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Psychology: nature vs. nurture. How to define and discuss nature vs. nurture in psychology?

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jeffclark eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The nature vs. nurture debate is a very real source of disagreement and interest as you can tell from the number of answers you have received already.

Psychology is "The study of the mind," and one of our greatest challenges is in trying to determine how our minds develop. Is it the result of our genetic makeup ("nature") or our environment ("nurture")?

The French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau championed the "Nature" view. He said that a child is born a "noble savage." "Noble" in the sense that all of the propensities and abilities are born in us. "Savages" in the sense that they have not been developed yet. All you have to do is care for the child as he or she grows and allow them to develop "on their own." All that is there will naturally develop as long as no one interferes. Therefore, parenting and education is more of a "hands off" approach allowing nature to take its course.

The British philosopher John Locke took the "Nurture" side of the debate. He said that a child is born a "blank slate." His belief was that there is no good or bad, intelligence or lack thereof that is inherently present. It is all about what the child is exposed to as he or she grows up. Therefore the "right" experiences and schools and friends are essential for proper development to occur. There is a very real "hands on" approach required to parenting and education.

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megan-bright eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Nature versus Nurture debate is a classic discussion, and scholars have not concluded which one has the greatest impact on a person's development. Both theories provide very reasonable explanations as to why people have various characteristics. A lot of research and experiments have been conducted, and both sides of the argument are strongly supported. I think it's best that nature and nurture are not viewed in isolation.

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I used to think that it was 100% nuture...that parents could take any baby and by raising him/her in the same way...they could produce the same sort of adults.

However, I raised my three children as similarly as possible (They had the same socio-economic upbringing, the same emphasis on education, etc. ) and each turned out quite differently. The first was conservative, accomplished, driven, and shy. The second was the class clown, and a bit of a trouble maker. The third was confident, stubborn, and independant. Now, I think birth order had a lot to do with this...but ultimately I think they just came out hardwired differently.

 

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It is more or less accepted that humans are "hardwired" with certain attributes, abilities and personality traits.  In this way, identical twins separated at birth still might develop the same taste in ice cream or music, even though they have lived in different environments.

Environment is often credited with doing more to influence an individual, however.  A person who grows up in an unstable home and a crime-ridden neighborhood is much more at risk than an identical twin that has not been in that environment, as the socialization process in the first 20 years of life is very critical in forming who we are, what we believe, how we act, etc., as individuals.

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In psychology, nature is defined as the foundation of the individual in terms of physical and genetic pre-dispositions. This involves inherited traits, behavioral tendencies, and innate abilities and disabilities.

Nurture is identified as...

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panda2014 | Student

Nature refers to the human traits one gets biologically from one's parents and cannot be altered or changed. Nurture refers to the human traits one gets from the environment that they grew up in. The nature versus nurture debate is actually disproven because both nature and nurture both play a key part in a human's development and learning. 

parama9000 | Student

It is to see if beneficial traits can be later developed or that you are born with it.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Nature vs. Nurture is a debate. Nature (heredity, genes) vs. Nurture (environment) It is debate whether we are influenced by genes or the our surroundings.

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