Every single day babies are born and millions of new lives start all over the planet. The growth as well as the development of new lives has always been a subject of debate all these years. After all, what makes a human being the individual that he grows up to be? What makes an individual different from another one? Is it attributed to the genes or the environment that surrounds the human being?
The debate centering around nature and nurture was established in the latter half of the 9th century by a remarkable experimental psychologist named Francis Galton in his work titled English men of science: Their Nature and Nurture. In this particular work, Galton calls nature and nurture as a ‘convenient’ jingle of words as these two titles are the heads under which innumerable contents of the human personality are classified. Nature, in other words, is all which the individual brings with him while stepping to the earth while nurture is all the influences which affect the man as he grows up.
Ancient philosophers like Plato were of opinion that a human child took birth with some inborn knowledge. While Locke was an empiricist and advocated that human mind is as clean as an untainted slate that lacks any ability. There are some physical characteristics which are biologically decided by genetic inheritance like the complexion of the skin, the color of the eye, the color of the hair and many others. There are also some physical features like weight, height, hair loss, illnesses like cancer, atopic dermatitis, gastritis are influenced by the genetic modification of the former generation. These facts have provoked many people to contemplate whether psychological features such as gender, intelligence and behavior are generated through the genes or by the environment.
The factor of nature as an argument can be dated back to Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as well as the ideology behind the survival of the fittest. This, in turn, influences the Biological Approach in Psychology that has a focus on the hormonal and genetic explanation of behavior and is relatable to the nature side of the argument. The nature approach view claims that there are many human actions and skills which are developed from genetically inherited urges including personality, intelligence, and maternal instinct. On the contrary, the empiricists are of opinion that human skills are solely developed through perception.
When it comes to human intelligence, it becomes difficult to define the term since it is subject to different psychological factors including the ability to cope up, ability to solve problems, the ability to learn from past experiences, ability to predict probable outcomes and many such commonplace skills that differentiate human beings from all other animals. Early psychologists such as Sir Francis Galton have defined intelligence to be simple perceptual, sensory and motor responses which lie contrary to different mental procedures like contemplation and cognition.
The arguments for nurture being superior to nature show that the personality is nurtured and no human being get personality through genes. B. F. Skinner, known as the father of behavioral science proved that human behavior can be conditioned in the way it can be done with animals. If environment had no contribution in building the characteristics of a person, then identical twins would have same features in all respects even if they are brought up in separate places. There are different assumptions on nature as well where all psychologists such as Watson and Skinner advocate the fact that all behavior can be expounded in terms of experience only. The double bind theory centering on schizophrenia shows that a child is likely to be affected by the ailment if he constantly receives contradictory information from both his parents.
John Watson tried to challenge the nature beliefs in 1924 by asserting that a dozen of healthy infants can be trained to become a specialist in each discipline. This is one of the most important arguments for nurture that considered the mind of a small child as tabula rasa or blank slate on which anything and everything can be inscribed by virtue of environmental experience.
A notable psychologist, Levy has examined the roles played by both nature and nurture in creating behavioral dispositions. He has asserted that evolution equips human beings as a precondition of morality although it is created as a result of cultural elaboration of the raw substances that gives a man his moral identity. Levy has advocated that human beings are animals which would never succeed in freeing themselves of the biological heritage.
Researchers on both sides of the nature vs. nurture argument have approved of a connection between gene and behavior is not identical with cause and effect. Although the gene may influence the likelihood of an individual to behave in a particular manner, it cannot direct people do perform different tasks. This indicates that the decision of becoming something solely rests upon the individual as he grows up. The social scientists have gradually understood the extent of the coalesce of nature and nurture and it is not absolutely determined by the genes how a person would be as the genes require suitable environment for the natural tendencies to take proper shapes.