Nurture plus Nature

Nurture plus Nature :

Reagan Robb

The classic debated topic of nurture versus nature has been and always will be an argumentative subject in the scientific world. Some psychologists and scientists share the view that our behavioral aspects originate only from the environmental factors of our upbringing.

While other opposing specialists argue the outlook in science that agrees with the naturalist idea, this concept of naturalistic ideas supports the hereditary genetic framework, inherited from our parents, is the sole determining factor in our behavioral characteristics. These two opposing viewpoints have produced a multitude of ideas, theories, and arguments in the history of psychology.

John Broadus Watson, the father of American behaviorism, greatly reinforced the source of nurture by studying learned and adaptive behavior patterns in our environmental surroundings. During this same time of revolutionary ideas in psychology, American psychologist, Arnold Gesell supported the opposite views of Watson. Gesell theorized that physical and motor growth and development is monitored and regulated by an automatic natural process. Each of these ideas has persisted strongly in the world of psychology from the nineteenth century on into the twentieth, but now a new and united psychology world acknowledges both theories equally. It is imagined, today, that the explanation of our behavioral characteristics originates from both our heredity and the environment in which we were raised.

This report supports the theory that both aspects of nurture, with the addition of nature are involved in and explain our complete behaviors. Many studies and experiments have been conducted in recent years of psychology to give this combined idea its appealing thesis. A great deal of research and experimentation has been conducted in order to solve the puzzling results that derive from situational differences in being raised. The different causes and effects of various situations focus on the actual importance and necessity of proper nurturing in childhood development. Studies on the early developing years in children show how effects of various environmental situations can cause mixed attitudes, personalities, beliefs, sexual preference and other behavioral patterns in children. For example, studies have been conducted on whether children that have been raised by single parents are going to develop differently than if both natural parenting members were present through a child's infancy and adolescents. There are also cases being studied about step parenting, or entirely different parenting with the process of adoption.

With a shocking change of one or both parents in any stage of life, attitudes, and reactions are apt to become altered with a new lifestyle. Also with step or adopted parents, entirely different siblings could possibly become added to the family structure, altering the environments of all affected children. Psychologists have found that, although various situational differences can be traumatic in a child's life, the influence of the upbringing environment doesn't overshadow the hereditary source of behavior.

Extreme concern has also risen about the effects of such traumatic childhood events and genetically characteristics on sexual orientation. The subject of gay or lesbian parenting is also a major concern not only in psychology, but for many people around the world. Psychologists wonder if the effects of this erratic situational difference will result in an inner-conflict between a child's hereditary instincts and environmental behavior. Although the factors of genetics may have a small deciding component to sexual orientation, psychologist John Money, concluded that sexual orientation is not under the direct governance of chromosomes and genes. Children from these conditions have usually been found to acquire a more admissible attitude towards homosexuals through this altered environmental upbringing.

However, children raised in these same conditions may, or may not display homosexual tendencies determined by both genetic factors and environmental experiences. In other exceptions, children often develop problems even though their environment seems to be entirely common. Psychologists have come to question the quality of the relationship between parent and sibling and also the raising and discipline methods. Take the example of a naughty or extremely hyperactive young boy raising hell and throwing tantrums out in public. When we witness children in this category, we often automatically think…Why doesn't his mother control him? We assume that the cause of his behavior problems can be found in his environment, possibly poor parenting techniques. This false assumption, however, may be an unfair judgment upon actual quality parenting. Recent researchers have shown that children may be born with a variety of personality characteristics which can lead to behavioral problems and are not related to poor parenting techniques.

Psychologist and twin researcher David Rowe stated that Parents should be blamed less for kids who have problems and take less credit for kids who turn out well. In the circumstance of rowdy children, psychologists often question both sides of genetic and environmental factoring. Are mischievous children born that way or raised that way? The answer may be both. With pioneering studies on temperamental children, Stella Chess, M.D. and Alexander Thomas, M.D. concluded that children were initially born a certain way and then because of the way they interacted with their environment, they continued to grow this way.

Chess and Alexander also concluded through their difficult child research in the late 1950's that ten percent of normal children were difficult children from birth. Expanding on the research of Chess and Alexander, Stanley Turecki M.D. reestimated that twenty percent of normal children were temperamentally difficult from the time of birth.

Turecki, a confused parent himself, recommended that parents of difficult children make an important distinction between willful misbehavior which is under the control of the child and expressions of innate temperament, which are really beyond a child's control. Thus it is crucial for parents to recognize which misbehaviors are related to genetic aspects and which are associated with behavioral decisions when discipline is necessary.

