On the issue of nature vs. nurture, I have always held the view that when we are born, we know nothing. Environmental factors continue to influence our personality considering that we learn most things as we grow up. However, this is not to mean that we are not born without some innate intelligence or traits. As we grow up, the inherited traits also come up little by little, hence influencing the way we do things. However, nobody can explain why he or she carries his or her parents’ character since it comes naturally and nobody chooses which ones to take. On the other hand, a person can explain how a certain character that is not inherited, developed, or why they act that way, and why he or she refuses to take certain characters and chooses others. I also feel that inherited traits influence our nurtured traits such as being taught to work hard while there is an inner part inherited that creates some laziness. No matter how hard a person may try to kill these characters, it might be hard while nurtured traits can be stopped. Hence, I would assert that a person’s character could not just be defined by one of the two sides alone; rather it is a combination of both with the effects of nature being more permanent than those of nurture are. I also think that the environmental factors exist to facilitate the growth of inherited characters since we have to learn in order to realize we have talents in certain fields. Many people may have talents that they do not know about, probably inherited from their parents, yet they have not made use of them since they have been influenced by environmental factors. For instance, a person may not have much interest in a certain subject such as arts, yet he or she may have some innate talent. This could probably be out of environmental influences such as other people making them believe that science is a better subject to major in.
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In the early 20th century a new school of thought in psychology began to dominate the discipline, and this approach swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite end of the debate. Behaviorism emphasized the role of nurture and the environment in influencing individuals and their behavior. John Watson, the founder of behaviorism in America, denied that there were any inherited influences on human behavior. Instead, Watson made the bold claim that if he were given infants, then he could make one a doctor, another a thief, another a painter, and so on. He would merely need to control and manipulate the environment in which an individual developed. Any hereditary factors were unimportant and irrelevant to the development of the individual. So psychology passed into a period when there was a strong bias toward the nurture side of the debate (Hergenhahn, 2005). This emphasis on the environment was so strong that many psychologists believed that a phenomenon like the infant-mother bond was not in any way related to nature. Instead, it was argued that the infant-mother bond developed as a result of the mother (a neutral stimulus) being paired with primary reinforcers (e.g., food, milk, etc.).
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The nature-nurture debate has been around for quite a long time now. It has been traced back to as long as the 13th century in France. In 1874, Francis Galton used these terms to demonstrate the influence of genetics and environment in the development of a person. He defined nature as what man is born with, while nurture as all the factors that affect a person’s life including people. A 13th century manuscript was found, using the terms ‘nature’ and ‘noreture’, meaning nurture, to discuss what influences personality. Other philosophers such as Plato argued that human beings inherit their knowledge from their parents through heredity of genes. On the contrary, Aristotle argued against this fact stating that a person is born without any knowledge or with a blank mind, and everything they learn is influenced by the environment one lives in since birth. In the 1700s, the debate was contested through the exchange of letters between the two sides opposing each other. In the early 1900s, behaviorists emerged from Pavlov influencing more on the nurture side. It was not until 1928 that Watson made some studies and produced a work laying more emphasis of the influential nature of environment. Recently, the nature-nurture debate has used twins to demonstrate this phenomenon (Bryner, 2006).
I am personally skilled in taking up research work in the field of mathematics. This has led me to conduct many mathematical researches on different psychological subjects with one being on the research as to whether nature or nurture is responsible for the development of an individual’s personality or character traits have employed both identical and fraternal twins. The investigation involved studying twins who had been separated at birth and nurtured in different households under varying environmental conditions. Results indicated that identical twins are one hundred percent similar genetically whereas fraternal twins are at least fifty percent similar. The identical twins therefore offered exact genetic replicas to the study in all questioned areas. An intrinsic weakness however in the results was noted in its failure to conclusively deal with the debate issue as they gave conflicting inferences. Some of the studies exhibited astonishing resemblances on the identical twins thereby supporting the nature theory. On the other hand, other investigations offered considerable differences thereby supporting the nurture theories.
Nurture Mario Puzo’s, Omerta, reflects the theory of Thomas Hobbes In the state of nature, where the theory states, that in the state of nature“…no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”(The Modern Age: Ideas In Western Civilization, Page 37-30) In Peter Cary’s, True History of the Kelly Gang, which conveys the theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains....
Although the field of behavioral genetics has demonstrated the importance of heritability to a plethora of psychological traits, the same findings also lead to the conclusion that environment too plays an important part in these psychological phenomena. Even though research findings concerning how much of a trait like intelligence is due to our genes is often widely disseminated in the media, the other side of the coin is nurture. Any variance that is not due to genes is by definition due to environment (Steen, 1996). Nature never accounts for 100 percent of the variance for any psychological trait. Instead, psychological traits are most likely the result of a number of interacting genes that account for a large part of the variance for a particular trait. However, the remaining variance that is due to environment remains important. So, if 47 percent of the variance for the trait of extroversion is attributable to genes, then that means that 53 percent of the variance for extroversion is due to the environment. Perhaps environmental factors are not discussed as often in the media because there are many possible environmental factors that can be involved, ranging from parenting style to culture to a viral infection.
In cases where the fraternal twins were concerned, several similarities were noted but none could offer conclusive evidence to the nature theory (Fujita 20). For instance, one of the studies that gave an inclination to the nurture theories was conducted using students from different learning institutions. The study involved schools that were well equipped and had an optimal number of instructors. Control schools in the investigation studied with dilapidated infrastructure, low teacher to student ratios and inadequate learning facilities. The study revealed that students from the school that was better equipped performed much better as opposed to their counterparts. However, there were certain students in the poor schools who outperformed learners from the better-equipped institutions (Devlin 97).
The debate of `nature versus nurture' has been one of the most intriguing scientific and cultural issues for most of the twentieth century, in determining the behavioral aspects of human beings....
Mark Twain's novel, "Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins" is a critical analysis of how nature and nurture can cultivate emotions and free will, which in turn affects the life of individuals.