Issues & Debates: Evaluating the Nature-Nurture

Nature- It has long been believed by researchers that multiple physical characteristics of an individual are predetermined biologically. Both their ancestry and genetics play an important role in their inherited traits and which are viable enough to be passed on. The common things that people will refer to are an individual’s eye color, hair color, and the pigmentation of their skin and unfortunately certain familial diseases and conditions.

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Such things are often out of the control of the individual, although they will affect the person for the rest of their natural lives. Under these conditions, it seems entirely reasonable to assert that an individual’s behaviors are unable to adapt and conform to its environment. Individuals will often establish a fixed mindset about themselves early on. Through this mindset, they interact with the world around them in either positively or negatively.

Social factors have motivated many researchers in society to contemplate whether emotional qualities such as behavioral learning, personality traits, and mental capabilities are also established long before the child is conceived. Those who embrace such views about fetal development will often hold extreme beliefs on issues of developed character and behavioral development. Those who hold an extreme genetic position are known as Nativists. Nativists view the actions of others are merely a result of either conception and cultural upbringing. The behaviors of individuals boil down to their actions being little more than ingrained abilities or physical limitations that they have very little control over.

The fundamental premise for a Nativist is that the characteristics of the human species as a whole are merely a result of biological evolution and that an individual’s diversity is due to each person’s unique genetic coding. In general, the earlier a distinct ability appears, the more likely it is to be under the control of a biological factor. Nativist will often do assessments of genetic influence of individuals, influences which are said to impact the subject’s conscious and subconscious behavior. These assessments are designed to determine ones potential physical and mental limitation. Also, to determine whether it arose because of something that happened before or during fetal development.

Nurture- There also is the view of whether an individual’s behaviors and actions are within their control. Many speculate that the human mind is a blank canvas and through their experiences, they form our character. Assuming that our behaviors aren’t deterministic seems reasonable considering that to claim otherwise would lead to complex questioning on the part of Nativist who believe the potential is already established before birth. Empiricist believes that life forms once the child has had the opportunity to learn enough to rationalize their environment. The child is not anything until they are provided with the opportunity to develop their character fully. Without such opportunities, the child is little more than a confused child in a grown-up environment.

The opposing viewpoint is that of the environmentalists. These people are also known by many as empiricists (they are not in the same group as those who hold empirical/scientific approach to understanding something). Their fundamental hypothesis is that at conception the human brain is a blank region filled with nothing. They believe that it is gradually filled with new information and individual experience that shape the person’s character later in life. These compounding experiences gradually develop a person’s behavior and their unique personality. Meaning that people who had trouble trusting their parent as children may have trouble trusting others as an adult, as he lacked an intimate connection with a loved one. Without the intervention of a person that they can trust they will likely lack trust in others.

The logical characteristics and expression differences that develop through infancy and childhood are the direct consequences of early learned behaviors. It is how many are brought up in childhood which governs the significant of childhood development and the concept of maturity that applies only to the biological and emotional sense. If individuals were to experience little affection in a household, chances are that they wouldn’t emphasize affectionate qualities with their children. Children aging into adulthood will often repeat learned behaviors from their childhood. Which is why there is the question of disciplining children and how to do it correctly do it while also following their upbringing as children.

The Reality – Both have a certain amount of truth in them as nature does greatly affect the overall health and mental stability of the child, even before it is born. To say otherwise would be to ignore valid scientific research on the subject. However, the treatment of the child afterward can affect the mental and emotional state of the child as it grows into adulthood. The parental care and treatment of children during sensitive periods is a major concern for many parents, as the learned behaviors during sensitive periods in their infancy can affect the individual for their entire life. Both are accurate, they mainly just look at different aspects of the human experience and ask an entirely different set of questions when determining the established character of an individual and whether or not it can be changed.

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