Example Of Essay On Nature-Nurture Controversy
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A long-standing debate on the subject and study of Psychology has been the nature versus nurture topic. They are two separate schools of thought on whether genetically inherited factors or environmental exposure is responsible for the behavioral characteristics of individuals. In the 21st century, most of the psychological community has come to agree that neither can be the sole reason for why people think, feel, and act the way that they do.
The nature theory uses biology and genetics as the reason for why humans behave the way they do. Psychologists who have adopted the nature theory are called nativists. The theory blames all aspects of behavior, good and bad on predisposed genetic traits. Based on this belief system, no external influences can change behaviors already pre-determined by the individuals DNA. For example, if a child displays anger and rage, the explanation for the behavior will refer to the trait as an unavoidable aspect of what his parents have passed onto him. There is only so much that outside exposure or therapy could do in changing this innate characteristic. Hence, nature decides your fate.
The nurture theory states that environmental influences are primarily the cause of behaviors displayed by individuals. The psychologists who embrace this side of psychology are called empiricists. Empiricists believe that every person is born as a blank canvas to paint the various experiences of their life. The nurture theory allows people to develop based on external factors. For example, if a baby is exposed to educational materials from birth, continues to be provided with learning in her environment, the chances for her to have a high IQ becoming a child protégé, are more likely than a child who was not given this type of exposure. The nurture theory preaches the polar opposite of the nature theory in the reasoning for the behavior in human beings.
The nature-nurture debate is a controversial topic because each one leads so strongly in the individual methods of reasoning in justifying the source influencing human behavior. One cannot disagree with either, but to say only nature or only nurture is factual is invalid thinking. The idea of the nature theory makes people feel as though they have no chance to create themselves to be what they desire. Because if certain genetic factors do not exist within their bloodline, then it will be impossible for the individual to succeed in areas he or she aspires toward. However, the nature theory argument is that a person is either going to do really well or really horribly based on the environment he or she was raised in during the developmental stages of life. The extreme position of each theory limits potential in people, which is why it is so controversial.
The Case of a Boy Who Became a Girl
Janet Reimer gave birth to healthy twin boys named Bruce and Brian in 1965. She was recommended by doctors to have her boys’ circumcised when they were six months old because the babies had difficulty urinating (Schillo, 2011). During the procedure, Bruce’s penis was accidentally destroyed; leaving the Reimer’s facing a nightmare situation of dealing with raising their son without a penis.
A psychologist at John’s Hopkins University suggested a gender reassignment surgery as an option for helping the parents find a solution to this awful dilemma. Considering the child was still so young, he could easily be raised as a girl without any issues if done from this age. The psychologist apparently believed heavily in the nurture theory to suggest this as a solution to the problem.
Bruce was castrated and named Brenda. The Reimer's raised Brenda as a girl without any mention to anyone of Brenda's gender at birth. As Brenda grew up, there was a struggle in her behavior because she felt she was a boy. Regardless of the environmental influences of him being raised as a female, Brenda's biological gender caused strife for the child. Eventually after an arduous struggle, and attempts at suicide, Brenda was told the truth about being born a male. Brenda moved forward in life as David, re-embracing his gender as a male. Eventually, all hormonal treatments and surgeries to allow David to become a man were persued.
The case here exemplifies the controversy behind the nature-nurture argument. In this particular case, the nature of the individual over-powered the nurture attempts to transform him into her.
Supportive Parenting and Prevention of Substance Abuse
Addiction and substance abuse are an issue that is believed to carry a genetic predisposition for an individual's chances to follow in the addictive behaviors passed on by his or her parents. A study published by the University of Georgia examined the 5HTT gene responsible for delivering serotonin to the brain and found that, “most people possess two copies of a long version of this gene, but the select few that possess one or two copies of a short version tend to be more likely to consume alcohol or other substances and partake in impulsive and risky behavior” (“Nature versus Nurture: Supportive parenting can prevent substance abuse,” n.d., para.2). Clearly this is evidence for nature being responsible in one's chances of drug addiction problems.
A study on rural African-American children were investigated, 40% of the group had the short version of this gene. The findings from the results of this four year study show that the youth who did not have parental support were three times more likely to become substance abusers than the group of kids who had strong parental involvement in their lives. The results of this study prove a strong case for the nurture theory having the power to overcome genetic factors by environmental influence.
In concluding this discussion about nature versus nurture, observation of similarities in the validation of certain aspects of each theory exists. Neither theory can stand alone as the sole reason to justify the results of human behavior. Nature and nurture play a role in how personality traits and behaviors in individuals develop. Awareness of the contribution of each theory is necessary in the study of psychology.
Nature versus Nurture: Supportive parenting can prevent substance abuse. (n.d.). Journal of
Consulting and Clinical Psychology, (),. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthblog.com/2009/02/nature-vs-nurture-supportive-parenting.html
Schillo, K. K. (2011, November). Nature or nurture: The case of a boy who became a
girl. National Center for Case Study Teachings in Science, (). Retrieved from http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/gender_reassignment.pdf
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