The Processes by Which Genes and Environment Operate Together to Influence Development
Psychologists have argued for centuries over which has played the
larger role in child development, heredity or environment. The British
philosopher John Locke (1632 –1704) proposed one of the first theories
in the seventeenth century. Locke believed that a child was born with
an empty mind, tabula rasa (meaning “blank slate”) and that everything
the child learns comes from experience, nothing is established
beforehand. Years later, Charles Darwin (1809 –82) brought forth
his theory of evolution, which argued that human behaviour is best
understood through knowledge of its origins – in both the evolution of
the species and the early development of individuals. His emphasis
was on the survival behaviour of different species and his interest
was in observing children to identify the various ways that they adapt
to things, and in learning about the inheritance of human behaviour,.
which led to a return of the hereditarianism viewpoint. With the
twentieth century, however, came the rise of behaviourism.
Behaviourists, like B.F. Skinner (19043 – 90), argued that a child
can agree that both nature (genes) and nurture (environment) play an
important role, not independently, but as they interact together to be
made into any kind of person, regardless of their heredity. My essay
will describe the way in which genes and environment operate together
to influence development with significance to the differing view of
the constructivist theory of Piaget and the Social Constructivism of
The epigenetic model (Chapt 2 ) is one that proposes that development
is the result of the complex transaction between the individual and
the environment. Development includes division as well as growth and
the characteristic of gradual changes from an initial constant state
to a later highly diverse state. The epigenetic approach, which has
been influenced largely by evolutionary theory centres on linking
non-obvious environmental experience in influencing development rather
than in born
programming. Within the epigenetic view, development cannot be simply
determined by genes or by the environment, but both genes (nature) and
environment (nurture) play a role in the development of the
individual’s mental capacity.
The nature side of the debate argues that a person maintains their
mental ability only based on what they are born with genetically.
This would mean that the environment in which this person is bought up
in plays no role in determining their mental aptitude. There are some
substantial reasons for humans to be persuaded that genetics play a
large part in a person’s...