DR. Asma Masri
Psychology of Human Relations
The nature-nurture controversy is an old discussion in psychologywith some psychologists arguing that human behavior is innate whileothers view it as determined by the environment. Nativistphilosophers like Plato and Descartes considers human behavior inlight of the determination by inherent ideas. Nativists take the viewthat most of the human behavior and characteristics are as a resultof inheritance, where genetic traits trickle down from the parentsinfluencing individuals’ unique features. On the hand, empiricistslike John Locke conceptualize the mind as a blank slate and thateverything that people are, is a factor of experiences (Steinberg12). Empiricists emphasize that learning is imperative to thedevelopment of behavior. Notably, the nativists stress nature aspectsas the foundation of human behavior while empiricists argue thathuman behavior is learned than determined by intrinsiccharacteristics. However, it is hard to isolate the two effects aswell as irrational since nature and nurture do not function in adifferent way but relates in a multifaceted way. The interactionalistscholars agree that nature and nurture aspects play key roles inhuman development.
More precisely, nature and nurture are two factors that are importantin the growth and development of human beings. Various questions havepreviously emerged as to whether personality develops primarily fromnature, or from the environments in which people reside in. Differentcharacters have been pondering the role of nature and circumstancessince the era of Hippocrates. On his part, Hippocrates categorizedcharacters into four categories allied to four senses of humorincluding, sanguine (blood) or confident, phlegmatic or slow to takeaction, choleric (yellow bile) or hot-tempered, and melancholic(black bile) or moody (Fitzduff and Chris 140). Correspondingly, thephilosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau claimed that a person is borninherently good, and positive traits of the environment contribute tothe development of his or her behavior. However, in the recent fewdecades, there have been further researches focusing in thenature-nurture controversy. For instance, psychologists have carrieda study on twins who were separated at birth. In the study of thetwins, psychologists established that any behavior the duo shared hada genetic component, but the most noticeable differences seemed tooriginate from environmental causes (Fitzduff and Chris 124).
Both nature and nurture influence behaviors, ideas, and feelings of aperson. Firstly, some scholars argue that nature considerablyinspires the individual’s capacity to achieve greatness. In thisregard, they attribute a person’s ability and superiority to his orher parents’ level of intelligence. A child may have the capabilityto develop early skills quickly thus indicating that the child wasborn smart. On the other hand, the psychologists in favor of thenurture factors argue that a child’s educational background andupbringing determines his or her level of intelligence (Steinberg22). The values and norms of the culture also shape a child’sconception of the gender roles to a very narrow perspective. Theschool system and child’s upbringing contribute to his/her success.
Also, the influence of the parents is often exhibited by thesimilarities between the child’s personality and either of theparents’ personality. In such a case, child’s personality seemsto develop mainly from the influence of the parents. For instance, achild born to alcoholic parents reveals alcoholic related disordersin their lives. According to health research, paraphilia conditionsaffect the genetic configuration of parents that may be carriedforward to their offspring (Fitzduff and Chris 96). Nonetheless,children also develop personalities owing to certain behaviors suchas aggression or shyness that may not be evident in the parents’traits. In such a situation, some psychologists claim that natureplays a significant role in the development of the child’spersonality. Apart from inheriting alcoholism from their parents,children may indulge in alcoholism owing to their upbringing. Forinstance, the peers may instigate individuals to engage in alcoholismbecause of the desire to maintain ego in their peer group.
According to psychologists, feelings tend to be more of nurture thannature since the surrounding influences one’s feelings. Forinstance, a child raised in an aggressive and hostile environmentoften develops to be hot-tempered and aggressive most probably owingto the prevailing conditions at the developmental stages.Schizophrenia is a state of the mind associated with depression andaggressiveness. Schizophrenics lose touch with reality, and they areusually unable to cope with life (Fitzduff and Chris 111). Thecondition though sometimes attributed to inheritance, is in mostcases caused by drug abuse. On the other hand, family ties maydetermine an individual’s development of depression and aggression.For example, schizophrenic parents may bear children with thecondition and thus, suffer the loss of contact with reality liketheir parents.
Based on the principles of nature and nurture, the development ofbehavior in own life has been influenced by the genetic aspects aswell as the environment. I am from a middle-level family from thestate of California in the United States. My father is a middle-levelcollege teacher, and my mother is a nurse. Therefore, I can credit myright orientation with education to the fair family intellectuallevel. Additionally, having no track of criminal records in my familylineage has also been imperative in shaping my good moral foundation.However, there are instances of high temper in my family that hasaffected my interaction with people.
Notably, though the basis of my academic success can be attributed tomy lineage, I cannot underestimate the contribution of theenvironment I was brought up in towards influencing my desire tosucceed academically. My wish to be better and achieve more than myparents has been pivotal in my quest for academic excellence. Rolemodels have also been crucial in my desire to become a prominentpsychiatric which I cannot achieve without academic excellence.However, although there are no records of criminal activities in myfamily, the influence of my peers when I was in high school led meengage in alcoholism and consequently I developed aggressivebehavior. However, a court conviction prompted me to stop addictionto alcohol after high school. Disposition is a critical condition inmy life that has sometimes destroyed my relationship with friends.However, my interactions with friends who have calm behavior haveinfluenced me to become soft-tempered.
Therefore, both the biological and environmental factors have beendomineering in the development of behavior in my life. The interplayof both nature and nurture factors have inspired my life to achievepositively, sometimes denying the biological assumptions that I wasmeant to behave in a certain way. Whereas natural factors haveinherently determined my life aspects, environmental factors havespiced the biological factors. Though sometimes the nurture factorshave affected my character negatively, the positive elements theyhave brought to my life are resolute.
Authors have evidently proven that both nature and nurture areinseparable. Some generic aspects considerably rely on certainenvironmental inputs. Indeed, individuals cannot develop normal sightwithout exposure to visual stimuli. Equally, some genes underminesome environmental influences. For instance, some lifetime smokersmay never experience smoking-related illnesses, and this may resultowing to their genes. However, nurture plays a primary role in theearly human development. Nurture, in a certain way or another, speedsup an individual’s ability to study and learn new things. Studiesreveal that early human development is quicker and more focused owingto nurture as it builds upon the talents provided by nature(Steinberg 45). Therefore, although nature has some degree ofinfluence, nurture strongly influences early human development.
Fitzduff, Mari and Chris, E. Stout. The Psychology of ResolvingGlobal Conflicts: From War to Peace. Westport, CT: PraegerSecurity International, 2006. Print.
Steinberg, Douglas. "Determining Nature vs. Nurture."Scientific American Mind Sci Am Mind 17.5 (2006): 12-50.