Nature versus nurture

Nature versus nurture

The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities ("nature," i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences ("nurture," i.e. empiricism or behaviorism) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. The phrase "Nature versus nurture" in its modern sense was coined[1][2][3] by the English Victorian polymath Francis Galton in discussion of the influence of heredity and environment on social advancement, although the terms had been contrasted previously, for example by Shakespeare (in his play, The Tempest: 4.1). Galton was influenced[4] by the book On the Origin of Species written by his cousin, Charles Darwin. The concept embodied in the phrase has been criticized[3][4] for its binary simplification of two tightly interwoven parameters, as for example an environment of wealth, education and social privilege are often historically passed to genetic offspring. The difference being that wealth, education and social privilege are not part of the human biological system, and so cannot be directly attributed to genetics. The view that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioral traits from "nurture" was termed tabula rasa ("blank slate") by philosopher John Locke, and proposes that humans develop from only environmental influences. This question was once considered to be an appropriate division of developmental influences, but since both types of factors are known t play such interacting roles in development, most modern psychologists and anthropologists consider the question naiverepresenting an outdated state of knowledge.[5][6][7][8] In the social and political sciences, the nature versus nurture debate may be contrasted with the structure versus agency debate (i.e. socialization versus individual autonomy). For a discussion of nature versus nurture in language and other human universals, see also psychological nativism. "Many properties of the brain are genetically organized, and don't depend on information coming in from the senses. - Steven Pinker To disentangle the effects of genes and environment, behavioral geneticists perform adoption and twin studies. These seek to decompose the variance in a population into genetic and environmental components. This move from individuals to populations makes a critical difference in the way we think about nature and nurture. This difference is perhaps highlighted in the quote attributed to psychologist Donald Hebb who is said to have once answered a journalist's question of "which, nature or nurture, contributes more to personality?" by asking in response, "Which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width?"[9] For a particular rectangle, its area is indeed the product of its length and width. Moving to a population, however, this analogy masks the fact that there are many individuals, and that it is meaningful to talk about their differences.[10]