The Nature Versus Nurture Debate Essay

859 words - 3 pages

People can get their blue, hazel, or brown eyes from one of their parents, and their freckles from the other. But where does their talent for singing, or knack for craftsmanship come from? In other words, what makes individuals who they are? Is it predetermined in their genes or was it taught to them by family or friends? My General Psychology instructor recently explained this contest of nature and nurture as won by neither side. “The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology. The debate centers on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development.” - (Kendra Cherry). So far the evidence collected from years of research and data suggests a resolution of equal importance between the two factors as fifty/fifty.
In the debate of nature v nurture there are people who take the position that all or most behaviors and characteristics are the result of inheritance; they are known as nativists. Philosophers Plato and Descartes, for example, suggested that certain human behaviors and characteristics occurred naturally, with no regard for environmental influences. An example of a nativist theory within psychology is Chomsky's concept of a “language acquisition device”, or LAD. According to this theory, “…all children are born with an instinctive mental capacity that allows them to both learn and produce language.”~ Chomsky
On the other side of the table, there are people who take the position that all or most behaviors and characteristics are the result of learning; they are known as empiricists. “Racism isn’t born, folks. It’s taught. I have a 2-year-old son. Know what he hates? Naps. End of list” ~ Denis Leary. Besides comedian/actor Denis Leary, well-known thinkers, such as John Locke, believed in what is known as tabula rasa, which suggests that the mind begins as a “blank slate”.
Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper void of all characters, without any ideas. How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from experience ~ (Locke 26.)
According to tabula rasa, everything that we are and all of our knowledge is determined by our experience, as Locke states here.
A number of human characteristics are tied to environmental influences. According to Albert Bandura's empiricist theory of “social learning”, people learn by observing the behavior of others....

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