a male.
The experiment with David Reimer has now been used by the theory of the ‘gender is inborn’ nature theory which highlight that they are right. From this experiment it is important that we can now understand and evaluate how much harm we can cause an individual by treating them in an inhumane manner and lying to them. It is now evident that it is inhumane and unethical to predict thee gender identity of an individual, although with this experiment we can now predict how individual children who are treated with shame, secrecy and also lies will suffer at the hands of medical professionals that we trust and believe that they have the best of intentions.
The nurture perspective of the debate has suggested that your gender is biological, within this theory because your sex shares the same physiology and anatomy that they have similar characteristics and traits. The nature perspective can initially point out physical differences between male and female such as the sexual organs.
In 1944 psychologists David Buss undertook a research investigation into the nature side of the debate. The objective of the experiment was to investigate the heterosexual mate preferences of both male and female. This links to the nature side of debate as it investigates what mates look for such as biological traits and characteristics. The survey was conducted in thirty-seven different countries where participants were asked to rate the significance of a trait selection in protentional mates.
From the results, Buss found that men survey good looks in all countries, youth and chastity higher than women. Women rated good financial prospects and higher reliability than men from the results. Buss concluded from these results that this study supported the evolutionary theory that women and men are searching for different traits in potential mates. Good looks and health were a good portrayal of a woman’s fertility from men.
For women, they should be able to prove a man with a good financial prospect. While this study contributes to the nature side of the debate, there are some issues, such as the pre-sent questionnaires, which meant that respondents were unable to put down any of their traits they were looking for. Buss did the research in only thirty-seven countries, most of them western, meaning that men and women have similar mentalities. That’s why Buss can categorise the findings because other countries and societies lack diversity.
Also known as cross-cultural research, the research study is useful in the debate because if a behaviour is a product of human nature, it should occur throughout the world irrespective of experience and education.
There are obvious problems in gender with the nature side of the argument. For example, there are questions that are often asked, how does nature explain those cases when a person does not take on the expected gender role of their sex even when genetic irregularities do not exist? And, if males and females are naturally different then how do we explain that both sexes are becoming increasingly similar as gender roles are becoming more intersexual, such as police females.
The nature side of the debate states that gender (depending on environmental experiences) is essentially a factor of socialisation. Therefore, features such as family upbringing and the expectations of society would play a major role in the gender of a person. This has been learned by most girls to behave in a feminine manner and boy in a masculine manner.
This side of the argument enables us to understand why some of us choose a gender other than their expected sex. For instance, a tomboy would have experienced an upbringing that was influenced by factors that led her to choose this masculinity unlike most girls. This side of the debate also explains why gender rules can change the gender of an individual over time, anything learned can be unlearned and replaced by new set of behaviours.
The nurture argument can also define gender-related cultural variations before, the difference between cultures is the fact that they have their own set of beliefs and morals.
Evidence showed that behaviour of peoples are influenced by the society in which they live. Gender is a behaviour that is open to this type of influence as well.
The nurture side explains why some take on the unanticipated gender role due to their sex. A feminine boy, for example, would have had experiences that led him into that role of gender. If gender is nurtured it explains why a person’s gender role may change over time because anything learnt can be unlearnt. For example, a male toddler may wear dresses because he only has one parent the mother at the time, but when he grows up and his father is involved in his life, he may only wear football shirts. The football shirt is stereotypically masculine.
Cultural variations in gender-related behaviour can also be explained by the nurture argument; the difference between cultures is the set of beliefs, morals and standards. There is evidence that the behaviour of individuals is influenced by their society’s standards and expectations.
Diamond and Sigmundson carried out a research study on nature and nurture. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of biology in gender role development. In this study they investigated the case of an eight-year-old who lost his penis. The boy had a vagina building operation to reassign his gender. From that time on he was associated as a female named ‘Brenda’, she developed masculine traits and as she grew up eventually had her penis rebuilt.
This study can help debate the discussion of nature to conclude with the fact that babies are born with a gender identity. The fact that despite her upbringing, Brenda developed masculine traits shows that she had a sense of her gender identity somehow.
As seen from the essay, the discussion of nurture vs nature has equal amounts of evidence and knowledge to support both, but both lack knowledge on many gender issues. The debate is based primarily on assumptions that make it difficult for one side or the other to fully believe.
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