Psychologists such as Turecki, Rowe, Alexander, Chess and numerous others have all added contributing ideas and research to the point of nature plus nurture, but one man's revolutionary research and ideas could not be ignored on this subject. Thomas J. Bouchard's famous studies on twins at the University of Minnesota allowed the comparison between exact human genetic copies (John Bouchard - Encarta Encyclopedia). These unique experiments modified the scientific views of genetic similarities and the influence of environmental surroundings. This research conducted by Bouchard and other twin researchers also presented accurate information on the importance of heredity and environment. Similarities between identical and even fraternal twins support the superior importance of a genetical impact on behavior. In the opposite view, however, differences intervening between behaviors of identical or fraternal twins defend the importance of the upbringing environment.

Research in this subject, originating from Bouchard and others, has revealed an extensive range of similarities between identical twins raised together and separately. It is evident that two children sharing all one hundred percent of their genetic makeup (identical) will present several similarities, compared to children that only share fifty percent of similar genes. The physical appearance of identical twins will obviously be more alike in resemblance, height, weight and even have more closely related blood cholesterol levels, than fraternal twins or other siblings altogether. By studying identical twins that had grown up separate from each other, Bouchard was appalled by the similarities that endured just as though they had been reared in the exact environment. Some of these strong behavioral traits included shyness, activity levels, risk aversion, achievement, optimism, irritability, sociability, cognitive development and physical gestures, patterns of speech, and even similar hair-styles and brands of toothpaste.

Being a twin involves sharing almost everything together in life from toys, rooms or clothing to appearance and psychological characteristics. Unfortunately, sharing psychological characteristics through hereditary can possibly lead to sharing psychological disorders as well. It is clear that the closer the genetic similarities are between twins (identical or fraternal), family members or perhaps distant cousins, the more likely similar disorders are receptive to people in the same gene pool. Studies have proven that identical twins have a higher fate, than fraternal twins, to share psychological disorders such as autism, anxiety, substance abuse and schizophrenia. Hypoglycemia, diabetes, alcoholism, lactose intolerance and other biological disorders in the metabolism can also become mutual problems between identical twins, and also, with a less chance, in fraternal twins as well. Determining from the evidence presented by research and studies on twins, it may appear that the genetic heredity of nature has a prevailing edge over the environmental factors of behavior.

Following his extensive research on twins, Thomas Bouchard concluded that Genetic factors exert a pronounced and pervasive influence on behavioral variability and the effect of being reared in the same home is negligible for many psychological traits. Following his various research on twins it is indisputable that Bouchard heavily supported the genetical factors involved in behavioral characteristics. Although Bouchard presented quality evidence behind his statements supporting the general roles in behavior, the various effects of extreme environmental situations was overlooked in his findings. This contradicting evidence later resurfaced through research by Adler, Plomin, Rende and others. Bouchard also expressed his optimism in genetics, stating that seventy percent of the variations for intelligence quotient (IQ) are linked to heredity (Turecki). The topic over the influence of genetics on intelligence has also become a common disputed topic. These new experts have balanced the importance of heredity plus environment on intelligence despite Bouchard's original speculations through his related studies.

Similar twin studies, identical to Bouchard's, have resulted in concluding that closely related kindred do, in fact, share similar IQs than compared to distant family members or non-related people. These studies also revealed supporting evidence that the influences of environmental factors can equally contribute to IQ scores as well. Identical twins, fraternal twins, siblings and cousins raised in diverse situations from one another, resulted in dissimilar intelligence levels.

Dr. William Greeno, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, has experimented with situational differences and the effects on intelligence. Greeno exposed laboratory rodents to several types of laboratory environments ranging from ordinary and plain mesh cages to complex and stimulating surroundings. The results that Dr. Greeno found were that rodents placed in excelling and stimulating circumstances appear to be smarter than normal laboratory rats having more connections per nerve cell in different brain regions. Psychologist Craig Ramey created applicable research comparable to William Greeno's with the placement of disadvantaged children into enriched environment. With his early intervention in a child's life, Ramey's idea was to cultivate their soil, so that an enriched environment would act like a fertilizer to the developing brains of these children. With like results to William Greeno's lab rats, Craig Ramey also concluded that factors such as socioeconomic status, educational and cognitive resources, and resource environments can have major effects on the outcome of intelligence.

This application of importance between circumstantial raising environments and the origin of intelligence directs to the necessity of nurture as well as nature in the formation of behavioral characteristics. Therefore, Thomas Bouchard's one-sided views on hereditary importance can be countered with supporting evidence of environmental importance as well. It remains clear by the excessive amounts of research and examinations on how this engaging argument could provoke many disputes in the scientific world. Thomas Bouchard's research heavily favored the effects of heredity on behavior. While Craig Ramey and Dr. William Greeno presented opposing evidence for the importance of environmental influences. Other theories were presented by Stella Chess, Alexander Thomas, Stanley Turecki and others supporting those children born difficult can be changed with corrective parenting. Yet David Rowe's research related the opposite view that children were affected slightly by their raising environment. Today with the excess of research and theories supporting each view equally, perhaps Arnold Gesell and John B. Watson would agree that a combination of nurture plus nature is the origin of our behavioral characteristics.

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