Outline and comment on the two schools Essay
Outline and comment on the two schools
“Outline and comment on the two schools of thought involved in the study of the nature-nurture debate in development. Explain, using examples, why this debate gives rise to so much controversy”. The debate concerning the two schools of thought involved in the study of the “nature versus nurture” is one of the most controversial and long-lasting debates in psychology. Psychologists disagree whether a particular part of behaviour had taken place through genetic and heredity factors or through experience in their environment and learning. Psychologists are trying to answer, “What makes us who we are?” and consider two main influences.
Firstly nature which is involved in genes and heredity, and their influences on our development, and secondly nurture which is involved in external influences on our development such as the environment and nurturing. Psychologists were divided into two schools of thought, firstly the nativists, who are concerned with the nature side of the debate. In 1943 Gesell argued that genes and chromosomes that are inherited are the main influence in child development (Hayes and Orrell 1996, pg 2). For example: Gesell found that the development of physical coordination in a baby seemed to follow an orderly sequence, beginning with its head, and gradually moved down the body. Gesell regarded these sequences of development as being fixed and genetically determined (Hayes N 1993, pg 31).
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Genes are lengths of DNA, which carry instructions that control everything that happens inside a cell. They are passed onto the next generation in order to avoid extinction. Each body cell contains two sets of 23 chromosomes and each chromosome contains up to 4000 genes. (Barber M et al 2000, pg 480). Every newborn baby has around 60,000 genes; they have two copies of each gene and inherit one set from the mother and one set from the father. (Barber M et al 2000,pg 504). We portray some of these genes in our similarities in appearance to our parents or other members of our immediate family, or when generations have been skipped. For example our eye and hair colour is similar or our height, build and weight is similar to our parents.
Genes can be recessive or dominant. For example: The gene that gives the colour in brown eyes is a dominant gene and the blue gene that results in blue eyes is a recessive gene. A child will have brown eyes if one of its parents had brown eyes even if the other parent had blue eyes. That child will still have the blue-eyed gene and may pass it on to the next generation (Hayes and Orrell 1996, pg 5).
Some diseases are inherited mainly because of faulty genes. For example: Huntingdon disease is caused by a faulty gene and causes premature degeneration of the brain (Barber M et al 2000,pg 504). Down’s syndrome is another example of a genetic disorder, which has resulted from the presence of an extra chromosome and causes physical and mental handicaps to different degrees of severity (Hayes and Orrell 1996, pg 4). As well as inherited characteristics and features there is also evidence of inherited behaviour. This was shown in 1938 in Lorenz and Tinbergens 4 characteristics in animal behaviour:
Stereotyped – this behaviour happens the same way every time. Species specific – this behaviour is specific to a certain type of animal. Isolation – this behaviour is the same as others of their species, even if they have been isolated. No practice – this behaviour appears as a complete unit even if the animal has had no chance to practice it. (Hayes and Orrell 1996 pg 9 & Class notes) Imprinting is a type of behaviour that can form rapid attachments and is also believed to be genetically influenced.
For example: Ducklings had become imprinted on a human being. Lorenz found that ducklings would adopt him if he were the first moving thing they saw. He believed this would only take place in the critical period, up to 25 hours after hatching. This was questioned by, (W Slucking in 1964.) After his own study of the same experiment, he found the period was extended if the ducklings were isolated from one another, and hadn’t been able to imprint on each other (Hayes N 1993, pg 39).
Behaviours we inherit don’t show up all at once. Certain forms of behaviour emerge when the individual is mature enough. This is known as maturation, for example, the physiological changes that take place in puberty (Hayes & Orrell 1996 pg 7). There are disagreements between the nativists and behaviourists about whether or not maturation is purely genetic. (Hayes N 1993, pg 32). This brings the debate to the other side of the disagreement and behaviourists also known, as empiricists, believe nurture is the main influence in development. In 1913, J.B. Watson attempted to make psychology `Scientific`.
Previously psychology had concentrated on the study of the mind, Watson argued that the mind was not suitable for valid scientific research, so instead he studied behaviour (Hayes N 1995, pg 3). Watson was a total empiricist believing the environment was the only important factor in an individual’s development. He considered that a child was born as tabula rasa – a blank slate, which experience would write upon to produce the person (Hayes & Orrell 1996, pg 2.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 September 2017
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